Richard Mouw, Timothy Dalrymple, Same Sex Marriage, and the Common Good

It seems that I disagree with Tim Dalrymple on lots and lots of stuff. Nevertheless, it’s been interesting watching him publicly wrestle with the question of whether his evangelical abhorrence of gay sex should be codified in anti-same-sex-marriage laws. First, he asked, Is it time for evangelicals to stop opposing gay marriage?

the question at hand is not whether we should abandon the historical Christian teaching on marriage.  The question is whether we should contend for laws and regulations that give this vision of marriage the sanction of government.  And to make one more distinction: the question is not whether Christians have the right to promote their views, just like everyone else does, and to support or oppose laws on any grounds they wish, including religious grounds.  There’s nothing categorically wrong with supporting laws and politicians who recognize and affirm what marriage actually is, even if your view of marriage is religiously informed.  The question, rather, is whether it is still wise to press for American law to recognize only heterosexual unions.

There are about a million and one caveats in that post. Tim knew he was going to be hammered by his fellow evangelicals. He furthered his questions and clarification in a second post, Ten things I believe about evanvelicals and same-sex marriage:

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Gay Conversion Ministry Sued for Fraud

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that they’re suing a “conversion ministry” of defrauding clients by claiming they could “cure” people of their gayness:

Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) fraudulently claimed to provide services that “convert” people from gay to straight. These services, known as conversion therapy, have been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the New Jersey conversion therapy organization for fraudulent practices. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, charged that JONAH, its founder Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming that their counseling services could cure clients of being gay.

The lawsuit describes how the plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive practices.

Customers of JONAH’s services typically paid a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling sessions and another $60 for group therapy sessions. The lawsuit describes sessions that involved clients undressing in front of a mirror and even a group session where young men were instructed to remove their clothing and stand naked in a circle with the counselor, Downing, who was also undressed. Another session involved a subject attempting to wrestle away two oranges – used to represent testicles – from another individual.

via Michael Ferguson, et al., v. JONAH, et al. | Southern Poverty Law Center.

Who Is Rob Bell?

This post is part of the Patheos Book Club. Check out the Book Club for more posts on this book, an interview with the author, and for responses from other bloggers and columnists.

I got a lot of Rob Bell this weekend. First, I read the New Yorker profile on him, then I dove into James Wellman’s book, Rob Bell and a New American ChristianityThe two intersected often, and sometime contradicted each other.

Before I proffer my analysis, let me remind you: I don’t know Rob Bell well. I’ve spoken to him twice — once in 2003ish, and once in 2011. Both were brief and passing conversations. I’ve never received an email from him; I don’t have his cell phone number. I am one degree of separation removed from him, being that I have several friends who know him quite well. I am generally sympathetic to his project, but as my reviews of Love Wins made clear, I also have problems with some of his conclusions (or lack thereof).

First, the New Yorker (the article is here, behind a pay wall):

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Remixing David Simon – for the Church

After the election, David Simon wrote a compelling post about change and our society. Simon is one of our best writers and thinkers, and I happen to believe that his show, The Wire, is the best show in the history of television. I have taken the liberty to remix his prescient words to the American electorate, because I think they’re equally applicable to the church:

David Simon (Wikicommons)

Barack Obama And The Death Of Normal Evangelicalism

I was on an airplane last night as the election was decided. As the plane landed after midnight on the East Coast, I confess that my hand was shaking as I turned on my phone for the news. I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded. It is hard enough for anyone to actually address the problems, to move this country forward, to make the intransigent American ruling class yield even a yard of the past to the inevitable future. But going backwards last night would have been devastating. I read the returns in silent elation; a business trip had me traveling in business class and the gnashing of corporate teeth all around precluded a full-throated huzzah on my part. I abhor a gloat.

But the country church is changing. And this may be the last election liturgical year in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals. Some in the Republican party church and among the teabagged fringe will continue to play such losing hands for some time to come; this shit worked well in its day and distracted many from addressing any of our essential national ecclesiological and theological issues. But again, if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.

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