Tag Archives: Homosexuality

The Same But Different

There’s something I’ve noticed about the way Christians argue. While everyone to some degrees argues to prove that they’re right, the most successful in the arenas of (more or less) intellectual battle are the ones that argue with a specific goal in mind; a thesis that defines their debates regardless of the topic.

I’ve seen lots of theses in my years immersed in Christian Culture. Some argue so that others will see the sovereignty of God. Some argue in favor of a family focused faith. Some argue on behalf of “the least of these.” Some theme everything they do toward showing the beauty of God. Those last people are a personal favorite of mine.

While there are most likely an infinite number of themes your arguments could have, the most successful of debaters usually settle on one broad-ish theme. Think back to people you’ve argued with over and over again and see if you can pick up on theirs. Think back again and try to identify yours. It’s kind of fun, isn’t it?

Here’s the deal. I think I’ve probably had a few different themes through the years. I’m ADD like crazy. Thinking about it recently though, I think I’ve decided what I want my thesis to be. I’m not saying this is currently indicative of the way I argue or debate, I’m just saying that I want this idea to permeate my involvement in the Christian Debate Arena.

Here it is: There are sincere, passionate followers of Jesus that disagree with you.

Did you miss it? Here it is again.

There are sincere, passionate followers of Jesus that disagree with you.

I don’t care what we’re arguing about. If we’re in the realm of Christianity and arguing a belief, conviction, or ethical position there are people out there striving their hardest to follow Jesus that disagree with you as strongly as you disagree with them. Odds are there are entire denominations with theologians, bible colleges, pastors, and congregations whose statements of faith put in black and white how much they think you’re wrong. I’ll bet they even have historic documents to help prove that what they believe is actually orthodox while what you believe is not; just like you do.

I find it mind boggling that this isn’t obvious to people. Yet so often we’re ready to decry anybody who disagrees with us as a person who obviously doesn’t know jack about the bible and doesn’t care about following Jesus. They just want a get out of hell free card or some such, right? They don’t seriously want to be a Christian; they just want their current lifestyle to be endorsed by the religion they practice. If they really cared about the truth of God and His Word they would change and be more like you.

Yep, that’s what “they” say about you, too. Welcome to the diversity that we call the Family of God.

I think our arguments and co-existence would both see a drastic improvement in quality if we could grasp this concept. Sadly, we don’t, and that’s why I want to make this central to my discussions.

Now here’s the funny part. I’ve been thinking this for a couple of months now, very intensely and purposefully for the last couple weeks, and then World Vision announced the change in their hiring policy.

Suddenly I’m topical.

I don’t want to rehash the crazy arguments about homosexuality and its pros and cons, but I do want to make one very important point.

Can you guess what it is?

You got it. People disagree with you.

This statement is critical to the uproar around World Vision’s policy change. Why? Because the people that are pulling their support for children around the world because of this don’t get that. No, they don’t. Even if they “know” it, they don’t understand it. Let me explain.

I don’t blame anyone for choosing not to support or even pulling their support from an organization that is doing things you believe are wrong. Please, act according to your own conscience, especially with where you use your money. I don’t want to infringe on that. I do want to call people on the carpet for a lack of understanding what the Body of Christ is.

Here’s the deal. According to your own logic, by supporting a child through World Vision you have, for however long you’ve been sponsoring that child, been saying that you’re cool with what the organization is doing. This is a commendable position. I have no issues yet. Then, by your same logic, by pulling your support of that child you are making the statement that you no longer agree with what World Vision is doing and thus refuse to support them in any way, including helping them help people. Ok; I’m still with you. If one of the ministries I give to suddenly started doing something I find morally problematic I would pull support too. I dig it.

But you have a problem. What did World Vision do?

It’s important to answer this question accurately. On it hinges your choice to not support them. You’re saying that whatever action it was that they involved themselves in is morally wrong. It’s a big statement. So what’s the answer?

All that World Vision did was change a hiring policy to better reflect a belief they already held; that differences in how we define sin does not exclude us from being in right relationship with God. To put it another way, they acknowledged that homosexuality has joined the ranks of things like divorce and remarriage in their place of debate amongst sincere Christians. They have a long standing policy of choosing not to judge people on things that are largely and honestly debated by the American Church as long as that person is living within the guidelines of local law and their local church. All they did was recognize that there is another issue that’s like that in American Christian Culture.

So here’s what you’re saying by pulling your support from World Vision. You’re saying that it’s wrong to acknowledge that the church is divided on moral issues. Specifically, you may be saying it’s wrong to say that the church is divided on the issue of homosexuality. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you’re thinking more specifically like that.

Guess what, though? You still have a problem.

The problem is you’re blind. Whether by design or uncanny accident, you’ve managed not to realize that the Church IS divided on this issue. If you want to claim that nobody who is accepting of homosexual marriage is also trying to follow Christ, you need to get out more my friend. If you want to hold to the idea that believing homosexual marriage isn’t a sin automatically makes you not a Christian…you have bigger problems. Most obviously is the trouble you’re going to have defending the idea that God’s grace covers all the things you could wrong about but not this one thing other people could be wrong about.

If you don’t want to make either of those statements, then you need to rethink pulling your support from World Vision.

Now, I get it. Reasonable people will disagree with me. (That is my thesis, isn’t it?) Maybe you define what World Vision “did” differently than I do. Maybe you really do believe that God’s grace doesn’t cover certain beliefs or errors. I think you’re very wrong about the first one. I shudder to think that you could get that second idea from a faith based in the person of Jesus Christ. Yet, I don’t doubt your sincerity. Neither do I have the audacity to claim that you’re not part of this whacky thing we call the Family of God.

Do the world a favor though, literally, and re-think pulling your support from World Vision. You’re not actually making a statement about what is and isn’t sin. You’re making a statement about how narrow the Body of Christ is and passing judgment on the heart attitudes of millions of people who are willing to claim that you’re their brother or sister in Christ.

If you’re good with that, go in peace and do your thing. I’m sorry.

If you’re not cool with that…


Going Through Changes

I’ve recently been thinking about the idea of Christian Faith as a living, changing thing. In doing so, I stumbled across this quote and was struck by several pieces of it. Read it for yourself real quick.

 “I think significant percentages of older Evangelicals are deeply wrong on a wide range of issues – including homosexuality, our spiritual responsibility for the environment, the reality of evolution and climate change, solidarity with the poor, our role regarding peacemaking and war, equality for women, the reality of white privilege and systemic racism, and the legitimacy of torture, to name a few. So homosexuality is only one of a long list of things that I think older white Evangelicals need to rethink. Thankfully, on most if not all of these issues, younger Evangelicals are moving to a more just and wise understanding than their parents and grandparents, just as their parents and grandparents forsook much of the overt racism and anti-Semitism that were much more common among their parents and grandparents.” – Brian McLaren

 It’s pretty good. I’ll go one step further; it’s pretty good even if you disagree with him. The reason is because he’s talking about how Christian Faith changes over time and generations.

I’ll be honest; my thoughts are too disjointed to really write a great post, so I’m just going to hit some bullet points.

  1. Christian Faith changes with time. Yes, this even applies to Reformed Theology and Baptists. Things that were accepted and orthodox before have fallen out of vogue and been replaced by a more nuanced and reality based perspective on Scripture and Faith. Think of slavery. Maybe think of the priesthood of believers.  Freaking out because something changes is a proud tradition of the Christian Faith, but so is changing some pretty strongly held beliefs. That’s worth remembering.
  2. Scholarship matters. So much of what we believe is based on our current understanding of an ancient text written in a different language within a completely different culture. Trying to apply modern western thinking (or old fashioned western thinking for that matter) to such a text is rather ignorant. Ignoring modern research into the culture, language, and literature of the time when the texts were written is willfully ignorant. If our understanding of the text we base our beliefs on develops, then our beliefs will by necessity develop too. This should not scare us.
  3. In almost every case, those of us who change a belief or position do so BECAUSE we value scripture and God’s authority, not despite it. Disagreeing on what the Bible means is not proof positive that one side doesn’t care about the text. It is only proof that this thing called Faith is hard and complicated. If we didn’t care about what the Bible said we wouldn’t be making our argument from a biblical perspective; we’d just tell people they’re bigoted and hiding behind a book of lies for defense. Some people say that. Those of us who argue for change from the Bible are not those people.
  4. Those of us preaching/teaching/sharing in favor of change (especially societal and justice based changes) in the church are not doing so because it’s popular. If you’re a person who has ever made this claim, are you even listening to yourself? If we had given up on Christian Faith and left the Church, this claim might possibly, sort of make sense. But for those of us committed to faith and the Church Jesus began, the opposite is true. We’re willing to stand up for what we believe despite how wildly UNPOPULAR those beliefs are. Open your eyes and pay attention.

I know, they’re disjointed thoughts. I did warn you. I think though, if I have a primary point in all this, it’s that change happens and that’s ok. Instead of yelling at each other because things are changing or not changing, let have a real discussion about what this generation of changes should look like and why.