December 11, 2017

IM Book Review: Turning Controversy into Church Ministry

By Chaplain Mike

Turning Controversy into Church Ministry: A Christlike Response to Homosexuality
by William P. Campbell
(Zondervan, 2010)

I responded to an invitation to participate in a “Blog Tour” of W.P. Campbell’s book on ministering to those in the homosexual community. In typical fashion, I’m tardy in getting my review out, but I hope the folks at Zondervan will forgive my slowness. You can read other reviews of this book HERE.

Publisher’s Blurb
While some churches debate the issue of homosexuality and others completely avoid it, struggling people fall through the cracks. This is a book for Christians and church leaders who want to rise above the debate and make a difference in the world by thinking, acting, and speaking in ways that express both redemptive truth and Christlike love.

The Author: W.P. Campbell
Campbell, who studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, is senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, NC. As a Presbyterian, he experienced the controversies in the mainline denomination and has been thinking about this issue for over twenty years. He serves on the advisory board of OneByOne, a ministry that helps churches help those dealing with same-sex attraction.

Internet Monk Review (by Chaplain Mike)
Truth AND Grace—that is the ostensible framework of understanding that W.P. Campbell counsels the church to follow in its ministry to homosexuals and those dealing with sexual brokenness.

Congregations and entire denominations have done a good job of condemning, affirming, or avoiding homosexuality, but how many have fully embraced both the truth and grace Jesus offered? (p.13)

He calls Christian believers, not to compromise truth about sin and holiness, but to move to a place of deeper commitment, where truth and grace work together to minister to the gays in our communities.

The book is built upon Campbell’s “ten ministry essentials”:

  1. The best way to avoid extremes is to follow Christ’s example.
  2. Churches that blend uncompromised grace and truth are positioned for dynamic ministry.
  3. Ministry begins when we connect brokenness in our hearts with brokenness in others.
  4. Church leadership is about godly role models, not rights.
  5. We must embrace the whole of Scripture to keep our lives whole.
  6. Our genes bear the shadow of the fallen creation. They do not overshadow righteous living, however, for those who are new creations in Christ.
  7. The law leads us to Christ, who enables us to fulfill it.
  8. The goal is not to move from homosexuality to heterosexuality, but from homosexuality to holiness.
  9. Where sin abounds, God’s grace is greater still.
  10. With God, nothing is impossible and no one is unreachable.

These are fleshed out in a three-part argument:

  1. He starts with the Church: Where do we stand? How do we care? Whom do we follow?
  2. He discusses the Controversy: What do we learn from creation, genetics, God’s laws, psychology, passages on judgment, and a consideration of the power of God’s Word and Spirit?
  3. He suggests a Blueprint for Ministry: He draws lessons from Nehemiah about how we can build “walls” that will enable our congregations to be safe places for people who have experienced sexual and relational brokenness

As you can see, Campbell is an organized, rational communicator. He makes his case clearly, based on sound logic and thoughtful, careful analysis from the Bible and research, and argues for his points persuasively. Most chapters contain a personal illustration, testimony, or vignette to reinforce his arguments with examples.

If I could boil the analyses and arguments of this book down into their essential message, it would be this:

All sides of the debate over homosexuality in the Christian church have taken overly simplistic positions and promoted inadequate approaches to the issues. We must find ways in our churches to actively engage in ministry to our homosexual neighbors in a distinctly Christian fashion—not compromising truth, but always extending grace.

What I Like about This Book
In a classroom sort of way, W.P. Campbell is an excellent teacher. His positions are not only well argued from Scripture, but they are also reasonable and thoughtfully aware of how others think and feel. For example, take his words on the factors underlying same-sex attraction:

“A more reasonable viewpoint, based on science and experience, accepts that sexual orientation forms in the average person through a blend of innate tendencies, environmental influences, and life experiences.” (p.85)

and,

“Recognition of the complexity of the topic should cause us to speak carefully and thoughtfully.” (p.88)

He helpfully puts the issue into the broader context of the Biblical view of sexuality as a whole, reminding us, for instance, that single heterosexual adults outnumber homosexual adults by a factor of 10-1. The bigger picture requires that we speak God’s Word of sexual healing and holiness all who are hurting and lost in this way, especially in this sex-saturated society.

I like that he is unafraid to take all sides to task. He balances strong words to Christians who have been both heretical (twisting grace into license) and hypocritical (twisting truth into judgmentalism). He disassembles the arguments of those who would link gay affirmation with the liberation of slaves and women. On the other hand, he points out the thoughtless use of language on the part of conservative Christians, as when they bandy about words like “abomination” without understanding its meaning or impact. He warns, “The American Psychiatric Association has embraced an oversimplified and unbalanced position on homosexuality; the church must not overreact by doing the same thing in the opposite direction.” (p.118)

I like that he recognizes that the goal is holiness (I prefer the word “chastity” or “integrity”) when it comes to sexuality. He freely admits that coming to Christ and even engaging in a lifetime of discipleship may not remove the temptations of same-sex attraction from those who struggle with it. Why should this be any different for our homosexual friends than it is for anyone else? The “flesh” in all its forms fights all of us our whole life long. No one ever stops needing Christ and his forgiving, renewing grace.

I like that he stresses a multi-faceted approach to church ministry toward those who are sexually broken. Campbell recommends spiritual disciplines like prayer, strong voices of leadership in the congregation, building an entire culture of positive and healthy “family values” (though I wish he hadn’t used that hackneyed phrase), mentoring, counseling, small groups and outreach. I’ll address the downside of all this in a moment, but at this point, I’m glad he recognizes that there are no simple solutions and that the pathway is challenging and long.

What I Did NOT Like about This Book
In a nutshell?

W.P. Campbell outlines a “churchianity” solution to what in many cases boils down to a real life, relational, neighborly issue.

While I am thankful for good analysis and thinking about the issues, sensitivity to the gays around us, the call for churches to welcome gays and call them to Christ and sexual purity through a cogent position of compassion without compromise, this book did nothing to encourage me or show me how to actually make friends with my gay neighbors. It did not help me learn to live and work and play in the community with them even when they don’t want to change, how to listen to their concerns and identify with their struggles on a personal level, how to love them and help them and serve them, whether or not it involves trying to help them change in some way.

In my experience, it is better to start at ground level with a willingness to play the game on someone else’s field. Learn to be a neighbor and a friend first; don’t expect me to come join your program.

The book takes a typical evangelical approach:

  1. “The Church” is called to mission.
  2. Homosexuals are part of our mission field.
  3. Successful mission to homosexuals means bringing them to faith and getting them into church where they can access programs for life-change.
  4. Our churches have not done a good job of this.
  5. Therefore, here is my scheme for changing our thinking and the organization of our churches so that we can “be positioned” to serve the homosexuals who we hope will want to come among us now that we have a program for them.

Campbell’s book is a church program oriented mission program to reach and transform homosexuals.

Now maybe in some settings that will be helpful. But how about this?— I would guess that many Christian people could not even imagine where to begin having an actual conversation on a human level with someone who is an open homosexual. They’d struggle to find common ground for one talk, much less for the establishment of a friendship. Why not start there?

I would be much more comfortable with a “ministry” that was first about equipping people to live their lives well among their neighbors, befriending and serving them with Jesus’ love, no matter who they are or what their “sins” may be. Period. And if we’re going to have a “mission” to the homosexual community, then let’s find some folks who will do what Andrew Marin did—move into neighborhoods where gays are concentrated, get to know them, learn to listen to them, and practice sacrificial service toward them as true friends and companions in the context of daily life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for those who are thinking and writing about this subject. We need a multitude of perspectives and ideas, including the insights of those who are responsible for envisioning and organizing church ministries. W.P. Campbell does give us a lot of food for thought and discussion in that regard. But I can well imagine that this book will be used mainly within the church walls, in classrooms and church boardrooms where there will be few if any gays in sight. It will evoke conversations that will boil down to “us” and “them.”

When it comes to actual ministry, I’ve come to believe it may be time to “throw out the book” (or at least don’t start with it), leave the building and lock the door, and go have a cup of coffee or work on a project with your neighbor.

Comments

  1. David Cornwell says:

    I really hate to be the first one to comment on this and argued with myself, but this statement, “Homosexuals are part of our mission field” is a non-starter. There is not one homosexual person who reads that statement who will read the remainder of the book. Every evangelical church in America can say the same thing, along with a big parts of the mainline and the Catholic Churches. So– what’s different?

    Now, I’m really going to try to stay out of this conversation, but will look in on it from time-to-time.

    • I agree whole-heaterdly….

      As a Black, Christian Gay woman, the more I read the review, the more sick I felt.

      It was just as judgemental, in my view, as the bile spewed by Fred Phelps and his klan/church.

      Why is the assumption made that “i” am any more “broken” than any heterosexual? Why is my sexuality any more a “stumbling block” to holiness than “yours”?

      • I’m with you! I couldn’t make it through this entire review of this book. Still assuming that the only way out for us gays is to deny who we were created to be is frustrating beyond words. It’s for the young people trapped in the church world that keeps me coming back for more debate. I personally don’t give a rip what the church folk think about me anymore, haven’t for many years now. I feel the Presence of God in my life daily, and I know no greater love. The kids sitting in the pews across America need to know the same thing! They need to know they were knitted in their mother’s womb, wonderfully and beautifully made. Telling gay people not to be gay is like telling water not to be wet. We are God’s creation full of love and light, just like the straights He made. After all, without the breeders of the world, we wouldn’t be here.

        • Of course, we “church folk”, as you say, would disagree that this is “who we were created to be”. After all, at the core of Christianity is a recognition that we all fall short of who we were created to be.

          • “I personally don’t give a rip what the church folk think about me anymore, haven’t for many years now.”

        • Debra, you paraphrased Psalm 139:14 by stating, “They need to know they were knitted in their mother’s womb, wonderfully and beautifully made.” So you aptly quote scripture to make your point and its understandably important to you. What then do you do with this scripture, 1 Cor 6:9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

          I’m not trying to be a mean-spirited sharpshooter here, I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from. On the one hand you quote scripture to make a point. How then do justify your apparent rejection of other scriptures that clearly indicate that homosexuality is akin to fornication, adultery, and other sins?

          • Jeff, I believe it’s a matter of reading and understanding the literal meaning, or the implied. Since Paul knew nothing of the word “homosexual” when he wrote his words, we have to find out what he really meant. I don’t have faith in the Nicene counsel to decide it all for me, so I have to listen to The Spirit in the words.
            I will turn it around with a question to you. How do explain Paul’s meaning when he talks about women being quiet in church. If they have quesitons about anything, they should wait until they are inside their home and ask the husband to explain it to her. Why isn’t that tradition being followed today? Could it be it doesn’t apply to us in this time? During the time Paul was writing about men with men, it was customary for preists to engage in sexual acts with the male prostitutes in the temple. Not so much part of our regularly held customs these days.
            There are too many holes in arguments to take what is literally written on the pages as the literal truth. Yet another good reason God found it necessary to leave us with the Holy Spirit who guides us in all ways. That’s Who I listen to when seeking answers, and as promised, He is always there with an answer. He tells me He loves me, and He blesses my girlfriend and I as we seek to honor HIm with our lives. BTW, I have also felt Him chastise me for being quick to anger, for being unloving toward someone, and for being a gossip at times. Like the wonderful Father He is, He wants me to be my absolute best for Him…..as do I.
            Peace

      • I hear your words… it is easier to point a finger and say you… that group over there… this is what you must do to change your ways… it becomes more complicated for me when there are people in my life who have made this lifestyle choice, who go to church, some are raising families…it becomes more personal.

        I read a statement in the article above talkiing about how one would start a dialog with someone whose gay… and I thought to myself – are there many who live in a bubble, cutoff from those who are not the same as themselves?

        In today’s society it easier for the young to know and accept those who are gay. For those of us, like myself who are older and heterosexual, we don’t see it as much from a personal perspective so it is easier to read a book like this and shake our heads affirmatively – yeah, that could work, when, at a personal relationship[ level we all know that all it will do is offend…

        my thoughts…

    • Just to turn that on its head a bit, last Sunday morning I got a text from a dear friend who happens to be a lesbian. It said “missing you at church.” The straight white middle-aged white family guy is the mission field and the gays are doing the evangelizing 🙂

  2. Those of us with homosexual family members (a cousin & second cousin) have the opportunity to talk openly & frankly with them about their perceptions of how the greater Christian community has treated them.

    Love cannot be a condition of faith/morals when applied to family. I can choose to be part of the obnoxiouos moral crusade or simply be a family member that grew up with these people. Heck, that part of my experience is part of the real challenge one has regarding personal convictions of a moral/religious/political nature.

    I cannot avoid them. They are there every family reunion. I cannot be a follower of Jesus & get all bent-out-of-shape by the lifestyles of family members. I do not query everybody else about their ‘sins’ so I must be engaging at the point they are not, not where I feel comfortable they should be at…

    • I understand what you’re saying about family members. What about those outside that circle. For example, my daughter’s college basketball coach is a lesbian. Over the past three years she’s come to know us, our family, and has embraced our Christian love for her. She’s likely going to marry this year. Gulp. How do we handle that? Do we attend her same-sex wedding? Not attend? If one of us has to be uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel, I believe it should be me. But I wonder if by attending I’m stepping too far over a line? Any advice?

      • If invited, I would attend. Enjoy it. Be a good friend & gracious attendee. If you do believe in marriage really being only possible between a man & a woman, & you also believe that God is not going to ‘bless’ or sanctify the union, then you can attend with a clear conscience.

        I am not uptight about my cousin’s partners attending family reunions. I engage them as I would any guest. I have never felt pressured into making a ‘Christian’ stand or defending my beliefs. They know my faith is important to me, but I am not their conscience nor the Holy Spirit. If asked I will share my convictions, but even then it will be a personal perspective, not a global one & definitely not a condemning one either…

        Their journey has already been fraught with much personal wrestling & soul searching & just plain old pain. Yeah. Lots of pain. Feeling odd. Different. Not acceptable. Not ‘normal’. All of that is not to be overlooked or minimized by those of us that have not faced the challenges of same sex attractions no matter the past history or supposed reasons for its influence.

        I cannot transform anyone. Can we get an ‘AMEN!’. We have current articles about programs & self-help for Christians, etc. The truth is, no well meaning saint, no matter the intensity of their conviction, can transform himself let alone someone else. We must be convinced of this or we will avoid engaging with others that we deem undesirable or conversely, set them up as projects to be ‘corrected’ as others have already posted.

        I would hope that as a friend, their sexuality is not all that defines them, is it? Are they a great coach? A sports enthusiast? A good cook? Have a good sense of humor? Heck, the idea that you are ‘condoning’ a same sex lifestyle simply by being a good friend one of the issues that you will have to come to some conclusion about. I don’t avoid non-Christian friends because the act like unbelievers. I engage them in situations where I don’t compromise my faith. So I guard my conversation & watch what topics I will participate in. I watch my alcohol intake. I avoid their less desirable offers without making them out to feel bad. Simple courtesy. Simple manners. And a genuine affirmation & appreciation of their good qualities that I do point out & encourage…

        • Can we get an ‘AMEN!’.
          Here you go:
          AMEN!

          A pastor I liked a lot always reminded us: “You make a lousy Holy Spirit.” Good to keep in mind.

        • Salsapinkkat says:

          I love this response- clearly based on your experience of relationship with gay people rather than theoretical ideas…

        • Thanks Joseph, I found your reply very helpful and will share it with my family.

        • Another Amen to the “I cannot transform anyone.” The most one can do is offer love and support and be honest. Trying to transform someone is a surefire way to drive them away. You just end up with people like my roommate, who turns off the news when there’s anything about Christianity on it. (I’m a straight guy sharing an apartment with a drag queen, who is the best roommate ever.)

      • By all means, attend. You may find surprising grace there. I felt strange attending my first same-sex wedding but I left with lessons about how God works. He often chooses the outcasts of society to deliver His word.

        • brief story: During my journey thru my recent divorce, I kept up regular interaction with my middle son still living at home with his mother. He is 21 years old & I had him meet me at one of my favorite watering holes in town. More upscale. Great bar & libations. We got there when it was early & had a table to ourselves right in front of the bar. Later on a group of 6 sat down at the bar: 5 young women & one guy. They were definitely good friends, laughed loudly & were spirited. I was facing the bar & noticed their behavior & commented to my son that they were certainly having a good time. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the regular crowd starting filling up the bar & so this group decided to leave it & join us! The cute girls sat next to my son & the other friends on my side. We ordered drinks (Perfect Manhattans for me) & started talking. The 2 young ladies next to my son were a couple. They were very open & we talked about their lives & background & they were very welcoming. Got my very shy son to engage in the convo. I shared my faith & described my church after one of the ladies shared her story of church attendance history & her struggles. It was a very unique situation that I could never have orchestrated out of some silly notion of ‘reaching out to gays’. Having family members of same sex relationships helps, but this group of people were not expecting to be viewed as anything than just out for a good time. I talked to my son about that event & it left a very big impression on him. I am proud of his response to the people he sat next to. And the couple was very outgoing & inclusive in their appreciation of him. This is not a common situation or one I try to arrange out of some ministry motivation. It happened spontaneously. Grace was granted. And I know Jesus was pleased…

  3. ***EDIT***

    should read: I must be engaging at the point they are, NOT where

  4. As someone who deals with this issue, the last thing I want to be looked at is as a project. Engage me as a person, show love, show grace, understand that mistakes will be made (just as anyone will make mistakes in their life) , and be willing to walk with me long term.

    Its not an easy issue, and I would venture to suggest its too difficult for many Christians because they have no gray in their thinking. There’s lots that can be done, the trouble is that many don’t have the patiance and the willingness to understand and try to look at things from another perspective.

    And for the record I am wreary of the gay rights crowd also, but I am also wreary of the “Christian crowd” as well.

  5. I hope he pointed out the Church’s lack of hetero-sexual “holiness”. How many couples are living together b4 marriage. How many are having children b4 marriage. How many are divorced & re-married in the church. we compromise when it’s a hetero-sexual sin but if it’s a homo-sexual sin there can be no compromise. This will always show that we are living (& usally speaking) with a double standard for sin. we are all sinners, we are all broken, we all need God’s grace – that may be how we will have to leave it. Admit the sin (truth), hetero or homo, try to live the life that God has called us, but know he is forgiving.

    also, I want a clarification, is the “blend of innate tendencies” he speaks of a admission that people are born with this orientation?

    • He recognizes that there are probably genetic components, though the evidence for a “gay gene” in his view has been vastly overstated. I find him to be pretty balanced in this area, as well as theological sound in recognizing that we are all suffering the effects of the fall in body and spirit.

  6. My first question when I saw the book review was “how much of this is theory vs. experience” and I think you answered my question. Am I correct in assuming that the author is not actively engaging in real life ministry with people from the LGBT culture? It seems to me (and perhaps I am mistaken) that we really don’t need more theories of ministry from people with minimal “boots on the ground” time. Why should I care about what this author has to say, when I can just go straight to Marin who is actually doing the work?

  7. Joe Rutherford says:

    I could never see the Apostles sitting around trying to come up with a plan to get homosexuals into the Church. The message is the same to all sinners and is Repent and Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. So the homos can repent or not, just like any other sinner. I think it is a big mistake to try to establish a new plan of salvation. Why not just keep the same simple gospel message, regardless of how many do or do not accept it? We can’t force people to follow Jesus. We shouldn’t try and alter the gospel message. We can’t sneak up on them and figure out why they are like they are. It’s simple, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. All need to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. If anyone doesn’t do that, they are lost. It’s simple, it’s easy, but even so if Zondervan can come up with a new twist and make it complicated they might sell a lot of books. The best thing the Church can do for the lost is to be pure and teach sound doctrine and never compromise.

    Recently I spent 4 months witnessing to a small group of lost people. I knew that they needed to see consistant, uncompromised purity. The lost need to see the power of God, and the obvious signs of holiness. I’m not sure if they will ever be saved or not, but they did get witnessed to.

    • “The best thing the Church can do for the lost is to be pure and teach sound doctrine and never compromise.”

      wouldn’t loving them be better? or is that too close to compromise?

    • “So the homos can repent or not”……Really?? That’s acceptable language and attitude?

    • “I knew that they needed to see consistant, uncompromised purity. The lost need to see the power of God, and the obvious signs of holiness.”
      Wow! And you were the example of uncompromised purity and holiness to them? You must think pretty highly of yourself. Seems like we should all be pointing to the only One who is pure and holy, since surely any one of us falls far short of this standard.

    • Joe, in your witnessing, how many did you save and how many did you drive away? While I hope this is not the case, this sounds close to the form of witnessing that is done for the benefit of the witness, not the listeners. It allows the witness to be righteous and holy and feel good about themselves. It allows the witness to dismiss the others as lost souls who at best can hope to reflect his shining light.

      I really hope your witnessing was not like this. But I’ve seen too much like it and not enough unlike it to really wonder.

      • Joe Rutherford says:

        In the scriptures we read about the witness of John the Baptist and of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus pointed out that there were differences in the manner of witness, but that there were those who objected to the mannerisms of both and rejected both. People who do not want God, will accept no witness from God. The people I reffered to were a group of rough neck construction workers who curse every other word or so, and who have no respect for God whatsoever. My approach was to be a gentle witness and very consistant in speech. These are people who would never let a Church Pastor near enough to them to witness. I have many years experience working with the tough breed of the construction industry. It is a mission field. If you get overly dogmatic with them, they will curse at you and tell you to shut your mouth. But consistant behaviour is very important, otherwise they will use the “He is a hypocrite” excuse to ignore the Truth. The seeds planted during that time, were from the Lord and not from me, though the Lord used me in that process. I’m His little child and servent. There is no battle too great as long as the Lord is leading and sending. I always look to God for the leading, otherwise it will not work. What else can a simple Christian as myself do? Will they ever be save? I do not know. Only God can save them, not I. But good seeds were sown.

    • Eddie Scizzard says:

      “So the homos can repent or not,”

      homos?

      uh….FAIL.

  8. We have many gay friends. With few exceptions, they have some history with the church, either as children when their parents took them to church, or as adults who checked out church. Most chose to sever their ties with church, and have no interest in being involved with anything remotely similar to what they experienced. Most of those who chose to remain did so either because church was a place where they can use some of their many God-given gifts, or because they believe they should be “in church”, since they follow Jesus.

    Undoubtedly I am outrageously stupid, but I doubt Campell’s plan (Therefore, here is my scheme for changing our thinking and the organization of our churches so that we can “be positioned” to serve the homosexuals who we hope will want to come among us now that we have a program for them.) will work. “it may be time to ‘throw out the book’ (or at least don’t start with it), leave the building and lock the door, and go have a cup of coffee or work on a project with your neighbor” is a much better idea.

    When we do get to know our LGBT neighbors, we will discover that quoting Bible passages, campaign claims from the “Yes on 8” campaign and statements like “Jesus can heal you of your homosexuality” are just as effective as reading Deuteronomy 22 to neighbors who have promiscuous daughters. I find that Jesus told us to love our neighbors. I don’t read Him to say that it is our job to convict others of their sin and convince them to “repent” (should we be of the opinion that homosexuality is a choice and sin). That appears to be the Spirit’s job, not ours.

    I am curious regarding his statement “The American Psychiatric Association has embraced an oversimplified and unbalanced position on homosexuality”. Does he give verifiable information to back this up?

  9. Christiane says:

    Too much emphasis on a certain sin, while looking away from our own ‘favorite’ sins, and a failure to see that a homosexual person is a whole human being like we are before God, with imperfections and in need of Christ.

    We have judged when we should have repented of our own sins.
    In this, we have failed to honor Lord Christ.

  10. David Cornwell says:

    I forgot one thing. Chaplain Mike said, “When it comes to actual ministry, I’ve come to believe it may be time to “throw out the book” (or at least don’t start with it), leave the building and lock the door, and go have a cup of coffee or work on a project with your neighbor.” Awfully good place to start. Or invite them over.

    Most of us from whatever perspective can do this. Marge and I invited two couples to our home Monday morning for coffee and light breakfast. They came at 8:30a and didn’t leave until 12:30p. One is a neighbor, the other a former neighbor whose house burned to the ground a few months ago. One couple is from a Kentucky mountain background, the other is a retired school teacher and wife. I don’t think either has a church. We had so much fun and enjoyment from this, and they are so easy to love.

    Now these people are not gay, and learning to be hospitable might be a little different with gay people, but do it. Leave the preaching and judgment locked up for a bit.

  11. I’m a young atheist. I’ve been reading this blog since Michael Spencer wrote his big piece on his view of the coming collapse of Evangelicalism, because I see the writers of this blog as pretty even handed people with much wisdom, and kind intentions. But whenever I see you guys write about homosexuality I cringe. I know you guys mean well, but even as kind as you think you’re trying to be you still just don’t get it.

    You can dress the same old “love the sinner, hate the sin” tripe as fillet all you want, It’s still tripe.

    • Andy, please recognize that this is a “rock and a hard place” issue for many of us. We don’t mean to offend. In fact, we would like to seriously engage in discussion with those who disagree with us in an area like this. Does the Christian faith draw any lines whatsoever for acceptable or unacceptable behavior? And if so, how do we relate to people on the other side of the line with love, compassion, and grace? And please note, Campbell is talking about heterosexual issues in that regard too, not just homosexuality.

      • I wish I could believe you, but when you support Campbell for saying this

        “The American Psychiatric Association has embraced an oversimplified and unbalanced position on homosexuality; the church must not overreact by doing the same thing in the opposite direction.” (p.118)

        I don’t feel like you’re even trying to be intellectually honest anymore. Have you seen what the APA says about homosexuality?

        http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx

        I see well thought out reasoning backed by peer reviewed study after study. But it’s okay to pass that off as oversimplified and unbalanced?

        Let’s look at what the Bible says about homosexuality. Deuteronomy and Leviticus make it clear gays were meant to be executed, Jesus was mum on it, and Paul appears to dislike it, but he may have been talking about prostitution.

        Yet Christians who may feel like the APA has put up more rounded views are being heretical.

        This is a rock and a hard place entirely of your own creation, it’s hard for me to empathze.

        • I am not convinced homosexual relationships were intended by God from the beginning to be “what He has joined together…”

          I have no biblical dog in this fight. Simply my own personal conclusion looking at how male+female physiological differences have a practical design function in the human species as well as the animal kingdom.

          And arguing from Church history & Jesus being, what, ‘silent’ on such, will not go over very far. According to Jewish custom of the day, homosexuality was not acceptable. Period. Nor has it ever been elevated to God’s original design+purpose from the beginning throughout Church history. Making the argument that it has been so misunderstood & vilified today without any historical reference is a stretch. And we must remember the very hedonistic gentile cultures Paul ministered to were no different then than they are today. To make a scriptural argument in support of homosexuality is what I believe to be intellectually dishonest. You can argue for it based on culture or biological science or social science, but there is no historical acceptance of it within Church history for the past 2,000 years.

          Champion it. Point out its benefits. Choose it for whatever purpose, but trying to get God to be the source is quite the twisting of scripture translation+application. That is not what I can see in the scriptural record.

          ‘Reading’ what we want into scripture works both ways though. On one hand there are those convinced God has ‘hinted’ at it only because, well, it is so repulsive to the larger heterosexual population. On the other hand there are those quick to relegate all such ‘offenders’ to hellfire out of principle only. And that itself is a very selective condemnation out-of-proportion to Jesus’ manner at addressing the underlying human condition.

          No one will convince me out of scripture that homosexuality is equal to God’s design of heterosexuality. It isn’t there. No championing in scripture of Christ & the Church being bride & bride or bridegroom & bridegroom. If you want to argue scripture you have to address that fact that no, it is not there. Ever. You have to argue outside of scripture & that is something that can & should be done with sensitivity, respect & charity.

          It is something that must be dealt with outside of biblical acknowledgement no matter how it appears to be ‘implied’ or ‘hidden’ within some constructed convenience or hoped for exception according to passionate argumentation.

          People of all stripes have entered into relational dynamics different than the conventional man+woman+marriage arrangement throughout the ages. Heck, nothing new under the sun Solomon opines. All forms of human interaction have been & will continue to be practiced ’till the end I surmise. Jesus addressed the marriage relationship as it was “in the beginning”. We have no other model. No other options either. It was perfect. After that all hell proverbially breaks loose upon mankind after expulsion from the Garden. And that was what Jesus came to address+correct.

          Maybe the issue will never be deified in a manner acceptable to those of opposing conviction. Such a ‘definite’ line-in-the-sand for us to wrestle with continually. It is not something I loose sleep over or feel the need to champion or defend. God will sort it out for both doubter & convinced. I know I cannot bring Holy Spirit clarity to this issue so I don’t try to. I have so much more transformation available to me before I leave this temporary abode. And I will continue on this faith journey/path as I embarked upon it 36 years ago…

        • Andy, all I can say is read Campbell and decide for yourself if what he has to say about the alternative evidence and the political agendas that may be driving some of the APA decisions. To be fair, he balances that throughout the book with criticism of the church and conservative Christians for their overly simple and unbalanced approaches also. I’m no expert on this, I only commended him for being unafraid to take on ALL sides and express criticism.

          • I will not read Campbell, for the same reason that I will not read apologies from the Flat Earth Society or Ken Ham. Their beliefs have been so thoroughly debunked, yet they’d love to flood you with their “alternative evidence” and claims of “political agendas”. You don’t get to criticize science without peer reviewed studies of your own. Studies that don’t start with the assumption the Bible is correct.

            I’m glad that you guys can be civil towards homosexuals, but realize that you are very much on the wrong side of history here. Many segregationists were civil towards blacks, it didn’t make their beliefs less appalling. Do you really want to be remembered for this?

            I hope some day things are different, but I just can’t read this blog anymore.

            • Andy, I’m sorry you feel you have to leave. I would have hoped you might extend the same grace and patience you are asking others to extend to you. We are on a journey and are trying to make our way forward. We may not be where you would like us to be, but we are thinking and praying and talking and trying to figure things out. I hope you read my recommendations rather than just what I reviewed from the book. My stance is that Christians, no matter what their views on “gay issues,” befriend and love our gay neighbors just as we would anyone else. I’m not sure why that would be offensive to you. It’s not just a matter of being “civil.”

          • Andy, thank you for your well though out statements and manners.
            Chaplain Mike, I’m with Andy on this one. How many more times will we have this same conversation over and over and over? If both sides of an argument refuse to budge, then at some point you have to recognize, agree to disagree and move on. It’s apparent we have a stalemate here.
            BTW, any thoughts on Romans 2? We all know what the first chapter says, we’ve seen it on many protest signs and thrown in faces too many times to count. But, what does the all-knowing Paul say first in the second chapter?
            A few more comments to read on this page, and then I will most likely follow Andy out the door. This blog has broken my heart one time too many.

          • I wanted to respond to Debra, but I don’t know where this post will land!

            I agree with her, however, that the church is reaching a stalemate with homosexuals. The current trend is to reach out to gays and treat them with love, which, admittedly, is better than the full scale rejection and judgement of the past. But as long as Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, there will always be an impass. Some people are okay with that impass being there, some are not.

            Let me give an example. If someone were to say to me, “Michelle, I cannot agree with your pot smoking. I believe it’s wrong. I love you, but I will always believe that pot smoking is a sin,” then I would know that they don’t accept one of my behaviors. And if I stopped that behavior, then I would be back in their graces.

            If someone were to say to me, “Michelle, I believe that heterosexuality is a sin and I can never accept that part of you. I love you, but I will always believe that practicing heterosexuality is a sin,” I would always be very uncomfortable with that person. Because my heterosexuality is not an extraneous behavior that I have taken on and can quit, it is who I AM. And it’s nice of you to invite me over for coffee, but I am always going to be a little uncomfortable with you, and I’m not going to be a big fan of this God of yours. I don’t think many current church “gay ministries” get this. It is a stalemate.

            It also does not sit right with me that Christians homosexuals that they must remain celibate. They must live their whole lives without true, abiding, deep romantic love with the partner of their choice. How is that okay with God, the inventor of love? What sense does that make? Doesn’t that seem a little audacious?

            And I’m not saying I have the answer to all this, either. Mostly I have questions.

          • P.S. Debra, I invite you to join us over at ThruWayChristians.com.

          • Andy and Debra, this is a conservative blog, especially when it comes to certain issues, such as this one. Some of us follow it to see what those who disagree with us might be thinking. Yes, some are very rigid in their views and think they have arrived at their final destination in their search for “truth”. Others are still on a journey. You may choose to depart, but consider hanging around to offer your perspective. If everyone on here agrees, what is there to challenge anyone?

            This is a relatively safe place to discuss these issues. For those who are on a church staff, speaking their opinion at their church might have deleterious effects on their paychecks. But here, especially if they use a pseudonym, they’re safe. Yes, that might mean safe to say unkind stuff. But challenge them. Not with Bible verses and theology. You can’t win on those fronts. Challenge them with real life experiences and stories. Where did you see someone showing the love of Jesus to you or your community? Tell us about it and the impact it had. Where did you see blunders that drive LGBT people away from Jesus? Tell us about them and what could have been done differently.

            So many church people I know think they don’t really know LGBT people (They do – they just don’t know it because they’re blind or choose not to see). They think quoting a couple of verses of Scripture is going to fix what they see as “the problem”. Yeah, it fixes things almost as fast as quoting Scripture to them about gluttony, gossip and lust. (That’s meddling!) It’s so easy to throw Bible verses at someone we don’t really know (whether online or from behind a pulpit). I have seen lots of church folk change their opinion on how to deal with pregnant teens when they found out their daughter was pregnant. Judgment can turn to love.

            Hang around and give this community a glimpse of what it can look like to love your communities.

          • It is quite humurous to be called a conservative blog. For many in the church this is a scandously liberal blog. I find that it is largely made up of people who want to listen to others and to make a difference. I appreciate the perspective that Debra and others bring. It is through interacting with others whose perspective is different to my own that my own perspective has been changed on many issues.

          • You gave me a chuckle also. “Conservative” is undoubtedly a matter of perspective. I am guessing from reading Michael Spencer that some of the followers of this blog range between very conservative and extremely conservative. But “scandalously liberal”? Wow! However, I find value in having discussions with people who will talk, regardless of where they are on the spectrum between outrageously conservative to outrageously liberal. In face-to-face discussion I have no troubles finding and having discussions with the liberal end of the spectrum, but most of those I know who fall near the other end of the spectrum don’t want a discussion. They are not good listeners. They want to state their “knowledge” of the “truth” and that is the end of the “discussion”. These are the people whose world is absolutely rocked when they discover their teenage daughter is pregnant, their spouse is having an affair, or their son or daughter at any age (especially teen or college) is gay.

  12. This reminds me of what the U.S. creation science people are doing–basically, repackaging the same old prejudices, to make them sound more rational to the uninformed. Their efforts, I surmise, are aimed not so much at the gays (or biologists), as at straights (non-scientists) who might be turned off by the old stance. In other words, they’re trying to imitate the language of liberalism (science) while repudiating its basic values.

  13. Cincygirl says:

    “What I Did NOT Like about This Book
    In a nutshell?
    W.P. Campbell outlines a “churchianity” solution to what in many cases boils down to a real life, relational, neighborly issue.”

    My experience tells me that many, if not most, of the laity in my conservative evangelical church, especially those under the age of 40, actually have no problem with the “real life, relational, neighborly issue.”

    Most of us ( although I am much closer to 50 than 40) have had cherished high school and college friends come out. And we still consider them great friends. Some of our best neighbors have been the gay guys next door. Those who have jobs in the “real world” have openly gay co-workers who do a fine job and are rather nice people who always buy candy bars for your kids’ band fundraiser. Our kids have had great teachers and coach who certainly never tried to “recruit” them. If we have any discomfort on this issue at all , it is as a result of living in the tension created by knowing we are decidedly more “liberal” on this than we perceive our church to be.

    Most of us, even a few of us in vocational ministry here, have learned how to smile and nod when our resident cultural warriors start handing out the voter guides.

    But here’s our reality. In the past several years more and more of our kids( not the neighbor kids or the kids who play sports with our kids, but the kids whose parents we have partnered with, the kids who grew up in our Kidmin programs and went on our student ministry mission trips) have openly identified themselves as gay.

    Smile and nod is no longer an option for us.

    We LOVE these kids, we LOVE these families and they are hurting. They are questioning their place in the church family. The same parents who were “pillars of the church” for years now struggle with “what people think” about their kid, their parenting, how they are reacting…are they “loving and accepting enough” for some, are they “speaking the truth” strongly enough for others?

    Should they care? Should they just leave and “start over” at a different church. Especially if the kid in question is college-age or older..it would be easier, right? No one would have to know.

    How do we extend “truth and love” to them when “them” is us?

    I’m not a fan of “attraction model” church growth schemes in any shape or form.

    However, if one thinks it is ‘churchianity” to be earnestly seeking Godly wisdom on how to do this:

    Congregations and entire denominations have done a good job of condemning, affirming, or avoiding homosexuality, but how many have fully embraced both the truth and grace Jesus offered? (p.13)

    I would respectfully suggest that you might want consider the very real possibility that all the gay people aren’t actually “out there”. 🙂

    Sometimes it is ok to write a book for those who do find themselves in the role of ministering to those in a local body of believers.

    Of course, I haven’t read the book so I’m mostly commenting on the comments 😉

    • I agree with you, Cincygirl. It’s part of what I mean by “churchianity.” The assumption is: “We are in here and they are out there, and our job is to be in mission to them.”

    • Some are actually inside the four walls. Some are standing up front. If all LGBT people suddenly disappeared, the staffs of many churches would be considerably smaller overnight.

      This reminds me of the time our friends asked us to join them and their fellow Christian school staff to see a popular play. I thought this would be interesting since the play is a favorite of gay audiences. The playwright was gay. All but one of a fairly large cast was gay. Much of the audience was gay. This all seemed to go right over the head of the homophobic group we were with. They thoroughly enjoyed the play and I did not comment. Apparently they were very unaware and very unobservant, or simply chose to ignore the obvious. Perhaps this is what they choose to do in church.

  14. Re: interacting with the GLBT community:

    Maybe pay an audio visit to Jay Bakker’s (son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker) RevolutionNYC Church’s website and listen to some of the sermon podcasts: http://www.revolutionnyc.com/media/

    Jay’s new book, FALL INTO GRACE, has just hit the bookstores. Toward the end he explains his gay-affirming stance.

    • ahumanoid says:

      I always enjoy your comments on here, EricW. If you don’t mind me asking, I’d really like to hear your position on homosexuality. If you would rather not share that’s fine, too.

      • I am in kind of a middle area re: it.

        I’ve read/heard many testimonies of Gay Christians – e.g., http://www.gaychristian.net/ – read Carol Boltz’s blog about her husband Ray’s coming out – myheartgoesout-carol dot blogspot dot com/ – etc., etc. Read the successes and apparently many failures of ex-Gay ministries.

        The issue came to a head for us over 20 years ago when our son (my wife’s by birth, mine by adoption) – raised in church and Christian schools, etc. – came out, though I’ve known my aunt was a lesbian (unfortunately of the man-hating kind, I guess – e.g., when my mom and dad would go to visit her and her partner, their housing association forbade my dad – and hence both of them – from staying at their house). At the time and for years after I read lots of literature, both pro-gay and anti-gay, scholarly and popular-level, etc., though I’ve since sold most of those books as I’ve pretty much read most of the arguments.

        He has had a few relationships, a couple of which ended kind of badly, but his many-years-long one is with a great guy and our only regret is that they live half the country away, though they used to live in Dallas near us. Our grand-kids adore them both. As he’s told us, he’s known he was this way since he was a very young child.

        I don’t know if I’ll end up fully gay-affirming like Jay Bakker, but if I do, I probably won’t be totally surprised. I think my wife basically is. I’m still processing the issue, though I’m more taken up these days with standing against gender hierarchy in the church than with affirming or embracing or unhating Gays. Actually I’m mostly taken up with pursuing Jesus, as time allows.

        If you’re LGBT, etc., you will not get a lick of anti-gay behavior or an anti-gay attitude from me.

        Does that help answer your question(s), ahumanoid?

        • Let me caveat that last statement. I’m not sure where I am on Gay marriage – i.e., if a vote were to be held today on legalizing it or not, I’m not sure what I would put on the ballot. My present ambivalence about endorsing it (which could change tomorrow – I’m sometimes as fickle as Texas weather) could be viewed as being an anti-Gay behavior/attitude.

          I am probably way more liberal/tolerant/unruffled on this issue than most of the church folks I hang with; we’ve never discussed it, though.

          • ahumanoid says:

            Thanks for taking the time to reply, EricW. It definitely seems that most of us with close glbt relatives/friends see this issue in a different light.

            Since I view marriage as a sacrament of the church not defined by the state, I would definitely vote to legalize gay marriage. I struggle more with the theological aspect of the issue. I’m fully egalitarian in spite of the proof-texts that are used to argue against it; however, on the glbt issue, I struggle to know what to do with the proof-texts.

            Btw, I appreciate your advocacy for gender equality in the church.

  15. I love homosexuals, because they are people made in God’s image. However, my love towards them obligates me to share with them the biblical perspective on homosexual activity. The biblical perspective is clear that those who continuously engage in homosexual lifestyle with no repentance, no matter what religion they profess, are unsaved and headed for a dreadful destiny (1 Cor 6:9-10). Paul is quite clear in this passage what the consequences are of people who continuously live in sin (any type of sin, not just homosexual sins) without repentance or desire for transformation.

    When did it become unloving and hateful to tell warn people of the dangers of what lies ahead if they continue on that road that leads to eternal perdition?

    • DreamingWings says:

      When we figured out that your version of ‘love’ is nothing but manipulation. Once you’ve made someone fearful and confused, you can then jump in for the kill. Similar to how abusive parents and spouses keep their victims an a psychological leash.

  16. Salsapinkkat says:

    I have a married christian friend who through working with the UK-based Living Waters has been dealing with many of the identity issues we all have (being basically broken human beings!), but which for her led to same-sex attraction. With their support & accountablity (& that of her husband too!) she lives with considerably more freedom than she grew up with. She wouldn’t describe herself as gay, but I don’t think she’d describe herself as ‘cured’ either. (Most of us lie somewhere between two extremes on the path to sanctity, in my experience anyhow 😉 ) – I think she’d describe herself as healed in part, but maybe she’ll comment on this post herself…
    Anyway, she recommended a book written by a friend of hers- Walking with Gay friends:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Gay-Friends-Informed-Compassion/dp/1844742121
    I’m not sure how easy it is to get in the US, but I found it to be a moving account of the experience of a gay person within the church- well worth a read by every Christian in my opinion- it might challenge the latent (& blatent) homophobia within our ranks
    I also think it’s worth bearing in mind that it would be rare in a church of more than 50 not to find at least a few people who are struggling with issues re sexuality in secret. That’s certainly been our experience in our church of around 250. We need to be aware of this and ensure we have thought some of the issues before people quietly slip away…

  17. I read Campbell’s book with excitment, and was SO DISAPOINTED! It was another regurgitation of the same old, tired out rhetoric that has been said and written about over and over and over and over again. In my mind, nothing, and I’m talking nothing, hits this topic culturally and for the church community like Andrew Marin’s stuff. That dude is the real deal – not some guy sitting behind a desk in a church office ‘thinking great thoughts’.

  18. flatrocker says:

    I’ve always found it curious at our attempts to move LGBT relationships from the “back of the bus” to share front seat status with hetero relationships. In the notable desire for fairness and justice, the conversation almost exclusively starts and stops with LGBT relationships. However, every argument made in sanctioning LGBT status can also be made across a full spectrum of relationship combination possibilities.

    If allowance can be made for a full embrace of these four relationship combinations, why then should we not argue for a full acceptance of all other relationships. In regards to social justice, all relationship types are in play – who are we to judge what constitutes a relationship? In regards to inate creatures, who are we to judge that any relationship preference is a choice, but that all preferences are part of who we are?

    This puts into play every relationship possibility. It makes each type no less (and no more) valid than hetero relationships. So maybe we should be bold and move this discussion to a level that doesn’t seek to just add the four LGBT classifications to an elite status – a status that used to be the exclusive ground of the heteros. Maybe we need to talk about the validity of all relationship possibilities. Maybe we need to talk about where we draw our lines concerning this validity. Maybe we ought to talk about from where we draw our authority to make such judgments. Because without an understanding of how we will ponder these types of questions, all relationship choices are on equal moral, civil, and spiritual footings – none are more, none are less.

    The polygamist, the group lover, the incest practitioner and yes even the pedohile are awaiting our answers in the back of the bus.

    • I do remember having quite the lengthy interaction regarding this topic on other message forums. It was my first deliberate effort at jumping into a discussion with openly homosexual professing Christians that shared their horror stories & personal hell anecdotes before coming to the conclusion they were created the way they were.

      My first benefit was allowing myself to be challenged by real people with real feelings & a real history. No theory. And it was very heated at times as this will remain a volatile subject within & outside The Church until Jesus returns. I also allowed myself to be challenged by every argument presented both pro+con. I gained respect for individuals from both sides that exhibited grace & patience & respect in spite of unyielding convictions. It will be that way no matter what level of civil equality is gained. Heck, there are so many other things being addressed on this blog that are barely a blip on the American Church’s radar. Why is this one so passionate???

      Any individual will have a line in mind they cannot cross regarding all forms of human behavior. And it is both a sad fact & an amazing consideration just what humans are capable of doing. At some point we will allow leeway in gray areas no matter how narrow that bandwidth. Then we will simply be taken aback to where we would not even want to grant such behavior any acceptance whatsoever.

      At the center of this perspective is how the individual perceives the God of our beginnings. If we are indeed created in His image, then what was His intention/design/hope/desire for our sexuality? And that entails the entire scope of it, not just the ‘sex’ part. God will either be made into our image or He will not. Do we really want to know what He intended? Really? Do we really want to know His perfect standard for all things pertaining to life & godliness?

      And this is an individual conclusion as we all will stand before Him to give an account. I will not be able to point to popular opinion or civil court granted rights or the teachings of so-and-so. The bible will not be the standard I will be able to make an appeal to. I will need to answer to Him in whom I live & move & have my being…

      Since I do know myself better than anyone, I will rely on His mercy. Period. Nothing will obligate Him to overlook my sinfulness. I will still be imperfect once I die. If we are in a transformation process to look more like Jesus, then everything will be addressed by the Holy Spirit if I let Him. I can encourage others to do the same, but no one is answerable to me. And my acceptance of you or lack of it will not change the outcome when your One-on-one turn to peer into those eyes of fire will occur.

      I have much yet to learn. I hold my theological notions loosely. He has changed me in ways I would never have thought possible. And yes, there will even be more surprises down the road. Of that I am convinced…

  19. I’m late to the comments here, so I don’t know if anyone will read this, but I find myself repeating what I’ve said before. When you describe GLBT people as broken, as lacking, as unable to be right with god, you put them in a box which says that they are less than you. While there is always this caveat of “we’re all sinners in this broken universe,” the complete condemnation of homosexuality while the ignoring of other sins (there has been exactly one post on gluttony that I’ve seen since I started reading imonk, no posts on greed, and perhaps one post on divorce) makes this rhetoric sound weak.

    When you place someone as less than you, you help encourage an atmosphere that views them as second class, or even subhuman. This is what kills gay people. It causes gay teens to commit suicide and it encourages gay bashers to see gay people as legitimate targets. Frontline has an interview with a psychologist who talks about how gay bashers are no more homophobic than those who don’t assault gay people. When you legitimize the view that a group is not worthy of respect and support, that they must be cured and changed before they can be good, you paint a bullseye on them.

    So once again, I ask you, please consider the real world implications of your actions and your words. Remember that people are injured or worse because of the climate that is created.

    (The frontline article is here)

    • I read it. How about we all try to treat everyone pretty much the same, be they neighbors, relatives, co-workers or people who may be part of our church – whether they be tall or short, fat or thin, black or white, straight or gay? Oh yes, whether the be rich or poor. I know this will be tough for some of us. Our LGBT friends are friendly, quick to include new people, talented and throw great parties. Most of the church people we know don’t excel at some of those qualities. I find it difficult to treat them the same way I treat my gay friends, especially when some church people insist on throwing out misinformation about the LGBT community that was proven incorrect a long time ago.

      Jason, I am agreeing with you. The only real solution is for the church to treat LGBT people equally. This won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. First, at least one generation of the oldest people in the churches are probably going to have to die. I think the demographics pretty much support that. Some people and groups change very slowly however. There are still those who bemoan desegregation, and some who have yet to seriously deal with giving women full and equal status.

    • ahumanoid says:

      “… the complete condemnation of homosexuality while the ignoring of other sins (there has been exactly one post on gluttony that I’ve seen since I started reading imonk, no posts on greed, and perhaps one post on divorce) makes this rhetoric sound weak.”

      Jason, ISTM that most of posts discussing homosexuality on imonk have been critical of the unkind treatment of glbt individuals by the church. I don’t recall any posts here emphasizing the sinfulness of homosexuality.

  20. As I have mentioned before…sometimes it is as simple as taking your gay neighbor a plate of cookies and welcoming them to the neighborhood; and when they have children–bring a gift, because all children are gifts from God. It is amazing how they will open up and how honest they will be when we just live in this broken world with and beside them. Jesus died for them to, how hard is that to remember, hmmm?

    • This is a good point, Charlie. I’m grateful that I’m not in professional ministry or in any kind of position where I have to come up with and articulate a “stance” on an “issue.” I understand that some people do have to, and I feel for them. I am free to deal with people, not issues. And I find in this area as in many others, I’m more likely to call on God for wisdom and grace in dealing with people than I am for developing my stance. Whatever my stance on any issue is, I have to remember that “Judgement is mine, says the Lord,” and what I’m supposed to do is love my neighbor as myself. That’s really hard enough.

      • Salsapinkkat says:

        “And I find in this area as in many others, I’m more likely to call on God for wisdom and grace in dealing with people than I am for developing my stance.”

        Amen to that, sister! There’s nothing like knowing somebody personally to challenge our so-called “stances”. Loving our neighbour includes all manner of ‘Samaritans’ good, or not!

  21. Chaplain Mike:

    Thank you for reading and reviewing my book!

    You are right when you state that the book does not give a strong focus on reaching people in the LGBT community. There are numerous books that do so, including Andy Marin’s. In fact, such books have been written for several decades. I have yet to find any books, however, that are specifically written to help Evangelical churches develop a more holistic and compassionate response to this concern; hence the focus of this book.

    Please note that there are many people who struggle with SSA and who wish to be part of churches but who are rejected over and over. Beginning with the preface of the book, I state that these are the ones for whom the book is written.

    The book is only a starting point. My goal is to move church leaders—and eventually their members—beyond a basic ministry concept to deeper understanding, which is the worthy goal you have expressed. I have developed resources, which are available at ChurchReflections.com, to help leaders educate their church members on this topic.

    Bloggers on this site have questioned the concept of “ministry” as it is expressed in the book. Let me affirm that I believe all people, homosexual or heterosexual, deserve the opportunity to be ministered to. The book does not set up gays and lesbians as special ministry targets, but rather challenges the perspectives that may create such a prideful viewpoint.

    Again, I thank you for your comments, and I wish each of you God’s rich blessings.

    WP Campbell

  22. Christians, your religion is evil and disgusting. However, we can hate your bigotry without hating you bigots. Maybe if we get to know you better as people, then we can set a good example for you to grow more rational.

    Or maybe not. (Not much to say anymore, is there?)

    • Bigotry in response to bigotry is bigotry still, Pat. I see no example for any way forward in your response.

      • Pat is using sarcasm to take what William Campbell and others are saying and applying it to Christians instead of Homosexuals.

        Substitute “Homosexuals” for “Christians” and “homosexual acts” for religion and bigotry and you will see what he means.

        • I know that, Michael, but he left no room for discussion. I got his method, bit he used it strictly as a put-down, not as a helpful tool to advance the conversation.

          • And so it goes, Chaplain Mike. You are very sensitive. Meet him where he is, or leave him where he is. It is what you say it is.
            Michael Bell, I will miss you and Joanie D most of all.
            The ThruWay site has me hooked. I feel like I am talking in a dead space here, and I am tired of getting all riled up by people who aren’t really looking to resolve anything. Just looking to make points from their points. I know in my soul who I am, and I know firsthand the love of the Almighty God. I am blessed. God bless and keep you all.

          • I appreciate your frustration, Chap Mike, I just don’t see the makings of a conversaton in Pat’s comment; it’s pure drive by body slam kind of like “all ____ go to hell-o…….” If the point is showing us “what that feels like…” I say “whoop-de-doo….. you live a boring life..”

          • Debra,

            Despite my comment up above, I would like to comment that having read Chaplain Mike for over a year now, he is one of the most sensitive Christians that I know. He is being truly honest when he writes: “are on a journey and are trying to make our way forward. We may not be where you would like us to be, but we are thinking and praying and talking and trying to figure things out.

            As difficult as it might be I would hope that you would continue to be a resource to help us figure things out.

            The problem comes, and this is why I considered Pat’s comment fair game, is that there is no real middle ground. While there is a vast continuum in thoughts on this issue. There is a dividing line that asks: Is homosexual behavior sinful? No matter how loving you are, you have to decide which side of that line you are going to stand. For those like myself, who have a high view of scripture and its authority, it is going to be very hard to cross the line to where you stand. That doesn’t mean that I can’t care about you, or respect you, but it makes it very difficult to come to any consensus on the issue.

            That being said, there is a large part of me that says: “What if I am wrong? What if God made Debra that way, and wants her to find a loving relationship as much as he has already given me one.” I don’t have an answer for this. The other part of me doesn’t want to go there, because it opens up a whole Pandora’s box of questions. It challenges everything that I believe about scripture.

            17 years ago I spent several months reading all I could about the subject. At the end of the process I was more confused than I was at the beginning. Things aren’t that much different today. That is why I waited so long to comment here, because I have way more questions than I have answers.

            What I do know is that I want to love God, follow his word, and show love to those who I come in contact with. I am sure that many on this site, including Chaplain Mike, would have it no other way.

          • @Michael Bell: well said, and yes, the dividing line is most definitely there, I don’t see (for now) any way around it; I’m looking for a Jesus shaped way through it, or with it. Conversation from all sides helps. As Chap Mike noted, bigotry is not so helpful.

          • I don’t have a Reply button to reply to Debra, but I am sorry that Debra is leaving us. I did check out the ThruwayChristians website and I think it looks very good. But then, I am a liberal! Their homepage says, “If you find conservative Christianity too oppressive and exclusionary, and progressive Christianity too theologically tenuous, you’re probably a ThruWay Christian.” That could be me. I see on John Shore’s latest blog entry, at the end it says, ” We ThruWay Christians have issues with those on the left; and we have issues with those on the right. Hence our thruway between the two.” OK, so now I understand the “thruway” bit. He says about folks on the left, “But I have serious issues with any sort of Christian organization or leader who, on the one hand, claims to be liberal or ‘progressive,’ but on the other hand won’t publicly commit on the gay issue.”

  23. Andrew Zook says:

    Michael Bell, my thoughts as well.

    Now from me; can some of you please extend grace to those of us who feel that homosexuality isn’t God’s ideal? Can we agree to disagree and still interact in a positive way or is it only a one-way street as some here seem to be implying? I understand that you feel persecuted, marginalized etc, and I hope I can make a positive change to that ugly context in my sphere of influence. I want to make the connections and build the relationships and learn from you, but if you run away as soon as I open up about my convictions… Everyday I have to interact with people who have unflinchingly different opinions than myself – e.g. I am an avowed pacifist – yet I graciously relate and continue to build relationships with people who are avowedly anti-pacifist…. We make it work somehow – its the dance of life as we give and take, dying to ourselves and surrendering…I want to learn how to do that with gay people as well, but how can it happen if you refuse to relate to me because of one notion/conviction I feel my conscience compels me to hold? How?

    I cannot reject who I am and the convictions I feel God has instlled in me. And those convictions do not just arise from a few Bilbical prooftexts. I won’t go into detail here but my conviction that homosexuality is not God’s ideal has a life experiences/relationships, an intellectual, a historical, a Biblical, an upbringing and last but not least, an evolutionary scientific basis. At this point in my journey you’ll have to call down the angels of heaven to convince me otherwise. Sorry, but that’s how God made me.

  24. Eddie Scizzard says:

    All right, this pretty much tears it. I was hanging around here for some sliver hope that there might be something left in Christianity worth something to me, but reading this I’m pretty much done.

    Even when you try not to hate, you still are filled with hate.

    Done with this religion. Bye. that’s all folks.

    Turn out the lights when you’re done.