November 2nd, 2011 by Michael L. Brown

Ross Murray’s article on CNN’s Religion Blog, entitled “My Take: Why Christians are embracing their LGBT neighbors,” is the most recent in a steady stream of editorials and articles on liberal news outlets devoted to promoting a common theme: The Bible really doesn’t speak against homosexual practice and enlightened Christians are recognizing this in ever increasing numbers.

Although Murray repeats much of the standard rhetoric, he does distinguish himself by offering one of more egregious applications of a scriptural passage I have seen in nearly 40 years of studying and teaching the Scriptures. But first a word of background.

Murray is director of religion, faith and values at GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. This is a gay activist organization which would better be called the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Disagreement, glaringly demonstrated in their petition earlier this year which called on CNN to stop inviting “anti-gay” guests on their network to offer opposing viewpoints. (Yes, this is the voice of “inclusion,” “tolerance,” “equality,” and “diversity.”)

In his article, Murray argues that while “there is still a variety of scriptural interpretations, an increasing number of Christians are reading scripture and understanding that God’s design for the world includes LGBT people.” Those who with agree with his position he dubs “good Christians”; those who differ are described as “vocal anti-gay activists” who are putting forth “vocal misinformation” and becoming “more shrill.”

This is GLAAD-talk at its biased best, and to decode the language used, you are “anti-gay” if for religious, moral, social, or any other reasons you do not affirm homosexuality, no matter how much you love LGBT people; you are “vocal” if you write, say, or post anything that GLAAD does not agree with (although those on the LGBT side can write, say, or post anything they want without being “vocal”); you are spreading “misinformation” if you have any scientific, academic, or theological differences with the gay activist mantras; and you become “more shrill” if you do not capitulate to gay activist pressure.

And what is it that drives the views of the “vocal anti-gay activists” who by implication are not “good Christians”? It is “fear” and “lies,” since, in the logic of GLAAD, only fear and lies could cause a Bible-believing Christian to think that God is not giddy about homosexual practice. In contrast, LGBT Christians “build up love and break down fear.”

As for the “good [straight] Christians,” they are embracing LGBT people and their practices because they realize that “if God made them, then [they are] called to love and support them.”

But didn’t God make everyone? Didn’t He make the “vocal anti-gay activists” too? Then why does Murray disparage them? Why doesn’t he feel “called to love and support them”? And aren’t there others whom “God made” whose lifestyles or convictions Murray rejects?

Murray observes that, “Whole Christian denominations have accepted and embraced the reality of LGBT believers within their ranks and in their leadership. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ and Unitarians have formally accepted LGBT people within their denominations.”

What he fails to note is that these denominations (or the parts thereof that are gay-affirming) have also moved away from other historic biblical values and beliefs, meaning that their embrace of homosexuality should be seen as a sign of spiritual regress rather than progress.

In similar fashion, he points to the large ideological gap “between those ages 18 to 29 and those ages 65 and older . . . with younger Americans gravitating toward [LGBT] equality,” without pointing out that surveys indicate that less than one percent of these young people have a biblical worldview.

But all this is standard fare. It is his closing (mis)use of Scripture that is so troubling.

He writes, “Those who oppose equality can call it what they like, but the reality is that we are living in a society that has learned how to value LGBT people as they would others. That attitude doesn’t rely on fear or lies, but on caring relationships and trust. It lives out the apostle Paul’s wish for the Corinthians that someday we will know fully, even as we are fully known. It is a biblically informed reality that is helping to make the world a better place.”

What does Murray mean when he speaks of “the apostle Paul’s wish for the Corinthians”? He is referring to 1 Corinthians 13:12, which is not a “wish” but rather a prophetic anticipation of what will happen when Jesus returns. At that time, Paul writes, “I shall know fully, even as I am fully known [by God],” in contrast with our present, earthly state, in which “we see in a mirror dimly” and “know in part.”

So, the glorious hope that we will know God fully at the second coming of Christ is twisted into a wish that we will get to know LGBT people better, thereby making the apostle Paul, arguably the strongest voice in the Bible against homosexual practice, into a gay advocate.

This is what happens when GLAAD does theology. Would it be an overstatement to call this a perversion of the Scriptures?

Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.

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November 2nd, 2010 by Bethany French

Author’s note:  This is the second article of a mini-series reviewing Princeton professor Kenda Creasy Dean’s book, Almost Christian. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the first few chapters of this book.  To read the first article in the series, click here.

Kenda Creasy Dean’s book Almost Christian covers five major findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion that may perhaps bring about a major change in the way many mainstream churches and/or parents  approach youth ministry or parenting:

1.  Most American teenagers have a positive view of religion but otherwise don’t give it much thought.

2.  Most U.S. teenagers mirror their parents’ religious faith.

3. Teenagers lack a theological language with which to express their faith or interpret their experience of the world.

4.  A minority of American teenagers–but a significant minority–say religious faith is important, and that it makes a difference in their lives.  These teenagers are doing better in life on a number of scales, compared to their less religious peers.

5.  Many teenagers enact/espouse a religious outlook that is distinct from traditional teachings of most world religions–an outlook called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Some of my conclusions from reading these first few chapters in conjunction with my own personal experience are as follows:  The problems that exist now are direct results of a culture of self-indulgence; a culture that equates physical, emotional, and spiritual discomfort as something to be avoided at all costs.  Christian vocabulary has been perverted:  the word “Love” does not mean anything more than an exalted version of “Warm fuzzies all around,” “salvation” means that “all generally nice people go to heaven,” and the biggest “sin” is to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause discomfort any way, for any reason. A version of the larger American culture, which holds all of these views, has been adopted by many parents and churches (consciously or not).

Dean clearly highlights the source of the problem as a breakdown of the parents’ and congregations intentionally modeling radical faith in God and demonstration of the gospel to their children, and the failure to recognize that the goal of the gospel is beyond the individual.

We ‘teach’ young people baseball, but we ‘expose’ them to faith…we blithely assume that religious identity will happen by osmosis, emerging ‘when youth are ready’ (a confidence we generally lack when it comes to, say, algebra).  We simply have not given teenagers the soul-strength to recognize, wrestle, and resist the symbiotes in our midst, probably because we lack [it] ourselves… Exposing adolescents to faith, as it turns out, is no substitute for teaching it to them…

By and large, Smith and Denton concluded, parents ‘get what they are’ religiously…Parents matter most when it comes to the religious formation of their children.

Although the child is still responsible for his/her own response to the gospel, and even in the cases where the parents are truly living radical lives and teaching their children to do the same may choose to diverge to the path of least resistance, families and communities that adopt an intentional way of living and teaching spiritual precepts will raise children who are much more able to talk articulately about what their faith means to them in their daily lives.  It may be that many parents in their own lives, as well as the lives of their children, have bought into one of the central precepts of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, which is that the main goal in life is to avoid interpersonal friction.  And, as Dean writes,

Spiritually sensitive youth often cause trouble in their communities (religious or secular) because of their alertness to the sacred.  It is hard to imagine researchers, interviewing Jesus after he turned over the tables in the temple, ascribing the act to religious maturity–but in Christian theology it is a story of righteousness and divine purgation.”

Which of the prophets, including Jesus as the Son of God, was not hated and persecuted, even killed for following the Spirit of God, laying down their lives as their sacrifice of love and obedience to God, and out of desperate concern and passionate desire for the restoration of those who were opposing the will of God?  How often did God send His prophets not to the ‘pagan’ nations, but to His own people, who were following Him with their lips, and not with their hearts?  How is that different than today, where so many in our churches say, “I am a Christian,” and yet they do not have the transforming love of God gripping their hearts to lay down their lives in obedience to Christ?  As Dean says,

It is in following Jesus that we learn to love Him; it is in participating in the mission of God that God decisively changes us into disciples.”

Let us awaken our hearts to experience the living God, as in Dr. Michael Brown’s Rhyme of the Modern Parishioner:

Pour your life out for broken lives –
Let God your heart break too.
Take up the cross, deny yourself;
Just live His will to do!

Wake up, be brave, be honest;
Today — oh hear His voice!
Be ruthless with your schedule;
Seek GOD. Make that your choice.

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