THE SOFTENING EVANGELICAL CENTER
by James Gibson


Walking Around the Truth


It is difficult to read the pages of Christianity Today these days without getting an uneasy feeling. Both the news and editorial sections of this flagship publication of North American evangelicalism reflect the center of a movement which, while continuing to flex considerable rhetorical muscle through various statements and declarations, is growing increasingly soft in its actual practice of the faith.

A case in point is the recent CT editorial, "Walking in the Truth" (September 4, 2000). Apparently the editors do not think it proper for evangelicals within mainline denominations to become overly giddy about their recent victories over the radical same sex movement. Throughout the spring and summer, the lavender lobby tried and failed to force its agenda of moral relativism upon Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians. The editors correctly point out that simply winning arguments at conventions will not make the issue go away. However, in calling for what they consider "compassion for homosexuals," they expose themselves as having been duped by the radical same sex movement and its allies in the secular media.

While it is true that advocates of same sex behavior are "far more visible and vocal" than in the past, their movement is hardly gaining momentum. In fact, it has been losing steam since 1992, when The United Methodist Church, the largest mainline body currently confronted with the issue, concluded after four years of study that homosexual practice was still "incompatible with Christian teaching" (i.e. still a sin, despite militant efforts to force the church to say otherwise). That is the same conclusion the denomination has rendered every four years since. Other mainline denominations (with the exception of the United Church of Christ, which capitulated to the culture before the beginning of the last decade) have consistently followed suit.

Movements caught in the throes of death naturally tend to become "more visible and vocal." Hence, the editorsí agreement with Chicago Tribune writer Steve Kloehn that "the controversy is only beginning" is both misleading and inexcusably accommodating. But even more disturbing is the editorialís use of the politically correct language of popular culture. It is laced with phrases such as "homosexual people," "homosexual men and women" and, worst of all, "homosexaul Christians." It has become quite common to use the term "homosexual" as descriptive of persons, but that is a cultural misnomer. "Homosexual" is an adjective describing a behavior, not a person or group of persons. When the Christian community begins adopting the cultureís misappropriation of the term, it has already lost the argument. Moreover, when the name "Christian" is so carelessly attached to it, it is tantamount to the Church blessing same sex behavior.

Also careless is the editorialís unnecessary and misinformed indictment of so-called "ex-gay" ministries. "Evangelicals have much to learn from the Roman Catholic ministry known as Courage, which measures success more by chaste lives than by changed orientations," the editorial claims. "We affirm that God does heal wounded sexual identities, but we recognize that such healing often involves some of the most difficult psychological work imaginable. In a fallen world, insisting that all homosexual Christians [sic] must change their orientation is as reckless as the sexual Leftís stubborn denial that anybody can make such changes."

If the editors had bothered to do a little research into evangelical "ex-gay" ministries, rather than accept the false and distorted picture painted by militant same sex advocates and the secular press, they would have found most of them to be more holistic in their approach. The testimonies of "ex-gays" who have been transformed through such ministries bear witness to the fact that the issue goes far beyond "sexual orientation" or "sexual identity" (themselves myths created by the militant same sex movement) to the very core of oneís being; to the need for forgiveness and grace. "Chaste lives" and "changed orientations" are minor details compared to the overall goal of any Christian ministry: redemption and transformation through Jesus Christ.

What is evident from this editorial is the softening evangelical center is more concerned with getting good press than it is with standing in the truth. Rather than engage the issue of same sex behavior from a biblical and theological perspective, the center is willing to substitute a misleading, misguided and misinformed sophistry in an attempt to illustrate that evangelicals are really not such bad people. They are perfectly willing to allow the militant same sex movement to continue to push its agenda upon the church, despite Godís clear and unequivocal last Word on the subject. When necessary, the center reassures the public, they will walk around the truth to avoid stepping into an inescapable conclusion.

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