March 22, 2013

This post is written by Michael Kimpan, our Associate Director at The Marin Foundation.

This week the blogosphere was abuzz with all sorts of news in the conversation between the LGBT community and the church.

First, Republican Senator Rob Portman did an about-face on his previous position opposing marriage for same-sex couples as a result of his son coming out to he and his wife.

The Senator admittedly ‘wrestled with how to reconcile [his] Christian faith‘ with his desire for his son to find fulfillment in a healthy relationship, and stated ‘Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion.’

Then at the start of this week, LifeWay Research reported that 64 percent of Americans believe it is inevitable that same-sex marriage will become legal in the US – with 58 percent seeing it as a civil rights issue. The research also showed a declining minority of Americans that see same-sex relationships as sinful – and that those who do are increasingly seen as discriminatory and unfair by culture at large.

Next, Former first lady and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was featured on HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality commercial, sparking new rumors about a possible run at the Presidency in 2016.

Then, of course, there was the news of Rob Bell’s statement supporting same sex marriage, about which I contributed an article to our friends at RLC, resulting in their highest website traffic – EVER. And just in case anyone wasn’t sure of his position, he clarified his comments with the good folks at the Odyssey Network yesterday.

Finally, abcNEWS released a poll showing a dramatic rise in support of gay marriage (particularly by young people – 81% of adults under 30) and a steady decline in the number of people who see homosexuality as a choice.

And that was just this week. Next week there are likely to be more.

The ramifications for the conservative evangelical church of the cultural shift which is taking place are staggering. Many fear the loss of relevancy or influence in our culture as all signs point to evangelicals losing their previous place of prominence atop of the cultural hierarchy chain, particularly in a pluralistic, post-modern society.

Having long struggled to stay relevant to young people (six in 10 young people leave the church starting at age 15) and in the wake of the rise of the nones (adults who have no religious affiliation) the temptation for many evangelicals is to decry the ways of the so-called secular world and dig in our heels under the banner of ‘absolute truth‘ declaring all who dare to disagree apostate.

Yet unity does not demand uniformity.

The misnomer that we must agree in order for there to be healthy and sustainable relationship or peaceful and productive dialogue is simply foolish. There will always be different perspectives on homosexuality – in both culture and the church – and to demand a single, uniform voice on a topic as complex as human sexuality seems to me to be as counter-intuitive as it is unrealistic.

Yet I’m convinced this exposed cultural disconnect surrounding homosexuality is merely symptomatic of a broader overarching issue within our communities of faith – Groupishness. The exclusivity of ‘the Other’ has become an identifying factor in many of our churches, in direct opposition to the radical inclusivity of Christ. Drawing lines in the sand on secondary issues has become so crucial to our identity that we’re unfortunately now known more by what we’re against than what we’re for.

The implied demand of this Groupishness is an inherited hostility toward ‘the Other’ – whether that Other is the sexually Other, the politically Other, or even the religiously Other. Our collective response in conversation about homosexuality is merely a symptom of a greater problem. We do the same with people of other faiths – muslims, hindus, atheists and agnostics. We even do it with other ‘brands’ of Christians which think differently regarding baptism, communion or remarriage, or those who get a little too charismatic when their favorite worship song is played.

The issue is…us. 

We struggle to put the words and message of Christ into action with anyone who thinks differently than we do – and we therefore surround ourselves with like-minded people, refusing to engage ‘the Other’ in peaceful and productive dialogue until they see things from our point of view.

We demand conformity prior to connection.

Meanwhile , contemporary culture grows increasingly tired of the old paradigm and polarizing rhetoric of us/them || in/out || right/wrong || black/white and the conservative church grows increasingly irrelevant. Could it be that the time of creating churches clubs around issues that fall outside the core tenets of our faith is over? Could the way forward include a commitment to solidarity with the Other and fidelity to the process of reconciliation – regardless of their alignment with politically and culturally divisive issues?

Perhaps the way in which God’s Spirit is moving in the world today has less to do with aligning ourselves to a certain set of beliefs but rather aligning ourselves with a certain set of values? Could it be those values really are as simple as defining Love as our Orientation?

What if God values justice and mercy and compassion more than he values proper doctrine? What if God – as he spoke through the OT prophet Amos – cares more about caring for the poor and the oppressed and the marginalized than he does about subscribing to the ‘right’ beliefs or even belonging to the ‘correct’ church?

I hate, I reject your festivals,
nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer
up to me burnt offerings
and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them.

I will not even look at
the peace offerings of your failings.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.

But let justice roll down like waters
and fair-and-right living like an ever-flowing stream.

When we approach one another as brothers and sisters – image bearers of the God we claim to serve – regardless of what differences we may have (no matter if these differences are revealed in sexuality, politics, religion or otherwise) and celebrate the humanity we have in common, it seems to me we carry divine potential for healing and restoration – for reconciliation.

We have an opportunity and responsibility to allow our words and actions to surge with the power and energy of a life defined by love, rather than our commitment to a specific (whether conservative or progressive) perspective.

By this all will know you are my disciples :: if you have love for one another.

 


Connect with Michael through his thought provoking blog, hit him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

March 13, 2013

This post is written by Michael Kimpan, our Associate Director at The Marin Foundation.

Peter had just done the impossible.

He healed a paralyzed man simply by speaking the name of Jesus. Shortly thereafter he told a dead girl to wake up, and she did. Everyone in town believed.

Some thought Peter himself was worthy of worship. He knew he was just a man… but he also knew the words the Rabbi had spoken to him :: ‘Tend to – feed – my sheep.’

Those words played in Peter’s mind every single day. They carried a weight and responsibility that at times was as daunting as the promise – upon him the Church would be built, and the gates of hell would not prevail. Love would have the final word.

‘Feed my sheep. Tend to them.’

Peter daily searched the Hebrew Scriptures to see new ways his previous understanding of God had been deepened through knowing Jesus and his teachings.

‘You’ve heard it said, but I say to you…’

‘It is written, but…

The way Jesus taught the Scriptures – the way he expanded on and fulfilled them – was unlike anything Peter had previously imagined. The understanding everyone  had before Jesus came was like a black and white sketch that needed to be shaded in with Divine color – like a skeleton, waiting for skin.

A movement from word to flesh.

When Jesus spoke, it was evident he really knew the heart of the Father. He explained the Law and the Prophets in terms that put meat on the bones of their skeletal understanding of YHVH.

And every morning since the Spirit came – since Pentecost – Peter poured over the Scriptures to find more ‘meat.’

This particular morning his reading made Peter’s head spin. Leviticus. The abominations listed caused the Apostle’s stomach to turn with disapproval; still, he was beginning to feel the pangs of hunger. It was almost lunchtime.

He went up on the roof to pray while his host, Simon, prepared a Kosher meal.

Then all hell broke loose.

Peter saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its’ four corners. On the sheet were all kinds of four-footed animals, along with reptiles and birds.

Nearly all the animals were unclean, as Peter had just read in the Scriptures. Even the animals that weren’t forbidden were made unclean simply by being with the beasts that were forbidden. It was guilt by association.

A giant sheet descending from heaven, full of things detestable and unclean to the first century Jew. By Law. By the Scriptures.

 A voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

Peter thought it must have been a test. Jesus had tested him before, too.

‘Peter, do you love me?’ Again. And again.

Peter almost expected the Voice to speak three times. God always seemed to do things in threes when he wanted to make a point.

Nothing unclean has ever entered my lips,’ Peter replied. ‘I won’t do it. A test. Just as he thought. He was planning on passing with flying colors. After all, he’d just read Leviticus.

But the next part, Peter did not expect.

‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

Peter fell into a trance, confused. He refused to listen. The Scriptures couldn’t be any more clear – it was forbidden. Unclean. Sinful.

Then God spoke again,

‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

Predictably, this happened three times, and then the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Peter was perplexed.

Almost immediately after the sheet ascended with the forbidden meat, servants from a Gentile household came asking for Peter to come with them to stay and eat with their master.

Co-mingling with Gentiles? Also forbidden.

That’s when it clicked for the Apostle.

You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean… for God is not one to show partiality.

What had been considered unclean, was now clean. What was once unlawful, was now lawful. What had previously been prohibited, now was permitted. This opened the door for those once considered ‘out’ to be invited into the Kingdom of God.

So where does this leave us today? Is it possible that in Jesus all things are made new? Are there divisions that still ought to exist, as outlined by the Scriptures – or is there provision for all people through Christ?

Is this relevant to some theological (or even cultural, political) conversations today?

What do you think?

Connect with Michael through his thought provoking blog, hit him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

March 8, 2013

This post is written by Michael Kimpan, The Marin Foundation’s new Associate Director. Read his thought provoking blog, hit him up on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

There’s this story in the Gospels that tells of a man who came to Jesus and asked,

What must I do to inherit eternal life?

That should capture our attention. I mean, after all… this is THE BIG QUESTION, right?

How can we be ‘in’ with God? How can we know we’re not headed toward hell?

Think about the question :: What must I do to inherit eternal life? 

That question, answered by the Son of God.

Grab a pen and paper. Take note. Write this down. Pay attention.

His answer may surprise you.

The question.

The young scribe had just the right question for this rebellious rabbi. ‘What must I do?

Jesus stopped and turned, his eyes looking into those of the man who asked, seeing past them and into his heart. ‘What does the Torah tell you?

The lawyer had paid attention as a boy. He knew Jewish Law and custom. It was, after all, his profession – to be a student and defender of the Law.

He rattled off the right answer in response ::

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus seemed pleased.

Some in the crowd later said they saw the Great Teacher crack a gentle grin.

You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.

As Jesus turned to continue along the path towards Bethany, the man asked ::

…who is my neighbor?

And this is where the story really begins.

The story.

Jesus answered, ‘A man was going down a steeply descending road – the one from here to there –  from Jerusalem to Jericho.

On the journey, thieves came and stripped him naked, beating him and stealing all that he had, leaving him for dead.

There he lay, alone – bruised and beaten, along the side of the highway – hurting.

It just so happened that a Priest was heading down that way.

Perhaps the Priest will help me,‘ thought the man.

But the priest passed by him on the other side, pretending not to see.

Then a ‘super priest’ – a Levite – came upon the man.

They made eye contact. The victim looked at the Levite with desperation in his eyes.

Please. Help me,‘ he whispered through the pain.

The Levite passed along the other side just like the Priest before him, thinking if he got blood on his hands that others would see him as unclean. Maybe even God would. He went on his way, leaving the man to die.

But then, a Samaritan came.

<At this, the crowd sneered. Samaritans were despised by the Jews – they were half-breeds with mixed Gentile blood and different worship, which centered around a different mountain (not Mt. Zion, where the Jews worshipped), with different customs and different priorities. Come to think of it, they weren’t just different – they were wrong.>

Jesus continued, ‘When the Samaritan saw the man, he felt compassion – the same kind of compassion that God has on us – and went to him. He clothed the man and bandaged his wounds, tenderly rubbing a salve into the areas where his skin had been torn open.

Carefully lifting the man upon his donkey, the Samaritan walked alongside him until the nearest town. When they arrived, the Samaritan paid for them to stay in an inn, and took care of the man throughout the night.

The next day, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper what little money he had and also gave instructions :: ‘Take care of this man. Whatever more you spend above what I’ve already given to you, I will repay when I return.

Which one of these,’ asked Jesus, ‘Do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robber’s hands?

The surprised scribe muttered his answer. He couldn’t quite get the word ‘Samaritan’ out. ‘The one who showed him mercy.

Then go and do likewise.

The response.

What must I do to inherit eternal life?

Could it be that the way to be ‘in’ with God is to join him in breaking down the barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’? To reject the thinking, paradigm and language of ‘in’ and ‘out’ and instead focus on bringing healing to the hurting, no matter their race, color, creed, religion, orientation, or any other factor that makes them a so-called ‘Other’?

Could it be that the way to avoid hell is to choose to be an agent of reconciliation toward those who are different than ourselves?

What must I do to inherit eternal life?

What do you think Jesus meant?

February 21, 2013

For our upcoming Living in the Tension gathering, we’re going to be tackling a big but important topic: how do we interpret the Bible. One of our interns, Michael Overman, and a couple staff members, Michael Kimpan and Jason Bilbrey, will be leading us in a discussion about the many factors that go into how we interpret and apply scripture to our everyday lives. Feel free to bring a Bible with you as we will most likely be flipping through to find passages that have or have not been problematic when interpreting. It promises to be an engaging, though-provoking evening.

We will be meeting on Monday, February 25th, at 7pm. The group will be gathering in Room 120 on 5255 N. Ashland Avenue. If you are available beforehand, we would love to have you join us for dinner at Lady Gregory’s around the corner on 5260 N. Clark St. at 5:15pm.

We hope to see you there!

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

February 11, 2013

The following post is written by The Marin Foundation’s Associate Director, Michael Kimpan. You can hit him up on Facebook, Twitter and his blog.

My dear friend Joel will often interrupt even the most seemingly casual conversations with his peers to stop and look at the example of Jesus in one of the four gospels – or even all of them, comparing the accounts from the different perspectives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He says,

‘If our job is to find and follow Jesus Christ, we ought to spend a great deal of time looking at what he actually did, don’t you think?’

He’s got a point.

The phrase ‘What would Jesus do?’ (often abbreviated to WWJD) became increasingly popular in the 1990s and many Evangelical Christians used this phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act like him, often wearing bracelets to remind them to consider that question in the midst of their daily decision making.

But as my friend is fond of saying, many of us make assumptions as to what Jesus would actually do based on our accepted method of engagement some 2,000 years removed from Christ, rather than spending time studying and pouring over the record available to us in the gospels to see what he actually did

This is why Joel will stop conversations, whip out his beat up bible, and diligently search the pages of the New Testament. He is committed to finding out what Jesus actually did do, and instructing his own words and behavior accordingly.

His commitment to this task inspires me – and it’s a habit I’ve attempted to implement in my own life – daily spending time in the gospels, looking at the life of Jesus and patterning my own actions in response.

As I’ve done so, I’ve solidified an under-preached truth ::

Jesus upset the cultural norms for the purpose of standing in solidarity with the Other.

Whenever I take the time to look deeply into the life of Christ as recorded in the gospel narratives, I am reminded at how intent Jesus was in standing in solidarity with Others – those whom had been outcast and marginalized by the elite religious community for one reason or another.

Think about it ::

• The woman caught in the act of adultery and clearly guilty of sin.

• The man born blind and blamed for by the authorities as being sinful.

• The outcast leper whose very presence in culture was outlawed by the Law.

• The man with a withered hand, lingering in the synagogue and hoping for a miracle.

• The parable of the good samaritan, or the real samaritan he spoke with at the well – both of which were considered ‘unclean’ to any self-respecting Jew.

• The traitor tax collector who worked in cohort with the oppressive Roman regime and took advantage of his own people for his personal gain.

• The beggar at the Pool of Mercy who held little value to the structure of society in the eyes of everyone but Jesus.

The list goes on, and extends to even you and me :: outcasts || beggars || prostitutes || drunkards || tax collectors || Gentiles || zealots || doubters || betrayers || cheaters || liars || failures || lost sheep || people haunted by their own demons || sinners || humans.

All of us.

We’re all ‘Other.’

Looking deeply into the life of Christ as recorded in the gospel narratives, we continually  and consistently find him standing in solidarity with Others – people whom the religious community had cast aside as outcasts or unworthy, for a myriad of reasons that Jesus – in his divine wisdom – did not find compelling enough for exclusion.

Time and time again Jesus upsets the accepted method of cultural engagement and crosses the dictated boundaries of normalcy – in relentless pursuit of re-connecting that which had been disconnected. For Jesus, the marginalization of the Other was simply an opportunity to shower them with hope and reconciliation.

Jesus stands in solidarity with the Other.

From the very beginning of and throughout his life, Jesus embodies the Divine welcoming of the Other, culminating in the self-sacrificial act of reconciliation on our behalf. Embodying that same welcome is at the heart of our own obedience to God’s grace.

That’s what Jesus would do. It’s what he did.

That is the gospel. That is reconciliation. That is love. And that is our orientation.

As someone who takes the Scriptures seriously, I do not see how I can avoid doing the same thing with those most often marginalized in my own cultural context.  This is what motivates me to join in our work at The Marin Foundation, to build bridges between opposing worldviews rather than fighting with one side or the other to dictate cultural normalcy and marginalize the view seen as ‘Other.’ As a Christ follower, I am called and compelled to follow in Jesus’ example – to literally be an ambassador of reconciliation and stand in solidarity with the Other.

What does it mean to you to actually “stand in solidarity with the Other?”

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

January 20, 2013

Andrew Marin at The Table at CPC from Christ Presbyterian Church on Vimeo.

For those of you not going to church today, here you go.

The first weekend of January I spoke at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, MN. It was a great few days connecting with their pastoral staff, Registered Runaway, Tony Jones (who took Michael Kimpan and I to the greatest high school hockey in the country #EdinaHornets), and seeing one of my best friends since we were 13 years old, who coincidentally just moved to Edina.

Above is the video from my talk on Sunday evening. Feel free to go directly to 14:34 of the video–that way you will skip the church’s announcements, me being introduced, and the overview of my background story (for those of you who are already familiar with my three best friends coming out to me).

I spend the remaining 40 or so minutes giving some reflections on Loving within Theological Diversity.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

January 18, 2013

This post is written by Michael Kimpan, The Marin Foundation’s new Associate Director. We will be properly introducing Michael very soon, but for now, you can read his thought provoking blog, hit him up on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

THE TRUTH ABOUT PEACEMAKING

A few days ago I wrote a post on my own blog highlighting and celebrating the potential for thoughtful, open and deliberate conversation regarding faith and sexuality from our friends across the pond as responses to Steve Chalke’s recent statement in support of same-gender monogamous relationships blossom around the blogosphere.

We would do well to follow suit in the ole US of A.

As a bridge building organization between opposing worldviews, The Marin Foundation has long advocated for peaceful and productive dialogue to take place between progressive and conservative communities in this conversation, even while acknowledging that neither side may ‘convert’ to the perspective of their opposite.

As Andrew has pointed out before time and time again, the role of a peacemaker is not to convert one side to the convictions of their opposite; rather, it is to focus on how to ‘peacefully and productively shift the medium of engagement between the two, by intentionally partnering with both and bringing them together.’

Activists and extremists on both sides, of course, lump this peacemaking position into some sort of secret allegiance and hidden agenda in alignment with whatever worldview is diametrically opposed to their own preferred perspective. With every ounce of stored up visceral hatred, ‘the Other’ (and the bridge builder along with them) is consistently demonized as simple-minded accusations, false generalizations and fear tactics fly in the face of reality and reason.

This process paralyzes peaceful and productive conversation.

As each side further digs into their polarizing, back and forth, us/them language , it becomes increasingly apparent that there will be no compromise and therefore no conversion. When that’s the unfortunate end-goal of your message, the logical conclusion is therefore to give up any hope of engaging in conversation.

‘What is there to talk about? They’re wrong – I’m right. And they won’t change their minds.’

Yet none of us benefit from ignorance and intolerance.

We desperately need relationship.

Many of the extremist voices I’ve personally encountered have absolutely no level of positive engagement with any representative from ‘the Other’ side. No wonder then, when the stereotypes and name-calling begins from one side, that the other side follows suit.

This senseless cycle needs to stop.

We are desperate for intelligent cultural engagement from high-profile leaders within these conversations. As opportunity for a volcanic eruption of emotional outbursts rounds the corner toward the straightaway of the SCOTUS decisions on gay marriage, it is imperative we reach hands across the divide and begin the work of reconciliation.

Regardless of our theological convictions, the way in which the church has traditionally approached conversations with the LGBT community has not been helpful. Rather than proving our insanity to the world by repeating the same behavior while expecting different results, I wonder how many leading voices within evangelicalism will take seriously the charge of Jesus to be known by our love – not love for God, or love for ‘Truth’ or ‘love for morality’ or ‘love for theocratic ideals’ … but love for one another?

We need real relationships, with real people, in real time. We need fidelity in friendship. We need a commitment to community. We need to sit at the same table as those with whom we disagree, engaging one another in respectful language and tone, with the promise of solidarity and listening in humility.

We need to commit anew to a message of reconciliation grounded in relationship.

Perhaps it would behoove us to re-orient ourselves around LOVE for one another -regardless of theological, political or cultural conviction. May we enter difficult discussion and dialogue – even debate – with the conviction and commitment not to destroy one another’s reputations, but to instead converse with maturity and grace in an effort to demonstrate to the watching world that we really do love one another.

‘it is by this that all people may know you are My disciples — if you have love, for one another.’

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

January 11, 2013

There is so much to sort through after yesterday’s announcement that Louie Giglio stepped down from praying at the Inauguration. You can find a great summary of it all at Red Letter Christians, by The Marin Foundation’s new Associate Director, Michael Kimpan. There were a few prominent evangelicals to weigh in yesterday, and besides Skye Jethani’s insightful and nuanced post, I found most of them to be totally off the mark. In summarizing the themes from yesterday’s evangelical world’s attempt at thoughtful commentary, here is my overall analysis:

The articles written by Gabe Lyons, Albert Mohler, Ed Stetzer and John Dickerson in the Washington Post are wrongly generalizing this situation as the collapse of evangelicalism. I can’t stand when people do that. Does everyone realize that evangelicalism is still the dominant religious entity within our country? Why all the drama? Sure, evangelicalism didn’t get it’s way yesterday and now they’re crying like a baby getting their toy (e.g. political platform) taken away from them. Where is the intelligent dialogue instead of the simple accusations and false generalizations? No wonder so many in the public square have such a hard time taking evangelicals seriously.

First, it is clear that Gabe Lyons, Albert Mohler, Ed Stetzer, John Dickerson, etc, have little to no personal experience with the religious affiliations and convictions of those who advise and surround the President. I’m not talking about Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Jay Carney or even Joshua Dubois. I’m talking about the people who the public will never know their names because they are never in front of the camera, and yet play very significant roles in shaping public policy and attempting to navigate the ever-changing landscape of our country. In no way, shape, or form am I saying that I am better than anyone because I have been given the opportunity to personally know and be in relationship with quite a few folks at the White House. But I can honestly tell you that there are way more professing and practicing evangelicals throughout our government than any of the “evangelical experts” have a clue about.

The President, regardless of what you think of him or the direction he is leading the country, does surround himself with a variety of worldviews, opinions and experiences. Just because he “comes out” and makes definitive statements supporting the topics LGBTs care so deeply about, doesn’t mean he is not listening to a ton of people behind the scenes from all different walks of life–very intentionally also including orthodox evangelicals. That is a fact.

The broader issue then, becomes, is the conservative evangelical world flipping out because they aren’t getting what they want and are no longer in the political power structure of our country–fearful that the treatment they have implemented over other cultural non-dominant populations over the years will be turned back on them? Or are they flipping out because they just aren’t aware that professing and practicing evangelicals actually do have a role in our country’s highest offices? We’ll have to see, but I sure pray it’s the latter instead of the former. My gut, spirit if you will, unfortunately tells me it’s the former.

A few highlights and analysis from yesterday’s famous evangelical’s comments:

Gabe Lyons called what happened to his very good friend, Louie Giglio, a hate crime**. A HATE CRIME, GABE?! Are you serious. A hate crime involves physical violence against someone. As far as I am aware, Louie Giglio was not physically attacked and has a healthy able body, chilling in Atlanta this morning. He had some people write some very mean things about him on the world wide web. That does not count as a hate crime. Nor, my Bible believing friends, does that count as persecution. There are Christians literally getting killed around the world, just as in what we read about in Scripture. That is persecution! “My feelings get hurt, I get branded in a false light, and I get a very high profile speaking gig cancelled on me” IS. NOT. PERSECUTION. OR. A. HATE. CRIME. I know Gabe personally, and this is very sad to see. He’s better than that.

Albert Mohler, in his usual way of writing, doesn’t offer any productive solutions for advancing the chasm at the end of his commentary, but only insists evangelicals must continue fighting against the evils of what is fearfully going to destroy us all. I don’t know Albert Mohler, I wish I did because I would be fascinated to talk to him. But anyway, this article he wrote, and pretty much any others of his, you’ve read one of them you’ve read all of them. He needs to represent his Southern Baptist denomination in the public square with an eye much more clearly pointed towards peacefully engaging opposing worldviews through within the framework of his theological belief system, rather than continuing to think the mainstream will ever step inside his as a baseline for dialogue. I’m sure he’s a smart enough man to figure this out like Jesus did in his day.

Ed Stetzer’s research shows that the country is at about a 50/50 split with people thinking that homosexuality is a sin. It is true Ed, that with such a split your argument is correct that someone like Giglio should be allowed to pray, speak, etc as he does represent half of the country. But the President of the United States of America, the man being sworn in, is a part of the other 50%. Do you feel that Mitt Romney would have had gay Bishop Gene Robinson offer a prayer? We can only speculate, but with American politics as they are today, I highly doubt it. Why then Ed, are you so surprised this happened, especially after Giglio’s silence to “clarify” his current position since the sermon in question happened in the mid-90s?

And John Dickerson asks the question, is it time to ditch the name “evangelical?” He makes a very compelling argument why. Fine, change the name from “evangelical” to [insert new name here]. Doesn’t change the beliefs, just gives it a new “brand,” as Dickerson put it. Well, as I said in My One Sentence Bible on January 9thJesus doesn’t care about your “brand.” In fact, he can’t stand the fact that you care so much about it. [Luke 20:41-47]. If the beliefs won’t change with a new name, then, a reclamation of “the brand” can only happen through actions. But, if you’re dead set on changing the name, I’m a big fan of Red Letter Christian. Evangelicals talk a great game about what Jesus says in the red letters, time to actually live it out, then.

All in all, the “end of evangelicalism” or the “public oppression of evangelicalism” will all happen much sooner and greater than anyone could have expected without a more intelligent thought towards engaging the public square with more than blames, accusations, fear tactics and false generalizations. A rough day indeed for evangelicals all over, and not because Giglio stepped down.

**Update: As of the evening of 1/11/13, Gabe Lyons tweeted me with a link to an retraction of the use of “hate crime.” See his explanation here.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

August 4, 2012

If you have been online in the last week at all, you have probably noticed that everyone and their cousin has commented or blogged about the situation with Chick-fil-A. August 1st has come and gone, so for our next Living in the Tension gathering we want to take some time to discuss how we move forward from this point. When something like this comes up again, how do we tangibly live out our faith and engage others that we disagree with? Are boycotts or counter protests effective in changing the landscape? What would make a difference?

We will be meeting on 5255 N. Ashland Ave. in Room 120 on August 7th at 7pm. We hope you’re able to join us to share your thoughts and discuss how we can constructively move forward and proactively engage others when culture wars are pushed to the forefront.

If you somehow managed to not get your fill in regards to blog posts written about the Chick-fil-A situation, you can find some posts below in no particular order that we felt contributed to the discussion in a constructive way.

Chick-Fil-Activism by one of our interns, Brent Bailey

Being Holy in an Age of Being Right by Michael Kimpan

Some words for Christians on both sides of the Chick-fil-A war by Rachel Held Evans

Prophets of Peace by Wendy Gritter

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

June 26, 2013

[Update 6pm CST] I spent today calling and texting my LGBT married friends around the country, congratulating them in this momentous ruling. I understand from doing life with them how important this decision is to their lives, their spouses and especially their children. The impact of today can never be overstated, as our nation’s legal arc towards an equal understanding of humanity can continue to be lived in to, now with LGBTs and marriage. Also, you can find The Marin Foundation’s official statement on our Facebook page and our Associate Director’s great post about today’s rulings and the Law of Love here.

There are new cultural starting points for the LGBT conversation. Our country has officially and dramatically shifted in less than a week. Well, kind of. Let me explain…

Exodus International closed last week.

See my thoughts about the new religious starting point here and here.

This morning the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, now giving Federal protections to same-sex married couples in the States where gay marriage is legalized.

SCOTUS also ruled Prop 8 of no standing, thus, effectively making California the 13th State to allow gay marriage.

This means there is also a new political starting point.

Although there are currently 37 States that have legislation favoring traditional marriage, there is not much potentially stopping those remaining States to keep such policies–especially with the change in Federal legislation that no longer backs heterosexual marriages only. Although the previous sentence is still quite a leap, to suggest in the near-ish future gay marriage will be legalized throughout America, we must also understand the very real existence of about half of US citizens still do not favor legalizing gay marriage (although that number is dramatically decreasing).

As my social media feeds are blowing up with caution-to-the-wind excitement from LGBTs and progressives, and utter distain from most conservatives, this disconnect is far from over. I might even suggest that our new reality reshapes the entire culture war, thus rendering it a new beginning.

Therefore, the new political question is no longer

Should LGBT people be allowed to get married?

but,

Will my State give LGBT couples the legal recognition and benefits of their marriage?

I have previously written about my understanding of engaging the gay marriage conversation here, here and here. All of which I still stand by.

So in light of today’s rulings, I feel the new genesis for Christians, then, and anyone of faith, really, must begin and end not on gay marriage but on the religious freedom and protections the US Constitution gives those communities of faith and places of worship to practice in their Holy text’s theology. Which, in a number of individual situations, will go against today’s ruling.

One very encouraging note on the religious freedom and protection front came this morning from President Obama. He clearly reiterated the need to

…maintain our nation’s commitment to religious freedom [as vital]… and how religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.

We must hold him, our nation’s policies moving forward, and each future President to those same commitments. You can read President Obama’s full statement here.

As a body of faith, whether people agree or disagree with the rulings, we must start functioning in the reality of this new world instead of continuing to function in one’s ideal, best case scenario, that does not exist. #MuchLove

I am curious to hear your thoughts on how we all must engage with each other from this point forward?

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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