The other day I posted a video that has since made the rounds on the internet of John MacArthur responding to a listeners question on how to respond to an adult child who has admitted they were gay. MacArthur’s response was two fold: if the child isn’t a Christian try to evangelize them, and if the child is a professing Christian, use the process of church discipline: invite repentance, and if denied, cast the child out. I, of course, weighed in with strong disagreement to MacArthur’s position.
The piece in question was discussed by several sources such as Huffington Post, and eventually made its way to the desk of Dr. James White, from Alpha and Omega Ministries. White has since put out a video (available at the bottom) with a critique of my position (or what he incorrectly understands as my position).
First, it is important to note that I don’t know James White personally, and he doesn’t know me, which makes his comments all the more disappointing. However, as much as we probably would disagree on a lot of issues (he’s a Calvinist after all), I’ve been thankful for some of the work that Dr. White has done and enjoy watching some of his debates. Most specifically, he has been a vocal leader in combating the fundamentalist tradition of viewing the King James Bible as being the only acceptable and inspired translation– and I remain thankful for his contributions on that front.
However, on this issue, I believe he’s incorrect. In the video, he states that I lack “intellectual integrity” and laments that there are actually biblical scholars like myself—taking a shot at Patheos along the way– and warning that in the future there will be a lot more voices like mine who want to completely do away with Paul—which isn’t even my position, nor has it ever been. White also stated that the kind of Christianity I have is all the world wants because it doesn’t challenge anyone– which is funny, because I get a lot of nasty emails from fellow Christians because I’ve done exactly that– especially on issues such as idolatry, violence, etc. Furthermore, to hint that I believe in a version of Christianity that doesn’t challenge the way one lives is to show someone doesn’t know me at all– I’ve turned my life upside down to follow Jesus and have made radical sacrifices, as many of you know, in order to live this way. When Dr. White says that “liberals who mock MacArthur don’t understand what it means to take up your cross” (an obvious shot at me based on his first video), it’s almost infuriating when I think about my own lingering grief and loss (my oldest daughter for starters) that I’ve willingly placed on the altar of making Jesus my Lord.
Back to the critique: in the end, White defends MacArthur’s position as the correct position, which I still assert is an incorrect application of both 1 Corinthians and Matthew 18.
In the original video that started this whole discussion, it is important to note the context of MacArthur’s comments. The question wasn’t “what should I do if my child was in a same sex relationship”, it was: “what should I do if a child comes out as gay?”
Context is important: this was a question about orientation; this was not a question about behavior. For me, this was what was the most offensive about MacArthur’s reply as the current debate isn’t over orientation at all, the debate is about behavior. Even if traditionalists turn out to be correct in that homosexual behavior is a sin, this isn’t what was being discussed—the discussion was on the proper response to learning that your child has acknowledged an orientation. To place an individual under church discipline because of an orientation (something absent behavior) is wrong—regardless of where one falls on the debate over gay marriage. This is precisely what MacArthur argued we should do, and I am unapologetic in my opposition to that– regardless of where my theology of marriage may or may not land one day (I’ve been very open with the public that I am still wrestling with the theology on this issue).
Secondly, and this is the thrust of where I disagreed with MacArthur: he is taking a passage that was clearly talking about church membership and attempting to apply it to a nonexistent concept of “family membership”. My position isn’t that we throw out Paul at all—I affirm the inspiration and authority of the 66 books of the canon—but instead, my critique was that this is a horrible application of that passage (and Matthew 18 which is also talking about church). No lack of intellectual integrity at all with that—instead, I would counter argue that to apply principles of church membership to family dynamics would actually be the position lacking intellectual integrity. In fact, in his video, White specifically admits that this is a passage related to church membership. Yes, there IS a time to put people out of the church, but there is never a time to alienate a child from their family.
In addition, when we look at the context of Paul’s teaching, one of the contextual frames is someone who is in an immoral, sexual relationship (he’s sleeping with his own step mother!). Again, the context of MacArthur’s comments were that of orientation and family, not sexual relationship and the church itself. To attempt to treat these two context as if they are the same context, is erroneous at best, and I’d be shocked if White didn’t actually know that. Furthermore, one would also be in error to apply Matthew 18 which is instructions on what to do if someone in the church “sins against you”. When an adult child acknowledges a sexual orientation, it is not a sin against the parents- it is simply an acknowledgement of a certain disposition which the individual had no choice over. Both of these passages are being completely misapplied to the specific question that was asked of MacArthur.
Thirdly, White dismisses my contention that idolatry is not addressed in the church today by arguing that MacArthur would obviously confront someone who was “worshiping a statue of Mary”, but both White and I know this is perhaps the most over simplified definition of idolatry, ever. As long as we have bring your gun to church days, pointing out the hypocrisy that much of American Christianity is completely ignoring wide-spread idolatry, is fair game.
I think the most disappointing assertion (in addition to several unnecessary shots fired across the bow) is that I don’t believe there’s a time or place for church discipline, which is completely untrue—there most certainly is, and I would join with White in a lament that it is rarely practiced in some traditions. In fact, had the question been posed to MacArthur been that of “what should we do if a member of our church is involved in an immoral, sexual relationship”, as much as I have a tendency to dislike MacArthur, I would have agreed with the theology of his response.
But, that wasn’t the discussion. This discussion was on the proper response to learning that your adult child has a same sex orientation, and in this case, MacArthur and White are both incorrect to apply principles of church membership for immoral sexual behavior on (a) an orientation that is absent behavior and therefore neither moral nor immoral, and (b) the family unit.
To be correct in their opinion, they have a mountain to climb in proving that orientation is inherently sinful and that families should adopt principles of church discipline.
In the end, I probably could have taken more time with my original piece (I admit, I was rushed when I fired it off) but stand by my critique of MacArthur’s answer to this question on orientation and the family unit. I would also challenge some of White’s critique of me as simply being an inaccurate caricature of who he thinks I am. I am a progressive evangelical who, all things considered, still longs to see the Evangelical Church in America return to Christ-centeredness, something it has long since forsaken.
One area where I completely agree with White is his warning that we’re going to see a lot more voices pointing to Jesus as the center of faith and practice. Unfortunately, White seems to believe that must come at an expense to everything else in scripture, but this is simply incorrect. What we’re seeing in our culture is an awakening to the truth that Jesus must be the center of faith and practice for the Christian—something Jesus himself taught when he said that all scripture “points” to him, and that those who hear the teachings of Jesus and do them, are like a wise man who built his house on the rock. So, yes—you will be seeing a return to Jesus, but no, that’s not a bad thing. Finally, I would also agree that most people don’t want a Christianity that challenges them– the emails I get when I speak out about Christan lust for money, guns and violence, is proof.
I would assert that the position I have expressed does not lack intellectual integrity at all. The passages in question are about how to address immoral behavior within the church, which is not the question MacArthur was asked.
As much as I disagree with the critique in the video below, I remain thankful for some of Dr. White’s contributions to biblical scholarship and apologetics.
Here’s the video:
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You aren’t right at all. You’re just too prideful to admit you’re wrong. This is one of the reasons I walked away from you and this website and encourage all my tumblr, twitter and wordpress friends to do likewise. Patheos? Steer clear, folks. Bad theology wrapped up in pridefulness.
I didn’t see the word sin once in this article. A Progressive Christian? What verse and chapter is this referenced?
James White suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect (unintelligence is correlated to the inability to objectively judge their own intelligence), along with all his Calvinist followers. He thinks he is so smart because he is versed in textual criticism but he never applies critical thinking when it comes to doctrine. With all his knowledge of Greek he still reads the Bible as it’s written in English. He shamelessly posts videos and twitter convos on his website not even realising he’s on the receiving end of a massive intellectual hiding. Brian Zahnd was awesome, calling him part of the “Jesus Seminar” and saying “We need to become Catholics” to sort out their disagreement, a subtle dig at his outrage against liberalism and against Catholics. And he’s too thick to realise it.
Really, you think he’s stupid, he reads the Bible in english. You should be ashamed of yourself. Ever hear of bearing false witness.
this article is one of the many reasons why i unsubscibed to this site. the reasoning that gives approval to homosexuality is so un-biblical as to defy descriptioin
Thank you, Ben, thank you. The Fundies have no idea the damage they are doing and the number of souls they are barring from or chasing out of the faith. Fortunately God is sovereign and He will redeem who He will redeem in spite of them.
” White also stated that the kind of Christianity I have is all the world wants because it doesn’t challenge anyone– which is funny, because I get a lot of nasty emails from fellow Christians because I’ve done exactly that– especially on issues such as idolatry, violence, etc.”
Those are the wrong type of ‘challenges,’ the type of challenges that require everyone to look at their attitudes and behavior. The kind of ‘challenges’ many people like are the ones where they can point fingers at some ‘other,’ a group somehow different from the majority. Challenging the majority of Christians on things like guns-idolatry, violence or selfishness might make people think about their preconceptions. We can’t have that.
I really don’t care…no, more strong than that. I don’t give a **** if my kid is in a relationship that the church teaches is wrong. He is and will always be my kid. I may not approve and we may have long, hard talks about behavior, but I will NEVER turn my back on my kid.
That said, I do believe there is a place for tough love when he pursues actions that are damaging to himself and others. I just wouldn’t put a same-sex relationship in that category if he were simply wired to be attracted to guys rather than gals.
I think both White and Corey have good points. You cannot focus on one sin while giving free passes to others as Corey rightly states. You also cannot throw out Paul since his writings are older witnesses to Christ than the Gospels.
Basically we cannot live like Christ. Monastics have tried and failed. The best we can do is recognize that we are all sinners and need to improve. Hey marriage according to Paul is not for procreation but for sexual release in a committed monogamous relationship. If anyone today would be for gay marriage it would be Paul.
The King James Bible while not perfect dose actually (according to an Greek Orthodox priest I know) better convey Greek meaning of the NT better than newer literal translations. (I know majority text, minority text blah blah blah)
I thought that was John Malkovich at first, which would have been weird… 😉
I agree with your assessment of the difference between the family unit and actual church membership, this was my problem with the statement as well. It would seem to me the the parable of the prodigal would be the better application of scripture. I am one who believes the bible does clearly identify homosexual “behavior” as sin, just as it does adultery and fornication and many other behaviors. But temptation is not sin, it is when temptation gives birth to action that in becomes sin. If temptation is sin then Jesus sinned, and we know that is not the case. If a person is not a church member, professing Christian, the the prodigal shows us what to do. You let them go, you don’t kick them out. The prayer is, and we can be sure that prodigal “father” was parying as he linged for his son’s return, that anyone overtaken by sin wil come to themselves, just as that son, and return. In the church it is different. As a pastor I’ve actually begun the discipline process before. I believe it is a process that requires time for the Holy Spirit to work. You don’t speak to someone one day and go back with a group the next day and bring them before the church on Sunday. We must give the Holy Spirit time to do His job and convict of sin. Prayer and patience with a gentle spirit(Gal 6:1) should guide it. In our case with couples living together we married one. The other left the church, but we did not force them out as it never got to that 3rd step. Its is a painful process, but it is necessary in the body
How chilling to see John MacArthur, James White, and other U.S. evangelicals proudly refuse to follow the Greatest Commandment.
Thank you Ben for having the courage to put Jesus first, no matter how terribly offensive it is to today’s Sanhedrin.
With some attempting to exchange interpretations is nothing but a fruitless situation.
For other of us it is a means to growth… into love not law.
Truly, I feel sorry for Christians whom have not yet fully received the wondrous news of Christ love…. Brennan Manning capture the true essence of God love in his teachings….
See… those whom think we are “allowing sin to reign”. Totally can not comprehend what we are truly saying: We HONOR God so deeply… that we UNDERSTAND completely. That is it ALL about CHRIST, All about the SPIRIT, All about GOD. That we are only a born into “sin nature being” and that we are nothing, nothing, nothing without the blood of Christ.
Truly…. my depth of love for Christ is so deep and so appreciative that to even attempt to take a drop of “righteousness” upon this “self” that I some how contribute to cleaning up this sin nature within me eaves me revolting in my soul. We walk in faith…. we do change… but, not through the means of a hammer; but through the means of His hand outreached to us.
For, I am the receiver…. I know I can not make myself “sin free” even after salvation. I find those whom preach the legal: you can’t be a Christian unless you have cleaned up all about yourself.
To me, actual are insulting the Blood of Christ… That is how deeply I believe it is the blood of Christ and only the blood of Christ alone. I find it offensive what is taught in many denominations: Churches teaching from the Bible as if there are layers to sin. Christians categorizing sin as yours is worst than mine… Let it not be so Lord.
This teaching from the Pulpit and other Christians literally revolts inside me that any believe that as a truth.
For, in the silence and listening I do each day, all day, each moment with Christ Jesus through the Spirit; His gentle voice is clear on the deep love He has for each person in humanity.
I know the true relationship and where Christ lives is:
Christ lives in those whom humbly fall on their knees each day seeking Him with a deep awareness of what He has done for mankind. Whom are aware and will answer the question “YES” to the first question asked of us at judgement is: Did you believe I love you?
So…. we can be insulted all you want… But, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Those of us whom preach grace and grace alone… have stepped into such a deep, beautiful place of a relationship with Christ.
We speak grace…. as we know it is what Christ desires first and foremost of all. It is not flipped, it is not taken for granted. It is the deepest grown part of us as we have grown into a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus.
That anything added to grace… as even Paul’s Church teaching are never about Justification only about Sanctification. Through Christ the work was done… the price paid…
I will never insult my Father; Christ and the Spirit within me with taking a drop of credit that some how I contribute to “self improvement”. And think I should say to others: Be like me… see me… NO! I say: See Christ and Christ alone.
(http://joannforsberg.wix.com/rainbow-family. Open this from a computer; not a phone as full message is not shown via phone. Must be a computer. )
True walking in faith is…. daily, quietly, humbly, appreciative, fall to your knees as the covering of His blood is so drenched over you that you cannot stand under the weight of it.
A inability to stand any longer in His presents as knees are weak from the overwhelming, incomprehensible love He still lives and give each day for me and for my brethren.
Jesus…. I thank you… Quaker Grandmother. http://joannforsberg.wix.com/rainbow-family.
June 17, 2014 |JoAnn Forsberg
Seek to throw open those doors in your mind yet closed. For Christ does knock to bring wisdom into our soul. Yet, he will not force anyone to grow in wisdom.
For the person not willing to open fully, quietly, listening to Christ via the Spirit over and over again. Day after day. Is only keeping themselves from the “pearl of great cost”. Wisdom….
I hope all whom read these words would open Brennan Manning link. To not be afraid of their own Christians thoughts some how being influenced by another as if that is something bad.
Blessings: Quaker Grandmother
REQUIRE EACH ONE OF YOU TO OPEN THIS LINK.
TODAY… AS IT BEGINS… SET YOUR SPIRIT INTO THE STRONG FOUNDATION OF THE LOVE THAT WENT TO THE CROSS AND ROSE AGAIN FOR YOU ALONE….
THAT DEEP, UNCHANGEABLE, FALL TO YOUR KNEES IN APPRECIATION GRACE.
PLEASE…. ABSORB THESE WORDS INTO YOUR SOUL AS THIS DAY BEGINS.
FOR YOU, YOU, YOU…. ARE LOVED BEYOND MEASURE. NEVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU ANY DIFFERENT.
June 17, 2014 |JoAnn Forsberg
I’ve said this before, but I’ve noticed that whenever pastors and churches talk about shunning people for their sins, it’s always about sexual sins: adultery, homosexuality, divorce, etc. But the other sins, pride, greed (which is idolatry, according to St. Paul), wrath, gluttony, envy – nothing. Nada. That’s why I have no use for shunning or disciplining. The rich and powerful, who are literally screwing the people all around them financially, are welcomed right in, with a smile and a good seat. The town bully who’s now the mayor and still operates from a base of extortion and bribery? No problem! He can get us stuff. The guy who beats his wife and kids all the time? Well, he’s got anger issues, and she probably deserves it. The millionaire trust fund baby who drinks, drugs and gambles? It’s terrible, I know, but he can help us out so much with our building fund. And as for gluttony, well, hey, we have great pot-lucks. And yet, a young man or woman comes out and by God, s/he’s got to go. Be shunned. Be treated like the scum of the earth. When a church and/or pastor really does treat all sin as the same, then I might go along with “church discipline.” Then again, maybe not. Jesus ate with whores and tax collectors, usurers and all the other riff-raff. Wanna bet there weren’t a couple of gays in the crowd?
White is an enigma to me at times. He SEEMS educated but he misses the most basic points sometimes. He is mostly lacking in the ability to try to really understand others. He is the annoying person you talk to that NEVER hears you and spend the entire time you are talking formulating his “zinger” response.
Or, maybe I overestimate him and he is really just a Drama Queen. He so misses the easiest of marks at times. Chicken Little. EVERYONE is out to destroy the faith and the work of the cross and the entire reason Jesus lived.
hey congrats about getting a response from James White. I would be excited even if he misrepresented me. I mean, that’s cool.
Are you suggesting that when a person “comes out” that they don’t intend to engage in same sex sex?
Are you suggesting that you can read minds?
No. But what is implied when someone “comes out”? What kind of message is this person communicating and expects others to understand?
“I’m gay.” What kind of message does a straight person mean when they tell you they are about to get married? Do you immediately think about them having sex?
Yes. When a person “comes out” they are going to have same sex sex. Right?
Really? So if you had a son or daughter, and they told you they were going to get married, you would immediately think about them having sex? That’s … interesting.
But no. Coming out is not necessary for the having of sex. Neither Liberace nor Rock Hudson ever came out, but they did manage to have sex. Sort of like typical conservative Jimmy Swaggart never mentioned that he enjoyed watching a prostitute and her underage daughter having sex until after he got caught doing it.
Getting married implies that sex will happen between them.
I didn’t say “Coming out is not necessary for the having of sex.” What it implies is that person will have same sex sex.
Do you know what killed Rock Hudson?
Getting married does imply that people will have sex. But not one time, after having been informed that someone I knew was getting married, did I think about them having sex. I’ve thought about how beautiful or horrible the wedding might be, but never pictured them doing it. I had thought most people wouldn’t do that, what with most people not being interested in picturing their friends having sex. Perhaps you’re one of those swingers I’ve heard about.
You said that coming out was the expression of an intent to have sex. You did it in the usual passive-aggressive manner of bigots, but you did it.
A virus killed Rock Hudson.
Where did Rock get this virus?
I’m not readily conversant with all aspects of Mr. Hudson’s life, so I’ll go out on a limb and guess: your dad?
No. He was a homosexual who got the virus from same sex sex.
And that right there underscores the incredible gift that the church can offer folks by affirming marriage equality! Celibacy isn’t a sentence, it’s a gift for very few. For the rest of us, covenental marriage is the way to go. If I’m honest, I married my husband partly because I love him deeply, and partly because I was done with grad school, done with starting my vocation, and very eager to get in his pants. God has richly blessed that. The best relationships I know regardless of gay or straight are very similar. You can disagree, argue that people won’t be monogamous even if married. I say that is where the support of the body of Christ really could shine. But we don’t. Yet.
How is the church to get around those text in scripture that condemns homosexuality? How can a church approve what God condemns?
Folks can’t do the homework for you. If you want to understand why some arrive at a different theological conclusion I’d invite you to read the book God and the Gay Christian which will explain the alternative view if these passages.
Just because there is another view does not mean it is true. If I’m not mistaken the church stance against homosexuality has been consistent for the past 2000 years.
It doesn’t mean its’ false, either. There have been many interpretations of various Biblical injunctions. Many have gone by the wayside. Have representational art on your walls? Some Christians consider them graven images. Invest in money markets? Have a mortgage? Some Christians regard these as usury. Think interracial or interfaith marriages are OK? Many Christians disagree. It’s easy to condemn something that will only affect a small minority of people. I, personally, am suspicious of easy condemnation.
Can you show me by Scripture where homosexuality is approved of?
A quick scroll through some of Ben’s fellow-bloggers will show you how some people have interpreted the Bible that way. You know that. You disagree with them. They disagree with you. I find their beliefs kinder and more fair. But, since I don’t regard the Bible as a strict rule-book for life in 21st century America, it’s not my problem. It’s yours.
Can you show me any Scripture where homosexuality is affirmed?
Just because someone is “kinder” does not mean they are telling the truth.
I suggested a quick scroll through some of the Bloggers on Pantheos’s Progressive Christian page. If you don’t want to do your own research, fine. As I said, that’s your problem, not mine.
I don’t care if there’s a Scripture affirming same-sex relationships, any more if I care that there aren’t Scriptures condemning outright the owning of slaves. I can realize that slavery is simply wrong with no need for Scriptural confirmation. I can also decide that loving, consensual relationships are fine. I need no conformation for that, either. If you do, again, that’s your problem, not mine.
Oh, and in general, I find weather or not something is kind is a good guide as to its usefulness in decision-making.
Do you think we should affirm behaviors that lead to serious health problems and death?
Committed same-sex relationships don’t have any more related health problems than committed opposite-sex relationships. Promiscuity creates the health-risk. By treating all committed relationships with respect, health risks go down. You know that. You just don’t care.
And, yes, I respect people’s choices. It’s legal to smoke. It’s legal to eat lots of high-fat foods. These things have profound health risks. I would no more regulate promiscuity than I would ban bacon cheeseburgers.
Has it had consistently long-term horrific results? Yes. Results are what determines whether a teaching is useful or not. Some Christians believe nothing can be good or evil so long as they don’t question or disobey Jesus.
What “Has it had consistently long-term horrific results? Yes. ” are you talking about?
Maybe if you cared to read “follow-ups” of trying to follow the “Biblical commands about LGBT+” people you could come up with a list of quotes. I’m not doing that homework (I already read plenty for myself!).
Thanks for this. Yes, please read the theologians and scholars who are doubtlessly much more articulate than I. I’m pretty straight forward in my opinion. Promiscuity, sex with temple prostitutes, and doing things that are unnatural to the way you’re wired are not God’s plan. If you’re straight, don’t have gay sex. If you’re gay, don’t have straight sex. Treat your life partner with sacrificial sacred love. I’m not pretending to be an expert theologian. But I do think I’ve seen God’s heart for intimate relationship. I have definitely seen the fruit of the church’s failure to LGBTQ folks, having been an ER nurse early on and been present for the suicide of 5 young gay Christians. Begging the church to hear me and help. Not to be selfish, but that’s made it personal. I’m also close with some married gay Christians and my own marriage has been strengthened by their support. That’s good fruit and my husband and kids are blessed because of this. Time to reciprocate.
(Lamont…pssst. Just thinks we’re dirty.)
Careful, you’re going to encourage Justas to send you his biased links about the “health risks” we have by being gay. And, if you go further, he might even tell you homosexuals don’t get ostracized.
Using his logic, by the way, we should determine that hetero intimacy is bad because of all the people who have died from syphilis, etc.
Are you saying that the Center for Disease Control is lying in its data about the horrible health consequences associated with same sex sex?
Justas, in case it’s not clear to you, let me spell it out for you: I stopped interacting with you on another post because it became clear to me a few things: 1)You argue things that completely disagree with facts (re: stating on the blog post about MacArthur telling folks how to shun gays that homosexuals aren’t ostracized), 2)you maintain that your version of theology is the only correct one, despite overwhelming evidence presented to you that there are differing theologies for every issue of faith, 3)you come onto these threads without any apparent concern for our souls, our wellbeing, or our feelings as gay people, and instead you come to wag your finger at us and try to shame us for our “sickness.” (Yeah, the Rock Hudson stuff is such a nasty little dig.)
So, just so you know, I’m done speaking with you. Your arrogance and unwillingness to actually discuss show me it’s not worth my time to debate you. If you truly care anything about showing Christian generosity, compassion, or even just wanting US to “do the right thing,” you’ll figure out a way to talk to us that doesn’t come across as combatively lecturing us.
(In reality, I encourage you to pick up the Bible, a different translation from the one you already read, and compare the two. What’s the same? What’s different? NOW what do you take away from that reading as what’s the important message?)
Peace out. All blessings to you and everything. May God grant you Peace. I really do mean it.
You can have, be born with a strong propensity towards alcoholism and addiction, admit it, and not intend to drink or drug.
Why should there be Christian standards of judging “behavior” which disadvantage Gay people and privilege others? “Gay” is many things, I guess, and one thing it is is that it’s a declaration of a certain sort of personal integrity and self worth. Integrity and authenticity when it comes to certain minorities apparently counts for little to Christian conservatives. Didn’t when I was a kid in the 1950-60s either.
White and MacArthur are Spiritually uncivilized.
Let me say in the beginning that I am at a great disadvantage since I have neither listened to MacArthur’s video nor read your original defense against his comments. Therefore all I have to go on is what you wrote in this blog
First I have a question for you. Did you make in your defense a clear distinction between orientation and behavior? if not I think that’s critical. Since most people have sex outside of marriage and since there are very few people that are virgins when they marry, it is not ilogical to assume that the same thing is true of homosexuality. Gender & behavior go hand in hand, though that does not mean that every person is sexually active all the time of course. That is why I agree with your distinction but hope that you made that very clear in your defense.
now concerning church membership it seems to me that you misread MacArthur’s statement but again, I only have your short summary and not the complete details. According to what you wrote above he said that one should be a professing Christian and use church discipline to invite repentance. When I read that I assume that the person is a member of a church and therefore church discipline could be used according to his logic. I don’t understand him to imply that one should use church discipline for someone that is not member of a church. of course I completely agree that that would be wrong.
didn’t christ say something about judging and first stones?
Thank you for all your work, and the dedication and commitment it takes to do it. I appreciate it hugely, because, at least in part, you are exploring questions and examining the ‘givens’ i.e. context and other givens we need to examine and re-examine, in ourselves, whether it is Jesus, the Christ, we follow, or someone else who claims to speak in Jesus’ name, and in G-d’s name. The Jesus I follow is a free human being, full of the living, loving “G-dness” (goodness) I seek in all my doings, and all my relationships, the Jesus I have sought all my adult life, in order to follow him faithfully and righteously. It is too bad people such as James White cannot see and recognize that, in their blindness, will not listen and will not hear for sake of their deafness to the healing, transforming power of God’s living word living in all of us.
This is so tragically, typically, par for the course for James White — misunderstand, misrepresent, and vilify your opponents at any cost. Who can take him even remotely seriously? White also conveniently ignores MacArthur’s abuse of the text of Matthew 18 — not merely shoddy exegesis but an outright abuse of the text.
You wrote: “To be correct in their opinion, they have a mountain to climb in proving that orientation is inherently sinful and that families should adopt principles of church discipline.” This was my point exactly with MacArthur’s view: the *most* he and others can claim is that the act is considered sinful, from their viewpoint, and not merely the orientation, if you will.
I don’t know why I’m always so appalled at the name-calling and potshots that we in the church ascribe to, but it sickens me to know that Dr. White has resorted to that. Last week I read an answer Brian McLaren gave to someone wondering if any of the “big league” evangelicals ever contact him off the grid (like Nicodemus did in coming to Jesus at night) in order to offer their support for his stance on LGBT inclusion and equality, and it shook me to the core: He said that he receives many such calls of support. One leader in a non-affirming, non-inclusive denomination called him to confess that he, too, believed that LGBT inclusion is right, but he also warned McLaren that some of his other denominational leaders were “out to destroy” him. Christians out to destroy Christians; surely Jesus weeps.
By the way, I had the opportunity to forward your blogpost on MacArthur’s video to someone on staff at a VERY theologically conservative seminary (and then it made a few more rounds); their collective response was one of utter disbelief, horror, and dismay. One of their (many) issues with his statement is exactly what you wrote in this post, that MacArthur “is taking a passage that was clearly talking about church membership and attempting to apply it to a nonexistent concept of “family membership.”
When it comes to Christian leaders and authors, I try to ask myself: Do they sound more like the Pharisees of the Gospels or Jesus in the Gospels? In my opinion, Dr. White and Mr. MacArthur sound nothing like Jesus. Which is a major red flag.
I watched the video, and my conclusion is that the person is not worth worrying about, let alone listening to.
But, please. Can we retire ALL the analogies of troublesome folk to the Pharisees? I am a Jew. The Pharisees were the people that rabbinic Judaism came out of. When you trash Pharisees…instead of “some” Pharisaic leaders Jesus contended with, you’re doing something Jesus did not intend to happen. Jesus was of the the general Pharisaic culture of his day. The word Pharisee means “separate”…they were the Protestants of their time…the party of the lay folk. Yes, some of the leadership became full of themselves…but, that happens with every group.
Thanks for adding your voice and this important clarification, Yonah! So many of us in the Christian community have been taught in error.
Thanks so much for your response. And, it’s an easy qualification to say “some”. To be sure, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are recorded on the plus side.
Excellent clarifications, Yonah. Thanks for speaking out on this.
The brother movements of the Jesus’ followers and Judaism reconstituted under the Pharisaic rabbis after the Temple destruction both suffered horrible oppression under the Romans. Rabbi Akiva’s martyrdom was very gruesome. Peace
In Jordon’s defense he did qualify it with ‘of the Gospels’ which I took to mean the caricatures therein represented rather than actual people. I try to avoid the term altogether.
Yes, I’ve seen that take before. It seems to me problematic. If one is to back pedal that one is alluding to fictional characters or some kind of fabricated symbol…like “Uncle Sam” representing America, I think it begs the question of how people are supposed to know what you are doing in one’s handling of scripture. My policy has always been just to tell people exactly what I am doing. Otherwise, people do what they do with the language they receive. When I was a preacher, I was absolutely amazed all the time at what people thought I said. People also have their own in-built default language adapters. When I was an elementary school teacher…5th grade, I would write a paragraph on the blackboard in correct grammar and spelling (non-internet writing, lol), and tell the kids to finish the story on their own. The amazing thing was that my Appalachian students sub-conciously translated the correct grammar and spelling back into their default grammar and spellings…they didn’t even realize it.
I don’t disagree – I think it best to excise the term altogether. As my friend the Fox from the Little Prince would say ‘Words are the source of misunderstandings’
Very well done. Shunning and humiliating a person for the sake of their soul is horrible. The constitution of the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Church has rules regarding the treatment of our LGTBQ brothers and sisters. Thankfully it includes the idea to love. Sadly, it also instructs on correction.
Glad you are standing firm in your statement about not disowning our kids over SSA. It matters.
Would appeal to you to continue to consider this:So long as the church denies people with SSA a means to live monogamous, covenental marriage, we deny ourselves the ability to minister to people who are not called to celibacy.
I’m not a theologian or a pastor, just a community health nurse who kids talk to. I have had many kids with SSA over the past 15 years go from suicidal to peaceful with my simple encouragement to love sacrificially and save the sexual activity for a lifetime partner. As yet, I’ve no pastor to point them to. No church to support them in our area. Folks like you could help. Thanks for listening.
I was a Calvinist for a large period of my life. I was really bad after seminary in the 1980s…..it was not until I REALLY read the four Gospels thats I understood that I was going down a works path that one could never fulfill.
There are so many of the ” new” pastors the so called Neo-Calvinists, today who want to beat the law into people that they miss the grace that is there for all people.
In the end, they are going to drive people away who need to be reached….gay, straight, bisexual, sinners all…..
Really well written. Agree with you totally. 🙂
What is James White’s problem? This guy has all the facts and none of the love. The Bible is not a Constitution. It never tries to be. Those Pauline letters were not prescriptions. They were never written as some sort of how-to for all time, but were, wait for it, LETTERS. Good grief. What a sad man and a sad, exclusive, religion he props up with his thinly-veiled elitism. He is destroying people. Oh, but wait, he is doing it for God.