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Regarding Evangelical Tony Campolo’s “acceptance” of gay, Christian couples

Regarding Evangelical Tony Campolo’s “acceptance” of gay, Christian couples June 9, 2015

Today, Dr. Tony Campolo, an evangelical speaker and author (well known to the evangelical crowd) released a statement regarding his official change of heart and mind regarding gay couples and their acceptance in the church. In his post he says:

“While I have always tried to communicate grace and understanding to people on both sides of the issue, my answer to that question has always been somewhat ambiguous. One reason for that ambiguity was that I felt I could do more good for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters by serving as a bridge person, encouraging the rest of the Church to reach out in love and truly get to know them. The other reason was that, like so many other Christians, I was deeply uncertain about what was right.

It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”

I sure hope we are witnessing genuine evidence of a heart and mind opening to God’s radical love. But while I appreciate his statement, what’s left unsaid makes raises some important questions.

For a man of words, the words in his statement seem very carefully chosen. As such, they do not indicate full inclusion, they do not leave room for queer folks who are single/dating, they do not leave room for queer seekers, they do not indicate affirmation of bisexual or transgender people.

His statement only indicates gay couples and only those who claim the label Christian.

And the word acceptance bugs me, more than a little.

I really don’t want it to, but it feels a little like “welcoming but not affirming.”

I am at a place in my life where I am holding in delicate tension my genuine gratitude for folks who do and are changing their hearts and minds every day, exasperation (and a little suspicion) with late starts, and faithful clarity that anything less than full inclusion in church and society is a denial of the sacred worth and very humanity of LGBT people. Of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly realize that each and every voice in the evangelical world that speaks of even out loud about loving gay people is good. Those words might fall upon the ears of just one other pastor who will for maybe the first time consider thinking differently. Those words might give peace to a frightened parent who will hold their hateful tongue. Those words might even save the life of one gay child who had internalized the putrid lies of God’s loathing and damnation.

But as you’ve probably gathered about me by now, I am called to question gently (well, some of the time) and faithfully (without ceasing) any and all who claim to love Jesus and also have something to say about my, your or any LGBT person’s sacred worth.

What do y’all think?

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Update: If you’d like to see what extravagantly open and affirming statements look like, check out a few from churches in the UCC.


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