Combing the Net – 5/10/2012

There’s pretty much just one story going on today, both in the national media and in the blogosphere. Barack Obama has announced his personal support for gay marriage, though it remains to be seen whether he will promote policy changes to make his preference the law of the land. So today’s “Combing the Net” is a roundup of some of the more interesting/provocative posts I’ve come across on the subject of gay marriage. These will come from a variety of perspectives; nobody (including me) will agree with everything said in all these posts, but I hope that they will challenge us all to consider the complexity of the issue rather than give in to the polarization it seems to cause. I have erased and re-written more times than I can count a post that I began many months ago in an effort to clarify my own feelings on the matter, but have not been able to find the right words. Perhaps I’ll be able to complete it soon.

A Challenge to Both Sides of the Amendment One Debate — Justin Lee, executive director of The Gay Christian Network and North Carolina resident, models the type of graciousness that I wish everyone could use as we talk through these issues, though I disagree with him in some very important ways on the interpretation of Scripture.

Yes, I voted against the amendment, as did many of my friends and hundreds of thousands of other NC residents. But I also know people who voted for it, and I know that they are not simply bigoted, homophobic, backwards people. It’s way more complicated than that.

How to Win a Culture War and Lose a Generation — Rachel Held Evans is another blogger with whom I have major theological differences, but she has her finger on the pulse of our generation, and many of her observations are very astute. Young people from all over the political and theological spectrum do feel that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality. Myself included.

Later research, documented in Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends.  Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this  is one reason why. In my experience, all the anecdotal evidence backs up the research… every single student I have spoken with believes that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality.

Three Lessons I Learned Through This Amendment Process — J.D. Greear, author of Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary, is the pastor of a church in North Carolina. Here he recounts some of the difficulties involved in keeping the Gospel as the central focus in a contentious political climate.

Godly people can disagree over the merits of this or that amendment and remain united in Christ. I heard very mature, godly and intelligent people explain why they approached this amendment differently than I did. I respect that. We can disagree, tell one another we disagree, and still remain united in Christ. Maturity is not simply knowing what to believe, but how much weight to place on particular aspects of what we believe.

What Is Better? — I won’t pretend to be able to know what it must be like to have an attraction I didn’t choose but which seems so central to who I am, and to be told that I must deny what seems natural to me in order to follow Christ… but this is exactly what the gospel demands of those with same-sex attraction. This post by Jared Wilson is something I can relate to, and helps me to empathize with those who, like me, have an orientation toward sin which must be overcome in order to pursue the greater promise of ultimate fulfillment in Christ. (For increased empathy, you might also be interested in Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, which I reviewed last year.)

Don’t believe the lie that struggling always to obey God is a worse lot in life than disobeying him with peace. God did not make us to “feel good inside” (or outside) all the time this side of heaven; he made us to share in the sufferings of Christ, that we might share in his resurrection.

President Obama’s Scriptural Defense of Gay Marriage — Denny Burk takes issue with the President’s use of Scripture to support his affirmation of gay marriage.

President Obama’s scriptural defense of gay marriage is not just untenable; it’s also unchristian. Even though this is a contentious issue, the most loving thing to do would be to stand on the authority of scripture and on God’s definition of the good. Unfortunately, President Obama has fallen short of both today.

How to Win the Public on Homosexuality — Of all the posts I’ve shared, this one by Collin Hansen is probably the most helpful. If you only read one, choose this one.

These contributing factors tempt Christians to heap all the blame on crafty, malicious “others” for redefining the divine institution of marriage. But political strategy and tactics alone don’t explain such a pronounced shift in public sentiment, especially among younger generations of Americans. Indeed, regaining the ground Christians have lost on homosexuality will require widespread repentance, painful self-examination, and new resolve to pursue self-denying holiness. Most of all, we need the life-giving power that comes from Jesus alone.

How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go — While all the above posts are from the last three days, this was written last year. Still, I thought it was fitting to include here this mock interview written by Trevin Wax.

 I recognize that some people have mistreated homosexuals in the past. It’s a shame that anyone anywhere would mock, taunt, or bully another human being made in God’s image. That said, I think we need to make one thing clear in regard to civil discourse: To differ is not to hate. I hope we can still have a real conversation in this country about different points of view without casting one another in the worst possible light.

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