Since everyone is doing their end-of-year top 10 posts, I figured I would do the same. But I never really like doing my ten most popular posts because 1) it feels like bragging and 2) I figure they’re more likely to have already been seen. I prefer going the “in case you missed it” route. Blogging is a strange and sometimes frustrating adventure. The posts that I think are my best writing seldom go viral. So the following posts weren’t necessarily my most popular, but they are the ones that I would most like to offer as my contribution to progressive evangelical Christian discourse.
This is the most exhaustive account of my LGBT-affirming interpretation of the Bible in which I look at the clobber passages, the patriarchal context of both the Old and New Testament, and also where Paul gives us the foundation for a holistic Biblical sexual ethic in 1 Corinthians 7. To summarize, the banning of homosexuality makes sense in a patriarchal environment where men are responsible for protecting their wives and children from sexual violence. Our world’s framework today for protecting vulnerable people from sexual exploitation is grounded in consent rather than taboo, which is why the gender complementarian structure of patriarchy has become obsolete and thus the gendering of sexuality is no longer an issue.
This is actually the last post that I wrote. It’s the culmination of many reflections this year on my own complicity in racism as a white person. The reason that it’s so hard to prosecute police officers who kill black children unjustly is because their fear and jitteriness is so easy for white people to empathize with. The collective nature of the sin of racism is what makes it very hard for our Western individualist framework of justice to adjudicate.
The cornerstone of evangelical Christian teaching is that we are justified by God’s grace alone and not by our works. This is why it makes no sense theologically when evangelical Christians are invested in moralistic meritocracy, which is the toxic ideological root of so many Christians’ lack of compassion for the poor and marginalized.
The two favorite words of most evangelical Christians are obedience and authority. But the authority that Jesus shows us is very different from the worldly authority that many evangelical Christians worship. Jesus’ authority is the authority of the blood of every victim of our sin. The way that he inspires obedience is to convict us of our sin through his wounds on the cross.
One of the biggest distractions in any movement for social justice is the amount of “friendly” fire that advocates with different vantage points direct at each other. The less power somebody has, the more they have to resort to “rude,” disruptive political tactics, like when the Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted Bernie Sanders earlier this year. If I have personal access to people with power, then it makes sense for me to approach them in a more congenial way to have a conversation. Neither disrupters or bridge-builders should be shamed for embracing the tactics to which they have been called. We need both.
This summer, in First United Methodist Church in Smithville, Texas, I saw one of the most beautiful displays of radical hospitality I’ve ever seen in how the congregation responded to the disruption of a young man with a metal t-shirt during the pastor’s sermon.
I don’t think anyone would argue with the assertion that we’re going through a time of tremendous turbulence in American Christianity. I tried to identify the seven most important points of contention that we’re wrestling through as a church right now.
One of the greatest casualties of our economic system is the way that working class people are not able to go to church or spend any meaningful time with God because they have to work so many hours to survive. This is why fighting for a living wage is an issue of faith and family values.
Evangelical Christian culture tends to idolize obedience in child-rearing. The degree to which children are immediately compliant to every command of their parents is the measure of how well they have been parented. This approach to parenting makes it very easy for physical and emotional abuse to come into the picture.