“Gay Christian” explains why she now accepts same-sex marriage

I just read another public account of someone who is walking away from what the Bible teaches about marriage. Former Wheaton employee and self-identified “gay Christian” Julie Rodgers explains why she has embraced gay marriage. She has written about this previously, and I have responded previously. Nevertheless, this latest account is also worth some reflection. She writes:

Your beliefs don’t shift in an instant. We research and agonize, bouncing between hope and despair, until one day we hear ourselves say something a former version of ourselves never would have said. That’s how I came to support same-sex marriage in the church. When I came out as a teenager in Baptist circles in the Bible Belt, I never would’ve imagined God would still like me if I married a woman one day. And I want to try to explain, in theological(ish) terms, how I ended up here.

She goes on to tell the story, which I won’t rehash in full here. I will simply encourage you to read it for yourself. I offer here a short list of reflections on what she has written:

1. The apostles teach us that there is no greater joy than to see brothers and sisters walking faithfully in the truth (3 John 4). Likewise, they also teach us that there is almost nothing more heartbreaking than to see someone falling away from it (1 Tim. 1:19; 4:1). This issue of homosexuality is so fraught with emotion and pathos, and it only adds grief to grief to see so many running their faith aground over it. Such a public falling away can only cause sadness. There can be no joy in it.

2. Rodgers perceives that church leaders keep moving the goalposts on what Christian faithfulness looks like for same-sex attracted Christians. Although I don’t entirely agree with her account of things, I think she is right that some evangelicals have not always taught with biblical and theological clarity on this issue. We’ve been clear that homosexuality is immoral. But we haven’t always been clear about how a Christian can struggle well against unwanted same-sex attraction. But that is no argument for abandoning the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Rather, it is an argument for us to speak and to love and to minister in ways that reflect what the Bible actually teaches. Jesus’ teaching really is good for us—all of us. It is the path to life (Matt. 7:14). Abandoning what Jesus teaches us about marriage will not lead people to Jesus but away from him (Matthew 19:4-6).

3. Rodgers’s explanation—like her previous one—is long on personal experience and short on Bible. If she has a reasoned biblical rationale for her views, she doesn’t really share it. In fact, she says that when she held to the traditional view, it wasn’t based as much on biblical teaching as it was on her trust in what certain Christian leaders were telling her. When she stopped trusting those leaders, she stopped holding the traditional view. In other words, it doesn’t sound like her former faithfulness on the issue was rooted very deeply in God’s word. That may have something to do with her recent declension from it. In any case, we can draw a lesson from this. All of us need to have our consciences bound to the explicit teaching of God’s word, not to the traditions of men. Again, this is an argument for greater biblical and theological clarity in the life of the church, not less.

4. Rodgers connects this issue to the long-standing gender controversy among evangelicals. She reasons that if evangelicals are going to allow for egalitarian readings of scripture, then they must accept gay-affirming readings as well. She writes:

Thoughtful Christians have taught that all of Scripture points to a theology of marriage that involves one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment with a green light for sex in that context alone. This is based on the idea that the Bible is our ultimate authority, but it’s complicated by the fact that we bring an interpretive lens to the Bible. When we support women’s equality in all areas of leadership in the church, we trust one interpretive lens over another. Both sides are sincere Christians and both view the Bible as authoritative––they just differ on how the Bible, which was written in a patriarchal context in the 1st century, should apply to empowered women in the 21st century.

Complementarians have been saying for decades that egalitarian readings of scripture will eventually give way to gay-affirming readings. While we are thankful that many egalitarians never made this leap, we cannot help but observe that their theological children have no problem making the connection. And they are doing so based on reading strategies that they learned from their egalitarian mentors. This was inevitable.

5. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1). He can always reach his children wherever they are. He will speak. They will hear his voice and come to him (John 10:3-5). Permanent departure from his word only leads to desolation in the end. I am hoping and praying that the departures we are seeing now will only be temporary—that the Lord would eventually get through to them. His patience and mercy are more vast than we can imagine. Perhaps the Lord would be pleased to draw back those who have turned aside. That is how I will be praying anyway.

7 Responses to “Gay Christian” explains why she now accepts same-sex marriage

  1. Christiane Smith February 4, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    “This issue of homosexuality is so fraught with emotion and pathos . . . ”

    At the heart of any ministry to persons who suffer, it is good to see the use of ‘the language of respect’
    . . . ‘respect’ not in the sense of approving what is seen as behavior that is not accepted by the Church,
    but rather ‘a language of respect’
    that conveys a sense of compassion for the humanity of those involved
    . . . that they are more than their ‘sin’
    . . . that God loves them
    . . . and that they possess the dignity of any human person who is made in the image of God.
    Because of this, they are deserving of the respect of those who would seek to minister to them in the fullness of Christ-like charity.

  2. Andrew Alladin February 5, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    Julie Rogers: “These couples exemplify a vibrant faith fueled by a man from Nazareth who embodied love and forgiveness in the way He lived and died.”

    But “the man from Nazareth” also demanded repentance, holiness, taking up your cross and following Him, and “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…”, and “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Forgiveness and Love coexists with Repentance and Holiness.

    The recent embrace of Social Justice issues has allowed many Christians – not just Millennials – to take a large array of sins and virtues off the table for what constitutes righteous behavior and replace them with Liberal Secular sins and virtues. Sexual morality is out but fighting Climate Change is in. Christian morality is now to be defined in terms of fighting Global Poverty, Mass Incarceration, Racial Inequality, and Immigration Enforcement.

    Redefining what the Bible says about sexual behavior and marriage will inevitably mean redefining Heaven, Hell, Miracles, the Atonement, and even Jesus himself. Which is where so many Mainline Protestant churches have ended up.

  3. Jay R Walker February 8, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    Another issue with Rodgers’ position and that of many younger people is the notion that theological interpretation should happen “in community”. As someone who is 60 years old and obviously raised and educated with a completely different mindset, this idea of interpreting the Bible in community is a tragic presupposition that needs to be rejected.

    She wants us to “make decisions about LGBT people” in the church by including them in “the community of interpretation.” Instead of seeing “LGBT people” as lost and in need of redemption and the full Gospel preached to all of their lives, she wants them to be teaching us.

    Her tears, prayers. vulnerable pleas, and broken heartedness ought to be toward the broken LGBT community — which is a counterfeit community/fellowship that needs to be transformed by the Church that has been and is being built by Christ Himself.

    We all must submit our entire lives and selves to Christ as Living Sacrifices, to be transformed and renewed in our minds and thinking, so that we think God’s thoughts after His Word. We must never place the Word of God under submission to the world or man-made reasoning.

    It seems like Rodgers (Like Hill and others) has made herself comfortable with the term “sexual minorities” by following after the pattern of the world. I pray that she would resubmit her thoughts, desires, and emotions to the Living God of the Bible, sacrificing her plans, schemes, and sexual mores on the altar, then with full commitment seek to know, love, and do His Will, as it is written in His Word.

    • Rob Gates February 9, 2016 at 10:40 am #

      Well Said Jay!

    • Clarke Morledge February 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

      The problem, Jay, is that theological interpretation is ALWAYS done “in community,” whether we like it or not. As Protestants, we may say we believe in sola scriptura, by Scripture alone, but often put up the mistaken idea that we believe in nuda scripture, by Scripture naked, with no context of community. It just does not work that way.

      Julie’s point is that the experience of community is central to how we interpret Scripture. The problem is when the community (and its leadership) fails to uphold the entire truth of God’s Word, and we must confess that the church has really failed same-sex attracted people for years.

      I agree with you (and Denny) that Julie’s response is long on experience and short on the Bible. Got that. But fundamentally for people like Julie, the issue is trust. When trust in church leaders is broken, it is extremely difficult… and it takes a long time… to heal those broken areas of trust.

      Until the church is able to demonstrate in action that we really believe that genuine intimacy can be had at the local church level, for celibate same-sex attracted people, we will continue to have folks like Julie who will give it a go for awhile, and then they eventually bolt when they sense that the bonds of trust have fragmented.

      So, yes, I would agree that there is repentance due on Julie’s part. But likewise, there is repentance due on the part of those who hold to the church’s historic position on the biblical design for marriage, and yet fail to create safe, caring communities of trust for celibate people in our local churches.

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