Gushee is no martyr

Matthew Franck excoriates David Gushee’s coming-out in favor of gay marriage. In particular, Franck criticizes the suggestion that Gushee is some kind of a martyr. He writes:

Gushee gives us bad anthropology, shallow theology, and uncharitable ethics, but impeccable social fashion for today’s world. He also—and this is not central to his argument, but appears to be essential to his opinion of himself—makes a repeated comparison of himself and his like-minded Christian friends to the brave leaders of the American civil rights movement a half century ago, and even to the martyred hero of Christian resistance to Nazism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. That is simply appalling, coming from a man who is now only in danger of being lionized, not fed to the lions, tortured and executed like Bonhoeffer, or attacked with dogs and firehoses…

But Gushee is certainly full of high self-love. In his own eyes he is a brave heir to Bonhoeffer’s legacy, prepared to lose friendships among the hopelessly retrogade, the bitter clingers to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles as the church has always understood them. The dark fate that awaits the courageous David Gushee consists of major newspaper features, interviews with celebrity journalists, acclaim from his academic peers, and book-signing parties in our best progressive bookstores across the country. My, what a martyrdom.

Ouch. Read the rest here.


  • Ed Stevens

    This reminds me of a rather lively discussion I had with my son’s girlfriend about gay marriage over the weekend. Her sister is a christian, goes to church, studies the bible, and is generally a wonderful person and is a lesbian. My sister is also a lesbian and an absolutely wonderful woman. The centering point of our disagreement was that I thought my sister was living in sin and she didn’t think her’s was. I’m a bit surprised that Mr. Franck’s rebuttal didn’t hit on Mr. Gushee’s experience both locally with gay neighbors/friends and his sister being a lesbian. That would seem to be a pretty significant area of his opinion on homosexuality. Things can get much more complicated when you have a gay family member you love.

    • Christiane Smith

      Hi ED,
      I believe that Franck is associated with the Witherspoon organization. So he likely is going to reflect their values. I had never heard of him but I had heard of the Witherspoon people so I assumed he was a part of that viewpoint.

      It has been mentioned that Franck is a Catholic, but I believe he may not exactly be in sympathy with the Church’s current mission to re-evaluate how it can best relate to and serve its gay and lesbian members. I would consider him to be a ‘conservative’ politically and I think he may be what is called a ‘traditionalist’ in the Catholic world . . . these people are not usually in sync with Pope Francis these days, but are more likely to be aligned with evangelical conservatives in their thinking on social issues.

      I may be wrong. I would welcome correction if I am.

  • Ryan Davidson

    While I don’t agree with Gushee, I’m not sure that Franck proffers anything close to a persuasive response. In fact, Franck’s response is precisely the kind of alarmist hyperbole that causes Gushee’s position to appear more credible than it is. After all, if opponents of same-sex marriage develop a reputation for sounding off in unreasonable and uncharitable ways, people will come to believe that their positions are also unreasonable and uncharitable.

  • Roy Fuller

    Well, this is post number three on the topic of Gushee (who, according to the first post, is hopefully known to few in the evangelical community). The amount of attention Gushee has generated with his newly found and stated position on homosexuality would suggest that more than a few evangelicals are paying attention. You cannot have it both ways Either he is a insignificant, ex-evangelical who should be ignored by evangelicals, or he is noteworthy due to his past and present work. Which is it?

    How does Franck know that Gushee is “certainly full of high self-love?” Ryan is correct, this post adds little to the debate, and seems more like a slap at someone who seems to be striking a nerve among some evangelicals.

    • Ryan Davidson


      Unless I’m mistaken, Franck isn’t even an evangelical. He’s a traditionalist Catholic who’s affiliated with Witherspoon (a de facto Catholic organization).

      • Christiane Smith

        Hi RYAN,
        I believe that the Witherspoon Institute has no direct connections to the Vatican politically or otherwise. Witherspoon reflects some beliefs that are not a part of Catholic teaching. That is my understanding.

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