The Juggernaut: The Progression of Homosexuality from Minority Status to Cultural Juggernaut

By Scott Fowler

It seems to me that President Obama played a key role in moving gay rights to its Juggernaut status when, on January 21, 2013, in his second inaugural address, he said the following,

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall….Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law— for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.1

With those sentiments, he officially elevated gay rights (Stonewall)2 to the level of a civil right, on par with women’s suffrage (Seneca Falls) and the fight for racial equality (Selma).  From that time, homosexuality has been “a massive inexorable force, crushing everything in its path,”3 namely the institution of marriage and the authority of the Bible.

In February of that same year, 278 companies filed an amicus brief in support of the woman whose challenge of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was to be considered by the Supreme Court later that year.4  In March, Bill Clinton expressed his regret over having signed the bill into law.5  Obama had already expressed his “evolution” on the subject in a 2012 ABC interview with Robin Roberts, indicating he no longer supported DOMA and that he was influenced by his conversations with friends and staff who were in “incredibly committed, monogamous relationships—same-sex relationships—who are raising kids together.” 6 A steady stream of public figures also stepped forward to declare their “love for love” and homosexuality.7 But perhaps Nicole Wallace (presumably a conservative operative who worked for Bush and advised the McCain/Palin campaign, but who also came out in favor of same-sex marriage in February 2013), captured the essence of the moment best when she said:

“If you are running for office and trying to court the vote of anyone under forty, you oppose marriage equality at your political peril.”8

On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, declaring it unconstitutional, paving the way for the Federal Government to acknowledge same-sex marriages.

Juggernaut.

The April 8, 2013 issue of Time Magazine recorded that as of that date nine states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage.9 At present that number has risen to seventeen states with seven more in the hopper, ready to fall upon appeals.10 Chronicling the surprising and rapid rise of support for same-sex marriage, David Von Drehle opined,

With stunning speed, a concept dismissed even by most gay-rights leaders just 20 years ago is now embraced by half or more of all Americans. . . . Exit polls in November showed that 83% of voters believe that same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide in the next five to 10 years. . . . Like a dam that springs a little leak that turns into a trickle and then bursts into a flood, the wall of public opinion is crumbling.11

Juggernaut.

The Inaugural itself was marked by a rejection of a well-known minister when the invitation to Lou Giglio was rescinded because of a twenty year old sermon he preached against homosexuality.12 The Inaugural Committee wanted someone inclusive, accepting of all Americans, and celebrating diversity. 13 In a letter to his church (which no longer seems to be available except through various articles that reported the incident), Giglio said,

“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”14

And just like, Giglio was out, Luis Leon, an inclusive Episcopalian was in, and those who trumpet inclusion had excluded a potentially diverse and dissenting voice.

Juggernaut.

In the ten months since SCOTUS struck down DOMA, what began as the fight for same-sex marriage has evolved into a full-scale discussion in the evangelical church about gay Christianity, an oxymoron to be sure. But not everybody thinks so.

Those who have found it meaningful to be identified as evangelicals are being divided by the issue of homosexuality. The discussion began to round the corner between the subject of same-sex marriage and that of gay Christianity when World Vision decided and then un-decided to hire people involved in same-sex marriages. Since then, there has been daily evidence that the Juggernaut is dividing evangelicals (see Failing the Smell Test).

While many on both sides still couch the debate in terms of same-sex marriage, it is actually a question about the Bible’s authority and its ability to speak to contemporary cultural challenges. It is about gay Christianity. Dr. Albert Mohler captured the urgency of this historical crossroads when he wrote,

Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. 15

Mohler is right. He wrote those words in response to a book by Matthew Vines entitled, God and the Gay Christian. In it, Vines concludes that

“It isn’t gay Christians who are sinning against God by entering into monogamous, loving relationships. It is the church that is sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships.”16

Ah! The familiar sound of the Juggernaut as it tramples over nature, history, Scripture, and the Church!

 

Dr. Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative.

Footnotes

1 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/21/inaugural-address-president-barack-obama

2 Stonewall is a Greenwich Village gay bar in Manhattan where it is said “gay pride” began.

3 The definition of Juggernaut.

4 http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2013/0227/Gay-marriage-why-corporations-are-coming-out-against-DOMA

5 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/us/politics/bill-clintons-decision-and-regret-on-defense-of-marriage-act.html?pagewanted=all

6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQGMTPab9GQ&feature=player_embedded

7 http://gokicker.com/2013/03/26/same-sex-marriage-where-things-stand/#!GJ80e. See also David Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay and Lesbian Community Has Gone from Stonewall to the Altar in Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 18, 22.

8 Ibid., Tweeted by Andrea Mitchell.

9 Von Drehle, “How Gay Marriage Won: The Gay And Lesbian Community Has Gone From Stonewall To The Altar In Two Generations,” Time Magazine, April 8, 2013, 16.

10 http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004857 see also http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/church-of-christ-sues-in-pursuit-of-same-sex-marriage.html. North Carolina becomes the first state where a pro same-sex church sues the government because it is denying them their religious rights to marry same-sex couples!

11 Von Drehle, How Gay Marriage Won,” 18.

12 http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/10/giglio-bows-out-of-inauguration-over-sermon-on-gays/

13 Ibid. See also, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/luis-leon-benediction-obama-inauguration-louie-giglio_n_2468824.html

14 Ibid., see also http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/louie-giglio-anti-gay-obama-inauguration_n_2448796.html.

15 R. Albert Mohler, God and the Gay Christian, (Louisville, SBTS Press, 2014).

16 Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships, (New York: Convergent Books, 2014), 162.

 

Failing the Smell Test: Evangelical Christian Publisher Endorsing Gay Christianity?

Here comes more of what we are going to see a whole lot of: Christian ministries, organizations, publishers, and business leaders trying to thread the needle of compartmentalization between what they say they believe and what they are actually practicing or willing to endorse. In the last three weeks, there have been three notable instances demonstrating the struggle that is coming and which, in fact, is already here.

 

World Vision

First it was the World Vision fiasco when the decision was made to hire same-sex couples for the U.S. World Vision staff (See the Christianity Today article). Though the decision was reversed, it revealed some startling logic from its president, Richard Stearns. After “the World Vision board had prayed for years about how to handle the issue” of “recognizing same-sex relationships,”  World Vision decides to look the other way and hire same-sex couples saying, “We have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue,”  as though that was a good thing. Not only does such logic fail to realize that by making the choice to hire same-sex couples, World Vision was siding with particular churches, but it also demonstrated World Vision’s willingness to check its spiritual and theological integrity at the door for the sake of the operation of its mission. 

 

Chic Fil A and Dan Cathy

Then, it was Dan Cathy who, in the midst of a campaign to promote his new food line and push his business ventures into the gay-rights holy ground of New York, who told USA Today,

All of us become more wise as time goes by . . . .We sincerely care about all people. . . . I’m going to leave it to politicians 
and others to discuss social issues.

Once again, the idea that it is a noble gesture to “pass the buck” and defer to “politicians and others” to decide what is right and wrong. I’m not saying that a person has to take his beliefs and create a media storm as Cathy did when he publicly stated that he supported the traditional biblical view of marriage. But now, though his views have not changed, he seems to have retreated for the sake of “customer service.”

 

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Finally, WORLD magazine reports online that,

Convergent Books, a publishing imprint under the same corporate umbrella and leadership as the evangelical WaterBrook 
Multnomah Publishing Group, is scheduled to release God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines next Tuesday. Vines, a 
24-year-old former Harvard student, attempts to refute biblical passages that declare homosexuality a sin (Can a divided 
publishing house stand?).

Waterbrook Multnomah publishes such authors as John Piper, David Jeremiah, Kay Arthur, and David Platt. Steven Cobb heads up both Waterbrook Multnomah and Convergent. In fact, according to The Christian Post, the two publishers or imprints are virtually the same: same leader (Cobb), same staff, same everything. Just a different name. The CP also reports from an inside source that

Multnomah is now consciously trying to hide from NRB [National Religious Broadcasters] and its members the fact that it is putting out this new project. Insiders are reporting threats should they release any such information outside the company… 

Essentially, Steve Cobb is asking traditional evangelicals to ignore the fact that he is also willing to publish titles that are pro-gay Christianity. More compartmentalization. It is hard to imagine that someone in a board room did not at one point say, “Wow! There’s a whole new market with gay Christianity! Evangelicals aren’t going to like it if we publish gay Christian material but there is too much money at stake if we don’t. So, let’s publish the material under a different name. Maybe no one will notice.” We noticed!

 

Yet Another Example: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Last year, I expressed concern to the Thomas Nelson Publishing company my concerns about an author they endorse, Rachel Held Evans. (Not that they had published a pro-gay Christian book, but that an author they publish also endorses gay Christianity, and by implication, Thomas Nelson.) Just visit Evans’ website and soon you will realize that she is a liberal Christian trying to reform traditional evangelicalism. In part I wrote,

I have always held Thomas Nelson in high regard, assuming it to be a trustworthy publisher upholding evangelical beliefs and values, I am greatly disturbed that you have chosen to stand with an author who openly supports gay Christianity, the Gay community, and by association at least, same sex marriage. . . . The issue is not about the church’s need to lovingly embrace those who are struggling and need the love of God. The issue is that she accepts gay Christianity on its own terms and thereby the whole “Christian LGBT” agenda and perspective. She directs her audience to the Gay Christian Network and others who support the gay “Christian” lifestyle. Am I to assume, by association, that Thomas Nelson also supports the same? 

A rep. from Thomas Nelson replied, in part,

The personal opinions and political views expressed by an author are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect that of the company. Thomas Nelson publishes products written from a Christian worldview, and we respect our author’s right to express their personal opinion. We cannot comment on anything concerning Ms. Evans other than the book that she has published through us.

In other words, We only want to be responsible for what we publish. If one of our authors stands against traditional Christian values, we kindly ask you to forget that while you are reading her books that we publish. 

 

Failing The Smell Test

Back when Bill Clinton was elected the first time, he astutely realized that if he would focus on the economy (“It’s the economy, stupid!”), Americans would look the other way and ignore his Jennifer Flowers discretion if they thought it would help their pocketbooks. He was right. Then, after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he was able to stay in office, even though he was impeached by the House. Is this where the country began to get comfortable with compartmentalizing personal indiscretions as long as publicly the job gets done? Maybe. But when did the Church get comfortable with turning a blind eye to a person’s character or beliefs just so long as they don’t sin around us? It’s like saying to someone who is accusing a man for beating his children, “Hey, he’s never beaten his children around me so it’s none of my business.” Whether it is raising money for the needy, selling chicken , or selling books, it seems that some of the leaders and influencers looked up to by traditional evangelicals are willing to suspend or table their convictions for the sake of business.