Obama Gets Off the Pot on Gay Marriage

After years of hedging on gay marriage — which many of us who supported him thought was a political ploy — President Barack Obama today declared his support of gay marriage. What had been a day of mourning for many GLBTs and allies in the wake of the Amendment 1 loss in North Carolina, has turned to a day of victory.

For the first time ever, a sitting president has had the courage to voice support for marriage equality. It’s hard to overstate the importance of that. From the AP article:

In the interview, Obama said, “I have hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient.” He added, “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.”

Now, he said, “it is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Obama said first lady Michelle Obama also was involved in his decision and joins him in supporting gay marriage.

In the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people,” he said.

Well, that last quote is startlingly Christian.

Many will write this off as yet another political ploy — an attempt to re-ignite young voters next November. It may do that, or it may backfire — this may turn out to be Obama’s Jimmy Carter moment.

Regardless of the politics of it, the significance will long-lasting and far-flung, for it’s difficult to imagine anything that would do more to normalize homosexuality in our culture than this.

Kudos, Mr. President. Thanks for doing something so deeply Christian.

Goodbye, Evangelicalism

Rachel Held Evans sees the passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina yesterday as another nail in the coffin of the evangelical church and its relevance to millennials.

When I speak at Christian colleges, I often take time to chat with students in the cafeteria.  When I ask them what issues are most important to them, they consistently report that they are frustrated by how the Church has treated their gay and lesbian friends.  Some of these students would say they most identify with what groups like the Gay Christian Network term “Side A” (they believe homosexual relationships have the same value as heterosexual relations in the sight of God). Others better identify with “Side B” (they believe only male/female relationship in marriage is God’s intent for sexuality). But every single student I have spoken with believes that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality.

Most have close gay and lesbian friends.

Most feel that the Church’s response to homosexuality is partly responsible for high rates of depression and suicide among their gay and lesbian friends, particularly those who are gay and Christian.

Most are highly suspicious of “ex-gay” ministries that encourage men and women with same-sex attractions to marry members of the opposite sex in spite of their feelings.

Most feel that the church is complicit, at least at some level, in anti-gay bullying.

And most…I daresay all…have expressed to me passionate opposition to legislative action against gays and lesbians.

READ THE REST: Rachel Held Evans | How to win a culture war and lose a generation.

Kudos to Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley is getting shat upon for showing compassion to the messiness of family life.

Andy Stanley and I don’t have a whole lot in common, theologically speaking. But I met him once, and he was humble and charitable. This week, he became Al Mohler’s most recent whipping boy — and if that isn’t an example of internecine cannibalism, I don’t know what is.

Andy Marin has an insightful post on the kerfuffle at Out of Ur:

Recently North Point Community Church’s senior pastor Andy Stanley preached a sermon about the theological tension that is needed to live in the Way of the Christian faith. (Listen at North Point’s website. The controversial section begins about 24 minutes in.) Well known conservative commentator and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Al Mohler, took offense to Stanley’s non-mention of the sin of homosexuality in the sermon. Stanley illustrated a story of a wife, husband and daughter in his church—where the husband cheated with another man who eventually became his partner—and the journey for each of the participants. The reality of this family’s new tension-filled dynamic illustrated for Stanley the tension between grace and truth in the Christian faith.

Stanley spent the majority of the sermon fleshing out his understanding of this tension by highlighting Jesus’ changing response to sin through his words and deeds in the Gospel stories. Should sin be forgiven, or should a person be held accountable? Should we act harshly or be kind? Point a finger or ignore? As Stanley stated:

“We’re all tempted to want to resolve that tension. But if you resolve it, you give up something important. It’s what drove people crazy about Jesus. But he was comfortable with it. He was able to minister through it. And we dare not walk away from it.”

It should not be a surprise that Mohler took a hardline stand against Stanley’s nuanced message of tension.

Read the rest of Marin’s analysis: Out of Ur: Andy Stanley, Al Mohler, and Homosexuality.

Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lauren Winner, Shane Hipps, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Lillian Daniel, and Mark Scandrette Walk Into a Bar…

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