Brian McLaren writes for the Leadership Blog on pastorally answering people's questions about homosexuality. I like Brian a lot - he's pastoral, intelligent, brave, modern and orthodox. He writes, as a pastor:
Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say "it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us." That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren't sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.
You would think this was a gentle, sensitive, accurate discription of what it is like to be a pastor. But one of the 50 most influential Christian Leaders, Marc Driscoll, responds dramatically. He says,
For me, the concern started when McLaren in the February 7, 2005 issue of Time Magazine said, “Asked at a conference last spring what he thought about gay marriage, Brian McLaren replied, ‘You know what, the thing that breaks my heart is that there's no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.’” Sadly, by failing to answer, McLaren was unwilling to say what the Bible says and in so doing really hurt God’s feelings and broke his heart.
"hurt God's feelings and broke his heart"?! Let me translate:
"McLaren was unwilling to say what the Bible says and in so doing really hurt my feelings and broke my heart." This is far more accurate. If Marc can get a tape recorder someday, however, I'd be willing to change my mind. And it can't be in his own voice. Perhaps Salma's. That's Salma Hayek.
Marc Driscoll is a very entertaining preacher. I wish to God I could preach like that and not get faced with blank stares. But I really enjoy listening to him speak. If anything, he is a model for me in his preaching.
But not his thinking.
His ability to entertain doesn't lend much clarity to the problem. He demonstrates that, in fact, he really doesn't understand the pastoral issue. First he brings people in with his seductive, witty [well, witty in a 10th grade kind of way], "hey - I'm a male Lesbian," although this simply raises two questions.
First: Does his wife know she's married to a lesbian in the wrong body? Maybe they can do something about that.
Second: Why not say that gay men are women who are built like men? Or Lesbians are in fact men who in women's bodies. What if he fantasizes about men while he's givin' his wife some lovin'?
He may be funny. But it is clearly confused.
Driscoll focuses on a request that Brian makes in his very soft-spoken way. McLaren asks new Christians to step back; Let's think about this; let's pray about what is happening; let's listen to the Holy Spirit. It's a silly request in a world held by the powers, but in the community of Christians, perfectly reasonable. But Driscoll says, Nope, can't do that. we simply can't wait. Where Brian says, Let's not judge, Driscoll simply responds, you're breaking my heart. I mean, God's heart.
Driscoll then offers his slam dunk: Just this week - he opens, for he has direct confirmation of what the problem is - some Christian - he could have put it in quotes - he wants anal sex for the orgasms. I guess that's a problem in Mars Hill, but it wasn't, really, what Brian was talking about. Any liberal can see how sexual greed is destructive. That's a no brainer. Marc, you'll get cheers from both sides of the aisle if that's what's bringing down the end of your world. But we're addressing something different: We're talking about two older men, or two women, holding hands, in love, claiming Christ as God.
And this is where we probably differ from most "biblical" churches, if you want to call them that. Where Driscoll gets his info from gay pron magazines, we're finding men and women who want to build a life together. All Mark has done is prove to us that most people don't understand homosexuality.
In fact, I doubt if they understand sexuality either: the insistance on genitalizing sexual relationships and relationships seems closer to pron than fidelity. And for us progressives, marriage is about a relationship that creates abundance. Its the quality of the relationships Christians should care about. So lets talk about how to create loving, faithful, joyful relationships that give glory to God. That seems very relevant.
But let's keep the pron under the bed.
Hat tip, Bob