November 18, 2017

A Response to Owen Strachan on Cultural Courage

swordofspirit.jpg__700x460_q95

Owen Strachan has written a piece at his blog thoughtlife called “Cultural Capitulation to Homosexuality is Not Courageous.” Strachan is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. Those connections tell you pretty much what you need to know about where he stands theologically and culturally. Like others in his circles, Strachan believes that “the church–and all evangelicalism–finds itself in a battle for its very soul,” and that “Courage is conditioned by faithfulness to God’s Word, not by capitulation to the culture.” This is unambiguous culture-war language, and he justifies speaking with “heightened tones” because his conviction is that “to call good what God labels an abomination is to place oneself in mortal jeopardy.” He agrees with Mark Dever that we are moving ever more rapidly toward “the suicide of the church.”

Strachan is responding to a recent article by Elizabeth Dias in TIME magazine: “Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage”. He think Dias gets two things “precisely, center-of-the-bullseye correct”:

  1. The heart of the issue for evangelicals is the authority of God’s inerrant Word.
  2. Acceptance of LGBT lifestyles is directly linked to adoption of egalitarian gender roles.

Strachan then proceeds to give four points of response to the article and the issue:

  1. Capitulating to the culture is not courageous.
  2. Confessional churches are best-positioned to weather this storm.
  3. The debate over “gay Christianity” is most assuredly theological.
  4. Complementarianism really is the last dam holding back the waters that would sweep over evangelical churches.

With regard to the first point, Owen Strachan gives no quarter. For him there is no middle ground, no mediating position, no “third way,” no alternative perspectives other than a stark binary contrast. One either holds steadfastly to the undeniable, plain moral witness of Scripture or one is “silencing or twisting Scripture.” Those who take another position are “leaving Scripture,” “denying Christ” like Peter did, taking part in a “treasonous” endeavor. It is, without question or doubt, “to affirm what God calls evil.” To imagine that this should be called “courageous” is deeply offensive to Strachan and worse, it “queues up an entire congregation for judgment and destruction.”

His second point gives him the opportunity to blast his evangelical brethren for their weak, culturally-capitulating congregations. In this, Strachan reiterates the critique of evangelicalism that has forcefully been presented by one of the streams of post-evangelicalism we have discussed here on Internet Monk — variously designated as the “new reformed,” the “new calvinist,” or the “new puritan” movement. Strachan calls them “confessional” churches here, but that is something of a misnomer, especially since so many of them are independent and Baptist (and yes, I know there are Baptist confessions, too). I would say they are more accurately called “foundationalist” churches with a distinctly reformed-calvinistic-puritan bent. The author himself puts it this way:

Churches that tie themselves to the mast of Scripture will be best able to see these truths. They are grounded not in vague doctrine or the desire to be liked, but in the rich, world-defying, soul-transforming Word of God. This is the place to plant your flag. This is the foundation that will hold up. Any other will, like a building reinforced by sand, crumble.

In contrast, Strachan laments “adoctrinal” evangelicalism, a form of faith that “hides the light,” that yields scads of “false conversions,” producing “half-Christians, Christians who like the salvation-and-free-grace part of the Bible without the sticky ethical and doctrinal material.” It gives us a “straitjacketed Jesus” and a “neutered gospel.” This will not do. Only a “sturdy,” “full-throated” evangelicalism can meet the challenges of our day.

Third, Strachan goes back once more to what he sees as the foundation of everything.

It’s cool in certain circles to distance oneself from inerrancy. I could say a great deal here, but I’ll say just this: it’s fascinating how those who subscribe to the allegedly backwater doctrine of inerrancy are also those who end up promoting biblical ethics. There is something dangerously close to a connection there.

As for Owen Strachan’s fourth and final point, I am going to quote it in its entirety:

4. Complementarianism really is the last dam holding back the waters that would sweep over evangelical churches. Dias gets it. If complementarianism falls, then the last bastion of resistance to full-fledged endorsement of both homosexual and transgender identity falls with it. This is it. We’re down to the last refuge.

If the church gives up its overwhelmingly-held historic position–being complementarianism–then it will no doubt, with tremendous speed, endorse both homosexuality and transgenderism as not only viable for believers, but good.

I am quite certain that young evangelicals have very little sense of how high the stakes are, and how important complementarian churches and organizations truly are. You look around in the culture, and aside from fellow religious groups that are fighting tooth-and-nail over these same issues, we’re the last group standing. There’s no one else coming who will stand for biblical truth. Outside of a miracle from God, there is no great doctrinal deliverance to expect. Until Jesus returns, we–empowered in full by the Holy Spirit–are the last refuge.

Complementarianism, taught in hundreds of thousands of churches and represented organizationally by the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, is very well positioned to survive and even thrive in days ahead. It is grounded in the Bible. The exegetical and theological infrastructure already exists. Our calling now is to winsomely and convictionally promote complementarianism, to show that it brings joy, and to make clear that it is not simply a seven-point position, but a worldview.

He ends by drawing a direct connection between those who stand with him and Hebrews 11 — the chapter venerating the heroes of faith in the Bible. Only those who take the unambiguously clear position Owen Strachan and his compatriots take can truly be called “courageous” and “heroes.”

invisible_warA Response

1. I have respect for post-evangelicals, for anyone and everyone who has seen and responded to the shallow, crass, and sentimental religion promoted by much of American Christianity. And I have often appreciated the contributions of those who advocate reformed theology in contrast to the insipid theological thinking of contemporary evangelicalism. It is often a first step away from generic evangelicalism, especially for more analytical types. It was for me when I left Bible college and at times during my seminary career and throughout periods of my ministry. Michael Spencer also embraced a form of calvinism for a time until he came to see its limitations and he came under fire from some of the more mean-spirited “truly reformed” (TR) who seem to identify the faithful Christian life with hunting witches and warlocks (especially those whom they deem “emerging”).

The problem is in the whole approach, which I deem Pharisaical. The Pharisees were the religious leaders who saw themselves as “right” and who displayed zeal for the restoration of Israel. They were the promoters of holiness and believed that the nation would remain under God’s judgment until it purified itself. N.T. Wright summarizes their position: “Keep the law, for that is the path to glory!” For all their talk about sovereign grace, in the end it is the faithful obedience of God’s people that the neo-reformed promote. Whether in the service of saving the nation or Church, it is God’s people purifying themselves that fends off the Lord’s righteous judgment and restores his blessing.

Such purification is unambiguously textual and autocratic. It involves understanding the Bible the way they do and obeying it under the direction of church elders. Owen Strachan and his kind, well-intentioned as they may be, cannot think past being “people of the Book.” Truth must always be precisely defined and the path of obedience clearly delineated, with chapter and verse. Believers are continually urged to practice self-examination to make sure they are on that path and warned of the dread dangers of straying. Their pastors and teachers and elders take up positions of power, ostensibly exercising the authority of the Word, but it is only the Word as they interpret it, with little allowance for doctrinal or behavioral deviation. Note the prevalence of power language and militaristic metaphors in their preaching and teaching. Note the confrontational stance. Observe the passion to be right and to conform others to that rightness.

The new reformed-calvinistic-puritans are the Marines of post-evangelicalism, and Owen Strachan represents them well in this article: the few, the proud, the chosen, the righteous.

2. I have to admit, I am still befuddled by the alarmist rhetoric surrounding LGBTQIA matters. What are people so afraid of? Owen Strachan seems to be afraid that God’s judgment will rain down on his church if the church allows any kind of discussion or ambiguity on this issue. But why is this the line in the sand? What will change so much about our lives if we start publicly recognizing and having conversations and relationships with people who identify with these groups?

First of all, we are talking about a relatively small percentage of people.

Second, as citizens of a free country, shouldn’t Christians be at the forefront of opposing discrimination and upholding the dignity and rights of all human beings? I’m one who thinks the example of our Savior should hold great sway here. The people he included, healed, forgave, and renewed were mostly those who were outside the blessing of the “righteous” in their day.

Third, if people believe so strongly in heterosexual marriage and think we should be honoring it and protecting it, shouldn’t we be focusing the vast majority of our time, efforts, and rhetorical power on strengthening those marriages rather than battling others who see things differently?

Fourth, can’t we recognize that much of this has little to do with giving up biblical truth? The Enlightenment along with the industrial and technological revolutions have brought vast cultural changes that cannot and will not be turned back. The virtually unstoppable combination of freedom, technology, and affluence has affected us all and, unless we want to join the Muslim fundamentalists in their attempts to turn back the clock, I don’t see that a few churches are going to “turn around the culture.” We’re going to have to live faithfully in the midst of all kinds of things that may offend us, that we may disagree with, that we think are contrary to “truth,” and learn to do so with grace, hospitality, and integrity. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.

Fifth, along the same lines, I rarely hear anyone talk about the trajectory of history and fit what’s happening today in that. We just came through the worst century of war and destruction in history. Much of the carnage was based on nations and other groups attempting to “purify” themselves of “the other.” The story of Martin Niemoller’s famous speech applies here:

When Pastor Niemöller was put in a concentration camp we wrote the year 1937; when the concentration camp was opened we wrote the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians – “should I be my brother’s keeper?”

Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? — Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren’t guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers.

I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa! We can talk ourselves out of it with the excuse that it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out.

Today’s cries for freedom and human rights and equal rights, today’s laments of injustice, today’s efforts against discrimination, today’s protests against unchecked power and its abuse did not just arise because one day people decided they wanted to “leave God’s Word” behind. They grew organically out of centuries of ethnic and religious wars and violence, of brutal colonialism and slave-trading, of genocides, war crimes, gulags, death camps, lynchings, and the resettlement of vast hordes of refugees and exiles. And many in the forefront of freedom movements have been there and are there because of their faith in Jesus Christ and the hope of a new creation. LGTBQIA folks have been among those on the fringes, cast out into the shadows and discriminated against for a long time. Will their freedom and dignity (no matter what you might think morally about their practices) really cause irreparable harm in our midst?

3. I must say something about Owen Strachan’s final point, because, honestly, it is beyond laughable to me. Just ponder this sentence again: “Until Jesus returns, we [those who hold to complementarianism] – empowered in full by the Holy Spirit – are the last refuge.”

I’m not sure such nonsense is even worthy of someone mounting an opposing argument. In my view, this point absolutely destroys all credibility that Owen Strachan has in claiming to be a person who is firmly standing on the Word of God. I’m okay with someone having a conviction about “traditional roles” for men and women. I think that can be argued reasonably and graciously. But to make this small theological point the lynchpin of faithfulness to God and scripture, and the last remaining hope of the Church in the world today, is like saying the Chicago Cubs will only overcome their opponents and finally win the World Series when they get just the right batboy! This is not a central message of scripture, and even if I agreed with Strachan, I would find his statement here ludicrous. His interpretation is by no means universal in the church or in church history, and even those who prescribe male-only priests and church leaders often do so not on a “complementarian” basis but because of their ecclesiology and sacramental perspective.

No matter what your opinion on these issues, I think Owen Strachan has overplayed his hand in this article. Even worse, I don’t see Jesus anywhere in it. What really takes courage is taking the road that’s not so clear, that doesn’t look like “winning,” that only triumphs through laying down your life for the least of these.

Comments

  1. Jesse Reese says:

    On the last point, it should be added: Nobody in the history of the church before the rise of feminism ever based their rejection of male-only leaders on ecclesiology or sacramentalism, or complementary roles, for that matter. They did so on the grounds that women were intellectually, morally, spiritually, physically, and/or ontologically inferior to men. Any position other than that is novel, so nobody should be claiming the historic high ground here.

    • That would go to my “trajectory” argument, Jesse. The modern era, for all its faults, has enabled us to see the image of God in all the human race more clearly.

  2. What does “winsome” mean? (I only see it in the writings of complementarians and wonder what Mr. Strachen means by it)

    • It means “in an attractive manner” or “in a pleasing manner,” “charming,” or “engaging.”

      Not always a word I associate with neo-reformed-calvinist-puritan writers.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I’ve come across the Truly Reformed use of the word at Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, and various other spiritual abuse blogs.

        In that context, “winsome” is a female-only behavior, the Male Supremacist ideal of a silent, sweet little doormat.

        • Christiane says:

          not so very far from the three ‘K’s model for the women of the Third Reich: ‘Kinder, Küche, Kirche”, is it?

          • Christiane says:

            sorry, if extreme comparison, but that is what comes to mind when I encounter these patriarchal types who are so strident about ‘the place’ of women in the social structure they envision for the final dominionist future of their ‘worldview’. . . . examine the lives of the current notable followers of patriarchy and notice the position of women within that framework . . . extreme? I think it is very extreme, bad for the men involved, and horrible for the women entrapped within that life.

          • I dislike these guys immensely. And I have no respect for the intellectual merits of their position.

            But, please, let’s not play The Hitler Card. Equivalent or not, in any way, they do not have, and have no hope whatsoever of having, anything like that kind of power.

          • Christiane says:

            Dear FINN,
            it was an extreme comparison, but not an invalid one . . . and you are RIGHT about ‘power’ being the important factor, yes

            the amount of ‘power’ does determine the fate of those who are being ‘controlled’ . . . the problem doesn’t just reside in fundamentalist-patriarchy families

            right now, a lot of American women are very vulnerable to less wages for the same work . . . out of what dark hole does THAT policy come?

            the public view of the ‘role of women’ in politics, the work place, the family courts, and in the Church is much under examination . . . it should be . . . but when you point out that an ‘extreme’ comparison doesn’t ‘serve the cause’, I would contend that a thorough examination of the history of the treatment of women in society does yield a better over all picture of what is going on presently.
            When this is done, we see a lot of history repeating itself as though there were no knowledge of ‘how it was’ . . .

            so point taken, and I did apologize for the ‘extreme’, but as far as comparisons go, I do see something from those days resurfacing under other auspices and I cannot help but think it all comes from the same deep well that feeds a view of women as ‘lesser subordinate beings’, not to be given the full dignity of the human person . . . I’m for looking at the past so we can better understand the present and, from our observations, contribute positively to a renewed future for ALL of our children

        • Hug said,
          “In that context, “winsome” is a female-only behavior, the Male Supremacist ideal of a silent, sweet little doormat.”

          When I see “winsome” it always comes across to me as a dorky, old fashioned word that means something like “wholesome.” And I also hate the word “wholesome.” It’s so dweeby.

      • Thank you!

  3. So then, what is the point of this post? To condemn Owen Strachan, or to unquestioningly, an uncritically, accept the LGBTQIA in society? If we are to be fair we should exercise our thinking in BOTH cases and not just reflexively accept one over the other.

    The problem is that whomever you choose to critique you will be pilloried by the other side. BOTH are inflexible in their judgments.

    • oscar, I guess I’d like to know what you mean by “unquestioningly, and uncritically, accept the LGBTQIA in society.” I don’t think I advocate anywhere that we accept 100% of what anyone says or promotes uncritically. But to accept them as people worthy of dignity and civil rights is something different. Whether that means “gay marriage” or the like is a question that’s open to debate. But the way you framed your question makes it sound like the alternative is to “not accept them in society,” which I find to be a disturbing way of putting it.

      • As to your main question, the primary point is to critique a particular way of responding to cultural “threats” that comes from the neo-reformed-calvinist-puritan wing of the church. I deemed it “Pharisaical” (specifically defining that), needlessly alarmist, narrow and uninformed by historical and cultural realities, and in the case of the last point, laughable.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But the way you framed your question makes it sound like the alternative is to “not accept them in society,” which I find to be a disturbing way of putting it.

        A simpler way to put that is “It’s US or THEM.”

        • On a basic human to human basis, yes, they are all worthy of respect and human rights. But as a social/political group I DO have some problems, but none that I would discuss here today.

        • A Simple Hillbilly says:

          In the view of many within the LGBTQIA community, because I do not take a political stance to support them in everything they want, I am part of the problem. To people like Strachan, I am a lukewarm Christian, not embracing the political demands of following Christ (whatever that means), and am a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I have enemies in both worlds because there are other issues in my life that I deem more important. I need to get the plank out of my own eye first.

          • +1.

          • +1

          • I will not be pressured into accepting the complimentarian position as part and parcel to seeing LGBT as some form of brokeness (not worse, only different than my own). So yeah, I’m on the outs with both camps, I’m either an unloving christian or no christian at all: in the words of Lynard Skynard…… gimme three steps ?????

          • I don’t think that Strachan realizes that this kind of nonsense makes it harder and harder for anyone to hold traditional Christian beliefs and be taken seriously by anyone.

          • “In the view of many within the LGBTQIA community, because I do not take a political stance to support them in everything they want, I am part of the problem.”

            True. But to be fair this is true for the gun-control/anti-gun-control community, the pro-life/pro-choice community, the environmentalist community, the pro-sidewalk/anti-sidewalk communities, …

            In short, that’s just life.

            “To people like Strachan, I am a lukewarm Christian, ”

            Yep. And what’s the problem? He certainly thinks I am an apostate. Meh; I sleep like a baby.

            “I have enemies in both worlds because …”

            Yes, some enemies. And probably a lot of people you disagree with, which is different than being an enemy. Let’s not over-lump. Disagreement is one thing, being an Enemy requires someone making a choice.

            “there are other issues in my life that I deem more important.”

            Yep, same here.

            The really irritating wrinkle with these guys – for me – is that this issue of gender and sexuality is somehow the lynch pin of everything, the central axis. For me that is the big disagreement. I am dreadfully tradition/orthodox on these issues; but civilization and the church doesn’t rise or fall with those issues, it is an issue in an entire constellation of issues, and one easily overshadowed by other things in the real day-to-day lives of most people.

          • Well said, Finn.

          • +1

          • A Simple Hillbilly says:

            In the view of many within the LGBTQIA community, because I do not take a political stance to support them in everything they want, I am part of the problem.
            To people like Strachan, I am a lukewarm Christian, not embracing the political demands of following Christ (whatever that means), and am a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I have enemies in both worlds because there are other issues in my life that I deem more important. I need to get the plank out of my own eye first.

            That sounds pretty much like my position, too.

            And not just on these topics, but on other ones.

            Because my views have changed in the last few years on some topics, or I am questioning some of my formerly long held religious and political beliefs, I please NOBODY now. I get people on all sides of topics ticked off at me (not on purpose).

          • Reply to The Finn

            The Finn said, “Let’s not over-lump. Disagreement is one thing, being an Enemy requires someone making a choice.”

            No, not all the time… please see my post above.

            Now that I’ve changed some of my views or am questioning them, I get very hostile reactions from lots of people, and some of them do tend to treat me like an enemy, not just someone with an opposing view.

            I recently had a long time web friend blow up at me and accuse me of being a Democrat voting, feminist, atheist, liberal, only because I am no longer in total agreement with all aspects of right wing, political views, and that I am having doubts about Christianity.

            This web friend of mine knows that I am not a liberal atheist, and I even reminded her of that.

            I said just because I am questioning some of my former views does not mean I have jumped shipped to the Democrats, liberals, and atheists.

            I said some of my views may agree with some of theirs at times on some topics, but by and large, I am still right wing and Republican, and I don’t ever see myself becoming an atheist

            But this friend of mine didn’t care about the facts. She treated me like an enemy, not a friend who is going through some changes.

            She was very hateful and rude in her correspondence with me on these issues. I have never in my life treated her in that way, but she really blew up at me. This happened just a few weeks ago and I am still marveling at it. It was scary, weird, and eye opening.

            She was treating me like a full blown enemy, nothing but contempt, all because some of my views have changed.

            I’m still the lovable, warm and fuzzy person she’s always known, but all she cared to see is that my religious/poli views have become a little more moderate on some subjects. Her quick turn around was creepy, very creepy.

          • Daisy, you’d be OK if you did go over to the Democrats. My wife is a life-long Democrat and I love her in spite of her right-wing views…

    • I do reflexively accept the critique of Strachan. I don’t know the same kind of church he does. I don’t subscribe to the same fear-based descriptions of Christianity that he does. I reject the opinion of anyone who sets himself as the sole arbiter of truth, declaring who’s in and who’s out based on a doctrine of biblical inerrancy which serves its greatest purpose by drawing boundaries and letting people like him rise to power.

      These types aren’t actually worried about the collapse of the church. They shouldn’t be, if they consider themselves “biblical,” because the gates of hell won’t prevail. They’re worried about losing ego, influence, and a paycheck.

      If they didn’t have anyone to yell at, what difference would their faith make?

      • This reminds me of a quote I read in a book on church leadership many years ago. A senior pastor of a large fundamentalist church (it wasn’t named but I assumed it was one in Indiana that was popular at the time) had hired a young associate pastor and was giving him some advice. The senior pastor said, ‘If you want to be successful in ministry, you must find something to be against’. That’s a formula that will always ‘work’, but it doesn’t necessarily make one a ‘success’ in ministry.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Complementarianism really is the last dam holding back the waters that would sweep over evangelical churches.

    So it’s Male Supremacy Uber Alles or Homosexuality Uber Alles, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?????

    • Yes, really, the hubris gave me more than a small chuckle. But I don’t think he – or anyone with an IQ above 0.2 – really believes this.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Nothing disconnects every neuron above the Christianese reptile brain like HOMOSEXUALITY(TM).

        “Even the mere mention of the word is sufficient to induce… PANIC.”
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQuieWA3SWY
        (about 30 seconds in…)

        • HUG said,

          Nothing disconnects every neuron above the Christianese reptile brain like HOMOSEXUALITY(TM). I think it’s a tie with that and secular feminism.

          Many conservative Christians go into full panic (or hostility) mode when discussing FEMINISM.

          They blame all societal ills on feminism.

          Everything from divorce, more out of wedlock births, rise of homosexuality (see original post this page), delayed marriage rates, stale bread, holes in the toes of their socks, to muggy weather in August….

          Single men on Christian blogs (who are into that MRA and PUA trash) blame FEMINISM on why they cannot get dates, instead of maybe, y’know, taking responsibility for their own lives and seeing their rude behavior or their beer gut as what’s keeping them from doing well with the ladies. No, it must be FEMINISM that is keeping them trapped in singledom.

          (And I say all this as a right wing person who is not fond of most secular feminism herself.)

          • Well dang I messed up my quotes, but I hope it’s obvious to all where HUG’s comments end and mine start.

      • Oh, yes, he does. Don’t underestimate the hold that conservative gender roles (and the rejection of any other form of sexuality) have on the culture-war complementarians in the TR and associated spheres.

      • “But I don’t think he – or anyone… – really believes this”

        Exactly. This is a position that defends their established privilege, it has nothing to do with Scripture or Truth.

        Otherwise where is the indignation over the failure to address poverty, widows, orphans… issues which are a continuous theme in Scripture and bring in issues this troop of guys won’t touch wearing gloves.

        There is little point in refuting their position – because it is nothing but gas-lighting.

        • The Finn says:

          Otherwise where is the indignation over the failure to address poverty, widows, orphans…

          As I’ve been saying on other blogs for the last few year (and I am sorry to be so repetitive), one dead give away that Christian gender complementarianism does not truly care about women (or men for that matter) is that they only focus on married mothers (and occasionally on married men who are fathers).

          Rarely will you see gender complementarians minister to, write about, or address women who never marry, and /or who childless women.

          There are women who never marry, who divorce, who are widowed who are infertile or who choose not to have children.
          Do you ever see gender comps meaningfully address women in these life situations? No. 99% of their focus is on mothers and wives.

          Please note I used the word “meaningful” there.

          On the few occasions I have seen gender comps (on their blogs etc) discuss singleness, they either
          a.) assume the woman reading the content they publish is going to be married one day or wants to be married
          b.) they shame and blame you if you are a woman past age 25 and still not married/ still no children.

          As to point b., they will assume you have deliberately chosen to not marry because you are either obsessed with your career, or you are a Democrat voting feminist man-hater.

          I was a Christian since my youth. I had wanted to marry. I’m over 40 years of age now. I was, nor am I, a Democrat, a liberal feminist, or a man-hater, yet I could not get married. (I broke things off with y fiance years ago.)

          But women such as myself either get subjected to points A or B as I listed above by complementarians. There are really no materials dedicated to helping adult singles navigate life as singles… there is just this undying assumption that everyone who wants a husband will get one.

          If comps really cared about women, they would address all women, the single, the child free, the divorced, but all they go on and on about are married mothers, and why the Bible (supposedly) says women should stay at home baking cookies for their husbands.

          • This is an intentional slight-of-hand, Daisy. “Complementarianism” as practiced by this crowd only works in marriage. To go outside of that would require using an entirely different vocabulary. Like maybe “patriarchy”.

  5. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Truth must always be precisely defined and the path of obedience clearly delineated, with chapter and verse.

    Ees Party Line, Comrades?

    Believers are continually urged to practice self-examination to make sure they are on that path and warned of the dread dangers of straying.

    Enlightened Self-Criticism before Party Commissars?

    Note the confrontational stance. Observe the passion to be right and to conform others to that rightness.

    Like Comrade Pol Pot?

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I must say something about Owen Strachan’s final point, because, honestly, it is beyond laughable to me. Just ponder this sentence again: “Until Jesus returns, we [those who hold to complementarianism] – empowered in full by the Holy Spirit – are the last refuge.”

    Like the Wahabi and ISIS, “We Are The Only True Faithful.”

    (“What would Jesus ever do without US? Jesus is SO lucky to have US, the Only True Faithful!”)

    • HUG you have captured my initial thoughts after reading this. Of course it is not only Muslim fundamentalists but all who seem to hold their responsibility to make all of us conform to their interpretation of “God’s Hold Word”

    • HUG you have captured my initial thoughts after reading this. Of course it is not only Muslim fundamentalists but all who seem to hold their responsibility to make all of us conform to their interpretation of “God’s Holy Word”

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    …is like saying the Chicago Cubs will only overcome their opponents and finally win the World Series when they get just the right batboy!

    Don’t laugh. I’ve heard similar FOR REAL. Except that was more like “Apple WILL drive Microsoft into bankruptcy before the year 2000 — Mac is the Superior System! APPLE AKBAR! APPLE AKBAR! APPLE AKBAR!” And any hint that this might not be realistic, and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers point-and-howl began — “DIE, HERETIC!!!!!”

    • Apple Akbar? IT’S A TRAP!!!!!

      • I think he’s riffing off “Allahu Akbar,” a term which radical Muslims tend to scream before decapitating someone or blowing people up.

        Which you probably already knew, but I wasn’t sure.

        I remember the early days on the internet, I’d see Windows and Mac people fighting tooth and nails on forums about which computer was better.

    • turnsalso says:

      Apple Akbar, Jobs Jallaluhu?

    • Dan from Georgia says:

      Just as an aside, remember all those predictions a few months back that by the end of the year (meaning end of 2014), there were going to be thousands upon thousands of new ebola cases in the U.S. (usually these kind of headlines are perpetuated on drudgereport.com, which is where I saw this “prediction”.)?

    • A Simple Hillbilly says:

      I have told that I should only buy Apples because they aren’t made by some large faceless corporation 🙂

  8. Vega Magnus says:

    When I hear complementarianism linked so closely to arguments against homosexuality, it always seems that they are doing so because they want to keep the receptive partner in intercourse as “lower” than the penetrating partner. Because if the receiver is equal, then gay men can’t be derided as femme, unmanly and less than straight men for being penetrated because being the receptive partner is no longer a sign of weakness/inferiority.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Penetrator and Penetrated, Dom and Sub, Top and Bottom.
      Powerful and Powerless.

      “There is no Right, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”
      — Lord Voldemort

      “Homophobia: The fear that another man might use YOU in the same way you use women.”

    • All of which is far more Roman than Christian…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        So is the Paterfamiias (Patriarch) with total POWER over his extended family — wives, children, animate property — for the ever-increasing POWER of his Dynasty/Gens.

        PRE-Christian Roman. Commonly called PAGAN Roman.

    • RE Vega Magnus

      I don’t take the complementarian tendency to conflate egalitarianism with homosexuality in the same way that you do, but you do have an interesting point.

      I feel that Christian gender complementarianism is less about truly helping men and women (which is what comps seem to claim) that it is an reactionary view that they use to argue against societal issue that anger or scare them, such as secular feminism, abortion, transgenderism, and homosexuality.

      In other words, gender comps are not “pro,” they are “anti” in how they usually react or make their points.

      I also think they are convinced the only way to “fight” against homosexuality is to go hyper legalistic on gender role stuff, and insist they see the Bible clearly teaching the God wants women to wear pink, men to wear blue, and women to bake cookies and never have the right to vote or have a job outside the home, etc.

      As I said elsewhere, as a social conservative, I don’t find it necessary to accept homosexuality just because I now am more on the gender egalitarian side of things. One can be a gender egalitarian and still be in favor of traditional marriage, be pro life, etc.

  9. I’ve rewritten this comment about nine times to try to get it out in a charitable fashion. The bottom line is that no one who has taken even a freshman level course in rhetoric, logic, or critical thinking could ever take Strachan seriously. I’m actually embarrassed for him. I hope he doesn’t look back at himself forty years from now and regret what he did – or didn’t do – for money.

    • “I’m actually embarrassed for him.”

      I am not. His Culture Ware is a war against me, my friends, and my neighbours.

      “The bottom line is that no one who has taken even a freshman level course in rhetoric, logic, or critical thinking could ever take Strachan seriously.”

      I disagree. His arguments have no intellectual merit, but they will work well, as they serve those who [rightfully – this is a ‘war’ after all] feel their privilege threatened. And if fits the American obsession with configurations of binary opposition – criticize these positions and you will be attacked on some claim of “fairness” and “yeah, but look at what THE OTHER SIDE says!” [whoever that OTHER is, like the mysterious “They”]. It is all about sides, and not if the arguments or positions have merit.

      • turnsalso says:

        Where did this “American obsession with configurations of binary opposition” come from, anyway? We’ve only had two major political parties since 1800 or so, so it seems it goes back to our origins.

        Could the Great Awakenings have played a part, with their emphasis on being “truehearted, wholehearted, faithful, and loyal” and the dangers of being “lukewarm” in faith, the resulting mindset spilling over into the rest of life too?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Where did this “American obsession with configurations of binary opposition” come from, anyway?

          Thesis und Antithesis?
          Hegel und Marx?

          We’ve only had two major political parties since 1800 or so, so it seems it goes back to our origins.

          Actually, that’s an artifact of our Person-vs-Person, Winner-Take-All system of elections. It tends to crowd out minor parties.

    • Dr Fundystan, my comment is also on Strachan’s rhetorical style—and I’m also embarrassed for him. Two of his quotes:

      Outside of a miracle from God, there is no great doctrinal deliverance to expect. Until Jesus returns, we–empowered in full by the Holy Spirit–are the last refuge.

      Our calling now is to winsomely and convictionally promote complementarianism, to show that it brings joy, and to make clear that it is not simply a seven-point position, but a worldview.

      This vocabulary and style sound inbred—and these lines remind me, ironically, of Marx’s hyperbolic claims in the opening pages of the Communist Manifesto.

      Does Strachan ever listen to himself?

      • Clay Crouch says:

        What worries me more are the countless numbers of seminary students and young pastors that are listening to him.

        • What gives me hope is the wide breadth of those seminary students and young pastors *not* listening to him. This is an ideology on the ropes, with little hope of getting much new traction.

          • A Simple Hillbilly says:

            Like cleaning up after a dog in the park. You want it to go away quickly, but are still very careful not to get any of it on your shoes.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          What worries me more are the countless numbers of seminary students and young pastors that are listening to him.

          Just like The Young Communist League, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        This vocabulary and style sound inbred—and these lines remind me, ironically, of Marx’s hyperbolic claims in the opening pages of the Communist Manifesto.

        “And this time we WILL achieve True Communism!”

      • Ted quoting Strachan,

        “Our calling now is to winsomely and convictionally promote complementarianism, to show that it brings joy,”

        I used to live by and under complementarianism.

        Not that my Christian parents CALLED it by that term, but they believed in that world view, my mother especially.

        It did not bring me joy, but contributed to a lot of problems I’m still dealing with now in adulthood, which I shall not enumerate, or else this post would be 25 pages long.

        Christian Gender Complementarianism is codependency under another name, with a dab of biblical jargon varnished on top of it to make it sound “godly” or like what God expects of women.

        But in reality, Christian Gender Complementarianism creates all sorts of problems for people, especially for women who grow up under it. I this know first hand.

  10. Was he one of the people who stopped sponsoring condemn through World Vision in the US when America’s branch of World Vision decided to start hiring members of the LGBTQIA community?

    The final nail on the coffin for me to go along with the thinking you critiqued was that event I think. Because it made me realise that the priorities were very, very skewed.

    • Children*, ‘condemn” was autocorrect being weird

    • I didn’t get that controversy. If this is the same group I am thinking of, they said at one stage they were cool with homosexual couples working for them (if I recall the controversy correctly), but they were still insisting at the same time that HETERO adult singles abstain sexually.

      Um, no. As a celibate hetero single who would like to have sex, I object to that double standard.

      In that, I don’t see how a Christian organization can be dandy with allowing homosexual couples to serve them (when the Bible, it appears to me, does not approve of homosexual sex, not even for so called married homosexual couples), but then tell hetero singles they cannot also engage in sexual sin.

      I see this quite a bit all over Christendom now, this double standard where some types of Christians or denominations are insisting that hetero singles must be celibate, but the same groups or denominations are hunky dory fine peachy keen with homosexual singles (or married couples) having sex.

      Of course, you have some Christian denominations or churches that don’t uphold biblical sexual ethics for anyone, and they teach that anything goes.

      • The controversy was simple: they let people who are simply a part of that community work for them, and there was HUGE uproar from the evangelical wing of the church that resulted in millions of people cancelling their child sponsorships.

        Only people who paid fire that were the ones who were defenceless: the children being sponsored who have barely more than nothing.

        That wasn’t a double standard with regard to sexual ethics. That was… A gross injustice, not Christian, and convinced me to walk away from the evangelical branch of Christianity in almost all of its entirety.

        Too bad guys like this Strachan prove that things have not changed much.

  11. Christiane says:

    Chaplain MIKE, these are important words:

    “No matter what your opinion on these issues, I think Owen Strachan has overplayed his hand in this article.
    Even worse, I DON’T SEE JESUS ANYWHERE IN IT.”

    In the system they call ‘inerrancy’, it is often hard to discover the Presence of Christ in much of the doctrine that flows from an examination of sacred Scripture WITHOUT using the lens of Christ. So, here we have an example of a prominent person, speaking ‘authoritatively’ and no where in his article can we see the presence of the One of Whom it was said, this:
    “For He was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes and Pharisees.”

    (from the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 7:29)

    Without the REMOVAL of Christ as the ‘lens’ through which all of sacred Scripture must be interpreted, the argument of Strachan would have no substance. Christ had to be set aside, and we see it clearly done in this strange article where there was no room for His Presence.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In the system they call ‘inerrancy’, it is often hard to discover the Presence of Christ…

      Who needs Christ when We Have Inerrant SCRIPTURE(TM)!

  12. +1 for this post, CM. What is it that Strachan and those like him are so afraid of? Losing control, or, more precisely, losing the prospect or possibility of regaining the control they imagine Christians had in earlier times. I see that loss of control as a good thing, because it has allowed the more liberating trajectories of the Scriptures, and the traditions, to come to the fore; in the past, these trajectories were suppressed by Christians who had far too much control over not only the churches, but societies as well. Minority status is the discipline we must learn to live with in our situation, and I believe that’s a good thing; the loss of control and power, not only over society but also over the way Scriptures and traditions are interpreted, is what we should expect for ourselves as followers of a God who allowed himself to be crucified, to be “edged out of the world and onto the cross.”

  13. “For all their talk about sovereign grace, in the end it is the faithful obedience of God’s people that the neo-reformed promote.”

    That is so true, it hurts to hear.

    • Exactly. Obedience to what?

      • Clay Crouch says:

        To the “gospel” of sin management.

        • Hmmm… I think I know what you mean, Clay, but I just found this article written by Owen Strachan, published on John Piper’s blog:

          http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/jesus-is-not-your-sin-manager

          Strachan says that sin can not be “managed,” it must be killed altogether. Excerpt from his final paragraph:

          [G]race never softens our thirst for obedience. It actually inspires us to go on the warpath against our unholiness. … In the power of the cross, we are to kill sin. We are to realize that it is a deadly serious matter. Jesus did not die to manage our sin. He died to kill it.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Ted, I wonder how killing sin has worked for Owen Strachan? I’d wager about as well as it has for the rest of us. He’s welcome to spend the rest of his days “killing sin”, whatever that means. Robert Capon, in his scandalous book, Between Noon & Three: Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace summed up best the antidote to this bleating, joyless moralism:

            “…there is therefore now no condemnation for two reasons: you are dead now; and God, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, has been dead all along. The blame game was over before it started. It really was. All Jesus did was announce that truth and tell you it would make you free. It was admittedly a dangerous thing to do. You are a menace. Be he did it; and therefore, menace or not, here you stand: uncondemned, forever, now. What are you going to do with your freedom?”

          • Capon’s book was a favorite of Michael Spencer’s, and it gets a lot of mention here at iMonk. It’s the opposite of Strachan’s teaching, and you’re right, it’s scandalous, and dangerous in the wrong hands. I’ve read it at least twice and it’s within reach of me right now, ready to go again.

          • The gospel of do more, try harder, yay holiness and purity.

            meh

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        To the Truly Reformed mini-Calvins, of course.

        Long Live Big Brother.

      • I have no issue with a sermon or writing which focuses on Obedience. However why is Obedience always so narrowly focused on these couple of issues? The case he really fails to make is … Why? Why this issue is the last line of defense? Why is it underpinning of everything else? The Scriptures are filled with all manner of moral statements and imperatives? Why are they all subordinate and secondary to issues of gender and sexuality?

        Obedience is an admirable trait to pursue in one’s life-style – but it is not Obedience if it is not holistic concerning all the issues Scripture addresses. If is not Obedience if it is based on a myopic reading.

        • This is where the “worldview” rhetoric comes in. Which is frustrating to those of us who have formally studied philosophy because the “worldview” line of philosophical reasoning has been essentially picked apart and rejected by majority consensus, and the language that remains is highly specialized and nuanced. You can’t just take any issue you want and say, “This is about world-view!” If that were the case, then any issue becomes every issue and “worldview” becomes an entirely irrelevant concept (set theory, anyone?). It is just so juvenile and thoughtless, as I said before…embarrassing.

    • Once you’ve been invited INTO the country club, you need to make sure those coming IN are worthy! (And those already IN must remain so!)

  14. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
    —Max Planck, Scientific autobiography, 1950, p. 33

    “An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning: another instance of the fact that the future lies with the youth.”
    —Max Planck, Scientific autobiography, 1950, p. 97

    Applicable to/against Strachen’s fourth point, except Egalitarianism isn’t new. It’s not a new truth or an innovation. It’s the Gospel. It’s inherent in the New (Hu)Man, the New Creation, the Kingdom of God, and the Body of Christ. It couldn’t be accepted, and so it was eliminated by misogynistic patriarchal hierarchicalists. Fortunately it is being recovered and restored. And its opponents will eventually lose. There is nothing about church leadership and teaching that requires a Y chromosome. All the old arguments will fail, even if Jesus has to wait another 2,000 years for the church to “get it.”

    • Yes. So CM’s “trajectory” concept is really more about coming back to the basics/foundations (misinterpreted by many), rather than heading in new directions.

      • The trajectory is cyclical – “We just came through the worst century of war and destruction in history”. And we will go forward into another time of persecution and destruction.

        As Planck said, “its opponents eventually die” – if not from old age, then from the sword.

  15. First, you write that “As citizens of a free country, shouldn’t Christians be at the forefront of opposing discrimination and upholding the dignity and rights of all human beings?” Yet we have clearly seen that gay militants oppose freedom and will use the force of the state to compel cake bakers, photographers, and anyone else to serve them, against our will. Do you really think that forcing pastors to marry gay couples isn’t far behind? The mayor of Houston already thinks that sermons can be investigated for political correctness.

    It’s not about freedom and dignity and rights, it’s about enslaving people. You really must read the news more often. I would have agreed with you in 2006.

    As for saying that “shouldn’t we be focusing the vast majority of our time, efforts, and rhetorical power on strengthening those marriages rather than battling others who see things differently?” I have seen marriage seminars and sermons about having a successful marriage mocked on this blog site. “That’s advice you could get from Dr. Phil.” Personally I have NEVER been in a church that doesn’t teach about marriage and offer workshops frequently. And I’ve been in a few churches. A few years back I agreed with you. Now I agree with Strachan. Just because there’s a cross on the roof and some word on a building like Presbyterian or Episcopal, doesn’t make it a Christian church. Worshiping Christ as the embodiment of cultural Marxist political correctness isn’t Christianity.

    • turnsalso says:

      Neither is worshipping Him as the embodiment of neoconservative or Tea Party values.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “Yet we have clearly seen that gay militants oppose freedom and will use the force of the state to compel cake bakers, photographers, and anyone else to serve them, against our will.”

      Out of curiosity, do you believe that businesses ought to be permitted to discriminate against, for example, blacks if they so choose?

      “Do you really think that forcing pastors to marry gay couples isn’t far behind?”

      Yes. This is one of the standard lies trotted out by people who either don’t understand the law or who hope that their listeners don’t. Pastors have unlimited scope for refusing to marry people. Consider the Catholic church and divorce. Even when the state considers the divorce total and valid, the church does not and will not remarry that person. Such matters are purely religious, and protected by the First Amendment.

      Note the distinction between a church and a florist. They are not the same thing, constitutionally speaking.

      “Worshiping Christ as the embodiment of cultural Marxist political correctness isn’t Christianity.”

      I don’t think that the word “Marxist” means what you think it does.

      • > I don’t think that the word “Marxist” means what you think it does.

        Correct, it doesn’t.

        “cultural Marxist political correctness”

        pack some more tropes in there!

      • Richard Hershberger said,

        Out of curiosity, do you believe that businesses ought to be permitted to discriminate against, for example, blacks if they so choose?

        Here is a link of interest for you:
        Christian Man Asks Thirteen Gay Bakeries To Bake Him Pro-Traditional Marriage Cake, And Is Denied Service By All Of Them
        -are you okay with that?

        Why is it that in all the stories I’ve seen, homosexual couples are targeting shops they know are Christians, who don’t agree with SSM (Same Sex Marriage)?
        There are surely bakeries out there by liberals, atheists, or other homosexuals who would love to bake them cakes. Why aren’t they using those bakers?

        There was one story this past year of a Christian baker who was on friendly terms with a homosexual client. He had baked high school or college graduation cakes and cookies for this guy with no problem for years.

        But when the client requested a wedding cake for his wedding, the baker kindly, politely refused.. and the BF of the client started legal efforts against the baker.

        I mean, this particular baker was making pies, cakes and cookies for this guy for years and only objected to the wedding cake. That is a red flag that with some advocates, this is more about punishing Christians than it is about supporting homosexuality or SSM.

        Should a practicing, believing Muslim baker be forced to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding (the conservative branches of their faiths don’t support homosexuality)?

        I’ve not yet heard of a homosexual couple going after a Muslim bakery for refusal of service – I assume we have at least some Muslim bakers in our nation, not all of them are Christian?

        • Daisy,that shoebat site looks pretty scary.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          That was a prolix way to duck the question.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I’ve not yet heard of a homosexual couple going after a Muslim bakery for refusal of service

          That’s because NOBODY dares Upset Islam.
          Remember what Muslims are like when they get “upset”?
          Just ask the guys at Charlie Hebdo.

        • Daisy,

          You asked, “Why aren’t they using those bakers?”. I’d say that most same sex couples getting married are finding bakers who will happily, with no qualms, prepare cakes for their weddings. Quite a few of them look into the business ahead of time, and even for those who don’t, most bakers (and people in the food services industry in general) in the U.S. are either pro-actively gay friendly or at least don’t see any moral problems in same sex marriage. (As an aside, I would figure that there’d also be people out there who personally don’t approve of homosexuality but don’t believe that it’s sinful for others to acknowledge that gay couples exist, but that’s a voice I haven’t heard from lately… any takers?). So, for most instances, it isn’t a problem; same sex couples find enthusiastic bakers to bake for them, other bakers are left alone… and it doesn’t make the news.

          Then, once in a blue moon, wires get crossed, couples get disappointed when a baker won’t bake for their celebration, and it makes the news.

    • clark, are you familiar with the psychological concept of “projection”? You fear the LGBT community will do to you what you’ve been doing to them. All that is necessary to be a “gay militant” apparently is the desire to be treated with respect, equal under the law. What you and Prof Strachan are losing is not your religious liberty which remains intact. What you are losing is your religious privilege, the privilege of defining who is a “real” Christian and having your point of view forced on everyone else.

      • Stephen

        All that is necessary to be a “gay militant” apparently is the desire to be treated with respect, equal under the law.

        No, the militants don’t want equality or respect. That is what they started out claiming when this got started in the 80s, but it’s escalated now to harassing people, shutting down their businesses, or getting them fired from the jobs if they do not whole-heartedly support and celebrate homosexuality or SSM.

        • We’re getting off target here. This is about how one branch of Christians is addressing what they perceive to be a cultural threat. I’m not interested right now in the faults of those on the “other side.” Even if I were, I don’t imagine an eye for an eye would satisfy NT ethics.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Yet we have clearly seen that gay militants oppose freedom and will use the force of the state to compel cake bakers, photographers, and anyone else to serve them, against our will. Do you really think that forcing pastors to marry gay couples isn’t far behind?

      Let me clue you in on a little phenomenon I observed in gay-heavy SoCal Furry Fandom. Where gays were in the majority and showed themselves just as capable of stomping on minority straights as straights were of stomping on minority gays.

      There’s this 80/20 threshold where Groupthink locks in. Within a group, once there is around an 80% consensus or commonality within that group, Groupthink takes over and the Heretical 20% are purged so the One True Way becomes Universal (and Groupthink is enforced from then on — Beware Thou of the Mutant). This is a standard group dynamic, whether that 80% consensus is White Supremacy, Islam, Gay, Straight, Biblical Inerrancy, YEC, Reformed Theology, whatever.

      And this is increased when that 80% Groupthink majority was once a 20% or less minority. At that point, “Never Again!” memories of persecution are added to the mix and some will interpret “Never Again!” as “We gotta stomp on them first!” or “Payback Time!”

      Tell me we don’t have this dynamic in action, whether Unpronounceables or Church politics.

    • “Do you really think that forcing pastors to marry gay couples isn’t far behind?”

      Yes, I do think it is far far behind. The slippery slope argument is a fallacy. A pastor is free not to marry just about anyone he chooses not to, today.

      “The mayor of Houston already thinks that sermons can be investigated for political correctness.”

      So, even if it is true, which is wasn’t – that story was blown far out of context. What one politician does in one city does not a policy – or a precedent – make. The world, nor our legal system, does not work that way.

    • clark said,

      I have seen marriage seminars and sermons about having a successful marriage mocked on this blog site. “That’s advice you could get from Dr. Phil.” Personally I have NEVER been in a church that doesn’t teach about marriage and offer workshops frequently.

      I am in some agreement with you on some of this.

      I am over 40, had wanted to be married, but am still single. I have noticed that many evangelical/ Baptist churches are obsessed with marriage.
      As I got older, I kept waiting for Christians or churches to start offering material or sermons on how to live an adult single life – what do you do with your life if you are still single over 35, and what if you had wanted to marry? What now? But most churches never, ever touch this issue. I could not find books, pod casts, or anything for never married, adult Christians.

      Every third sermon or book Christians offer is about “how to have a satisfying, godly marriage,” and it makes me want to vomit.

      However, I think too many churches (evangelical) are fixated way too much on culture war stuff, including fighting about homosexuality, and I get worn out by that.

  16. Michael Z says:

    I think there is a grain of truth in the idea that the anti-gay agenda is a “last stand” in favor of the inerrancy of Scripture: namely, that for many evangelicals there are no other passages in the entire Bible that we apply that sort of hermeneutic to. At least in my part of the evangelical world, when making any other moral or ethical decision, we are much more likely to weigh a combination of godly counsel, common sense, prayer, and study of Scripture’s teaching as a cohesive whole (rather than isolated proof-texts). So, the way the “clobber passages” get read is a sort of relic of a past era of evangelicalism when the Bible was a “rule-book” to be read entirely literally, and when individual passages could carry more weight than the story and trajectory of Scripture as a whole.

    To give a concrete example: when arguing against premarital sex, I think many evangelicals today would try to build a story based on passages throughout the Bible that paint a picture of what God’s plan and desire for marriage and human sexuality is. Most evangelicals 50 years ago, by comparison, would probably have just cited one of Paul’s sin lists that includes “fornication.”

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      Do they? The impression I get is that when the topic of divorce or pre-marital sex comes up, you have a smallish group that is trying to hold the line and a much larger group that shuffles its feet while looking at the ground, then changes the subject.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That’s because HOMOSEXUALITY(TM) is the Sin of the OTHER.

        But divorce? Can’t preach against that; never know when YOU might want to use that escape route yourself.

        And pre-marital sex? Never know when YOU might want to screw around yourself. Remember all the preacher sex scandals that have been popping up left and right?

      • This.

    • @ Michael Z and Richard H

      I’m a virgin over 40 because I never married… I’d like to be married and, hey, have sex too, but that has not happened.

      My experience is that the vast majority of Christianity today in the USA – the conservatives too – no longer defend or expect virginity and celibacy of anyone.

      First, the liberal wings started to claim that the Bible is so shucky- darn vague about virginity, or it was only for Mid-East cultures of long ago so that nobody should be expected to wait until marriage to have sex now.

      To now, the conservatives are also teaching those same things. I see little difference between how most conservatives are teaching about sex / virginity / celibacy and how most of the liberal churches teach about it.

      So adult singles such as me, who truly lived out a life of sexual purity get ignored, or shamed, or told our sexual purity is of no value.

      Most types of Christians will lay on support for sexual purity for anyone (any HETERO) under the age of 20 or 25, but past that age, there is no support or expectation to remain celibate, so singles like myself are left to our own devices.

      However, preachers and other Christian talking heads, are so happy to keep giving those vomit-worthy, “How to have a peppy marriage!” sermons, or to keep churning out puke-tastic books about, “How to have a great married sex life.”

  17. Richard Hershberger says:

    What strikes me in these discussions is how the discussion is invariably couched in terms of holding the line versus capitulation to the surrounding culture. Never acknowledged is that proponents of gay rights are making theological arguments. Consider this excerpt, from http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?pid=1746, from a statement by a group of Lutheran pastors. The immediate context is a referendum to revoke gay marriage in Washington state:

    “We do not oppose Referendum 74 because we are moral relativists who merely want Christianity to adapt itself to shifting winds…. No, our real reason for objecting to the move against homosexuals is that we are compelled by the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Christian Gospel sets us free from imagining that boundary-tending and rituals of exclusion are what God most wants from us. How unfortunate that gender obsessions rather than exemplary ministry are coming to be the chief marks of the modern church. No wonder the secular world “hates the church but admires Jesus.” The grace of Christ, for which no password is required, has set us free to love and serve all our neighbors. Jesus models for us the moral imagination that draws people in rather than shuts them out. Jesus surrounded himself with victims of social exclusion, extending the circle of God’s love far beyond our own comfort zones. As we know from the New Testament, God’s guest list is always larger than the church’s. In prejudice-breaking action, Jesus reached out across all social and cultural divisions and made the new life in God available to all, while religious professionals meanwhile spent their time protesting his affiliations with sinners. Modern Bible-believers would do well to spend less time on fanciful exercises like “What would Jesus do” and occupy themselves instead with “What DID Jesus do.” Is it really too complicated to figure out what the Bible says? Luther long ago saw that our freedom in the Gospel always trumps freeze-dried biblical literalism. If your interpretation of God’s will contradicts the inclusive love evidenced in the ministry of Jesus, then your understanding is deficient.”

    Let’s repeat that: “we are compelled by the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ”. Give me an Amen!

    But the responses I typically see are as if there was a mention of adapting to the culture, followed by a few minutes of white noise. These people have a script running in their heads, and it simply doesn’t register when others don’t follow it.

    • People are trying to make theological arguments, but it wasn’t theology or Scripture that spurred these arguments on. This isn’t Martin Luther reading the book of Romans and saying, “Wait a minute, what they have been teaching isn’t right!” This is people trying to form an argument after the fact, trying to form an argument after having already changed theirs minds due to other reasons, and they trying to get the Bible to back them up. Calling homosexual practice sinful is not freeze dried biblical literalism anymore than calling greed, lust, or pride sinful is.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        The same could be said of pretty much every advance over the past thousand or so years. The abolition of slavery is a good example. A defender of slavery a century and a half ago could have made the same observation.

        • But were they commanded in the New Testament to own slaves, or were they challenged to love others, did Paul challenge the system in Philemon, etc…?

        • The Bible never as far as I can recall either totally support or condemn slavery.

          God seems to have just granted that it was a “given” in most of the cultures he was dealing with, not that he himself approved of it.

          There are no positive depictions of homosexual behavior in the Bible, only condemnations every where it is mentioned, both in Old and New Testaments.

          There are positive mentions in the Old and New T of women in leadership positions, however.

      • However, we’re awfully good at picking and choosing which sins are dire threats to the church, aren’t we, while at the same time ignoring large swaths of Scripture that talk about sins that don’t offend us quite so much. Thus progressives laud the prophets while being suspicious of Paul, and conservatives do the opposite.

        It is not courageous to open my mouth and condemn the sins that bother me. It is courageous to shut up, roll up my sleeves, and love my neighbor. Period.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Determining factor being are they MY Pet Sins or the Unpardonable Sin of The OTHER?

        • But at some point does loving my neighbor mean being honest about sin, especially if that neighbor is a brother or sister sitting in the pew with me? And the honest truth is that this debate isn’t so much about which sins are dire to the church. In every church I’ve been in I’ve seen sin harm the body, and most of the time it has been the sins of selfishness, gossip, and pride. The real question of this debate is what is actually sinful. As much as we might be blind to our own selfishness, gossip, and pride, I’ve never seen anyone try to argue that those things aren’t actually sinful.

          • Oh I don’t know. I’ve never really seen that idea of “loving my neighbor” = “confronting them with their sin” equation work out well. Most of the time, helping people with their sins only happens when they come to you to confess or seek help.

            The problem with most religious folks is that we think it’s our job to fix others, keep them from sinning, or point out their faults. Minding our own business and giving people the dignity of their own process works much better, if you ask me.

          • “But at some point does loving my neighbor mean being honest about sin,”

            I suppose maybe, at some point. … but who has conversations like that? “Oh, hey, by the way I think your homosexual behavior is a sing”. Really? Does this happen?

            I’ve had next-door homosexual neighbors. And I talked to them. This never came up. A straight-up moral conversation… that would just be weird. NORMAL PEOPLE DON’T TALK LIKE THAT. We talked about all kinds of stuff. They new I went to church, and where I volunteered, and what I did for a living… and obviously that I lived in my house with my female wife. Sexuality never came up as a topic. Because that would be weird. It is not my role to Confront or Challenge them, it is my role to be at least a decent neighbor.

            “selfishness, gossip, and pride, I’ve never seen anyone try to argue that those things aren’t actually sinful.”

            Mostly they seem to just be ignored, or brushed aside. Confronting someone on these issues probably won’t work either.

          • Chaplain Mike,
            I didn’t say “confront them with their sin”, I said, “Be honest about it.” That doesn’t require out and out confrontation, but in the course of preaching or teaching or just in discussion the issue is going to come up.

            • This is just my opinion, so take it for what it’s worth and relish the irony when I say I think sharing my honest opinion, especially when it involves making judgments about others, is way overrated.

          • If Hell is real, then isn’t the loving thing to warn people about it?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            If Hell is real, then isn’t the loving thing to warn people about it?

            Usually by bullhorn right in the ear.

          • Ignore nedbrek, he’s an irrelevant troll from way back.

        • I can side with Chap Mike this much: act MUCH, talk LITTLE (if at all); Christ’s love will be seen over time (or not), but this is not a zero/sum game: real love will mean some talk , at some point, by somebody (even if it issn’t me). Sin/brokeness need the word, and we carry that word as a healing gift, as a source of hope. Actions and words, not necessarily in equal amounts, but both/and.

          It is unacceptable to me that the topic, always, be off the table or else I’m the bulldogs at Selma.

          • I echo your last sentence. I don’t like the way the larger conversation is going on the gay marriage side- most of them seem to currently slide into this fallacy that to disagree with them is to be the equivalent of hating or disenfranchising them personally.

            Ironically, their only authority is themselves in this. It’s nice to be convinced of your own rightness, but humility understands that when someone doesn’t share your authoritative sources (in this case their convictions based on personal experience), they will probably come to a different conclusion than you, and that doesn’t necessarily make them a raging bigot.

            I wonder if there will ever be reasonable outspoken voices on this. Given that it’s the topic of sex, probably not.

        • CM said,
          “It is not courageous to open my mouth and condemn the sins that bother me. It is courageous to shut up, roll up my sleeves, and love my neighbor. Period.”

          I don’t particularly get worked up about homosexuality itself, but I do see some of the radical homosexuals and their hetero buddies trying to brow beat those who don’t agree into shutting up or going along (both in church and out of church).

          That is the kind of thing that bothers me… that, and the double standards I have seen by those who champion all things LGBTQ (some of which I have discussed in another post), and side issues like these.

    • Jesus models for us the moral imagination that draws people in rather than shuts them out.

      No He doesn’t. Jesus had absolutely no problem drawing a line in the sand. You might say he wasn’t afraid to stick His neck out. He didn’t get killed for being so welcoming.

      Jesus surrounded himself with victims of social exclusion

      …whom he referred to as “the sick in need of a doctor.” Jesus was a very strict moral teacher, and he called the tax collector and prostitute to repentance.

      we are compelled by the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ

      Jesus was a nice guy who never said a mean thing to anybody, right? He totally overturned the repressive mores of Jewish society. Never mind the things he actually said and taught. His affiliation with sinners clearly shows us he doesn’t really mind their sin. Now we just have to figure out what he was going for with the whole death and resurrection thing. …you know, the Gospel?

      The Christian Gospel sets us free from imagining that boundary-tending and rituals of exclusion are what God most wants from us

      Until Paul had to come along and ruin it all by saying “expel the immoral brother.”

      Luther long ago saw that our freedom in the Gospel always trumps freeze-dried biblical literalism.

      …the same Luther who rejected the discoveries of Copernicus based on one verse of wisdom literature which he took to be an exact literal description of a geocentric universe? Holy mackerel, these “Lutheran” pastors sounds like that haven’t ever actually read Luther or Jesus. There is no theology whatsoever in that statement, simply Jesus used as a poster child for inclusivity and progressive tolerance. It’s like the opposite reaction to Strachan types.

      • The biggest problem I have with progressive constructions of Christian sexual ethics is that they seldom seriously engage with the fact that the New Testament broadly sees sexual morality as a big deal. Most books of the NT address it in some way! And recasting Jesus as a modern libertine requires a pretty selective reading of the Gospels.

        Homosexuality is only mentioned a few times, and maybe you can shoot down the “clobber passages” one by one. But they fall within a broader framework of sexual ethics. Which includes premarital sex and divorce and pornography and many other things that are just as unpopular in today’ s society. And yes, there’s plenty about greed and pride and social injustice in the Bible that should be heeded and that sometimes we haven’t paid enough attention to – that doesn’t mean sexual ethics don’t matter.

        And yes, there’s also a larger biblical framework of inclusion and welcoming outsiders – but the church has always had to figure out how to work out various tensions within our faith without abandoning one doctrine or the other. I’m pretty firmly convinced that orthodox Christian sexual teaching is correct (and I’m single with no immediate prospects, so it’s not like it’s easy for me), but I’m more tentative about exactly how it works out in today’s society.

        • Joel, your comment is thoughtful and fits well in honest and considerate conversation with others.

          On the other hand today’s article is not so much about the particular issue as it is about the way Strachan dealt with it. I see a huge contrast between his melodramatic, alarmist rhetoric and your thoughtful comment. Love prompts discussion and interaction among parties that disagree. Fundamentalism slams the door on it.

          • Yes, I wasn’t a fan of Strachan’s alarmism either and was going to post a comment about it later. And I attend a church where a woman often preaches (though not the senior pastor), so Strachan probably wouldn’t like me much either.

        • I completely agree.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          “And yes, there’s plenty about greed and pride and social injustice in the Bible that should be heeded and that sometimes we haven’t paid enough attention to – that doesn’t mean sexual ethics don’t matter. ”

          This is a cop out. Hand a Bible to someone who has never read it, and ask him for a report on whether it is more about sex than it is about social justice, or the other way around. The answer is it is far more about social justice than it is about sex. It isn’t even close. If modern Christians miss this, it is because we have been carefully trained in how to read it and which bits to pay attention to in order to arrive at the desired answer. So when I hear “Yes, the Bible talks about social justice some, but it also talks about sex, and that is what I think we should talk about now” my response is “No, the Bible talks about social justice a lot, and sex only a little. So let’s take our cue from this when establishing priorities.” Let Scripture interpret Scripture. I also notice that people who want to talk about sex first rarely exhaust that topic to the point where they will switch to the scriptural discussions of social justice.

          But I’ll bite, anyway. Large parts of the New Testament barely mention sex at all. In the gospels we have Jesus’ comment about divorce (which is actually a comment about the Law), and not much else apart from the occasional prostitute whom Jesus stubbornly declines to condemn. But of course what we are really talking about are the Pauline epistles. What about them? They were written in the context of Paul’s expectation of the imminent second coming. Paul was pretty down on sex in general. And you know what? This makes perfect sense. If you genuinely believe that the end times are upon us, it is a rational response to adapt your behavior to this expectation: don’t get entangled in a distraction like family life when that is about to be rendered irrelevant. That would be like worrying about keeping your bullpen fresh while in the middle of game 7 of the World Series. We see this today, with people convinced that they know the date of the second coming and cashing out their investments and selling their houses. We shake our head sadly after things don’t work out for them, but what else should we expect? If someone tells me that the world is coming to an end next Tuesday as he mails in his life insurance premium, I know that he isn’t serious. Paul was without a doubt serious, and issued advice accordingly.

          • jazziscoolithink says:

            +1

          • HHmmm
            Context is the operative word.

            The gospels are narratives that record what took place in 1st century Hebrew culture. I would not expect them to address sexual issues if they were not issues. What were the issues in that religious culture?

            On the other hand Paul was speaking mainly to Gentiles in the Roman empire that were probably morally a lot closer to us today than 1st century Israel is. What were the issues in Rome, Corinth and Asia minor? We have a whole lot more secular history that will inform us on this one. Paul has a different emphasis because of who he was talking to.

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            “On the other hand Paul was speaking mainly to Gentiles in the Roman empire that were probably morally a lot closer to us today than 1st century Israel is. What were the issues in Rome, Corinth and Asia minor?”

            Note that the church in Rome that received Paul’s epistle was a congregation of Jewish Christians, unlike the other recipients of his epistles. I mention this because the opening of his letter to the Romans is high on the list of anti-homosexuality clobber verses. The audience is important to understanding Paul’s point. Hint: he isn’t passing down a New and Improved Law.

          • Hand a Bible to someone who has never read it, and ask him for a report on whether it is more about sex than it is about social justice, or the other way around.

            Which is about the worst of all possible ways to arrive at the true meaning of the text. Scripture divorced from tradition is will quickly become a mirror to reflect your own priorities. It takes work to understand that book, and we rely on those who came before us to lead the way so we can stand on their shoulders.

            But I find it interesting how you seem to hold that sex is not a justice issue. Human dignity is always on the line with that one. You might say that it strikes much closer to the core of our personhood than economic issues.

            Large parts of the New Testament barely mention sex at all.

            Thank God, right? Could you imagine the reverse? Nobody could take the book seriously. There’s just enough to get the point across. The fact that Jesus “refused to condemn” prostitutes is completely irrelevant, unless you are saying this shows that he actually approves of prostitution.

            And of course, Paul really didn’t know what he was talking about, did he? He was so less inspired than, say, Peter or John. Why two centuries of saints took him so seriously on is really quite a tragic and silly turn of events.

          • I think you might be confusing me for a zealous culture warrior in Strachan’s camp. Anyway, I don’t think “count up the references” is a very useful game. The Gospel is holistically concerned with every aspect of our lives, including how we use our bodies. Sex is certainly mentioned enough to be important and not just isolated to a handful of prooftexts. I don’t think we should obsess over it and wouldn’t attend a church that talked about it constantly, but I don’t think we should dismiss it either.

            It’s interesting to note that the Bible, sexual immorality is sometimes associated with injustice and even used as a metaphor for it. For example, Revelation 17-18 is probably an attack on the Roman empire’s violence, avarice, and exploitation, and the image used is a promiscuous woman. I don’t think we can split things up so easily.

            Jesus’s teaching in Mark 10 and parallel passages is really about the nature of marriage in general – divorce is just the immediate issue he’s addressing. I don’t want to go into detail here, but an orthodox sexual ethic comes pretty easily from Jesus’s teaching on marriage. Paul takes up where Jesus and Genesis leaves off and follows the same line of thought. Even if Paul did expect the eschaton very soon (maybe he did, but I think he would also be prepared for the possibility of delay), that’s not the central foundation for his sexual ethics.

            Jesus also hung out with tax collectors. I’ve never seen anyone say that means he was cool with imperial exploitation, extortion, and dishonest book-keeping.

            There’s also Jesus’s teachings on lust, his mention of “sexual immorality” as something that makes you unclean (he just mentions it in passing here because everyone listening would know what he meant), and various other small things. Sexual chastity and fidelity is consistently seen as a mark of faithful Christian discipleship in the NT, and not only in Paul.

          • One more thing – there are plenty of people who believe in a conservative sexual ethic without obsessing over it and who talk plenty about justice. Tim Keller is one, NT Wright is another.

      • No He doesn’t. Jesus had absolutely no problem drawing a line in the sand. You might say he wasn’t afraid to stick His neck out. He didn’t get killed for being so welcoming.

        It also bears consideration just *who* He usually wound up drawing that line against. HINT: it wasn’t sexual sinners.

        His affiliation with sinners clearly shows us he doesn’t really mind their sin. Now we just have to figure out what he was going for with the whole death and resurrection thing. …you know, the Gospel?

        Can’t have one without the other.

    • Does not the Gospel also call us to repent? “Such _were_ some of you”?

    • David Cornwell says:

      Richard, well said.

    • Richard H said,

      “Never acknowledged is that proponents of gay rights are making theological arguments.”

      Yes, it is acknowledged, just maybe not from the particular groups you are looking at.

      Christians have been responding to the homosexual theological apologetics for ten or more years now.

      Here is just one example of many you can find online (there have also been pod casts and books published on these topics by other Christians):
      Why Matthew Vines is Wrong About The Bible and Homosexuality

      (And this Vines guy is not the first to pull this. I remember in the 1990s other homosexual authors were making the same or similar points as Vines is now.)

  18. Nice response, CM.

    It pains me to think about those under the influence/authority of “Truly Reformed” types like Strachan. I wonder whether they’ll have much faith left (if at all) once they crash and burn, as we see over and over again in the spiritual abuse blogs.

  19. “As we know from the New Testament, God’s guest list is always larger than the church’s..Is it really too complicated to figure out what the Bible says?”

    I am certainly critical of those who are overly literalistic, but as we also know from the NT, not everything is allowed. If you are going to point to certain texts and take them literally (“God’s guest list…”), then it should be shown why certain other passages are not to be taken as such.

    It is not that people are ignoring the theological arguments being made, rather, they have yet to see any that are strong enough. A good example is that of Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson, well-known NT scholar at Emory Univ., who after trying to reconcile the texts with homosexuality, eventually came to the conclusion that they could not be reconciled, and thus he decided that those texts should just be rejected.

    It is that kind of stance that just give people like Stachan more ammunition, and then he proceeds to move too far in the other direction.

    • Good point. It’s difficult for me not to think the LGTBQIA condition isn’t broken (the fact that letters keep getting added to it seems to make the point), just as it’s difficult for me not to think my lustful state isn’t also broken. I know I’m not exactly as God intended, just as I don’t think LGTBQIA folks are exactly as God intended.

      So the question I have is, how do we convey to folks that we’re ALL broken while avoiding the path Stachan has charged down? He is, after all, conveying SOME truth, right?

      • We’ve been at this point in the conversation MANY times here at IMONK, and it seems (if I remember correctly) that there are many who will not concede the point that the LGTBQetx….. condition is broken. I know this comes across as a conversation ‘closer’, but how do we converse about this if we cannot even agree what it is we are talking about ???

        To me, this seems to be a fundamental fork in the road of some kind (even if charity is to be offered to everybody: christian “lukewarm” christian, compromisers, capitulators, …..why do I suddenly get a vision of the short political guy in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”….??)

        I will repeat that to me, this and the complimentarianism/egalitarian conversation are two different trains of thought, or at least on different rails.

      • Rick Ro,

        “So the question I have is, how do we convey to folks that we’re ALL broken while avoiding the path Stachan has charged down?”

        Text doesn’t convey tone very well. What I’m about to ask could come out sounding sarcastic or insincere, but trust me that it is not. It isn’t rhetoric, it is honest wondering:

        I have grown up in an era of no-fault divorce, easy birth control, and nearly ubiquitous premarital sex. If you really think that your brokeness and mine are part of the same universal condition, what external controls, laws, and societal conditions would you support to limit yourself? What level of prejudice towards your own kind do you accept as a consequence of that brokeness?

        Strachan’s path is so tempting because it demands nothing extra of him, it shifts the burden of the law onto other people’s shoulders. His approach has no skin in the game. What skin would you put into the game?

        • Tokah, I totally agree with you. The pointing at other people’s sins/brokenness puts none of my own skin the game. And it makes it dang easy to preach when I can point at other people’s sins/brokenness to a congregation just like me!

          My own “skin in the game” is the plank in my own eye. That takes humility. That takes the guts to preach sins/brokenness of self to a congregation that might have planks similar to mine in their eyes.

        • Tokah’s post of January 21, 2015 at 2:17 pm

          Churches today are not expecting or demanding hetero adults singles to sexually abstain.

          Your post seems to assume that Churches are offering a lot of support for celibate, hetero singles but doing nothing for homosexual singles.

          I’m over 40, a hetero, still single, never married, was waiting to have sex within marriage only, so I tend to pay close attention to these subjects when or if they are brought up by Christians, especially by preachers, or in Christian books, pod casts, etc.
          As I’ve spoken of in a post or two above, there are actually some churches/ para church groups/ denominations who seem to feel that HETERO singles must abstain, but they are fine with homosexual singles having sex as singles or in a marriage.

          Other groups of Christians don’t expect anyone (hetero or homosexual) to abstain and are fine with an “anything goes” view of sex.

          I spent several years actively looking for Christian material or blogs/ forums/ pod casts that offer regular support for (hetero) adults over 30 who are still virgins, and there is next to nothing out there. There are not even many print books for celibate/ single adults.

          And I take it there is little material for older celibate singles because Christians assume everyone hetero and single over 25 years or age is having sex, and/or they just do not care if you are alone and having issues as a single adult.

          Christians would rather keep on pumping out “How to have a Great Marriage” series on sermons, books, and conferences instead.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Because “Great Christian(TM) Marriage” translates to Bedroom Evangelism and more future tithing units.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Good point. It’s difficult for me not to think the LGTBQIA condition isn’t broken (the fact that letters keep getting added to it seems to make the point)…

        Around the time the alphabet soup hit six letters I started calling them “The Unpronounceables” and let it go at that.

    • ” A good example is that of Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson, well-known NT scholar at Emory Univ., who after trying to reconcile the texts with homosexuality, eventually came to the conclusion that they could not be reconciled, and thus he decided that those texts should just be rejected. ”

      Didn’t some abolitionists do exactly that, as well?

      • “Some”? Maybe. Not necessarily all since they didn’t need to. Scripture did not say “not owning a slave is a sin”. The New Testament indicates otherwise, such as “loving your neighbor as yourself” taking priority, and Paul gently challenging slavery in Philemon. There were openings for the abolitionists to take advantage of.

        Such openings for certain behaviors are harder to come by, as Johnson essentially admitted.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Have you actually read Luke Timothy Johnson do the point you understand his position?

        • turnsalso says:

          I’m just responding to RDavid’s original comment; it’s actually the first I’ve heard of Luke Timothy Johnson. Going by your response, it sounds as if the account given is misinformed, like all the “outrageous” things that Katharine Jefferts Schori supposedly says. Is that accurate?

        • I have read this from Johnson
          I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.

          • turnsalso says:

            Eh… I’d like to see this in context.

            In point of fact, we reject the “straightforward commands” of Scripture all the time, and not just because we sin. We reject the Mosaic law, for example. St. Paul rejects the canon issued by the other Apostles against eating meat offered to idols. We today reject the canons against meat of strangled animals and against blood. I see nothing in Johnson’s quote that is categorically different from those things.

  20. As a SBCer it should come as no surprise I actually support Stachan’s position. Whether complementarianism is the last dam holding back liberalism, i wonder but it is biblical that only men are to be pastors.

    • Give me the “biblical” definition of “pastor” so I can figure out if I agree or not.

      • Patrick Kyle says:

        RR,
        1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus are pretty clear as to the qualifications and duties of a Pastor.

        See, this is what I find so frustrating. people don’t agree with the original interpretation, so they invoke the post modern mantra of ‘What is Truth” or “biblical’ or “Pastor”.

        The claim boils down to you can’t really say jack s**t about anything the Scriptures say for sure, but yet somehow the Bible, magically, in some way we can’t quantify is ‘true’ and ‘important.’

        Whatevs…..

    • Antonja Cermak says:

      But if you look at the CMBW website, you can see the idea of complementarianism on offer here is not just in the church. People who are Catholic in union with the Pope believe that women cannot be priests, yet most of them would not be considered complementarians under the CBMW’s auspices.

      Besides if the only issue is what gender can be priests or pastors (seriously irrelevant when less than 40% of adults attend services with a priest or pastor), then how does that at all make sense of the idea that if you give on complementarianism that this surrenders to the LGBTQA agenda?

      I think Owen is just shilling for his organization in the best way he can. I mean, being on board the CBMW, what would you expect him to say?

      Which is what I told my sister when she complained about the pastor’s evangelizing during our mother’s funeral. Well, good grief, he’s a Baptist minister. He doesn’t mean anything personal by it, what would you expect him to say.

    • John Lawless says:
      “but it is biblical that only men are to be pastors”

      Do you even seriously wrestle with the writings of Christian gender egalitarians, because they do offer biblical push- back to that view of yours.
      They have several sites such as:
      Junia Project

  21. “Complementarianism really is the last dam holding back the waters that would sweep over evangelical churches.”

    So….does Strachen not actually believe in Jesus Christ?

    Or what?

    • I think he’d tell you he does, but to the outsider it appears he’s more interested in TRUTH (as defined by him) rather than Jesus.

    • I’m sure he’d tell me he does, but that just displays the total Christological bankruptcy we are seeing in so much of the American church, including at the highest levels. You cannot say “Jesus is Lord” and “upon the foundation of Christ alone the church is built” and then say that complementarianism is the last bulwark holding back the destruction of the church.

      You can’t be of a double mind in this business. You cannot serve two masters.

  22. Seems to me this is our predicament in a nutshell:

    A group (LGTBQIA) saying, “Don’t tell us we’re broken!”

    And another group (“Biblical truth” Christians aka Stachan) saying, “We lose if we let LGTBQIA folks define brokenness!”

    And another group (non-religious) saying, “Just let them be.”

    And another group (less-fundamental Christians aka “most of us here at iMonk”) saying, “This is why Jesus died for us!”

    I guess my question is, which of those groups bears fruits of the Spirit. I’ve seen non-Christians and LGTBQIA people bear better fruit than “Biblical truth” Christians.

    • Rick Ro said

      I guess my question is, which of those groups bears fruits of the Spirit. I’ve seen non-Christians and LGTBQIA people bear better fruit than “Biblical truth” Christians.

      I see what you are saying, however.

      When it comes to certain topics, like homosexuality and SSM, some people will deem you an un-loving Pharisee merely for disagreeing with them, eve if you are not in general a jerk, nor do you hate homosexuals as people.

      Unless you totally accept homosexuality and SSM, you will often be branded by supporters as being a hateful homo-phobe jerk, and it does not matter how polite you are in stating your views, or how otherwise loving you are, or that you spend your spare time saving baby, soft ,cuddly, helpless, adorable kittens from trees.

      You will still be reviled merely for not hopping on board the SSM train or for admitting you do not want to hop on board.

  23. As a member of the SBC, I always cock an ironic eyebrow at history whenever one of our denomination asserts the “undeniable, plain moral witness of Scripture” vs. “silencing or twisting Scripture.” Apparently we’re supposed to pretend everything from the formation of the denomination through much of the 20th century (and arguably still a significant if more hidden factor today) never happened. After all, for my denomination, that used to also be the “undeniable, plain moral witness of Scripture.” I’m reminded of 1984. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

  24. Joseph (the original) says:

    Ye blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matt23:24

  25. OldProphet says:

    All of you need to chill out! Yesterdays post was so important! A Christian ministers life and faith crushed by circumstances. His heart broken. I commented because my heart was hurting for him. It could translate into lots of topics; Christianity and war, adultery in the church, fornication in the church, divorce, It got 11 comments. But today, oooh gay stuff. 105 comments as of 11:00, pdt. Sorry, its not the homosexual issue corrupting the Church, it’s heterosexual sin,sex, and lust issues that are the problem. Just sayin……..

    • Dana Ames says:

      OP,

      you are right, and some of the commenters today have pointed out the same.

      I didn’t comment yesterday because I felt I had nothing to say in the face of such tragedy. It’s hard for me to read those things, but I do it because I know it will hopefully help me to be kinder to people.

      Dana

    • Silence tactics can be very effective. Why don’t we all just get along.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Nothing racks up the comments like HOMOSEXUALITY(TM) or EVOLUTION(TM).

  26. Original article (summarizing Owen’s views),
    “Acceptance of LGBT lifestyles is directly linked to adoption of egalitarian gender roles.”

    No, it’s not.

    I’m a social conservative and do not support homosexual behavior or necessarily the legalization of homosexual marriage. One can be a gender egalitarian and not have to agree with or support homosexuality, or other issues, such as abortion.

    I don’t think Owen has thought his position through enough. He assumes, I take it, that being a gender egal is a slippery slope that can or will lead one into agreeing with homosexuality, but it does not have to.
    ——————
    Off topic.
    Also, if Numo from the other site is reading this (I apologize for this, but I have no other venue in which I can contact her):

    I thought she was pretty rude to me in a post on the other blog today. All I did was toss out a suggestion on something, and she took it as some kind of blow to a celebrity Christian she is fond of.

    That blog has had me in permanent moderated status for close to a year, soon after a disagreement I had with her there.
    Yet, she apparently has never been put on ice like I have. I have no idea why she gets a pass on behavior like this, but I get a months-long “time out.” And I don’t even post there that much anymore.

    The posts where I left two replies to her over there are still sitting in moderation, and I have no idea if they will ever see the light of day.

  27. Dana Ames says:

    To the points:

    1) The earliest Christians did not comport themselves in the way Strachan advocates. They did not view their situation through the lens of “culture war,” even though there was, istm, much more libertinism of every sort in those days. The Christians were not interested in “capitulation,” either their own to the Roman Empire or the Empire’s to them. They simply worshiped, cared for the sick – even those not their own-, rescued and raised abandoned children, kept *themselves* sexually continent within marriage, and allowed themselves to be killed rather than deny Christ as the one true God who rose from the dead. They did not wage any kind of culture war. We should be emulating them. That does not mean we should not speak – we have that freedom that they didn’t – but our arguing will not win anything or anyone. Our actions done in love and humility will. (Ch Mike, I get what you mean by the Marine Corps comparison – and I wish my dad, who served for 9 years including in all the worst battles of the South Pacific, and my son-in-law, who served 2 tours in Iraq and 3 in Afghanistan, would not be brought together in any way with this nonsense…)

    2) I don’t think Strachan would include Orthodox and Catholics as “confessional churches.” I think RC and EO have within their DNA, so to speak, a way of relating to everyone that recognizes everyone’s struggles, whatever they are, while not compromising the teachings the earliest Christians knew. RC and EO have lasted for 2000 years… The reality is, there are gay Christians. What message are we sending to them? I am acquainted with 3 gay men in my diocese, one a very close friend, who all have a measure of responsibility in the church. They are not tossed out on their ears because they’re gay. They are also living in celibacy, or they would not have the responsibilities they have. It’s not easy for them, but the sacramental life of the church helps a lot. Even if they were not celibate, they would still be Orthodox Christians, exactly the same as I am still an Orthodox Christian when I condemn someone in my own mind and heart (which in the EO scheme of things is a much worse sin than any sexual misdemeanor). In Orthodoxy, the stress is on opening up the swamp of one’s own heart to God and dealing with what’s there; we’re encouraged to leave everything else to God, and let those “other people’s” confessors take care of them.

    3) What theology is Strachan talking about? Does he just want a pass so he doesn’t have to treat others the way he wants to be treated? He should read the stories of the Desert Fathers and how they treated “notorious sinners”. Oh I forgot, the Holy Spirit had left the building by then… (snark, forgive me, I just get irritated by theological Kindergartners)

    4) If the issue is theological, this point is some of the shallowest I have ever heard, and I’ve heard a lot of theological drivel.

    More and more, I see that what Fr Stephen Freeman has been writing lately about the Christian life not being about “getting better” is the truth. Our salvation/ultimate Healing has nothing to do with “morality”, either before or after I come to Christ. It’s about slow, continued transformation in being united to the Resurrected Lord, who has trampled down death by death – living and functioning in a different mode of life, just like when I hit the “mode” button on my AV equipment, the rest of the buttons at once have a different set of functions than before. Here is something from one of the comments in the midst of that discussion:

    “My sincere but misguided upbringing in a low-church Protestant denomination strongly formed me to believe that once I come to Christ and accept Him as my Lord and Savior, then I’m to sincerely live the Christian life each day. The blueprint for this new life in Christ is to be found fully and solely in the Bible, the road map to “prove” I am worthy of Christ’s love for me. And my “good works” will show my faith, and demonstrate I’m not “crucifying Christ again” by becoming the most faithful and moral and good person I can ever be… especially compared to all the “enemies of Christ” in our society…. A death-defined life makes efforts to improve its state by judging, comparing, excusing, justifying, isolating, and rushing after every illusion of the devil. A Christ-centered, Resurrection-defined life makes efforts to never forget we are corpses except for the grace of the Risen One, and as dead people, we more and more see the utter futility of judging, comparing, excusing, justifying, isolating and partaking even further of sin’s soul deadening powers. What shall it profit the most morally advanced human in this or any age if he loses his soul?”

    Dana

  28. Let’s zoom out just a bit. What I’m hearing from Strachan is simply this. Be afraid, be very afraid, because if THEY get their way, disaster will follow. Just do what I tell you and you will be safe. Would I lie to you? Of course not, I”m the great whatever. I bought this stuff at one time, for far too long. But what I hear from Jesus is don’t be afraid. Whatever comes next, I will be with you.

    Who wants to make people afraid? Those seeking power and control. Is it healthy? Well, unless it is a parent telling a child to stay out of the street, generally not. I collect verses about not being afraid and put them on cards and read them often. I don’t trust those who manipulate by using fear to control others.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      What I’m hearing from Strachan is simply this. Be afraid, be very afraid, because if THEY get their way, disaster will follow. Just do what I tell you and you will be safe. Would I lie to you? Of course not…

      Wasn’t there some guy in 1933 Germany who said pretty much the same thing?

      And a string of guys in 1920-1960 Russia?

      And a second string of their fanboys all over the Third World?

      And an FBI Director-for-Life and an LAPD police chief (during the peak of LAPD corruption)?

  29. Additional thoughts I have about the original post:

    OP said,

    “First of all, we are talking about a relatively small percentage of people.”

    True, but they are controlling about 90% of the discourse in evangelical Christianity, much like in secular culture.

    Whether you are apathetic about homosexuality, or strongly disapprove of it, those on the left who are really “gung ho” about homosexuality are forcing you to care.

    They are cramming this topic down your throat, in churches and in the broader culture. You will be harassed, referred to as a homophobe and fired from a job (depending on what venue this plays out in), if you refuse to go with the party line that Homosexuality is Just Fine!!

    OP said,

    “Second, as citizens of a free country, shouldn’t Christians be at the forefront of opposing discrimination and upholding the dignity and rights of all human beings?”

    … “LGTBQIA folks have been among those on the fringes, cast out into the shadows and discriminated against for a long time. Will their freedom and dignity”…

    And where is all this supposed discrimination coming from?

    People who disagree with homosexuality are being harassed for not agreeing with it.

    I often see homosexuals and their supporters as being the bullies who are intolerant, not those who disagree with homosexuality.

    In some Muslim nations, such as Iran, homosexuals are hanged for being homosexual, and last week, there were news reports with photos of the Muslims group ISIS shoving homosexuals off buildings to their deaths for being homosexual. If we were at that level in the USA, I could maybe see the concern, but we’re not there.

    From the OP:

    Third, if people believe so strongly in heterosexual marriage and think we should be honoring it and protecting it, shouldn’t we be focusing the vast majority of our time, efforts, and rhetorical power on strengthening those marriages rather than battling others who see things differently?

    This is one of the points I believe has merit. I do think some evangelicals invest way too much time and effort on this.

    I do agree with the OP that

    3. I must say something about Owen Strachan’s final point, because, honestly, it is beyond laughable to me. Just ponder this sentence again: “Until Jesus returns, we [those who hold to complementarianism] – empowered in full by the Holy Spirit – are the last refuge.”

    he is over stating his case there, and making much ado about complementarianism.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “they are controlling about 90% of the discourse in evangelical Christianity, much like in secular culture.”

      I just looked at the front page of Salon, a decidedly leftie website discussing politics and culture. As I write, there are 41 stories on the front page. I counted how many of them have to do with homosexuality. The answer is zero. It may be that 90% of the discourse in your neck of the woods is about homosexuality. If so, then frankly, y’all need to get out more. This also may explain the reactions you get from people outside your bubble. They want to talk about the Superbowl and the Oscars, not hear yet another lecture on the evils of homosexuality.

      • Reply to Richard Hershberger:

        I skim over all sorts of sites, from news sites to entertainment.

        Some of these sites are left wing, some right, some moderate, and one of the main topics ever hear on a frequent basis is homosexuality, or transgenderism, or some celebrity or another has “come out of the closet,” or more discussion of homosexual marriage.

        I don’t live in a bubble.
        For one thing, I have been- if you read my other posts on this page, as I already noted- left some of my long held political and religious views behind, some are in flux, which has angered one friend of mine who I’ve known for years.

        I don’t live in a bubble…
        I am not a typical conservative evangelical, so don’t try to caricaturize me.
        These days, I reside somewhere between Agnostic and Christian.

        I don’t even really care about homosexuality itself, but I am tired of it being discussed or argued constantly by those for and against, and, I’m tired of the militant homosexuals who harass people who don’t agree with it, try to get them fired from their jobs for not supporting it, etc.

        Homosexuals are usually the bullies and aggressors both within the church and outside of it.

        Homosexual militants use this constant drum beat as a technique. It was brought out in a book by two homosexual guys who discussed it as a strategy… The book title was, “After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s”

        The authors refer to the constant spewing of propaganda as Desensitization. Here is an excerpt from their book:

        “We can extract the following principle for our campaign to desensitize straights to gays and gayness, inundate them in a continuous flood of gay-related advertising, presented in the least offensive fashion possible. If straights can’t shut off the shower, they may at least eventually get used to being wet.”

      • I have a comment for you Richard Hershberger, it is currently sitting in moderation, so if you would like to see it, you will have to wait a while (don’t know how long) and refresh your browser window.

        One, two points I will re-state in this post:

        I am quasi Christian, quasi Agnostic. I am not a far right wing Christian evangelical, which is probably what you are assuming I am.

        I don’t live in a bubble and would love to not hear anymore about the “H” topic, but it keeps getting brought up on all media (not just right wing sites), and by H’s themselves.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Name names. I named a general interest website and the percentage of discussion of homosexuality on it. You responded by ignoring that inconvenient “fact” thingie and doubling down on your claim. So put up or shut up. Show me where 90% of the discourse is controlled by homosexuals. Website devoted specifically to the topic don’t count. Show me where 90% of the discourse in news or science or politics or literature or the humanities is controlled by homosexuals. Be specific.

    • In some Muslim nations, such as Iran, homosexuals are hanged for being homosexual, and last week, there were news reports with photos of the Muslims group ISIS shoving homosexuals off buildings to their deaths for being homosexual. If we were at that level in the USA, I could maybe see the concern, but we’re not there.

      Please tell me you do not mean that you would wait for circumstances to reach that level before it would generate concern in you. This is just the kind of rhetoric that makes dialogue with LGBTQ people impossible.
      Oh, and while not sanctioned by the powers that be as in some Muslim nations, violence against homosexuals is certainly real in our country. Please, just google it. Or better yet, talk to people who’ve experienced it.

      I think this kind of rhetoric is a good example of why it’s important for us to have friends who are LGBTQ and to be able to really listen to them as well as talk with them. This brings opportunities for witness and life interaction that vague culture war generalities and rhetoric never will (and, if we’re honest, were never designed to). Let us instead love our neighbors, whatever their sexual orientation.This will enable us to share in their brokenness and ours, in their joys and ours. This is how people come to Christ.

  30. “half-Christians, Christians who like the salvation-and-free-grace part of the Bible without the sticky ethical and doctrinal material.”

    And here’s another example of a Christian class system. We are biblical, they are not. How telling that they do not stop to consider for even half a second the role, purposes, or even reality of those “ethical and doctrinal material” passages, let alone if they are right on them.

    Hashtag #done

  31. David Cornwell says:

    Several people have mentioned the position of Luke Timothy Johnson who seem not to have actually read through his position. If you read what he says, all of it, then still disagree, that’s good. However if you want to read some of it go to the following:

    “Homosexuality and the Church; Scripture and Experience” in “Commonweal.” (June 11, 2007). Google search will get you there.

    It’s easy to be black or white. It’s the grays that cause problems.

    Johnson has also written the following “Scripture and Discernment: Decision-Making in the Church” which can give help with the grays.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Of course Albert Mohler does not like Johnson, his writings, or Emory (too liberal).

  32. Chaplain Mike:

    I am not sure at all that you have been fair to Owen, particularly on his point 1. I am leaning a bit toward thinking you have made a straw man, although there are other parts where you are seeing 20/20

    I think people should go over and read the article for themselves and decide. I think he is raising some legitimate points, and it seems like every time the issue of homosexuality surfaces people come out of the woodwork to try to bash anyone who has any reservations or objections to it.

    I am really tiring of what seems like a deliberate attempt to stir the pot Chaplain Mike!

    If you really believe that the vast majority of the world’s Christians are wrong in their belief that our sexuality is to be reserved for marriage of a man and a woman, then please say so and perhaps post an article on why.
    Then we will know where InternetMonk stands on this issue.

    • Sigh. Let me say it again: This post is not as much about the issue itself as it is about the way a certain faction of Christians has chosen to address the issue.

      • Chaplain Mike:
        I went and read Owens article. And in the context of who he was addressing there was some very legitimate points raised and cultural capitulation was one of them. I am troubled by the way you summarized this point
        makes him sound a lot more inflammatory and reactionary than his article is.

        He states that it is not courageous to capitulate to the cultures view that homosexuality is ok, and he says you cannot justify this from scripture. He warns us that we cannot abandon what scripture has to say

        To leave behind Scripture is the essence of folly, and the stuff of cowardice. We are all tempted to do so; we all carry the spirit of Peter, who denied Christ, in our heart. But his action was not courageous. It was treasonous.

        Although I don’t agree with all of what he has written, I think that you have not really been fair to him hence my wondering why.

    • If you *really* want the default early orthodox Christian position on sexuality, then let’s go back to “singleness is best”. That was Jesus’ and Paul’s default position. The modern evangelical fixation on Marriage and Family would probably both sound strange and echo false in their ears.

      • @ Eeyore.
        I have never married and totally agree!
        Most Christians today are fixated to an unhealthy degree with marriage and nuclear family.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          One long-ago thread on this blog coined the phrase “Salvation by Marriage Alone”.

      • I have often wondered if evangelicals’ obsession with the sex culture war has anything to do with our failure to have any category for intentional, long term (or lifetime) celibacy and singleness. Contra Scripture itself.

    • Oh, and Ken, I have said on many occasions that I myself am pretty conservative when it comes to sexual morality.

      I just don’t think the church talks about it very well or puts it in proper context most of the time. Most of all, by being so loud and blunt in expressing our opinions, we miss a zillion opportunities to love our neighbors every day. Being a faithful Christian, as I read scripture, is about faith working through love, not about doctrinal correctness exhibited through constantly spouting my opinions and judgments.

      • Mike, as others have pointed out here there are many who would say the only legitimate action on our part is to cave in and say that homosexuality is legitimate in all circumstances and that anyone who disagrees is a bigot and unkind.

        I also think part of being a Christian is to stand faithful to what we know is true, not just being nice. And in this specific case Owens was addressing a protagonist who wrote a Time article that he was responding to. And I think doctrinal correctness IS important, I firmly believe that being doctrinally correct is not incompatible with being loving. But there are firm barriers there that we cannot change, and it is not wrong to state them.

        • Ah, the logical fallacy of the excluded middle. Which is the ultimate error of both Owen Strachan and the LGTB superactivists which are his foils.

        • First of all, he was not writing a protagonist. He was agreeing with the author of the article on two of her points and then spinning off into his own righteous rant.

          Second, he does not in any way, shape, or form state his position in an irenic fashion with humility and in a way that is amenable to productive discussion.

          Third, instead he ratchets up his language to high-pitched levels, warning of imminent judgment if others don’t embrace his points of view. He even acknowledges this in the post.

          Fourth, he elevates this one issue and his answer for it (complementarianism) to a place so far out of proportion to its importance that it’s mind-boggling. (I know that people who have different positions on this issue do the same thing, but that in no way justifies Strachan’s alarmist exaggerations.)

          Ken, this is not a thoughtful article. It is a pep talk to the troops to fire them up to go and do battle with the culture in one small specific arena. I see very few examples of this in Scripture. Unless you count the prophets, but they were much more concerned about other issues — sex wasn’t even on their radar. Bad religion, spiritual pride, abuse of power, injustice, and mistreatment of the poor are at the top of the list. Why would any LGBTQIA person even consider listening to this? Why would any of them feel in the least loved by anyone who spoke like this? How would any Christian who is concerned to love his or her gay neighbor feel empowered or equipped to do that after listening to a message like this?

  33. Dear Mr. Strachan,

    Thank you for your recent post on cultural capitulation and for sounding the alarms! Truly I was once a person who “liked the salvation-and-free-grace part of the Bible”. I remember being that person, though it seems like ages ago. When God’s love and affection towards humanity seemed like the deepest reality, even deeper than human sin. It seemed good at the time but I no longer make that mistake. So childish and WRONG – a defamation to God’s character. Now I know that GOD IS WATCHING for “treasonous” behavior and that we’re perpetually in danger of making doctrinal mistakes that might “queue up an entire congregation for judgment and destruction.” I have since grown, in Christian maturity, to focus exceedingly more on the “sticky ethical and doctrinal material” as I’ve realized that these are the more important things and that, indeed, mistakes in this area can completely nullify God’s grace towards me. Honestly, I had no idea the amount of material there was – the amount of things that I might be mistaken about and thus “place myself in mortal jeopardy”! Complementarianism is a new one on the slippery slope of “gospel issues” for me. But what’s important is to be “in” and I’ve realized that while it might be easy to get in, it’s nearly impossible to stay “in”. I would never have thought that “Complementarianism really is the dam holding back waters” and or that it’s a manifestation of a “force who would destroy the church and eviscerate alongside it all traces of goodness, truth, and beauty in the world” but the Word is clear(ish). Scary! How could I miss this? Indeed “we – empowered in full by the Holy Spirit – are the last refuge.” The LAST! THIS IS THE END! It’s a shame that there “is no great doctrinal deliverance to expect” though. That’s really what I’m looking for – doctrinal deliverance. I just don’t get it. God gave Paul all the rules 2,000 years ago! Like you said, “The way is given to us. We simply have to walk in it.” All we have to do is teach and obey the timeless truth (except for the things that we don’t have to obey of course). I mean, we as the Truly Reformed just confess what the church has ALWAYS believed, like Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

    Here’s the bottom line. I don’t want to go to hell (isn’t that REALLY what we’re talking about here?). If I stick with Complementarianism, you think I’m good?

    Peace and joy.

  34. cheesehed says:

    +1

    These people have created a punitive Gospel and unfortunately its ugly fruit has spread.

  35. “Third, if people believe so strongly in heterosexual marriage and think we should be honoring it and protecting it, shouldn’t we be focusing the vast majority of our time, efforts, and rhetorical power on strengthening those marriages rather than battling others who see things differently”

    This reminds me of a summer where I attended 3 or 4 weddings in quick succession. Each were weddings of Christians, with Christian extended family in attendance. Several times during various toasts at these occasions someone would stand up (all affluent white men) and give a shortish diatribe about how marriage as an institution is under attack, and we need to fight the good fight, etc.

    I could only think “how much more unloving could someone possibly be, than to use their loved ones’ wedding as an opportunity to score points for traditional marriage, and to berate people who are having premarital sex?”

    Not much, really. You have to be pretty shriveled up to think that is appropriate behavior. That is the character of much of the discourse on traditional marriage though. One is perfectly vindicated to say/do whatever one wants as long as you’re are against what you’re supposed to be against.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I could only think “how much more unloving could someone possibly be, than to use their loved ones’ wedding as an opportunity to score points for traditional marriage, and to berate people who are having premarital sex?”

      Michael Jackson’s funeral, where the famous deceased’s father used the occasion of delivering a eulogy to plug his record label.

  36. Good post Chaplin Mike! Loved your analysis!

  37. I’m not sure I can add much more that’s new here, but I wanted to comment and do it earlier but wasn’t able to. Here are a number of thoughts:

    – I can admire Strachan’s bold stance and I can even find some agreement in his moral position (I’m fairly traditional/conservative with sexuality/gender roles myself) but I agree with CM’s point that the approach is all wrong…

    – Strachan is adamant he’s standing on the solid rock of Biblicism… problem is I bet there’s a position or two of his (SBC/Reformed) that’s the opposite of what I think are Biblically based positions (Menno/Anabaptist) and therefore I could probably whip out quite a few vs and make hash of some things he believes…(probably more than the sex/complimentarian ones) So now who’s not Biblical? Shall we fight to the “death” over those? Would that invite the world to follow Christ? Just what the world needs, more sectarian wars amongst co-religionists. Unless I’m misunderstanding Strachan, this seems to be what he wants.

    – Whenever I hear people like Strachan and their tone of militant, doomsday stridency, I think of the Amish (I live in “the” amish country). Now there’s a group of people who are visibly, daily out of step with everybody around them. (Besides being super traditional on family/sex/gender roles etc) Yet our society tolerates them; even respects them in some ways; even goes to some lengths sometimes to accommodate them… In other words, they openly disregard the society-wide approved way of doing things (e.g. driving horse/buggy) and yet they survive. Heck they even flourish. They’re not being thrown into jail. Their preachers aren’t being killed by mobs. Their farms, business’s and property aren’t being taken away by the state or suing litigators… Now they may not be able to make as much money; they may be the butt of a few jokes; they’re not going to get elected to the state house or the local school board… but THEY JUST LIVE IT…even if it gets uncomfortable at times – They live it and let it at that.

    But that’s where people like Strachan don’t want to go or be… They don’t want to just live it – they want to also create, through political/cultural/ecclesiastical power, whatever it takes: they want to create a comfy world around them where everyone lives the same convictions and where bold types like Strachan can also rise to the pinnacles of worldly existence; be it business, education, arts, government. And that’s why these messages have so much fear in them… they are terrified of losing their actual or mythological position as masters of society (hmmm isn’t that a bit unBiblical…especially NT?) They’re afraid of losing control. They’re afraid of being society’s pariah. They don’t want to be the lowest of the low (despite that being the place where Christ goes…)

    – Finally, I listened to a recent Fresh Air – the title is “How Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ Led a Radical Muslim to Moderation”… Very interesting interviewee… and I think quite apropos to this discussion. The best part: his tale of being in prison for 4 years in Egypt and how that relates to the Animal Farm and how that sparked his retreat from fanaticism.

    • +1

      Especially the second-to-last paragraph — outstanding.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But that’s where people like Strachan don’t want to go or be… They don’t want to just live it – they want to also create, through political/cultural/ecclesiastical power, whatever it takes: they want to create a comfy world around them where everyone lives the same convictions and where bold types like Strachan can also rise to the pinnacles of worldly existence; be it business, education, arts, government.

      Just like ISIS/ISL.
      And the Taliban before them.
      And the Communists before them…

  38. I note two things about what is said about Owen Strachan here: a lot of fear and not much grace.