Op-Ed: It's OK for Conservative Christians to Evolve on LGBT Equality?

Joseph Wared, the director of Believe Out Loud has an op-ed piece in today’s Advocate.

Wared writes:

I have no doubt that there are conservative Christian leaders who provide extraordinary ministry in the social justice arenas of their choosing. Reverend Giglio’s commendable work to combat human trafficking was the rationale for his selection. But our culture is shifting, and when it comes to LGBT equality, Americans expect more from our churches. The U.S. Episcopal Church, Metropolitan Community Churches, and the United Church of Christ are just a few of the denominations that are meeting this need.

Christians are consistently becoming more visible advocates for the full inclusion of our LGBT neighbors. Over the past few years I’ve had many conversations with friends and families, and I’ve seen folks move from antigay opinions to an unconditionally loving theology and everything in between.

Christianity does not have to be exclusive of LGBT equality, and when it is, people are leaving the church.

The Public Religion Research Institute found a significant increase in the number of college-age millennials who transitioned from being religiously affiliated in their childhood to religiously unaffiliated as young adults. A sizable majority view present-day Christianity as antigay and judgmental and believe that what makes America great is our openness to change and new ways of doing things.

As public opinion shifts, churches that do not fully affirm LGBT people will leave many in their flock behind. Scripture that is void of compassion is merely words, and our ability to have compassion for every human being is critical to our faith and in an increasingly diverse world.

If conservative Christians cannot stomach this evolution, they should not be surprised if progressive Christian traditions, like the U.S. Episcopal Church, gain more traction in society. For some, this is a necessary consequence to maintaining their biblical interpretation on homosexuality, but this shift should not be depicted as a decline of Christian beliefs in our society.

Thoughts?  I definitely disagree… but agree that this is the way the culture is headed.

Not so sure that he’s right that people will leave churches in droves that take a Biblical stand on homosexuality.

What do YOU think?

// Read more here…

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  • Kent January 17, 2013 Reply

    For the writer of the article to cite that the Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and the homosexual based Metropolitan Community Churches as thriving, growing denominations, makes me wonder where he buys his Kool-Aid.

  • Pastor Mike January 18, 2013 Reply

    I would suggest he change one word in the editorial above. “Scripture that is void of TRUTH is merely words, and our ability to have compassion for every human being is critical to our faith and in an increasingly diverse world.” The Christianity he talks about is a religion, not a compassionate, vibrant gospel driven grace filled faith. Without sin, you don’t need a Savior. Without truth, you don’t need grace.

  • Roger January 18, 2013 Reply

    My goal is not to populate a denomination or church, but to populate heaven. I am really tired with the liberals that tag us “anti” everything. I am only anti sin, anti-sinner. They are all welcome inside my church, but I will not change my message for them/sinners. I talk about the Bible and the Bible talks about sin. It needs to be done in a loving compassionate way. This whole equality thing and entitlement mentality of our world wearies me.

  • Tim January 18, 2013 Reply

    Roger, isn’t being ‘anti-sinner’ contrary to the way of Jesus? he seemed to spend most of his time with sinners… he certainly wasn’t ‘against’ them, but with them and for them. to be ‘anti’ someone, yet to say they are welcomed inside our churches seems a bit contradictory. especially since we’re all sinners.
    like it or not, to the ‘other’ that we should be trying to love and reach, being ‘anti’ sinner would imply that you are ‘against’ them, thus anti people or anti everything.

    i think the problem is that many churches and pastors only focus on ‘select’ sins (such as the hot button sins of abortion and homosexuality) while ignoring others (like gossip, pride, gluttony… oh, and eating shellfish)

    and Kent, did i miss something in this article? i don’t see where he said that those churches are thriving and/or growing but that he wouldn’t be surprised if they gained traction in society.

    we have to be fair when having these debates… empathetic to the ‘others’ perspective. how else can we effectively love them and help them connect with a loving God of grace?

  • davepatchin January 18, 2013 Reply

    This is an issue that evangelicals need to work very hard to get right, and I don’t think we are there yet. That said, there are a number of factual issues that the article gets wrong:
    1) The denominations mentioned as being accepting of LGBT relationships are all in decades long attendance decline. If it is helping them gain some adherents, then they are losing far more.
    2) Public opinion in *some* places is shifting, but not in most places. In 2012 NC became the 30th state to have banned gay marriage in the state constitutions, with 61% voting to ban.
    3) Younger people seem far more accepting on this issue, but they are not leaving churches with the historic view for more inclusive churches. They are leaving both sets of churches. Being LGBT inclusive is not making those denominations retain the young any better.

    Everyone should read “Christians are hate-filled Hypocrites and other lies you’ve been told” by Bradley Wright for accurate data on decline in church attendance and rise in non-believers. Alarm is over-rated.

  • Rick January 18, 2013 Reply

    I hope that the Church will not be duped by societal’s evolutionary stance that LGBT will always be who they are and cannot change. Therefore we must accept and embrace them. While we must embrace people in their current situation, we must always communicate with them that sin is sin and the Gospel offers hope for change. Is unconditional love represented more by letting me drive off the cliff, or is it represented more by telling me I am on the wrong path and there is danger ahead? Right now, our culture is doing an extreme disservice to those who are bound by sin by deciding that they ought to be left in their sin. My belief is that the power of God is greater than sin and that we must communicate not only love to the LGBT, but the message of transformation out of LGBT. To do anything less is to water down the message of the Good News.

  • Roger January 18, 2013 Reply

    Tim, thanks for the question. I meant I am “anti-sin” NOT “anti-sinner”.

  • Dave Gehrls January 18, 2013 Reply

    This LGBTQ Equality rhetoric is much more than acceptance, etc. It is part of a strategy. See link to CNN article last Nov. “After gay marriage successes, activists look to build on new faith outreach techniques” at http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/30/after-gay-marriage-successes-gay-activists-look-to-build-on-new-faith-outreach-techniques/

    Our “Individual” 1st Amendment Freedoms are under attack and we need action not placation. We are not attacking anyone’s freedom, just defending ours.

    Here in Nebraska legislation is being proposed to expand the state’s civil rights legislation to include LGBTQ… Does anyone see affirmative action and quotas for Gays coming?

    While this kind of thinking might be popular, my desire is to align with an all wise, all knowing, all powerful, and unchanging Jehovah God.

    I highly recommend When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany by Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Church in Chicago. ($8.99 on Amazon)

    Below is a brief description.

    Bread Over Freedom? Years ago, a cartoon appeared in a Russian newspaper picturing a fork in the road. One path was labeled freedom; the other path was labeled sausage. As we might guess, the path to freedom had few takers; the path to sausage was crowded with footprints. When given a choice people will choose bread and sausage above the free market and individual liberties. The promise of bread gets votes, even if the bread is at the expense of freedom. The people of Nazi Germany weren’t any more barbaric, uncivilized, or depraved than any other Western nation of the early Twentieth Century, yet the Nazi regime will forever serve as an example of brutality and extreme racism run amok. What led so many people to such extreme ends? According to Dr. Lutzer, the German people’s progression from civility to barbarity was not extraordinary, and more than a few benchmarks from their transition can be observed in present day American society (Do any of these sound familiar?): – The Church is silenced – The economy is king – The lawmakers determine behaviors – The media controls beliefs – The Gospel and nationalism become inextricably tied to each other – And yet, heroes still have power This short, manageable book does not suggest the United States is definitely marching toward authoritarian oblivion, but that we — especially we believers — must be vigilant in our stand for truth, justice, and righteousness. We must take note of these lessons from history. The parallels are real, but the conclusion is not a foregone one.

  • Jesse B. January 21, 2013 Reply

    The only way that I can see a Christian’s opinion evolving on the issue of LGBT is that of recognizing what scripture teaches of homosexuality and moves from affirming homosexual behavior to calling it what it is, sin.

  • Dan January 23, 2013 Reply

    Could it at all be possible that our Biblical understanding of homosexuality could evolve into a better/greater understanding of what was being described/condemned vs. what are the loving, monogamous relationships of certain LGBTQ people today? Certainly there is condemnation of sexual acts between heterosexuals throughout the Bible, but we aren’t all taking vows of chastity.

    Before anyone coils back by the question, armed with all of your preconceived notions, take a calming breath, pray for clarity, and allow the question to be asked in your heart.

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