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126 pages, Kindle Edition
First published October 17, 2014
It is the story especially of how not the Bible itself but traditionalist readings of certain texts in the Bible have become increasingly implausible to me, while other texts about the Gospel message and the Church now seem to have a broader range of applications, broad enough to include the full embrace of gays and lesbians.
Odd, really—the big divisive issue in our messed up world today is how perhaps one-twentieth of all people handle their sexuality. That fact itself is remarkable. What does it say about our priorities that we will fight to the death over this issue rather than, say, divide over our stand on clergy sex abuse or mass murder or caring for the poor?
And so, it is increasingly agreed, even on the traditionalist Christian side [those who believe the Bible condemns homosexual activity in any form]: gay people exist. It is wrong to call them names or use slurs about them. Their relationships should not be criminalized. They should not be discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodation. They should not be bullied. They should never have to be afraid of violence as they go about their daily lives. They should not be blamed for America’s security problems or social ills. They should not be stigmatized or treated with contempt. There should be no space in church life for their dehumanization and mistreatment.
But regardless of your stance on the sexual ethics issues…I hope you will agree that all Christians ought to be eager to offer well-informed understanding and hospitality to people of non-heterosexual orientation and identity in our families and churches. Anything short of that is not consistent with the Gospel.
This is Custer’s last stand against the rejection of Christendom, against the loss of Christian dominance in culture, against theological liberalism, and against visibly deteriorating sexual ethics in Church and society, as evidenced by the ubiquity of divorce, cohabitation and the hook-up culture. Many will fight on this front to the last man.
If what we are talking about is blessing an anything-goes ethic in a morally libertine culture, I stand utterly opposed, as I have throughout my career. But if what we are talking about is carving out space for serious committed Christians who happen to be gay or lesbian, to participate in society as equals, in church as kin, and in the blessings and demands of covenant on the same terms as everyone else, I now think that has nothing to do with cultural, ecclesial and moral decline, and everything to do with treating people the way Christ did.