Reaction to a blog article - "Can you be pro-gay and still be evangelical?"

The blog itself is a commentary and follow up to an article claiming conservative Christians selectively apply Biblical teachings in the gay marriage debate... But the central question of this follow up is worth its own discussion, I think.

Blog article:

His assertion is clear - people use the word "evangelical" in at least two (if not more) vastly different ways. Leading some to make accusations not unlike the RINO cry (republican in name only) that some evangelicals are claiming to be what they are not (EINO?). 

I'm curious what peoples reactions to the blog article and the argument he presets, as well as your own personal definition of what it means to be an evangelical christian (whether you are one, or not). 

Speaking personally - I admit to falling into the latter category he discusses - Evangelical as a social/political/cultural classifier, rather than a specifically theological one. And the ramifications of that are interesting. 

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I agree insofar as the term "Evangelical" is often used as a signifier of ideology (not exactly politics) rather than one of faith ... though, not without reason.


Historically, Evangelical refers to Protestant Christians who believe in Salvation by faith in Christ's atonement.  Practically, it now refers to those who adopt a conservative reading of scripture, even with regard to matters other than Salvation.  As such, it is typically used to refer to practitioners of the more conservative denominations of Protestant Christianity -- Baptist, Pentecostal, Calvinist, etc.


It is easiest to distinguish between conservative and liberal practitioners by listening to what they say and what they support.  Those Christians adopting more liberal views are probably not Evangelicals.  So, I would doubt whether somebody adopting a liberal view of homosexuality has an otherwise conservative interpretation of Scripture.  And, as such, I'd be far less likely to take their interpretations seriously with regard to the proper practice of the Christian faith.

Honestly, it doesn't matter much who is, and is not, "Evangelical" any more than it matters who is, and is not, Baptist, or Catholic, or whatever.  It matters who is, and is not, Christian ... and those with liberal views on homosexuality can be Christian insofar as the meet the essentials of the faith.

For what its worth, I've never referred to myself as an "evangelical".  Always seemed too vague for my tastes, and I like to fully comprehend the labels I'm claiming.


What, precisely, do you mean by pro-gay?


The simplest way for the Christian to approach the issue is based in Biblical teachings.  Hate the sin, not the sinner.  One can easily be anti-homosexuality, without being anti-homosexual.


So, to answer your question...  Yes.

The article the blog is referencing is in reaction to Arizona's (vetoed) law - but specifically I think they are referring to supporting gay marriage. 

I think Chuck Knight has said it simply...hate sin. To "hate" is to turn against, or away from. I hate my sin that is within me.

People of faith are tagged with "hate speech" because they believe that human sexuality falls into categories of right and wrong.

As to the Bible, I think one either accepts it or does not, which is their choice. But to accept it, and alter it...not my cup of tea. (I'm a coffee drinker).

Having said that, I know gay men who are against gay marriage because it only increases the wealth of divorce attorneys.

I have a large number of friends who are either gay or bi...we've had those discussions; they know my position on the matter, and I theirs.  Not only are we still friends, but it might have brought us closer!  Deep discussions tend to do that.


I say it again.  Is it possible?  Absolutely, yes.


Heck, I tend to be the person to whom they first come out, even before their own parents.

I need to get back to reading getreligion.  In November, Evangelicals were still fighting to be called "Evangelicals" rather than "Fundamentalists," which some secular media uses when better style guides call for something else.

I think it's certainly possible that "Evangelical" could be morphing into something not-quite-religious, the way "Catholic" is in the US, and the way "Jewish" obviously is, or even "Christian" in my explanation of Messianic Judaism.  If it is, I'm ok with that.  Language can change.  I'm generally of the opinion that people should be labeled how they want, as long as they're clear what the label means to them.  I've certainly been hurt by people telling me I can't call myself a Christian, or a catholic, or whatever.

This is strange in that they're using the change to exclude people.  And then they're probably including people who don't fall under the faith-based understanding of Evangelical, such as certain confessionalist Protestants, or even some Anglicans.  Again, people should be called what they like.

I call myself a recovering Evangelical.  It's not a super-precise term to me, kind of like "conservative," but the usual 4 signifiers are pretty good:

[I thought it was 5, but can't find that source]



I am what you call a Centrist Evangelical.....from wikipedia:

  • Centrist evangelicals, described as socially conservative, mostly avoiding politics, who still support much of traditional Christian theology.


Whenever I think of Fundamentalists, I think of people like Warren Jeffs, I know it ain't right...But I seldom hear the word Fundamentalist used in a positive sense, and unfrtoauntely, neither does anyone else.


[/Reply to Rebekah]


As far as homosexuality goes....How does 2 men or 2 women getting married affect me or my family?   I know for damn sure that since gay marriage was legalized in Canada, things have been just fine. No one's marriage or family was destroyed anywhere in the world because a couple of guys got married in Niagara Falls.  Saying that gay & lesbian marriages affect heterosexual couple's marriages is like saying that pissing on a tree in Gander affects the FM radio reception in Siberia.

To clarify, getreligion is another Patheos blog, or was in November.  It finds news reports where "Fundamentalist" is used where "Evangelical" should be, according to style manuals like AP or NYT.  But that's just a tiny slice of its religion media criticism.  I recommend getreligion.

When I was an Evangelical, I was taught to embrace the "Fundamentalist" label, going back to the Fundamentals tracts.  My family's used it in the past to describe ourselves to people who aren't very familiar with the particularities of American religious expression.  But, yes, it now has perjorative overtones.

The blog article was childish and insulting, as well as lacking in any intellectual subtlety (e.g. he conflates the law allowing discrimination with the law enshrining discrimination, an obvious mistake--the law allows me to spend an evening drinking too much, eating nothing but fish fingers and custard, and watching Jerry Springer reruns while saying mean things to my wife, but that's hardly "enshrining" such behavior, which implies that I must spend the evening being such an ass).

As to the point that "evangelical" is used in different ways, it's hardly news, though I think the distinctions he makes are more often theoretical than practical.  In my observation, not only is there a very strong correlation between the theological and the social/political/cultural classes of evangelical (which is to be expected), but most self-described evangelicals who are opposed to the S/P/C evangelicals tend to be very wobbly on the theological side of things. 

Here's a question for self-described evangelicals who support gay marriage that I think may illustrate the point: Should gay couples abstain from sex until marriage?

I would like to see answers from anyone on here who falls into that category, but from what I've seen elsewhere, the answer will be "no".  And that answer reveals that the goal is less about bringing homosexual relations into the traditional Christian understanding of sexual morality than it is to overturn traditional sexual moral teaching.

Here's a question for self-described evangelicals who support gay marriage that I think may illustrate the point: Should gay couples abstain from sex until marriage?

I would like to see answers from anyone on here who falls into that category, but from what I've seen elsewhere, the answer will be "no". 

Would they also say no, regarding heterosexual couples? If so, I don't see how that reveals anything other than that they do not feel abstinence before marriage is supported - not any other goal. 

Sorry you felt the article was childish and insulting. Certainly my intent by bringing it here, was not to do so.

"Would they also say no, regarding heterosexual couples? If so, I don't see how that reveals anything other than that they do not feel abstinence before marriage is supported - not any other goal."

That's precisely my point--I just think it's sharpened by asking it about newly-able-to-marry gay couples, because I think it's a point that likely hasn't even occurred to them.  The notion of some sort of "True Love Waits" evangelical campaign for gays is laughable, partly because of the general evangelical opposition to any homosexual actions, but also because the self-described evangelicals for gay marriage seem to have no theological commitment to any traditional Christian view of sexuality. 

I don't think you meant to be insulting, but the author of the blog post certainly did.  For example, this passage: "It matters not that Merritt and Powers’s argument is so supremely superior to Moorohler’s — anyone with a modicum of intellect can see that. Merritt and Powers present an airtight argument. It’s a stupid law, as most anyone can see, and it surely isn’t defensible by any biblical argument."

I suppose I could have some fun picking that apart in details (the assumption of total intellectual and moral superiority, the denigration of opposing views as the exclusive province of submorons, and the rejection of dialogue implied by the foregoing) but I'm tired so I'll leave it at that.

 but also because the self-described evangelicals for gay marriage seem to have no theological commitment to any traditional Christian view of sexuality. 

I think this might be part of the point he was making about theological evangelical positions, versus cultural. The theological evangelical position can make room for many different interpretations of biblical sexuality, including not placing much importance of it, compared with the grand scheme of conversion, activism, etc. The cultural evangelical position, really cannot be so fluid. That difference is where you start to get the EINO (for lack of a better term) statements... 

I don't really disagree with your impression of the rest of it, though I think it not intended to be insulting, I can see how it could be read that way - though, the argument presented against Merritt/Powers was very weak. This is not to say that Merritt/Powers were automatically right - I disagree with his assertion there - but the "Moorohler" rebuttal was pretty terrible, and mostly consisted of "you're not an evangelical, then." 


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