A recent TIME online article featured images of two prominent young leaders who self-identify as both “evangelical” and gay. Their mission: to expand the evangelical acceptance of same-sex marriage. Brandon Robertson is co-founder of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, and Matthew Vines is founder of the Reformation Project and author of "God and the Gay Christian," a book that argues that the Bible accepts loving, committed same-sex unions.
They’re among the proof, said TIME, that acceptance of same-sex marriage among evangelicals is now inevitable. Consider this closing quote from a megachurch pastor: “Every positive reforming movement in church history is first labeled heresy . . . Evangelicalism is way behind on this. We have a debt to pay.” That’s a strange statement considering the many so-called “reform movements” that were first labeled heresy and still are.
And yet, the article still got me thinking: Does embracing same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct push one out of the evangelical fold? Does the shift on these issues point to larger problems within the historic movement known as evangelicalism?
So I asked a number of Christian thought leaders to offer answers to these questions, and I’ve assembled their answers for you in an online symposium at BreakPoint.org. Come to our site, read what they have to say, and leave your thoughts in the comment section.
And I’ll get us started here. “Evangelical” is a notoriously elusive label, from its earliest usages in 18th century Britain through the social activism of the late 19th century, and especially into the 20th century: as American conservative Protestants had to deal with Darwinism, liberal theology, Billy Graham’s success, the Cold War, the sexual revolution, the Religious Right, and megachurch market forces.
Yet in all those changes, evangelicals have swayed very little on what my friend Jay Richards calls “the pelvic issues.” Where sex belongs and what marriage is has not been one of the shifting sands—until the last two years. It was not even a shift theological liberals were willing to make until the last 40 years or so.
And these shifts on sex and marriage tend to follow shifts in theology—either quite blatantly (as in the case of many mainline denominations), or subtly (as is in the case in evangelicalism).
Here’s what I mean. When I read Matthew Vines’ book “God and the Gay Christian,” which attempts to make an evangelical case for accepting committed gay relationships, I noticed just how evangelical—at least in the popular sense of the word—he actually sounded. Now don’t get me wrong, there was very little new in the book. Arguments about Sodom and other so-called “clobber passages” actually referring to abusive relationships and not loving ones, or that ancient cultures did not understand sexual orientation, they’ve all been made before.
But Vines’ book hinges on a far too typical evangelical reading of Genesis 2 that suggests God created Eve for Adam’s companionship. In essence, that “it’s not good that man is lonely.” But that’s not what the text says. It says it’s not good that man is “alone.” Adam was given Eve so he could fulfill the task to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” That’s why animals, as the text notes, weren’t suitable helpers. That marriage and sex bring companionship is a sign of God’s kindness, but it’s not what they are fundamentally about.
Once sex and marriage are disconnected from procreation and our overall human purpose, our biological realities become irrelevant, and our inclinations become authoritative, even over the text itself.
This is one of the ways the Gospel has been made hyper-individualistic and has been therapeutically dismantled. In other words, there is—in my view—an authority problem in the church. And pelvic issues are but one example among many.
Come to BreakPoint.org to find the symposium. And please, do share your thoughts.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: January 23, 2015