Homosexuality and the Emergent Church-What Does the Emergent Church Believe 14 episode 306

What is the Emergent Church’s position on homosexuality?  As we have discussed earlier in this series, the Emergent Church puts a Homosexuality and the Emergent Churchheavier focus on personal feelings than they do on what the Bible says.  When they do crack open the Bible for answers, they will often deconstruct the text to make it say whatever they want it to say.  The Emergent Church is not interested in what God clearly said; rather they make it a practice to change their view of theology to match the popular opinions of our culture.  As you may have guessed, the Emergent Church does not condemn homosexual behavior as the Bible does, and in many cases, they actually approve of it.

What does the Emergent Church say about homosexuality?

“Christianity will be impotent to lead a conversation on sexuality and gender if we do not bodily integrate our current understandings of humanity with our theology. This will require us to not only draw new conclusions about sexuality but will force us to consider new ways of being sexual.”  Jim Wallis

“I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.” Tony Jones

“All the time I could feel myself drifting toward acceptance that gay persons are fully human persons and should be afforded all of the cultural and ecclesial benefits that I am.”  Tony Jones

Who said gays weren’t human persons?  What does Tony Jones mean by ecclesial benefits?  Does he mean that gays should be allowed to be pastors or is he just saying gays should be allowed to attend church?

The more I follow grace, the more I’m drawn to him (God), the more I’m willing to stand up for people being persecuted,”…“It sounds so churchy, but I felt like God spoke to my heart and said ‘(homosexuality) is not a sin.’ ” Jay Bakker

Should we follow subjective feelings or should we follow God’s word?

“It’s much easier to hold the line on the conservative position when nearly all gay people around you are closeted and pretending to be other than they are. Eventually for some, the pain of pretending will become greater than the pain of going public. Whenever a new son or daughter comes out of the closet, their friends and family will face a tough choice: will they “break ranks” with their family member or friend, or will they stay loyal to their family member or friend – which will require them to have others break ranks with them?”  Brian Mcklaren

Who said disagreeing with someone’s sin equated to “breaking ranks” with them?  We all come to Christ as sinners and through Christ’s atonement and the work of the Holy Spirit, we are sanctified.  Sanctification is the process God’s people go through as they repent and remove sins from their lives.  We all have sins in our lives that must be stopped.  Homosexuality is no different.  It is a sinful behavior that can and should be repented of and stopped.

In my case, I inherited a theology that told me exactly what you said: homosexuality is a sin, so although we should not condemn (i.e. stone them), we must tell people to “go and sin no more.” Believe me, for many years as a pastor I tried to faithfully uphold this position, and sadly, I now feel that I unintentionally damaged many people in doing so. Thankfully, I had a long succession of friends who were gay. And then I had a long succession of parishioners come out to me. They endured my pronouncements. They listened and responded patiently as I brought up the famous six or seven Bible passages again and again. They didn’t break ranks with me and in fact showed amazing grace and patience to me when I was showing something much less to them.

Over time, I could not square their stories and experiences with the theology I had inherited. So I re-opened the issue, read a lot of books, re-studied the Scriptures, and eventually came to believe that just as the Western church had been wrong on slavery, wrong on colonialism, wrong on environmental plunder, wrong on subordinating women, wrong on segregation and apartheid (all of which it justified biblically) … we had been wrong on this issue. In this process, I did not reject the Bible. In fact, my love and reverence for the Bible increased when I became more aware of the hermeneutical assumptions on which many now-discredited traditional interpretations were based and defended. I was able to distinguish “what the Bible says” from “what this school of interpretation says the Bible says,” and that helped me in many ways.

Why would you need to read “a lot of books” to understand the plain and clear scriptures on this subject?  Why does Brian Mclaren want to make hermeneutics sound so complicated and subjective?

“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.’….Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements.” –Brian McLaren,

The Bible is clear about what God thinks about homosexuality.  Why don’t we let God’s word speak for itself?

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

Lev 18:22  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

I don’t see how you could miss this.  How much clearer could God get?  God calls the behavior of homosexuality an abomination.

Lev 20:13  If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Obviously we don’t put homosexual’s to death nowadays.  This was an Old Testament command that was intended for the purposes of keeping God’s people, the Jews clean and without sin.  God had a purpose in setting apart a people for his name that would one day give birth to the Messiah.  This was not the only sin that had a death penalty attached to it.  Other sins would include murder, rape, men stealing (for slavery) child sacrifice etc.

New Testament scriptures about homosexuality

Some people argue that since the Old Testament is filled with some strange commands, only meant for the levitical priests, we should reject OT scriptures calling homosexuality a sin.   The following are some scriptures in the New Testament addressing the practice of homosexuality.

Romans 1:26-27  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  (27)  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

I don’t see how anyone could take this scripture any other way.  God is refers to homosexuality as “vile affections” and an “error”.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  (10)  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

  • “Abusers of themselves with mankind” is the Greek word arsenokoitēs, which means sodomite.

Jude addresses why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorah

Jude 1:7  “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

It is traditionally understood that when Jude says they were going after strange flesh, he was talking about homosexuality.  Genesis 19:45 confirms this understanding that Jude is in fact speaking about homosexuality.

Genesis 19:4-5  “But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:  (5)  And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.”

God defines marriage between male and female

Matthew 19:4-6  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,  (5)  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  (6)  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

The Emergent Church’s position on homosexuality is unbiblical.  God’s word is clear.  God calls the sin of homosexuality an abomination.  Condemning a behavior is not breaking ranks with homosexuals or hating them.  It is simply a disapproval of their choices.  We as Christ following Christians should be lovingly trying to lead all sinners to the cross and we should be helping all believers to find their way down the path of sanctification.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  God does not hate those who practice homosexuality.  God hates sinful behavior.  There’s a big difference.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Anonymous April 3, 2017, 6:28 pm

    my comments regarding the Philip, July 7, 2013 post, starting at the beginning, I submit the following:
    it is best to stay on track. it is one thing to debate what scripture says and I suspect that you and I would disagree on much. however, crying at movies, folding clothes, washing dishes or other chores associated with housekeeping are not a substantive basis for justifying personal interpretation.

    There is nothing in scripture indicating that the Apostle Paul was any more patriarchal than other men. None of us knew Paul. That Paul was not married is the basis by which idea was invented. So, again, this is not a substantive argument. If the question is one of women’s place, scripture is the answer, not an unsubstantiated indictment of Paul that has nothing to do with women and their place in the body of Christ.

    The argument regarding the keeping of OT laws is not new and is not intellectual. This argument does demonstrate a lack of in depth study of the earthly purposes for these laws and for the spiritual typology of these laws. Before arguing The Law, it is important that we remember that the law was given so that when that which is perfect is come, Israel would realize that the law cannot be kept. This law and the Spirit of this Law is to be written upon our hearts where the indwelling Holy Spirit can lead us and guide us into all truth. And again, the idea of being lukewarm is has nothing to do with the rest of the paragraph. What is it there for?

    I don’t know what you mean by “rigorously conservative” Christians. Only you know how you rate various levels of Christian faith. Bible instruction is to hide the word of God in our heart. Again, as your Christian faith rating is personal, so would be your assessment as to who is hiding the word or who is hiding behind the word. But again, that has nothing to do with ostracizing people. Unbelievers are already alienated from God. Unless those you refer to are already Christians. If that is the case, the Bible tells us that we are not to be offended. It is important to remember that those who were feeling ostracized were the religious Jews, the same that scripture tells us were excessively arrogant in their holier than thou, religious piety. So it was those who already decided that they had the answers that were turned off by Jesus.

    I would expect that you are not one of those that are turning off complete strangers, that those who are using the one liners are the problem. How do you know what they are saying? If you were present for the conversations, you would be speaking. I can only assume that what you hear from others about others is gospel truth. Those who reject the messenger are always coloring the message presented, as did the Pharisees.

    I would expect that I would be rated by you as a conservative Christian. If conservative is an established part of a range of ratings, this range must also run all the way to sloppy Christians or even deceived Christians, neither of which I would prefer to dwell in. But either way, I have three grown sons, all of whom are Christian, all of whom are married and neither of which wandered through the rebellious youth that we accept as normal. I have nine grandchildren from six to twenty-five and everyone of them loves to see grandma and grandpa. And since I am one of those of whom you do not approve and if my family is an example of the Gospel I preach, I would rather be approved of God.

    Obviously I could address each and every paragraph but I think you have heard enough to decide what you think about my ranking in the Church. But you said that you are not a member of the emergent church…but you are. If scripture needs to be redefined in light of current culture, there is no limit to what can be shoehorned into the Gospel. Even an angel of hell can appear as light. And the deceivers and doctrines of deception that are prophesied of, will not come in wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the word “deceiver” on the chest. If current culture is the measure of God’s Word, anything and everything is okay somewhere. And the bible does not say anything close to that.

  • Daniel Rush July 12, 2013, 9:28 am

    Phillip, any church that tells people not to enter is not God’s church but at the same time God is clear, his scriptures have no ambiguity as to their meaning. If you practice a deviant behavior and do not abandon the ways of man for Christ, you are doomed. The Bible is the word of God regardless of who of man wrote the scriptures. Homosexuality was practiced in the days before the flood, at Soddom, throughout Israel prior to Christ’s coming and after his crucifixion. It has never benefitted society and it was never something God created, the Bible is clear.

    God gave man free will so if you free will that you lust your deviant behavior more than God then God leaves you to your sin and you suffer. Deviants SHALL NOT ENTER the kingdom.

    “For you created my inmost being” No, God created it to be perfect and it was made imperfect thanks to Satan and Adam. Homosexuality is the result of the sin that unbalanced everything.

    Flee fornication. Fornication and homosexuality are equal sins. Flee and turn to Christ or perish.

  • Phillip July 7, 2013, 1:53 pm

    In the verse from 1 Corinthians you quoted, the word “effeminate” appears right before “abusers of themselves…” This got me thinking: I cry when I watch some movies or read some good books. I also do the dishes at home and fold laundry with my wife. These are effeminate acts in our culture, does that mean I won’t inherit the kingdom of God?

    And what about women? This verse doesn’t seem to be addressing them (and I wouldn’t expect Paul to since he was incredibly patriarchal, way more than our American culture). So what are women’s standards? What must they do enter the kingdom of heaven?

    I looked in Leviticus at the ancient laws you quote from, and I found some more of interest: “‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. . . Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. . . Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.” Is it okay that we’re picking and choosing which ancient laws to follow? If we’re going to be holy, shouldn’t we be observing ALL of God’s commandments? Didn’t Christ say something about hating lukewarmness in people? (Revelation 3).

    I’m being sarcastic of course, because I don’t buy this argument and neither do most people I know. Rigorously conservative Christians, to us, seem to be hiding behind Bible verses that make them look better than the rest of the world. I understand that’s the point, to be “set apart,” but that approach is ostracizing people because it’s creating a poisonous self-righteous attitude in us. it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, and the sick aren’t going to see a doctor who only says to them, “You’re sick, get out of my office and come back when you’re well.”

    But that’s the message we’re sending and I do not approve. We’re first telling complete strangers (who have no reason to trust us), “Who you are and what you do is abominable, begone!” And we’re backing it up with the least gracious one-liners from our Bibles. People’s first impression of Christianity is one of condemnation and rude brevity.

    This is what I see happening as a result: Christian children are growing up and moving away from their home and church and seeing first-hand that the world isn’t as evil as we’re preaching it to be. Gay people aren’t all obnoxiously lewd. Most LGBTQ people are actually very kind and except for their sexual preference they aren’t much different than your average heterosexuals. Kids are seeing this inconsistency between what they were taught and what is real and they get angry. Suddenly everything they’ve learned becomes a mockery of their intelligence and a betrayal of their trust because isn’t God supposed to be love?

    What I appreciate most about the emergent church (and no, I’m not a “member”) is that they don’t pretend to have all the answers. Almost every emergent church leader is comfortable saying, “I don’t know.” Traditional Christians could learn a lesson from people like Tony Jones and Brian McLaren. I think their humility and patience with this enormous issue of homosexuality and Christianity is noble.

    Just like God “changed his mind” with unclean foods and gentiles, how could we not at least consider he has also expanded his invitation to people who have born with a sexual tendency toward the same sex? Does Psalm 139 apply to homosexual people, or are they excluded due to their aforementioned, so-called abomination: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

    You said something very troubling to me in your post: “Why would you need to read “a lot of books” to understand the plain and clear scriptures on this subject?” You seem to be mocking McLaren because he’s being careful to take his time in discovering God’s truth on a matter. We need to be reading a lot of books to understand EVERYTHING. Surely you’ve read books besides the Bible and listened to many pastors who have read a lot of books to build your entire world-view and Christian doctrine? It would be incredibly irresponsible not to. Would you take your Ford car to a mechanic who only ever studied Chevy? Would you be comfortable with his assumptions (guesses) at the similarities and differences between the two similar, but equally different vehicles?

    I’m still working through all these questions myself, and I admit, I could be on the wrong track. But I know one thing for sure: I’m done pretending I can read the Bible and subsequently, fully know and understand God. Though God was revealed to mankind through Jesus, he is still a mystery and we Christians should be careful we don’t limit the breadth and depth of his wisdom and love and acceptance.

    • M Young March 12, 2014, 3:36 pm

      Phillip, you are so silly and immature. I would be entertained by you but your efforts at reinterpreting the Bible is wreckless. And you are wreckless. I admit that You have been taught well in the art of debate, reductionism and your brand of hegalian dialectic argument. Why, when you finish your argument I can scarcely remember where we started.

      You combine so many ideologies and religious views (syncretism) that you sound off well. But when compared to the plain Truth of the Bible, you fail.

      So, I wish you well as you go your way. But, it will not end well. And its too bad no one will be able to find you one day in order to say, “see, we warned you”.


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