Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage

Elizabeth Dias has a feature-length article in Time magazine titled “Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage.” The usual suspects are brought forth as evidence of a shift among younger evangelicals: Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, Brandan Robertson, etc.

Nevertheless, I’m skeptical about the young “evangelicals” profiled in this piece. It is not even clear from the article whether we are dealing with bona fide evangelicals or those who are leaving evangelicalism. Can they in any meaningful sense be considered bellwethers for a movement defined by convictions that they have largely abandoned? I don’t think so. It is indeed telling that at Vines’s recent conference, “most of the panelists advocating change were not evangelical but from the mainline Protestant traditions.” That says just about everything you need to know.

Dias does make two rather astute theological observations:

1. The Question of Biblical Authority: Dias writes, “In many evangelical communities, the Bible itself is on trial… For many Evangelicals, the marriage debate isn’t really about marriage or families or sex—it is about the Bible itself.” This is absolutely correct. To accept homosexuality as a moral good is to deny the functional authority of the Bible. Evangelicals are not willing to surrender Scripture. To do so would be to surrender being an evangelical. On any definition of “evangelicalism,” biblical authority is a defining feature of the movement.

2. The Connection to Feminist Readings of Scripture: Dias rightly notes the connection between the gender issue and sexuality: “So far no Christian tradition has been able to embrace LGBT community without first changing its views about women.” This is right on. The issues are connected. Egalitarians seem to know this, and it is why they innovate complicated hermeneutical theories to try and say that they aren’t connected. But no one is buying it. The embrace of homosexuality as a moral good is almost always preceded by an embrace of egalitarian readings of scripture. This pattern is well-established in the mainlines. But it is also present among those who have been associated with the evangelical movement. Note, for example, the trajectory of Rob Bell’s theological journey. He led his church to embrace egalitarianism years before he came out in favor of gay marriage. If you are willing to suppress or revise the Bible’s teaching on gender, you are far more likely to be willing to do the same with the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.

Some other odds and ends from the article:

  • Matthew Vines does not come across as an evangelical in this piece. Rather, he comes across as someone willing to level the worst slanders against evangelicals. These words are particularly poisonous: “The LGBT issue has been on the most obvious forces behind the increasing loss of regard for Christianity in American culture at large… It’s like slavery and anti-Semitism, where the tradition got it totally wrong. It’s one of the church’s profound moral failures.” In these words, Vines reduces the church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on sexual ethics to bigotry and animus. In other words, Vines takes up the slurs of the enemies of the faith. He accepts and endorses the slanders that are regularly brought against Christians on this issue. He is contributing to the false narrative created by Christianity’s fiercest critics. These are not the words of a friend of the faith.
  • The Wheaton students who protested against Rosaria Butterfield are cited as evidence that evangelicals are shifting on this issue. But what does that protest really prove? Does it prove that evangelicalism is drifting on this issue? I think it is more likely evidence of drift among the student body at Wheaton.
  • Dias mischaracterizes the religious liberty cases that have recently been in the news. She writes: “The next big question is whether religious freedom will protect a faith group’s right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.” I don’t know of any evangelical individual or group that wants to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. To say that they do want to discriminate on that basis is to fundamentally misunderstand what evangelicals are saying. Dias includes one instance that reveals the mischaracterization: Wheaton has hired a celibate lesbian as one of its chaplains. Wheaton knows her orientation, and yet that doesn’t preclude her from employment. Why not? Because evangelicals aren’t trying to exclude same-sex attracted people from their ranks. To say that they are is to miss the point.

There’s much more that could be added to these reflections, but I’ll leave it there for now. Unfortunately, Dias’s article is behind a paywall. But here’s the link anyway if you want to buy access.

45 Responses to Inside the Evangelical Fight Over Gay Marriage

  1. Don Johnson January 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    I have found “a” faithful way of reading Scripture that does not classify all homosexual acts as sin. I accept that Scripture is inspired and authoritative for faith. I admit that all of the verses that reference homosexual acts of any sort put them in a negative light.

    • Tim Elliott January 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

      With all respect, Don, you have not found a “faithful” way of reading Scripture.

      • James Bradshaw January 17, 2015 at 9:20 am #

        Tim, have evangelicals found a way of reading Scripture that permits divorce? Christ seemed pretty clear on this to me, although I’m not a Bible scholar.

        • Ken Abbott January 17, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

          What is the whole counsel of Scripture on the matter, Mr. Bradshaw, bowing to your admitted lack of expertise? The words directly spoken by Christ do not have privileged status above those inspired elsewhere by the Spirit of Christ.

          • James Bradshaw January 17, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

            That’s not an answer, Ken. Let me rephrase. Can sincere Christians in good faith disagree over what the permissible grounds for divorce are?

            • Ken Abbott January 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

              Actually, the question answered your question. When one takes into consideration all of Scripture and properly applies the rules of hermeneutics, one finds the grounds for biblical divorce–adultery and abandonment, with nuances as to what constitutes the latter (domestic violence is often rolled into it, for instance, as it is a gross violation of the marital relationship, a dereliction of one’s duty to one’s spouse, if you will). This position is not unique to evangelicals.

              • Don Johnson January 18, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

                I recommend reading David Instone-Brewer on divorce. He is a 2nd temple scholar and there are many 1st century Jewish terms in the text. The direct reasons for divorce include adultery, abuse and neglect. The basic idea is to keep one’s vows.

    • Daryl Little January 16, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

      You keep saying that Don, but so far you’ve never even hinted at what that might be.

      Are we to believe you on faith or will you ever say “Like so…”

    • Rick Wilson January 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

      If you’re coming up with a new way of reading Scripture after 2,000 years of Church history, I’m putting my money on “not faithful” as the classification of your views. Changing the plain meaning of Scripture is a means of not viewing it as inspired or authoritative. You’re not Evangelical.

    • Don Johnson January 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      The very short form is 2 steps: 1) See “The Bible Now” by Friedman and Dolansky in the chapter on homosexuality where they interpret Torah and show the homosexual prohibition is a Jewish Identity marker, like not eating pork. Step 2 is to realize that both Jesus and Paul were practicing Jews that kept Torah, see Acts 21. In keeping Torah, they would not have required gentiles to keep any Jewish Identity marker type things.

      • Shaun DuFault January 17, 2015 at 1:27 am #

        Yes, and then we simple ignore 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10, Romans 1, Mark 10:6-9, which is based on creation not on “Jewish identity marker”,

        Step 3) Go back to Scripture and remember that Friedman and Dolansky have an agenda.

        • Don Johnson January 17, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

          I said this is the very short form. 1 Cor 5 prohibiting sex with one’s stepmother applies to all believers because of the Jerusalem council decision in Acts 15 prohibiting sexual immorality, so all the sex laws in the Mosaic covenants carry over for gentile believers except the male homosex acts prohibition. So there is no slippery slope.

          That translations mistranslate some important words in 1 Cor 6:8, 1 Tim 1:10 should come as no surprise. Once you see that Paul was Torah observant and see what Torah actually teaches, you will see that he could not have written what some think he wrote. So yes, Paul was against exploitative sex, but no, he could not have been against all gentile male homosex acts as it is sometimes translated. Scripture is a progressive revelation.

          Romans 1 is about people who do sex is excess and go beyond their natural opposite sex inclinations, for example, during an orgy. Notice it mentions females when this is the only place in Scripture such are mentioned. Again, Paul agreed with Torah.

          Mark 10 and Matt 19 is Jesus responding to Pharisee’s misinterpretation of Torah in the areas of marriage and divorce. Jesus corrects seven misinterpretations they had.

    • Tom Buck January 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

      Would you please explain how you can read Scripture in a “faithful” way if your reading of it no longer takes the original meaning to be the present day meaning? Is it possible that 20 years from now there could be a “faithful” reading that would return to the original meaning?

      • Don Johnson January 18, 2015 at 4:09 am #

        I think the meaning I propose IS the original meaning, which was Jewish 1st century. By the 2nd century the church was gentilized and some original Jewish context was lost.

        • Tim Elliott January 19, 2015 at 11:18 am #

          Don,
          It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is…

  2. Ian Shaw January 16, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    It would appear that those that are trying to state the “changing opinions of evangelicals”, haven’t a clue regarding the differences between mainstream protestant traditions and evangelicals.

    • Ryan Davidson January 17, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

      Ian,

      I’m not sure what the best terminology is, but it does seem that there’s a fairly sharp divide on many of these cultural issues between Northern evangelicals and Southern evangelicals.

      The former live in environments where evangelicals are a distinct minority, where the church has to be able to interact with the culture meaningfully and respectfully on these kinds of issues. Further, Northern evangelicals expect their churches to take a pragmatic approach to social issues, unless it’s abundantly clear that the Gospel is at stake.

      By contrast, Southern evangelicals largely live in a culture where they represent a majority. Therefore, there’s no local pressure to interact with the culture on various social issues, and churches lose nothing by taking a hard-line stance. In fact, taking a hard-line stance may be the less risky option in much of the South.

      You can see this divide through a number of lenses. Many have looked at the 2004 and 2008 Presidential election results. In Northern states, there was a 26-point shift toward Barack Obama relative to John Kerry among evangelicals. By contrast, evangelicals in Southern states voted for John McCain more reliably than they had for George W. Bush in 2004. The North-v-South difference ended up representing a 35-40-point shift.

      The “the Bible is clear on this issue” approach may yet work in Nashville; it’s a recipe for disaster for any evangelical church in Chicago, where about 60% of evangelicals under 35 believe that their churches should affirm committed same-sex relationships.

      I say this because our cultural environs affect how we handle these issues. And there’s a much sharper regional difference on this issue than there is on other social issues. In Chicago, affirmation of committed same-sex relationships is the default position; the burden of persuasion rests on those who disagree. I suspect that the “third way” option advocated by Ken Wilson will take hold in most large, non-denominational evangelical churches in the Midwest and West (e.g., Willow Creek, Saddleback, etc.). I suspect that change will come much more slowly in the South and in the SBC. This issue will likely split the PCA. After all, most Northern PCA churches have effectively had women leaders for years (who are “commissioned” to office rather than “ordained”). But I see no easy way for Northern PCA churches to split the baby on this issue. As a church planter in Chicago once remarked, “You can be one step behind Willow Creek and still find success, but it’s ‘lights out’ if you fall two steps behind.”

      Vines and Robertson aren’t really trying to persuade the SBC leadership in Louisville on this issue. The message is more likely to find a home in major Northern non-denominational mega-churches, where folks are already inclined to embrace this message. When I attended the GCN conference last week, I ran into pastors and leaders from a number of major evangelical mega-churches. Many were there at their churches’ behest.

      I’m not suggesting that I agree with Vines. I don’t, at least not entirely. I believe that his argument for affirmation has major flaws. But like it or not, this train is barreling down the tracks. And conclusory statements about this not being an intramural debate aren’t going to cut it. For most major evangelical churches outside of the South (and for a few in the South), the questions do not revolve around whether to move on this issue, but on when and how to move on it.

      • Ken Abbott January 17, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

        I’m curious–in what circumstances is the Willow Creek model now regarded by theologically conservative bodies as a “success,” as seems to be indicated by the Chicago church-planter you cite. Not even Hybels himself buys into it now.

        To the extent that any generation of Christians seeks to adapt its preaching to the taste of Christianity’s cultured despisers, that generation is sliding into apostasy–and low views of the authority of Scripture always promote apostasy. I know of no one better than Machen to read on this matter.

      • John Kreiner January 19, 2015 at 12:56 am #

        If the train is rolling and can’t be stopped, churches will have to choose to resist or not. Though the pressures are from within and not without, these are not dissimilar to the pressures the Roman Empire churches faced to conform, homosexuality certainly being one of the issues. Or in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, where all Elijah’s efforts could not change the prevailing culture, but there were still people who did not bow the knee to Baal. In these cases, engaging the culture meaningfully was not really much of an option, but faithfulness to God’s Word doesn’t always include that. “Becoming all things to all men” doesn’t include sinning for certain.
        If the ultimate issue is fidelity to God’s word, and not how to survive as a particular church, then it becomes an issue of resisting the cultural norm, either with hope or without it (in this life). Maybe it’s just an issue of people who want to follow the Bible on this will have to abandon the megachurches. As far as Northern evangelicals saying they want to be pragmatic except when “the Gospel is at stake”, when I Corinithans 6 says that unrepentant non-celibate gays “will not enter the kingdom of God”, then the gospel is definitely at stake.

  3. Sandra Stewart January 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    I once asked Denny if he believed that you could remove a verse from it’s cultural, historical and linguistic background and have it still be true, I did not get an answer. I do.
    There is disagreement that being homosexual is inherently sinful but even if it were, there is no gradation of sin. We are all sinful and if we were not there would be no need for Jesus. My favorite, Agnoima ignorance of what one ought to have known, a sin you do not know you have committed.
    I am some what doubtful concerning the poll and as Denny pointed out indirectly unless questions are asked in such a way that they elicit a valid response they are meaningless. I have done enough research to know. The one research group I have some faith in
    https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/618-america-s-change-of-mind-on-same-sex-marriage-and-lgbtq-rights
    Evangelical and I count myself as one comprise about 8% of the population, transgender individuals about 5% and G&L I do not have reliable numbers but because of etiology I would be willing to bet it is in the 5% range.
    The predominant culture is changing and that is and will increase in the years to come. Many/Most LGBT hate evangelicals, and with good reason. There are far too many who will never know Christ as a direct result.
    If anyone wishes to see the study I did on homosexuality and the bible I can direct you to that. I went back to the original language and did the best I can with chronological and cultural

  4. dr. james willingham January 16, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    Yes, the lifestyle of LGBT is sinful; it is wrong. Such relationships will lead and have led to adoptions with the consequent confusion of children as to gender, especially as they enter puberty. And right behind the LGBT stand the Pedophiles and the Advocates of Incest using the same arguments in order to seek acceptance in society. We might add the Advocates of Polygamy, Polygyny, Orgies, and Beastiality are also in line. Excellent ways to destroy human society. Ever wonder what produces serial killers of women. One lady wrote a Master’s thesis on the subject. Her findings were primarily Momma bedding their sons along with cruel treatment. Natural and supernatural point to the real relationship between one man and one woman, namely, intimacy. Find the person with whom you can achieve intimacy, and you will find your soul and other needs are satisfied.

  5. David A Booth January 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    This may be a good time to remind ourselves that the Bible is NOT on trial – we are. The question of the trial is entirely straightforward: Will we love the praise of God more than the praise of man?

  6. Esther O'Reilly January 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    Actually, the correct answer to “Evangelicals want to discriminate on the basis of orientation alone” is “Maybe some of them do, which may not be all bad.” For example, a Christian college may have legitimate concerns about allowing a gay or lesbian applicant to share a room with someone of the same gender. Even if the applicant is celibate, it’s not fair to a roommate for the living space to be shared, as it often is on college campuses. Similarly, there are natural issues that arise when it comes to putting together a sports team. There are also arguments and questions that could be raised against allowing a gay man to become a pastor. Having a sexual orientation towards men is naturally going to affect your ability to lead men in the way pastors are called to do, even if you accept the biblical teaching on homosexuality. So actually, some Christians do have concerns like these, and they’re legitimate concerns worth discussing, not dismissing. Since liberals are going to label everything we do as “bigotry” anyway, there’s no point in waving good questions like these away in some vain effort to appear non-bigoted.

    • Nathan Cesal January 16, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      Thank you. You came to my mind instantly when I read that Denny thinks no evangelical wants to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Maybe Denny doesn’t think you’re evangelical.

      • Esther O'Reilly January 16, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

        It’s far from just me. I heard a Christian podcast where a girl said a solid Christian college Denny would probably support had discriminated against her on the basis of sexual orientation. And if you think such ideas really are paranoid and bigoted, I would simply point you to Brandon Ambrosino’s piece on the sexual relationship he started at Jerry Falwell’s university because he was overwhelmingly attracted to his roommate, even though the roommate initially wasn’t inclined towards homosexual activity.

  7. buddyglass January 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    I would be shocked if Time’s overall thesis were false, i.e. that young “legit” evangelicals are increasingly okay with the secular state legally recognizing same-sex marriages. Bad examples of “legit” evangelicals (Vines et. al.) notwithstanding.

    I don’t get the sense there’s been much wavering in terms of whether same-sex marriages are legitimate in God’s eyes. The shift is more with respect to what the state should allow given it’s an extension of a citizenry that’s divided over which “marriages” merit legal standing.

  8. Andrew Alladin January 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    Certain Hipster Evangelicals – Young, Expensively Educated, Starbucks and Whole Foods Loving Foodies, Affluent, Mostly White, and Not Employed in Blue-Collar Professions – are having this debate with themselves. The mainline Protestants who abandoned the faith a very long time ago are merely instructing them how to do it gracefully.

    Meanwhile, in parts of the world where being Christian can actually get you beheaded, tortured, and whipped; where churches are blown up or burnt down; where merely having a bible is punishable by mob justice – there is no debate about homosexual behavior or gay marriage. Christians in those places don’t have time to feel self-conscious about appearing intolerant, small-minded, hateful. They don’t have time to worry about impressing secular elites in the corridors of power. There is no Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, South Park, Stephen Colbert, or Neil DeGrasse Tyson to feel inferior to for Christians in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, etc.

    Let the Hipster Evangelical worry about their prestige, intellectual pedigrees, and cultural influence.

    • Ryan Davidson January 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      So, I guess you’re admitting that conservative evangelicalism has become more of a cultural phenomenon: a religion for older, less pedigreed, middle-class, Wal-Mart shoppers who don’t work in creative-class professions. I suspect that those cultural biases have as much of an effect on the views of “true evangelicals” as the cultural biases of those whom you criticize.

      • Andrew Alladin January 16, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

        “conservative evangelicalism” and “hipster evangelicalism” are both cultural byproducts 20th century America. Nigerian or Indonesian Christians would find little in common with Christian Right attitudes on welfare policies, but they would also find little in common with Hipster Evangelicalism’s obsessions with being seen as members of the “creative class”.

    • Nathan Cesal January 16, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

      Gays are persecuted similarly in the parts of the world you refer to.

    • Jeffery Hunt January 17, 2015 at 2:27 am #

      Those persecuted christians also dont have time to write out mean-spirited blog comments pointed at their brothers in Christ. But I guess we do ;-).

  9. Jeremy Erickson January 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    I do think it’s worth pointing out that evangelicals discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation alone is something that definitely happens. The article mentioned Julie Rodgers (though perhaps not by name?) as an example of someone who was hired by an evangelical institution despite her sexual orientation, and I’m aware of a few others. This is a good thing. However, I’m pretty sure I actually know more people who have been denied jobs or fired on the basis of their sexuality even though they shared evangelical convictions about sexual ethics. In several cases of people I know well personally, this was explicitly acknowledged by the decision makers in question. In other cases, it has not been acknowledged, but there is cause for reasonable suspicion that this is what happened.

    I would consider naming names if the friends I’m talking about were willing to be specific publicly. There are decently good reasons not to, though. It would hurt good people at the same organizations that committed injustice, for example, and would probably create a lot more career problems for my friends. Suffice it to say, I know more than I can say in a public blog comment.

    So I think we need to be careful about how we talk about this and who we defend. This isn’t to say that we never should defend evangelical organizations; I myself have publicly defended InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on account of doing things the right. However, the criticism that some people have is more justified than we might like to admit.

    (She may, however, be mischaracterizing the particular cases recently in the news. I haven’t paid for the article, so I haven’t been able to read the quote in context.)

  10. Ryan Davidson January 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    A few points of clarification.

    First, the authority of Scripture is not at issue here. Rather, the issue lies with the appropriate hermeneutic one should use in interpreting Scripture. Sure, it’s probably hard to reach Vines’ conclusions if one relies on the “instruction book” hermeneutic that has become predominant in certain evangelical quarters. But there have always been a substantial number of evangelicals who reject that hermeneutical approach, and have done so while upholding Scripture’s authority.

    Second, the reference to “feminist readings” strikes me as a bit spurious. There are thoroughly evangelical approaches to Scripture that support the notion that women are eligible to serve in leadership positions in the church. One need not run to feminist or queer critiques to arrive at such conclusions. After all, I’d guess that about half of all evangelicals in the US attend churches that ordain women women to leadership positions.

    I recognize that one could never reach Vines’s conclusions if one held to Denny’s hermeneutic, especially on the question of whether Scripture teaches an inherent gender hierarchy. But that hardly disqualifies Vines, Robertson, etc. as evangelicals. The New Calvinist movement and SBTS do not define evangelicalism any more than Fuller does. This is an intramural discussion, and it’s important that we be sure to treat each other (and each others’ views) with grace and integrity.

    • Denny Burk January 16, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

      This is not an intramural discussion. Not by a long shot.

    • Rick Wilson January 17, 2015 at 10:27 am #

      When they come to us and say “No, we really do respect the authority of Scripture, we just interpret it differently” this is where we must stand our ground. If you want to interpret Scripture in this way then we do not have the same definition of the authority of Scripture. We are not on the same team, you’ve left Evangelicalism. We must never concede to this tactic. And truthfully we must go back where necessary and stand that same ground on gender roles or this is the inevitable result. Speaking from the YRRM, we are doing just that.

  11. dr. james willingham January 16, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    If belief in scripture, regardless of the title given to those who believe it, is merely a cultural phenomena, then, pray tell, what moved people at the end of the Middle Ages to seek out and pay exorbitant prices for copies of the Scripture, of people copying the pulpit Bibles, of people willing to make any sacrifice to get to know the Bible and then making every effort to conform to its teachings as best they understood them? There is such a thing as manipulation even in sexual mores, so what if someone planned to bring about the moral breakdown of American society in order to destroy the great stronghold of the Christian Faith in the modern era? In fact, it has taken very careful, even meticulous, planning to bring to pass what we see occurring. Bella Dodd, former chairperson of the Communist Party USA in the thirties and forties said they planned to infiltrate the ministry of the Roman Catholics as well as the Protestants in order to create moral confusion and the resulting problems associated with such. Today we behold folks practicing things that would have been unthinkable except in the criminal element of society long ago. Our problem is few, if any, really do research on where practices are initiated and encouraged and why. Consider how I studied under a leading theoretician for World Communism (call it Marxism) back in the sixties at a small state school in the Midwest, a fellow whom a scholar from Princeton called “an unsung Marxist hero.” An anticommunist fellow, one of the real ones who had masters from Yale and Columbia plus a Ph.D. from a seminary and who had been invited to join the communist conspiracy while a student at Columbia, told me that the fellow wrote books which were read by the fellows who ruled the communist countries so they would know how to govern them. Our son at a local state university started to take a course in Marxian theorists. He came home and laid the course outline on my desk and said, “Look! Dad, I am going to study your professor.” He later dropped the course, saying the whole thing was falling apart, forgetting the reality that the whole thing was controlled in the Western financial centers..If any one wants to study, the amount of volumes should be around a quarter of a million. After all, even conspirators like to brag on themselves even if indirectly. The theology they hate is biblical theology and all who seek seriously to follow it.

  12. brian darby January 17, 2015 at 3:05 am #

    Dr. Berk stated :This is absolutely correct. To accept homosexuality as a moral good is to deny the functional authority of the Bible.”

    I truly do not even understand how this is consistently applied in the modern era. For example the cause of disease and the remediation of disease. This is not exhaustive and if really off the cuff, but illness in scripture seems to be caused by, sin and the fall overall, in particular illness / disease is a test from God or to prove something to Satan such as Job, some manifestations of mental illness were often attributed to demonic possession or other some such nonsense. Disease could be for the glory of God, to show the power of God in miraculous healing, to prove that the Lord Jesus’ teachings were true and he was / is God. Some of the remedies for disease in scripture is prayer, anointing, repentance, miraculous intervention, anointing of the elders, drinking some wine, sacrifice an offering etc.

    In any practical day to day application of such biblical responses to disease actually have very little observable results that are consistent, when compared to such conceptions of fallen humans such as antibiotics, anti viral etc. The bible discusses weather prediction and where the bible speaks to a science the bible is the authority for example.

    Matthew 16 “2 But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3″And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”

    We now have Doppler radar weather models, satellites etc that actually help save thousands of lives a year and also let us plan efficient use of scarce resources etc. The Bible really does not discuss such subjects. I really dont fully understand what a Biblical world view really is in practical application. I really want to understand.

    • Brian Levie January 23, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

      Brian
      Matt 16:1 tells us that the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He contrasts their ability to interpret the weather with their inability to interpret the signs of the times. Jesus recognized they were trying to test him (i.e., goad him into performing a miracle) and rebukes them. Predicting the weather is not the point of the passage. This text does not support the point you’re trying to make. I believe you are sincere, but if you really want to understand how practical a biblical worldview is in the modern world, a good place to start is by learning how to properly interpret the biblical text.

  13. Christiane Smith January 17, 2015 at 4:03 am #

    I have no doubt that there are people who are attracted to the same sex who did not CHOOSE this in their lives. I also have no doubt that among these people there are those who choose to live celibate lives for religious reasons. These people are NOT ‘sinners’ in the eyes of God, although for many other Christians, they would be judged as ‘sinners’ simply because they are attracted to the same sex.

    The Church owes these people Christian ministry to affirm to them that if one does not freely choose to sin, then they are not guilty of sin.
    The Church owes these people Christian ministry to affirm that they are our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and our children.
    The Church owes these people Christian ministry to surround them with the support of a community of faith where they are accepted as full members ‘in communion’ with the whole Church and with Christ. The Church is to keep its vulnerable at its heart and surround them with loving-kindness.

    As to those who have freely adopted the same-sex life-style, and who live with partners, and may be raising a family, the Church can at least still recognize that these people need the ministry, especially to affirm the goodness of any unselfish giving that leads one to care for another in sickness, and ministry to affirm that the Church does embrace the children as Our Lord would also have embraced them Himself.

    The ‘labels’ we have placed on ‘the others’ are no longer useful when the real work of Our Lord among all people is begun.
    There is only this:
    we are wounded, and He can heal our wounds and bring us home.

  14. Meg I. February 11, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    Thank you, Denny. You are one of my “go to guys” when I want things evaluated in the light of Scripture. I live in Okinawa, Japan and just received the TIME Magazine yesterday with this article. This was a good reminder to me of how a news article can be made to say whatever it wants to – given its agenda (world view). I attended the ERLC Conference in late October. One aspect that stood out to me is that men like Christopher Yuan or Sam Alberry have strong Bible based life stories that were not mentioned at all in TIME’s article. There are other men and women choosing to live as they do.

  15. Brian Wiele February 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Denny — I know you posted this several weeks ago, but I just read it today as I was tracking responses to the Time Magazine article. I was disappointed to hear you affirm Dias’ woefully uninformed statement about gender issues and egalitarianism. For centuries there have been evangelicals who have stood strong for the biblical view of God using both men and women in the proclamation of the good news. I commend to you the work of Mimi Haddad, the President of Christians for Biblical Equality, from whom I quote: “Egalitarians in fact see mentors in people like Catherine Booth, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Frances Willard, A. J. Gordon, Katharine Bushnell, William Baxter Godbey, Amanda Smith, Fredrik Franson, Sojourner Truth, B. T. Roberts, and Pandita Ramabai. Our theological moorings, as egalitarians, are directly linked to the first wave of feminists—people whose passion for Scripture, evangelism, and justice shaped the golden era of missions in the 1800s.” I am a pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church who believes that when God called women like Deborah and Huldah to serve Him in leadership and proclamation in former times it was not some strange aberration or conciliation to the lack of capable men. Nothing has changed… except the views of some of his followers.

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