Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Danger of Ambiguity: Homosexuality As a Test Case

[The following are a excerpts from the book Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.]

On one level, emerging church leaders offer a wise warning: Don't demonize homosexuals, and don't speak without thinking first. McLaren writes, "I hesitate in answering 'the homosexual question' not because I'm a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I'm a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be pastoral." That makes sense to me. Like McLaren, I get people asking me where our church stands on homosexuality. When the question arises, I try to be sensitive and cautious, because I don't know where the question is coming from.

But I eventually answer the question, something McLaren does not seem to do. McLaren's article, which has been understandably controversial, would be fine if he just said somewhere, "I believe the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is wrong, but that's not all we have to know as pastors. We have to find the question behind the question. But he never says that. Because he doesn't know if it's wrong.

Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say 'it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.' [Written by McLaren HERE.]
New Testament scholar Ben Witherington believes Rob Bell has also been evasive (at best) when asked about homosexuality. Witherington is largely positive toward Bell, but critical when it comes to his ethics. Without coming out and affirming homosexual behavior, Bell, speaking to a packed-out auditorium on his Sex God book tour, made all the usual arguments for acceptance of homosexuality. The arguments went something like this (with Witherington's response summarized in parentheses): We shouldn't speak on this issue unless we have gay friends (but didn't Paul speak to the issue?). Jesus never said anything about homosexuality (but didn't Jesus talk about God's design for marriage and celibacy for single persons?). [My additional comment: Jesus also never taught against slavery, but I hope emergents would be quick to assert that antebellum Christians would have honored Christ by speaking out against the practice of chattel slavery.] We are hypocritical to ignore heterosexual sin (agreed, so let's stop ignoring it). The Bible says nothing about orientation (but it forbids homosexual behavior regardless).
I believe many emergent leaders are truly torn up inside over homosexuality. They don't want to hurt anyone. But their refusal to take a stance (and sometimes their decision to take an unbiblical stance) also hurts people- it hurts those struggling to overcome sexual temptation, it hurts those gently calling homosexuals (along with other sinners) to repentance, and it hurts those who dare to speak with certainty on this issue. After years and sometimes decades in pastoral ministry, is it too much to ask that emergent pastors have at least a working conviction on the issue? Maybe an opinion that is based on evidence, but open to reason?
... There are people in my congregation who struggle with same-gender attraction. To ostracize them for struggling with these desires would be pastorally damaging, but so would an unwillingness to encourage them to fight against these desires.
To all pastors who read this... who will encounter questions about homosexuality, please be sensitive and ask good questions, but do not be silent and do not be uncertain.



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