Needed: A New Conversation on LGBT in the Church

light on stairsTwo weeks ago, Christian rock singer Trey Pearson came out as gay. His band, Everyday Sunday, had multiple albums and several #1 hits on the CCM single’s chart. Trey said he had tried for years to become straight, even marrying a woman and fathering two children, but nothing had changed. He wasn’t sexually attracted to his wife, was unable to meet her intimate needs, and felt burdened by having to pretend to be someone he clearly wasn’t. He and his wife had mutually agreed to separate, putting a plan in place for him to continue to be very involved in raising his children.

What shocked me about this announcement was the response to it. A fairly well-known Christian radio show host spat on Twitter that Trey was ungodly, and so were all the other CCM artists who had come out as gay in recent years.

Ungodly?

All Trey had confessed to was same-sex attraction. Not an affair. Not abusive behavior. Not breaking one of the commandments. Just “I like men.” Yet that statement alone was enough to erase his godliness and call his salvation into question.
Continue reading

The Scandal of the Cross

By Carl Heinrich Bloch, Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons

By Carl Heinrich Bloch, Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons

If you were anywhere near Twitter in the past two days, you may have seen that the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW) recently held their annual conference in Louisville, KY. CBMW was founded by John Piper in the late 1980s to promote “biblical gender roles” within Christian homes and churches–meaning, primarily, that women are not permitted to lead at any time within either sphere.

A couple of my fellow tweeters picked up on the conference hashtag and decided to tweet their own messages to the conference goers. I had a bit of fun with this, too, tweeting messages like, “My spiritual covering comes from Christ, not my husband (1 Tim. 2:5)” and “A friendly reminder that adherence to wealthy Greco-Roman household hierarchies is not a requisite for salvation.”

The truth that struck me as I saw the messages coming from the conference leaders is just how scandalous the cross really is to their doctrine–and, really, all doctrine. You have these men claiming that complementarian marriage is, biblically, the best representation and defense of the gospel, and yet there hangs Jesus–unmarried, exposed, abandoned, humiliated, defiled. There’s no way around it. Anything we proclaim to be the gospel filters through the cross. And the cross shows us something so shocking, so scandalous, that some people still struggle to come to grips with it. Continue reading

Toward a Systematic Theology of Love

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Image by fdecomite on Flikr

A while back, I wrote a post entitled “On Picking and Choosing.” In it, I talked about the lenses through which people read and interpret scripture.

A few years ago, informed both by scripture and my personal experience of God, I decided I would always read the Bible through the lens of love. After all, Jesus said love was the greatest commandment and the peg upon which hung all of the Law and the prophets (Matthew 22:36-40). I figured I couldn’t go wrong with that.

But I have to admit, the love lens messed me up. It tore to shreds my belief in a hell of eternal conscious torment. It convicted me deeply of my tepid generosity toward the poor. It made me reconsider the Church’s condemnation of LGBT people.

Love always exacts a toll. Continue reading

What the Gospel is (and isn’t)

When I started Revolutionary Faith two years ago, I knew I would face some blowback at some point. I knew that some would accuse me of liberalism and that others would claim I was twisting scriptures and preaching a false gospel. You can’t poke holes in the sacred monoliths of fundamentalism and American evangelicalism without someone coming down with a case of hot head.

Well, it’s finally happening.

But what I find fascinating is that the people accusing me of presenting a false gospel cannot correctly articulate the gospel themselves. I mean, it’s a bit like someone pointing at my car and saying, “Your cow is broken.” True, but only if that thing they were pointing at were a cow. The first rule of critique is, if you’re going to claim that something is wrong, you must first have a clear understanding of what that something is.

So today, I’m going to help my critics by defining what the gospel is…and isn’t. Continue reading

Beyond the Veil

“The problem is, it’s all Good Friday and no Easter Sunday.”

This was a critique I recently heard someone offer on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and I readily agreed with it. But I was struck by how applicable the observation was to Easter sermons in general. Pastors go into incredible detail describing the 39 lashes Jesus took on his back, his painful walk to Golgotha, the crown of thorns on his head, the nails in his hands and feet, the hours of breathless agony spent hanging on a roughly hewn cross–and, finally, the spear in his side.  The Resurrection ends up almost as a footnote to all the blood and gore.

Nevermind that the Resurrection is what gives power and meaning to Christ’s crucifixion. Without it, Jesus is just another martyr and those 39 stripes heal no one.

However, what I love most about the Crucifixion story has nothing to do with the sufferings of Jesus and gets even less of a mention than the Resurrection.

For me, it’s all about the veil. Continue reading