Bil Browning

How Will Evangelical Christians Deal With It?

Filed By Bil Browning | February 28, 2011 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Quote of the Day
Tags: Albert Mohler, Focus on the Family, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"I think a lot of Christian conservatives are going to try to deny the obvious. I mean, when we talk about same-sex marriage, we talk about something that is already legal in one form or another in basically twelve states. So whether they call it marriage, as they do in a few states, or marriage lite as they have now in twelve states, the reality is that a good number of Americans are living where they're already facing not just the inevitably, but the reality of same-sex marriage. I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage - indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that - is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that.

"I think in the United States, Evangelical Christians in particular, have kind of grown accustomed to having our beliefs and moral convictions and ways of life supported by the state, by the larger culture and we're going to have to learn what it means to live faithfully as Christians when we do not have those supports. You know, it's one thing to live believing that you're in the majority position - everything comes pretty easy that way."

-- Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, during an interview with a Focus on the Family produced radio show.

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I think you need to be careful not to buy into the conservative appropriation of the word evangelical. I myself identify as a liberal evangelical. The word evangelical in it's
Original form comes from the Greek meaning
good news. For those of us who identify as such, that includes the good news of God's unconditional love of LGBTQ people. The more correct name for conservative Christians is fundamentalist, not evangelical. They do not get to co-opt that term.

Sigh...I do know the difference between "its" and "it's". Darn you, auto correct.

Helen Wilson | February 28, 2011 8:10 AM

Have the KKK dealt with racial equality yet? I can see Evangelical Christians going the same way as the KKK, but with greater numbers of people blind and deaf to marriage equality!

I agree with Rev. Heath, and would venture to say that much of secular society lumps all Christians in the same intolerant and hateful category. There are plenty of pro-queer and progressive Christians out there whose religious faith informs their conviction in civil rights and social justice. It's frustrating that secular progressive activists don't seem to realize there are Christians struggling along side them in the same fight.

That said, I am interested in the conservative fundamentalist Christian reaction to this question. There are so many who have framed their issues in terms of a culture war.

This is the 3rd article in the last week that hints at the far right embrassing the idea that they will lose this "war". The tide is turning toward a victory for the LGBTQ population and they know it. They will turn up the heat and are going to show their collective ass in Maryland where they have already changed the mind on one senator with their hate. I am glad they are beginning to see the light.

I could be explicit and say it's not Christians in general who are against gay rights-- just Catholics, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and Church of Christers.

But there's really no escaping the fact that the Bible itself explicitly condemns homosexual behavior, both in the Old and New Testament.

How do I, as a secular homosexual, reconcile those Christians who support gay rights with those who don't?

I live in the Bible Belt. There's a Baptist Church on every street corner and an American flag in every car dealership.

These so-called good Christians have a stranglehold on public policy here and are attempting the same on a national level with people like Steve Womack in the House and John Boozman in the Senate.

My heart tells me that there are good Christians out there who believe in equality for all of God's children, but my mind tells me I have yet to see any of them where I live.

Actually, Brad...the Bible does not explicitly condemn homosexuality. There are some acts (men raping other men, same-sex pedophilia) that the Bible rightfully condemns. But don't buy into the conservative exegesis of the Bible as accurate. Check out theologians like Walter Wink for more information.

I totally agree with Rev. Heath and other commenters that we shd do what we can to prevent the word "evangelical" from being turned into a political label ... fundamentalist Christian is a much better term to use.

Let's give Dr. Mohler credit for waking up to the fact that it is not an intrinsic function of government in the US to rubber-stamp the fundamentalist Christian view on everything. If he has headaches because he feels like he is "in the minority" then he shd join the club with Jewish-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Buddhist-Americans, Wiccans, Native Americans, atheists, etc, etc ...

And if he thinks being a Christian is difficult in America, he might look into what it's like to be a Christian in Iran, China, or Turkey -- hopefully that might return him to counting his political blessings again.

- - - - - -

Recently I was in my grocery store parking lot and I ran across this bumper sticker:


Somehow, it pressed my buttons and I had a split-second fantasy of throwing a brick through someone's windshield (but that fantasy passed), not so much because of the abortion issue as much as because the bumper sticker folks are trying to dictate the rules of belief, and manipulating me with their labels -- and hardly far off from "You can't be pro-gay and claim to be a Christian" ...

However, it got me thinking ... and I've come up with the suggestion that progressive Christians might print up some bumper stickers that say You can't go around spreading hate and claim to be a Christian ... that might get a few fundamentalist Christians thinking.

Ted Hayes | March 1, 2011 8:54 AM

Brad, my heart went out to you as I read these six words: "I live in the Bible Belt." That's a tough row to hoe, in some instances. I was born in and lived many years in Tennessee, which I refer to "lovingly" as the Buckle of the Bible Belt. If you can't imagine why, then you will understand better when I tell you that Tennessee is the location of the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention. Even so, one cannot lump all members of one denomination together and make generalized statements one is sometimes tempted to utter. I know many Southern Baptists who love you and me just as we are. The same can be said of the other groups you mentioned. The United Church of Christ provides some of our strongest allies and supporters. I also agree with Rev. Heath that we must distinguish between evangelicals and fundamentalists (my little "fundies"). In my humbe opinion I believe that evangelicals bring us the truth that God loves us, while the fundamentalists seem to emphasize a gospel of hatred where you and I are concerned.

While I have been unable to find any condemnation of a homosexual orientation in it, the Bible does condemn same-sex sexual behavior in certain conditions, just as it does male/female couples whose conduct occurs in similar contexts -- rape, other abusive practices, idolatry, exploitation and other such harmful actions. (At this point I would suggest that you read Daniel Helminiak's book, "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality.") I am opposed to those kinds of behaviors myself. But it is not my place to judge another human being from my morality. Discussion of the subject with friends has led me to this: I believe that morality is inherently subjective. In our society, individually, we develop systems of morality to help us act consistently, according to a set of goals we wish to reach. "Right" and "wrong" help us evaluate the progress toward our chosen goals.

The folly, then, lies in attempts to judge "right" and "wrong" between two different systems of morality. The fact that they choose to believe that homosexuality is wrong for them says nothing about whether or not homosexuality is wrong for me. If I am not harming the fundies or any other individual, and I am not violating their personal consent, then they have absolutely no say over my homosexuality OR my sex life. It's just that simple.

It is perhaps simplistic of us to look at "good Christian" (evangelicals) as opposed to "bad Christian" (fundamentalists). My guess is that there are both good and bad in each. Yet, I refer to no rabid fundamentalist as Christian. Discrimination is un-Christian! Injustice is un-Christian! Intolerance is un-Christian! Exclusion is un-Christian! Diminishing our lives in the name of their god is un-Christian! As the late Laurence Peter so wisely observed, "Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car!"

Brad, if you haven't seen any "Christians out there who believe in equality for all of God's children," my suggestion would be that it would help if you began looking for such in places other than where your previous searches have been confined. Hang in there!