After all the lectures and denunciation about the evangelical church’s lack of love toward homosexuals, you’d have thought those making such accusations would have jumped on this.
Last week, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) posted An Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian. It basically takes the church to task for its handling of homosexuality — its condemnation, lack of love, ignorance, etc. The article received massive linkage. And for good reason.
But something interesting happened in the process. None of the high-profile Christian progressive spokespersons for gay rights mentioned this important letter.
If I’m wrong about this, I’d love to know. Please post links. But I spent a solid hour scouring notable progressive bloggers’ tweets, FB posts, and blogs, and could not find a single reference to this article. Brian McClaren, Peter Rollins, Andrew Sullivan, HuffPo, Rachel Held Evans, Rob Bell, Jay Bakker — nothing. I spent time perusing the Patheos Progressive Christian portal. Same thing.
It couldn’t have been because they didn’t see the article. Many of those bloggers actively police high profile evangelical sites like TGC looking for any missteps or controversy. The article was linked all week on various sites around the web. Justin Taylor tweeted it to 20K followers, and it was retweeted by John Piper to 450K+. So this wasn’t under the radar. I saw it posted (for about the tenth time on FB) by a pastor and we engaged in some good dialog.
But my friends on the Religious Left were strangely silent.
This is what they’ve been saying, isn’t it? Evangelicals need to be more compassionate, more loving, less judgmental to gays. What a perfect chance to pounce! What a great article to spearhead dialog and conversation. And they’re all about dialog and conversation, right? Nevertheless, this letter was virtually ignored by progressives.
There’s a pretty simple reason. And this reason reveals the real motivations of Christian progressives.
It’s exposed in this part of the letter:
To those of you who would change the church to accept the gay community and its lifestyle: you give us no hope at all. …You are willing to compromise the word of God to be politically correct. We are not deceived. If we accept your willingness to compromise, then we must also compromise. We must therefore accept your lying, your adultery, your lust, your idolatry, your addictions, YOUR sins.
…We do not ask for your acceptance of our sins any more than we accept yours. We simply ask for the same support, love, guidance, and most of all hope that is given to the rest of your congregation. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not what we shall be, but thank God, we are not what we were. Let us work together to see that we all arrive safely home.
It must be shocking for Christian progressives to conceive that such a person actually exists — a lesbian who wants to change, who believes homosexuality is a sin, and does not want the church to change to suit her.
That’s probably why at Hunter Baker’s site, where the article originated, one commenter conjectured:
I don’t believe a lesbian wrote this. Not only is she unidentified, I don’t think any lesbian would feel that way to write that last paragraph.
Easier to just believe the letter is a fraud than that a category of human exists who doesn’t fawn over your premise and, in fact, believes “you give us no hope at all.”
Commenter ‘Kyle’ at TGC summed up the real divide with this observation:
“I feel so sad for this woman. Brainwashed into thinking she is a sinner because of her nature. This cult needs to end.”
I’m unsure if my liberal friends would agree that this woman is “brainwashed.” But the notion that homosexuality is a sin and that lesbians are sinners (just like liars, adulterers, and idolaters are sinners) is the dividing line in this debate. To put it bluntly: Progressives ignored this letter because they do not believe homosexuality is a sin.
It’s that simple.
So let us be clear: The main reason that the evangelical church gets flak for its position on gays is NOT because we are simply unloving and judgmental. It’s because we view homosexuality as sin. Being more loving is NOT the real issue. The end-game for Progressive Christians is NOT to get evangelicals to be more kind and compassionate toward homosexuals (as they like to say). It is to make homosexuality normative and acceptable.
Which is why their response to this letter was an eerie silence.