Reba McEntire and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America this week became the two latest examples of moderate to conservative notables who uphold a grace-based policy of non-judgment toward gay and lesbian couples.
The ELCA recognized that gay Christians are a part of the Lutheran family, and voted to allow gay and lesbian clergy in committed same-sex relationships to serve as ministers.
Meanwhile, McEntire said her own stance is based upon the Bible:
I just try not to judge. Don’t judge me, and I won’t judge you. And that’s what it says in the Bible — ‘Don’t judge.’
Regarding gay marriage, McEntire advised Christians:
“Keep an open mind. That would be my voice. I have gay friends. I have a lot of straight friends. I don’t judge them. I take them for what they are. They’re my friends, and I can’t defend my feelings for them, other than I like ’em,” said McEntire. “I have gay friends who have partners, and I see where they would want to get married. I understand why. So, I can’t judge that.”
Unfortunately, Exodus International never received the memo that Christians are supposed to extend grace toward others and be humble about their own moral shortcomings.
Ignoring any actual Bible passages, Exodus vaguely “says this is a clear move away from biblical teaching on sexuality and a disconcerting approach to this issue.” Exodus did not cite any passages to substantiate its position. Instead, Exodus activist Jeff Buchanan — whose job is to politicize churches and turn them against same-sex-attracted people of faith — said “God’ timeless design for human sexuality was intended for one man and one woman. No church denomination can abandon this indispensable biblical truth without diminishing the global Christian church and causing greater confusion for those already conflicted by their sexuality.”
Buchanan demonstrates no knowledge of true history — or experience in “biblical truth.” His notion of human sexuality and gender equality in marriage is a product not of the Bible — which condones polygamy and wife-killing — but of the industrial and sexual revolutions. Far from upholding the Bible, Buchanan and his organization teach the utterly un-biblical notion that predominant lifelong homosexual attraction is caused by lousy parents or abuse. Some Exodus member “ministers” and Focus activists teach the equally un-biblical notion that predominant homosexual attraction can be extinguished through lessons for men in how to act macho, lessons for women in how to become more appealing to conservative men, rigid control of one’s thoughts, intolerance and discrimination toward sexually honest persons, and marriage to unsuspecting and misled heterosexual spouses.
Not to be outdone by his official statement for Exodus, Buchanan sneered on his Twitter account: “Luthe[r]ans vote to allow gay clergy. Sad day for the Body of Christ.”
Oh really, Jeff? It’s a sad day when gay Christians are welcomed and treated with respect? It’s a happy day, I guess, when heterosexuals and “ex-gays” use churches to ostracize others and promote satisfaction in their own vices?
Buchanan added a quote from Rick Warren: “When morality is determined by popularity, depravity becomes normality and the death of that culture becomes an inevitability.”
Buchanan and Warren may be partly right: Exodus seeks to define constitutional law, morality, and marriage according to the votes of social conservatives, not on the basis of true humanitarian values. Depravity and death have become idols for social conservatives in town-hall meetings in recent weeks; if Buchanan and Warren are right, then the death of their own movement lies ahead.
Until the collapse of the Christian right happens, however, Exodus’ promotion of dishonesty and intolerance will continue to breed an epidemic of fraudulent ex-gay marriages that end in divorce for heterosexual spouses and children — and disillusionment for churches that performed marriages based upon Exodus’ false promises of “change.”
Even as Exodus president Alan Chambers writes books that promote sexless, romanceless “ex-gay” marriage and condemn gay celibacy, Christian churches — Lutherans in particular — are learning from experience that Exodus does not promote a healthy, modest spiritual perspective on human sexuality. Churches are beginning to realize that Exodus idolizes heterosexual sex to an extreme, rejects honesty, affirms identity politics, and ostracizes and condemns those whom Chambers patronizingly calls “prodigals”: People whom Exodus wants excluded from social and religious communities for refusing to adhere to Exodus’ political orthodoxy and faux fundamentalism.
Exodus activist Nate Oyloe exemplified this culture of dishonesty and identity politics in a presentation to the ELCA:
In my life, [Oyloe said,] homosexuality didn’t just encompass my attractions, it defined my identity. As a Christian seeking to live by and be defined by the truth of Scripture first, I concluded that I could not pursue both. I am saddened that as a result of the ELCA’ decision, others will find it harder to obtain the biblical answers and compassionate support that helped me to experience life-giving freedom.
Oyloe remains predominantly same-sex-attracted, but misled the ELCA about this. He is a prisoner of suppressed feelings, fear of sexuality, and Exodus’ political and theological conformity. In fact, he describes himself as consumed by ex-gay identity politics. His effort to suppress gay Lutherans and their own spiritual and personal freedoms suggest that Oyloe does not really experience or affirm freedom at all.
Oyloe’s ex-gay “identity” — as defined by Exodus — precludes grace, charity, repentance, and humility. Like other Exodus activists, Oyloe affirms discrimination, sexual dishonesty, and ignorance of the Bible through the use of godtalk: Words such as “Christian,” “truth”, and “Scripture” that are sprinkled throughout one’s speech but left unsubstantiated and disconnected from reality, fact, and the Bible. Oyloe projects his own preoccupation with “identity” onto gay Lutherans in an elaborate blame game — and then criticizes the ELCA for offering Lutherans an alternative to his identity politics.
Having rejected both monogamy and gay celibacy as options for gay Christians, Exodus leadership wants gay Lutherans to be forced into a nightmarish choice: Enter a masquerade of sexless ex-gay marriage, or leave their church. The ELCA has wisely rejected this false choice.
The ELCA vote does not, unfortunately, make it any harder for Lutherans to pursue denial and self-delusion through ex-gay programs, should any choose to do so. The vote simply reduces the discriminatory pressure upon same-sex-attracted and faithful Lutherans to lie and marry an unsuspecting heterosexual in order to achieve respect and leadership in the church.