And so it continues…

It has been a heartfelt belief around this blog that the queer controversy embroiling the Episocpal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America will eventually also embroil evangelical and conservative churches.  Homosexuality isn’t going away (even if you ban it (like a certain American fundamentalist influenced African country), it just goes underground, not away…kind of like the Church).  Up until recently, there has been a relatively consistent stance concerning homosexuality  amongst the evangelical crowd–maybe because evangelicals that question a black and white biblical interpretation find themselves in other communions–but, now, read this story of a church firmly in the evangelical tradition which allows openly gay people to fully participate in the life of the church, including in leadership roles.  Very interesting indeed:

Evangelical Church Opens Doors Fully to Gays 

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20 Comments

  1. George,

    I believe Tidd is addressing this percieved incongruency of yours with this statement: “We reach an understanding of the Bible not just by studying God’s word, but by studying his world,” Tidd said. “If you think he’s the author of both, they both inform each other.” Homosexuality is a societal issue that isn’t going away and is eating away at evangelicalism (unlike polygomy or concubinage) even as evangelicals are trying to batten down the hatches on the “biblical” position.

    I think it is interesting that David Dockery, the evangelical leader quoted toward the beginning of the article, acknowledges that new and upcoming generations of evangelicals are less likely to continue in the current evangelical position towards homosexuality, and then offers as his solution the need for “evangelical leaders to clearly teach the traditional views on homosexuality.”

    It is my position that “clear teaching” is precisely what has caused upcoming generations of evangelicals to feel vast amounts of disillusionment, and to leave evangelical churches in droves. Forcing black and white social doctrines down people’s thoats no longer works, maybe evangelicals should start hiding subliminal messages about the evils of homosexuality in Relient K songs.

    Reply

    1. James,

      Nobody listens to Relient K anymore.

      I wonder if perhaps I might analyze David Dockery’s comment.

      – I pretty much totally agree with him that it will be difficult to take the “traditional” stance for granted amongst the upcoming “generation.”

      – I also think that because of the inability of Evangelical churches to tolerate incongruous practice and theology (at least in the things that matter-like drinking and swearing) this will sharply divide into two camps “for” and “against”

      – Consequently ones “stance” on homosexuality will increasingly become a matter ones “orthodoxy”

      – Partly this will expose the ridiculousness of this being the new litmus test. I also think that it will move the Church into more serious reflection on Sanctification, Holiness, Salvation, Community, Conscience, Marriage, Christian anthropology and more. It may well be the means of theological renewal! I mean look at all the monographs on doctrine and Christian practice that have been coming from the Mainline for the last 20 years. I think we had to lose our theological minds in order for them to be reborn.

      – This is coming about, I believe, not because of traditionalists “clear teaching,” but rather because of Evangelicalism’s (following the Mainline) total lack of “clear teaching” on essentials. Just ask a young Evangelical to define “Gospel” and I think it becomes clear what I mean.

      – As an Anglican, I’m thoroughly apprehensive about how this is playing out in the Communion and I find it incredibly depressing.

      Reply

  2. I’m in the Episcopal Church. My parish has a gay deacon and our diocese just voted in a lesbian bishop. I have gay siblings.

    I’m torn on this issue. On the one hand I think that what the scriptures say and how we interpret them needs to be thought through more carefully by those that assume scripture condemns loving homosexual relationships. I don’t believe it does.

    But at the same time I also think we need to attend to the scriptures and how we interpret them for sex in general. What is the purpose, meaning and proper ends of sex and marriage?

    I tend to side with the Archbishop and with N.T. Wright that it’s an ecclesial issue. It’s not that the Episcopal Church represents peace, freedom and liberation against those African fundamentalists. It’s that we’re a part of the worldwide Anglican communion and the apostolic, catholic church and that should impact the way we make our decisions.

    My fear is that the way we come to these decisions is more informed by americanism than by the proper Christian reasoning. For example, my denomination sued to retain property rights with parishes that withdrew from the denomination over this issue. Whether the parishes are right or wrong doesn’t scare me as much as the whole denomination suing Christians in pagan courts…an issue that I think is much more clear than the one of homosexuality.

    Problems:

    Can we clearly define proper Christian reasoning?

    Can I fairly ask people to give up their rights until we sort through our ecclesial problems?

    Reply

  3. Joey (It was Joey right? Or do you prefer Charismanglican?),

    I agree that much of this has to do with a breakdown in ecclesiology. I’m not sure that we can much longer live with the amount of independence that TEC seeks and still consider ourselves “in communion.”

    My hope is for the “Covenant” to function as another confirmation of Anglicanism’s deep Catholic ecclesiology. To be honest, if that breaks down I’m not sure what I’ll do.

    -Also, I don’t see the “rights” paradigm as the best paradigm for understanding this “issue.” In fact I consider it the least theological and most idealogical and has served to marginalize more than help.

    Reply

  4. Yeah, Joey’s the name. You can use my stage-name if you want 🙂

    I agree that the concept of rights may not be the best paradigm. But as a white, male, heterosexual u.s.american from the middle class I gotta be careful asking others to give up their rights or saying that rights aren’t that important.

    Reply

  5. James:

    So if I understand your interpretation of Tidd’s remark correctly, we should address the homosexuality issue but not the polygamy issue because our society is wrestling with homosexuality, but not polygamy. Of course, that means African Christians–whose society wrestles with polygamy but not homosexuality–should have a more tolerant approach to the former, right? Interestingly, however, the African prelates in your church are arguing against polygamy in their own culture and homosexuality in theirs, which I guess means you find them doubly irrelevant.

    You write: “It is my position that ‘clear teaching’ is precisely what has caused upcoming generations of evangelicals to feel vast amounts of disillusionment, and to leave evangelical churches in droves.” Perhaps.

    Or perhaps it’s the fact that younger generations of single evangelicals are sleeping around, don’t want to be judged for their behavior, and so don’t judge the sexual behavior of others. In other words, in my opinion, it is the breakdown of the practice of Christian marriage (fidelity between two opposite sex partners within marriage, chastity without) that has led to a breakdown in the theology of sexuality, not the other way around.

    Sooner or later, we’re going to hear from evangelicals who argue that the Bible countenances–or at least that Christians should countenance–adult consensual sexual activity outside marriage. I mean, if you can justify homosexual practice from Romans 1, surely you can get extramarital sex from Ruth.

    George

    Reply

  6. Tony:

    I agree with your point, but I also stand by mine. I don’t think it is possible to explain the younger generation of evangelicals’ rejection of traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality without reference to their own sexual practices.

    Perhaps I could cast the net more broadly, however, so as not to be generationally offensive. It is my opinion that the rise in support for homosexual marriage cannot be explained without reference to the explosion of divorce among straights as well as to the explosion of extramarital sexuality. If straights don’t abide by biblical prohibitions of divorce and enjoinments of chastity, and if the church accommodates straights in doing so, and if such practices were traditionally considered “sin,” why be tough on homosexuals?

    In other words, the breakdown of marriage among straights has created an opening for the introduction of marriage among gays. I think this is obviously true at the level of correlation. I think one could make a plausible argument that the two are causally related as well, although that’s a far more complicated argument.

    George

    Reply

  7. George,

    I agree that the church’s allowance for divorce has opened up a window, so to speak, for the conversation of homosexual union to jump in, but it was in your generation that the divorce rate skyrocketed, and it was my generation that was left fatherless because of it. Playing the generational blame game is a two way street.

    Now, I am sure that divorce is not a problem for you personally, so let me likewise asure of this: as a 26 year old heterosexual male who has only had sex with one partner (and that sex occured within a marriage officially sanctioned by both church and state), I can say with confidence that my evolving understanding of the issue of homosexuality in the Church is not motivated or influenced by the desire to make myself feel better about my own promiscuity.

    Furthermore, I defy you to produce substantive evidence to say that those members of the Church who fall between the spectrum of “I don’t know if homosexuality is wrong” to “Homosexuality is definitely right” are any more promiscuous than those members of the Church who condemn homosexuality as a matter of course (or intercourse, hee hee). And, of course, we’ll avoid anecdotal evidence as we wouldn’t want to drag certain senators or big-name pastors into the arguement.

    Reply

  8. James:

    Uh, I’m back.

    Divorce actually exploded in my parents’ generation, not mine. I’m not that much older than you.

    Here’s an interesting study from Barna:

    http://barna.org/barna-update/article/13-culture/144-a-new-generation-of-adults-bends-moral-and-sexual-rules-to-their-liking

    David Kinnaman: “The research shows that people’s moral profile is more likely to resemble that of their peer group than it is to take shape around the tenets of a person’s faith. This research paints a compelling picture that moral values are shifting very quickly and significantly within the Christian community as well as outside of it.”

    Merry Christmas!

    George

    P.S. I’ll see you all in the New Year. And I promise not to post again until then, unless of course I break my promise (as I just did here).

    Reply

  9. I was about to post a snide comment about Barna, but I decided not to tempt you to break your promise, George. Have a wonderful time with your family and friends this holiday.

    Reply

  10. “I don’t think it is possible to explain the younger generation of evangelicals’ rejection of traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality without reference to their own sexual practices.”

    The fact that you, Mr. Wood, are unable to come up with another explanation does not come close to meaning that there is not one.

    Reply

  11. No worries, James, about the Barna snide comments. I have plenty of my own. But if you wade through the online report all the way down to the survey methodology, it looks like a pretty good sample. Plus, the guy supervising the study is David Kinnaman, who wrote an excellent book called “UnChristian,” a survey of why the younger generation thinks poorly of evangelical Christians.

    I’m breaking my promise not to post on account of Deborah. Nothing that I’ve written precludes other explanations for the younger generation of evangelicals’ rejection of traditional Christian sexual morality. All I’m saying is that the their sexual practices must also be taken into account as one factor in their change of thinking. Indeed, Deborah, I find your final sentence odd in light of the fact that I cited “the explosion of divorce among straights as well as to the explosion of extramarital sexuality” (in the older generation of evangelicals) as additional factors.

    But, whatever…

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

    Reply

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