Most of last week on this blog was spent discussing some recent “conversations” about the Evangelical church’s relationship with the homosexual community. I first addressed conservatives, and then progressives (as well as some thoughts on the “willful persistence in sin” comment I hear from conservatives a lot). This week, we move on. But not yet. In response to some of the ways people have responded to these posts, I felt I needed to write this.
In conclusion to it all…
It might seem odd that I’ve typed far more words and dripped more sarcasm in attacking the more conservative side of this issue, all while ultimately agreeing more with them at the end of the day. In the end, even with all of my many theological and social disagreements, I cast my lot with them, even though I know most of them would not have me.
These posts, hopefully, have been written in the same spirit as Mark Noll’s blistering attack on Evangelical anti-intellectualism, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which he calls “an epistle from a wounded lover”.
I love the American Church. Even with all it’s faults and ugliness, it is still my Savior’s Bride. It’s the culture I grew up in; it’s the culture I know best. But I’ve also been deeply wounded by it. I carry in my life and words the scars that come from years of living in that dissonance between what the Church realistically could be, and what it is right now: the echoes of friends and pastors warning me of my impending apostasy for shifting on even the slightest details of conservative dogma; the friends and relatives that spent decades away from the community of faith because of the judgmentalism and shallow platitudes that met them there; the therapy I’m still in because of the engrained strains of legalism that contribute to such anxiety and addiction in my heart.
Many would be surprised to know that of the four or five “denominations” of Judaism in existence at the time of Jesus, the group with which Jesus would have theologically agreed the most was the Pharisees–the very group he is most well-known for challenging, mocking, insulting, and attacking. But this was also the group that trained him, that gave him space to flourish and teach–even from a young age. Who gave him the wisdom and love of the Scripture that equipped him to obey and fulfill his Son-ly duties and be their Messiah. And this was the group that most-defined the religious establishment of Israel when Jesus–eyes wet with tears–longed that they would but repent and turn back to their “mother hen” who wanted to cradle them beneath her wings, all while he set his face against their opposition and boldly went to die at their hands–that they might be saved.
In a similar (and much lesser) way, hopefully–albeit imperfectly, at times, to be sure–I would hope that these words that I have written (and will write) might ultimately be used by God to challenge the American Church. And perhaps, we might wake from our slumber. Perhaps, we might all go through the Cross of Repentance. Perhaps, we might truly be the Resurrection People of God.
I end many of my more intense posts with this same benediction, but this time, I type it with the weirdest mix of both strong pessimism that we could ever do this, and strong optimism that God is faithful and can do mighty things. And so:
May we–can we?–