Al Mohler says evangelicals have not told the truth about homosexuality; AFA's Bryan Fischer proves the point

Al Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the Christian Science Monitor in March that Baptists have lied about homosexuality and practiced a “form of homophobia.”

Responding to questions about the CSM article, Mohler affirmed his belief that same-sex sexual behavior is sin, but then told the Associated Baptist Press:

“But we as evangelicals have a very sad history in dealing with this issue,” he continued. “We have told not the truth, but we have told about half the truth. We’ve told the biblical truth, and that’s important, but we haven’t applied it in the biblical way.”

“We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice,” Mohler said. “It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. We are not a gospel people unless we understand that only the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ gives a homosexual person any hope of release from homosexuality.”

Rev. Mohler and I spoke together in 2008 at a meeting of Christian psychiatrists at the 2008 APA convention. He was saying the same things in that address and has consistently attempted to incorporate current research into his thinking about sexual orientation. Clearly, this stance has not changed his exegesis of Scripture, but he is calling evangelicals to stop at least some lying about gays.

On cue, however, is Bryan Fischer to quickly criticize Mohler for telling the truth. Fischer wrote:

On the whole, this was not a great week for the Southern Baptist Convention, as one of its leaders appeared to pander to the homosexual lobby and the convention itself pandered to lawbreakers, all in the space of two dizzying days.

Rev. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, urged attendees at the SBC’s annual convention to “repent” of what he called “a form of homophobia,” without saying exactly what kind of homophobia he was talking about.

Evidently, according to Rev. Mohler, if you don’t believe gays are born that way, you’re either a homophobe or right next to it. He told the delegates at the SBC that homosexuality is “more than a choice,” and that it apparently borders on something sinful to believe otherwise.

He did not elaborate on exactly what he meant by “more than a choice,” but what else could it mean but that he’s urging SBC’ers to accept the bogus claim that homosexuality is innate and that people can be homosexual from birth. Perhaps that’s not what he meant to say; if it wasn’t, then it’s important for him to clarify exactly what he did mean.

Mohler is pretty clear it seems to me. He is aware that research is not on the side of people who claim that being attracted to the same sex is a choice or some kind of easily reversible situation.

What a strange situation we have in the evangelical fold. One of our leading theologians speaks out on a issue of significance, and the culture warrior Bryan Fischer attacks him as he might an ideological opponent. Instead of considering the message, he attacks the messenger. I have experienced this myself and believe that the only orthodoxy that matters to the evangelical culture war complex (e.g., AFA, AFTAH, FRC, CWA, Liberty Counsel) is, “thou shalt demonize the gays.” All else is measured by this metric.

Many reading this blog will no doubt believe that Mohler does not go far enough and still promotes a harmful rhetoric. Others will understand that he is speaking to his constituents in language they understand which may help them come to a more honest, graceful place. I think Rev. Mohler can move a little further but, for now, I am glad Mohler is calling out the evangelical culture war complex and hope he continues to do so.

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  • Madison

    You’ve gotta think Mohler is being pressured somewhere to make these kinds of statements. No matter how fervent your belief in the “born gay” theory, you have to admit the evidence is inconclusive at best and probably leans towards a significant role for “nurture”. There are definitely some choices being made when it comes to identity, lifestyle, actions, etc but I haven’t heard anyone say addressing unwanted same sex attraction is easy.

  • Richard Willmer

    Given the lack of clarity in the Bible on the issue of consensual same-sex partnerships (we must not forget that all the apparent ‘negative’ biblical references to homosexuality are probably in the context of manifestly irresponsible, exploitative and/or abusive behaviour), I am very relieved that the people like Mohler are starting to question certain ‘party lines’.

    Other parts of the Church have moved rather further, of course. More and more Christians are recognizing that there needs to be an end to the profoundly sinful error of making crass and generalized judgments about people because of their sexual orientation.

  • Richard Willmer

    Right on cue – another, more ‘radical’ appraisal of ‘traditional positions’: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/21/my-take-bible-condemns-a-lot-so-why-focus-on-homosexuality/?hpt=hp_bn8

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

    Well, yes. They’ll use Junk Science the same way too. Or any other convenient tool.

    But we’re stating the obvious.

    Again.

  • Lynn David

    Not to mention evolution among other scientific realities.

  • StraightGrandmother

    I’m not buying it, too little too late. I am guessing that Al Mohler has someone he is close to who is gay, and now all of the sudden that he knows that a person he loves, and or is a close friend with and respects is gay, he is re-thinking his positions. Why now Al? Why now? There is more to this than meets the eye. Warren next time you bump into him pls ask him what made him change his mind. I’ll bet it is his close personal experience with a person who came out to him as gay. Oh yeah, now that it is personal and you know a gay person you are close to there is much less demonizing. “Oh maybe I should do more reflection…”

    Even though he may be putting a crack in the wall of DISCRIMINATION within the Baptist church it sure has not changed his politics any. No Civil Unions, no Gender Neutral marriage, no Gay Parents… I am ready to see some newly discovered Faith in Action, with a bit of reparations thrown in.

  • Madison

    now that it is personal and you know a gay person you are close to there is much less demonizing

    On one hand, yes, in public a person who knows a lot of gay people is almost required to support them or be ridiculed. It is terribly politically incorrect to be heterosexual affirming nowadays.

    However, on the other hand, having closer friends or family members come out can easily make one even more annoyed by the gay community, it’s propagandizing and war on SOCE.

  • StraightGrandmother

    @Madison, “It is terribly politically incorrect to be heterosexual affirming nowadays.” True dat. The way you obviously practice, “heterosexual affirming” which is obvious by your comments here.

  • Madison

    I’ve tested out many different approaches and even the softest and most sensible ones don’t change the reaction much. There’s simply a knee-jerk reaction to even the slightest hint of “born gay” skepticism.

  • Teresa

    I’ve tested out many different approaches and even the softest and most sensible ones don’t change the reaction much. There’s simply a knee-jerk reaction to even the slightest hint of “born gay” skepticism.

    Is your participation here, Madison, one of proselytizing the position that no one is “born gay”? Are you seeking converts? I believe it can only be frustrating to you, to continue to do the same thing, and expect different results.

  • Madison

    I’ll let the dig slide but, no, I don’t really expect to convert anyone. However I don’t think it’s out of the question that folks might re-evaluate their positions based on participation here. I, myself, changed my position on same sex marriage after these types of discussions.

    I don’t really mind not getting anywhere here on a micro level. There are some folks here who are opened minded and others, not so much. What is supremely frustrating is the disinformation campaign on a broader scale put forth by TWO, EGW, et al.

  • Lynn David

    StraightGrandmother……. @Madison, “It is terribly politically incorrect to be heterosexual affirming nowadays.” True dat. The way you obviously practice, “heterosexual affirming” which is obvious by your comments here.

    Why should one preclude the other? Or the need to attack one be engendered in either?

    I only wonder because I went to the baptism of my cousin’s granddaughter this last weekend, a very life-affirming affair – be that life she grows into be heterosexual or not, it also affirms her very heterosexual parents. Well, that and I happen to be gay and an atheist. So where is the absolute need for mutual exclusion?

    I think that is exactly Albert Mohler’s point. Mutual exclusion is no longer an option.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Lynn

    I very much agree with the thrust of your comment. And I too believe that Mohler is, quite correctly, making the point that dialectic that seeks to diminish and discredit human persons simply because the happen to be gay is profoundly unchristian.

    Many ‘thinking evangelicals’ (and there are plenty of those) find the deceitful anti-gay rhetoric of the likes of Fischer and Lively acutely hurtful and embarrassing, just as many Ugandans feel ashamed because of David Bahati’s vicious ranting. (Of course, it’s not the fault of either such evangelicals or such Ugandans if there are ‘rogue elements’ in their midst, as long as they do what they reasonably can to seek to put the record straight – and, fortunately, there seems to be an increasing number of each who do.)

  • StraightGrandmother

    okay Lynn, I’ll entertain the point you made. Madison is it okay for anyone to be gay? To never seek to change their sexual orientation, to just be satisfied being gay and to find a gay mate and live happily every after in their gay headed home?

  • ken

    StraightGrandmother# ~ Jun 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    “to find a gay mate and live happily every after in their gay headed home?”

    and raise children together?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Yes Ken, finding a mate and living happily ever after usually means starting a family and having children, beautiful children like Zach Wahls from Iowa, find him on you tube. I think the new census shows 25% of families headed by couples of the same sex have children.

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  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Many reading this blog will no doubt believe that Mohler does not go far enough and still promotes a harmful rhetoric.

    yes

    Others will understand that he is speaking to his constituents in language they understand which may help them come to a more honest, graceful place.

    yes

    I think Rev. Mohler can move a little further but, for now, I am glad Mohler is calling out the evangelical culture war complex and hope he continues to do so.

    and yes.

  • Richard Willmer

    It isn’t just outfits like the Southern Baptist Church that has a poor record when it comes to respecting the right to personal honour of gay people; there are huge problems also in the Anglican Communion.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/28/gafcon-homosexuality-anglican-mission