Friday, July 28, 2006

The Latest on Homosexuality and Christianity

Readers of this blog are no doubt aware that faculty and staff at Christian colleges, seminaries, universities, institutes, and the like are sinners in the same proportion as the general Christian population. As a long-time habitue of institutions of Christian higher education, SWNID knows of no such institution that has not been touched by sexual scandal.

So it is in one sense completely unremarkable that Professor John Rumple's resignation from Johnson Bible College was followed by his public announcement that he is an active homosexual, having lived secretly with his same-sex lover while teaching at JBC.

What is more remarkable, perhaps, is that Rumple has launched a web-based campaign to challenge the understanding of Christian ethics that forbids same-sex sexual expression. We call this remarkable because we know of no adulterer, fornicator, pedophile or pornography-consumer who has taken similar steps to challenge Christian sexual ethics. In the larger respect, Mormonism might be seen as a polyamorous challenge, but most analysts would see all that as belonging on the fringes, including most contemporary Mormons. But of course, Rumple is hardly the first to launch such a quest (more on that below). So maybe this isn't remarkable either.

There is so much that can be said on this subject, we hesitate even to raise it at all. So, in our limited time that we are stealing from more pressing tasks, we make only these observations.

One: Like most who advocate the moral acceptability of homosexual practice, Rumple's argument largely hinges on the notion that the expression of individual identity or personhood demands acting on one's sexual impulses, especially same-sex attraction. SWNID objects to this move. Why do we consider "homosexual" to be a category of personal identity but not, say, "greedy person"? We expect that the truth of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit will compel and enable us to restrain our greed. But the argument is that the same should not apply to homosexual impulses, which belong to something of the essence of a person. To oversimplify, some would probably say, "I experience greed, but I am gay." We challenge the validity of that distinction.

In fact, we'll get confessional with this challenge. SWNID has frequent, strong impulses to be bitter and rude. We will even say that bitterness and rudeness are of the very essence of our being, something that we've always experienced and can't seem to shake. We don't just have bitterness and rudeness, we are bitter and rude. We wouldn't be who we are without bitterness and rudeness. But the cross of Christ compels us to struggle against that aspect of ourselves, to "deny" ourselves, as the Lord's phrase can be translated, to "buffet" our "body," as the apostle's phrase can be translated, in favor of something closer to the nature of the God in whose image we were created and are being recreated. That this struggle is in small part on display for all the world in this blog is an irony that we note in passing.

So how is that of a different category than being sexually attracted to members of the same sex?
Two: We are puzzled that more than 30 years after the rise of the gay rights movement, Rumple or anyone else would believe that he had something to add to the discussion of pro-gay biblical interpretation by starting a web site. We've been alive and alert for the entirety of this "debate" (more on that below), and pro-gay exegetes and theologians have been rephrasing and recapitulating the same tendentious arguments since the 1970s. Perhaps Rumple believes that as a refugee from it, he has a special voice on the subject for the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. But the truth is, opinion-shapers in the SCRM listen to folks outside the SCRM too. So quite apart from the merits of his cause, we find Rumple's efforts to be superfluous.

Three: We insist that the call for an opening of dialogue on this issue among the Christian churches and churches of Christ reflects a completely inadequate assessment of the "dialogue" or "debate" in the mainline Protestant denominations that have been so engaged for years. There is no discussion in those contexts that suggest one can make a pro-homosexual theological case without first assuming that human experience as interpreted in the present has a preeminent role in critiquing biblical theology rather than the other way around. So the debate is really between those who would adhere to biblical teaching despite the Zeitgeist and those who would use the Zeitgeist to critique biblical teaching. The lines are drawn on theological method, not specific theological argumentation based on a shared method. So there's no meaningful dialogue or debate on the homosexual issue, just a lot of politicking between factions of denominations that have in reality been split for generations on what it means to believe the gospel. For those who want an example, see the most recent Christianity Today for its coverage of what's happening among Episcopalians.

Four: Drawing from Rumple's statements and those of a former student who in a letter accompanying a gift copy of her self-published, coming-out-of-the-closet memoir mistakenly thanked SWNID for caring more for how students think that what they think (we care for both equally, as careful thought about thought should suggest), we object to an assumption in the thinking of both, an assumption shared by many who are not gay and who pursue ministry. The assumption is this: that a "calling" to ministry is somehow a self-identified entitlement. In the case of Rumple and the former student, this thinking is reflected in the notion that one should be free to be in a position of professional Christian leadership and act without restraint on same-sex attraction.

Rumple reflects this mentality with statements like this (all quoted from his open letter to JBC):
  • I have no doubt that God called me to the ministry of the Word (which the church confirmed by my ordination).
  • No venue exists within our church tradition where I could engage in meaningful dialogue on homosexuality and not forfeit my vocation; I therefore felt unable to speak openly with the church (or with my colleagues) and still follow my calling.
  • In fact, I have lived "in the closet" all my life in the church simply to survive and minister to it.

We will not comment on the rationalizations in these statements. We will note, however, that we have heard this same notion of entitlement from (a) a minister who committed multiple acts of adultery with multiple partners and justified his actions by appealing to the fruit of his ministry (big congregations) and his right to have some personal pleasure; (b) a student of ministry who insist that his talents, commitment and calling justified cheating on exams and plagiarizing book reviews; (c) a pastor who insisted that his calling and long tenure entitled him to pry into others' personal lives, even those outside his flock, exempt from the charge of gossip; (d) a student of ministry who insisted that his calling justified his ignoring his financial obligations.

We don't here assert that the moral standards of Christian leadership should be high. They should be, but we are making another point. We assert first that all leaders are sinners. But what we assert emphatically is that the nature of Christian leadership--no, ordinary Christian discipleship--is that it is a cross-shaped, towel-and-basin-carrying, forced march through the desert. It's a frustrating, humiliating, irritating slog that carries no emoluments except the title "unworthy servant." Finding some kind of church-enforced disconnect between one's "calling" and one's self means, again, giving up oneself, if one is serious about that self-proclaimed calling. And if you can't find the joy in that, read Philippians 2:5-11 until you can.

Fifth: When Rumple accuses JBC of approaching the homosexual issue with bad exegesis uninformed by scholarship, he's either uninformed or disingenuous. Yes, a number of exegetical and systematic theologians have offered pro-gay positions. But they represent theological scholarship as a whole about as much as Robert Funk's Jesus Seminar did. JBC knows this, and they've drawn conclusions different from Rumple's. Rumple is being unfairly accusatory when he implies otherwise.

For those who would like to start digesting the kind of scholarship that Rumple is not acknowledging, we recommend fellow Neutestamentler Robert Gagnon, professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who has done yeoman's work in exegesis, theology and debate on the subject of homosexuality. And best of all, in addition to excellent books and articles he's provided a terrific web site chock full of stuff. We give him props for fine work that frees the rest of us for other work.

Sixth: Rumple finds his treatment at JBC to have been abusive and hateful. But this begs the real question in the same passive-aggressive manner of the substance addict who tells his enabler that if she loved him, she would give him the money he needed for drugs or booze. What if homosexual practice really is destructive to the persons involved (in ways that we both understand--or did once--and don't yet understand)? What if JBC is right that homosexual practice is not according to God's purpose for human sexuality? Is it love to let the person attracted to members of the same sex act on those impulses with moral endorsement if so to act is destructive?

We know a lot of folks at JBC. They're all sinners. But it's a crime to label an exceptionally gentle, humble, self-giving bunch of people as hateful and abusive.

19 comments:

M. Swaim said...

Interesting points, and, having read both your article and the one to which it responds, I have to say that you have a significantly stronger basis for argument (not to mention a significantly stronger respect for the moral and natural laws) than your opponent.

I, for one, am the farthest thing from a homophobic. However, I have a severe dread that this particular issue will commandeer the church's entire moral compass in America over the next decade. Hold to charity, and keep prayerful discussion going.

Bryan D said...

Thank you for writing this timely response to Rumple's resignation. I know it has shaken many people both emotionally and spiritually. This raises the point of how cruel it was to act in a way that would clearly be so damaging to people who had placed Rumple within their trust. Is that more or less loving than JBC's policy on homosexuality whcih was the same both before and after Rumple was employed there? I fail to see how this move was not a stumbling block to nearly everyone within the JBC community.

There is a vast number of young Christians today who are increasingly becoming convinced that in order to be within the mainstream of "compassionate Christianity" they must take theological and political stances that are pro-homosexual, socialist and pacifist. Peer pressure is still a potent factor even within churches and bible colleges.

It is far past time that people stand up to say that being "cool" should not dictate a certain political/theological platform. Any group that claims acceptance as their gospel but demands uniformity of thinking in order to be accepted certainly cannot be trusted.

A very hearty hooah for this post and a sincere thank you as well. There are many who need just such a message.

Dustin said...

"There is a vast number of young Christians today who are increasingly becoming convinced that in order to be within the mainstream of "compassionate Christianity" they must take theological and political stances that are pro-homosexual, socialist and pacifist."

I am not responding to the post, but rather to this comment. It would be my hope that the above comment would not be predicated on the idea that a person who may hold to such a view as pacifism by default accepts the other two positions that were mentioned. There are many devout disciples of Christ who find in Jesus' teachings a call to pacifism, and I for one find no fault with that.

M. Swaim said...

Amen, Dustin. I grow weary of being parodied as a liberal. Keeps people from having to listen to you if they can compare you to either Falwell or Howard Dean. Turns out Chesterton was right: the white hot center of things really can be considered the most radical place to be. One can perhaps bypass the fringe, but it's impossible to dismiss that contradiction where those perpendicular wood beams intersect.

Bryan D said...

To the contrary, I am encouraged by such. This means that the individual has not taken a wholesale approach to either politics or theology. That is what I reject, people who decide what is true based on what they perceive is a "cool" or mainstream ideal for Christianity. Such a person is not likely to be reading this particular blog, however, as I am afraid that its author does take care to bolster assumptions.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

As I've said before, I reject pacifism because it kills people and socialism because it impoverishes people. But I don't have the same biblical and theological justification for those conclusions as I do for rejecting a parity between same-sex relations and relations in permanent, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. So I believe I am compelled to tolerate disagreement on the subjects of warfare and economics in a way that I am not about sexuality.

I thank the commenters above for noting that distinction in their own ways, not least by some of them taking positions perhaps different from my own on matters military and monetary.

The conscious, studied dishonesty of accepting and fulfilling a teaching job at JBC while making no effort to conform to its moral conditions for employment is something I deliberately didn't comment on, as it seems so obvious as to need no comment. But Bryan D, you are no doubt right that this is the point most devastating to the JBC community. Rumple lied every day for three years to over 900 people who trusted him. And now he styles them the cruel ones.

M. Swaim said...

As a distributist, I also reject socialism, though I am thankful to the socialists for keeping the poor on the radar. As a proponent of Just War Theory, I also have qualms about pacifism, but am thankful to the pacifists when they help to speak out against an unjust war. Odd that these distinctions would come out in response to this post. Perhaps a new post is necessary?

Thank you, Bryan, and the triune author of this blog, for affirming the possibility of a personalist view of politics and theology. And I especially agree with the concept that whether or not homosexual acts are justifiable, swindling never is.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

So, as a "distributist," do you support the revision of Social Security to allow for private accounts, invested in stocks, which would probaby lead to the single largest gain in the distribution of the ownership of the means of production in history, especially to the poor?

Or is this theory, propounded by Chesterton and others a century ago when capital was much more concentrated in the hands of an elite few, already largely fulfilled in the United States with the ever-widening ownership of stocks and ever growing number of small businesses?

I ask this question as a person of nearly exactly median means who happens to be a small-time owner of capital.

M. Swaim said...

I think this is grounds for a new post on personalism and private property, in the form of either an affirmation or refutation of Chesterton and Belloc's rebuttal to Fabian Socialism, and its relevance or irrelevance to the current situation (based preferably on principle rather than mere data, in honor of Gilbert and Hilaire). All the sexual charge could be taken out of the current discussion if we veer off in this particular forum. Interesting stuff.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

You'll need to wait for our SWNIDish will to incline toward another post on economics. We blog, which is different from running a forum. So we both propose and dispose, as it were.

It will also be helpful to engage in categories more current. Fabian socialism? How about detachable collars?

We will also confess that our knowledge economics is amateurish, so we're not interested in fine tuning discussion beyond the broad categories of the most obvious current issues.

M. Swaim said...

Fair enough. And who has the energy anyway, in this heat?

JB in CA said...

So what do you think? Should one wear detachable collars with or without spats?

Christian Hoffland said...

Naturally, while I respect everyone's right to publish, I cannot agree with this article. For an alternative view of both the points raised here and a critique of some general and prevalent attitudes underlying writing such as this, see our article at Out of Context.

Bill Cottle said...

SWIND, I've read the letter by Mr. Rumple, I've read your comments and the comments left on this blog. I wonder, have any of you Christian brother even bothered to contact Mr. Rumple to ask him how he is doing and if there is anything you can do to help him out in this difficult time? Are we Christians, or are we gods who sit in judgment of others? I find it interesting that Mr. Rumple is refering to 'Chruch tradition' and not the authority of the Bible as God's word. If tradition is always right, then maybe we should go back to believing that the earth is the center of the universe and that it is flat, that slavery is O.K., and that red hair or black skin is a mark of Satan or a curse. ( All of these were Church traditional beliefs at one time ). It is very possible that we, in todays world, do not know everything. It has been science that has aided in giving us a greater understanding of the Bible. Maybe science through the study of Language, Culture and History can shed some light on the traditional view of the homosexuality. Mr. Rumple has a web-site on which he is planning to provide a study of the subject of homosexuality, (outofcontext.us). Are you so educated in God's word that there is nothing more that you can learn and consider? Give this man a chance and hear him out. For God's sake, show some love!

Anonymous said...

While I am open to the concept that perhaps I have been wrong all of these years and in my studies - and while I will read with an open mind the writings of both Rumple and his critics from time to time - I have to ask myself the following questions:

1.) Was not homosexuality listed as a mental defect in the DSM-II (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as recently as 1971? What will the status of theology be if we rest it on medical diagnoses which can change every 30 to 40 years? What happens to the God "with whom is no shadow of turning?"

2.) IF homosexuality has as its base a genetic influence, why is it that more people (especially young) identify themselves as gay or bisexual now than ever before. A looming explosion is coming from young people from 5th grade and up. Check out Xanga or any other site and see how at ease students are today. This was not the case as early as 10 years ago. Has there been a sudden genetic shift (positive or negative, depending on how you look at it) that has led to this increase? Or is it possible that society (e.g. music, pop culture, news, etc.) does influence people.

3.) Is it just me, or does it seem to be that the ones most vociferous about proclaiming their calling by God use this as an excuse to lob the "holy hand grenade of Antioch" into the midst of believers? He shakes all of their foundations - feels his "calling" has been accomplished and walks away to leave the victims to deal with the aftermath. Any criticism this person takes with a perverted sense of justice as persecution rightly received for following the calling.

4.) If the Stone Campbell movement is so bad, and if he's leaving the movement - why is Rumple referring to it and only it in his postings? Why not find a Metro church and minister to the homosexuals there? Why not find a denomination that accepts homosexuals and minister there? Paul would not eat meat with some in order to keep them from stumbling. I would think that establishing a website would fall again within that category. If you're turning your back - on God, on a lover, on a friendship, or a chuch - walk away. Don't keep trying to meddle with it. Then again, see the Holy Hand Grenade comment above.

Finally, yes - Christians have a habit of shooting their own wounded. I have been a personal witness and victim of that. I don't claim to be without sin. But it seems to me that Rumple is responding more to 1970's and 1980's traditional Christian Church/Church of Christ thought. There's already not much difference between the world and the church today in terms of divorce rates, drinking, gambling, sex, etc. So much for being a peculiar people. The problem with many bible colleges is the Christian bubble in which the faculty and students live. The sad fact is most pew-sitters are just that. They already don't know the difference, so throwing the entire movement into chaos is not only foolish, it is counterproductive to the larger mission of the church. Is the goal of the church to win the lost, or is it to redefine the lost so a larger group of people will make it.

Simon the Pharisee was stung by Jesus for his judgment of the prostitute, as one of Rumple's latest postings discusses. However, Simon - if alive today - would not have gone out to build a website stating that Jesus was a hypocrite and had it wrong. He would have Jesus excommunicated (so to speak) from the temple and not dealt with him anymore.

Let Rumple write books, or perhaps bring better theology to more liberal churches that accept homosexuality as it is. I think a careful examination of his record might show though - continued callings that end up hurting other people after which he gets a new calling and goes on to create a new problem.

It is for these reasons that yes, I'll probably pay more attention to the debate and I will listen with a critical ear and open mind - but I would rather it be from someone that was honest from day one. It is the history and methodology that Rumple has employed that calls his entire calling into question for those of us "outside the bubble".

May God have mercy on all of us.

Bill Cottle said...

Mr. Anonymous, I appriciate your cander. And good points - all, that you raise. And what I find most significant in your entry in this blog is that you are willing to discuss the issue. It is true that The Church is divided on many different issues, ( including homosexuality ). And just as Paul addressed the Corinthian Church, ( who also was dealing with issues that divided them ) he was very cautious in his approach and wording. I believe that was because he knew that there were strong views on both sides of the issues and he wanted desparetly to make them understand that UNITY is very important in the body of Christ, for the body to function as God intends for it to function. ( Read 1 Corn. in its entirety, in one reading ).

I am 38 years old, and have been in the Christian Church/Church of Christ all my life. And not until this very year did I come across 'Pro-Gay Theology'. And I have to admit that I did not know any of the Cultural, Historic or Linguistic FACTS that give credance to 'Pro-Gay Theology'. And I am fairly sure that the majority of Evangelical Christians are unfamilar with this same information. How can one make a judgment on important theological issues before they have viewed the evidence from all available sources?

Our relationship with God, through Christ is not in following preceived 'rules' from the Bible. No, how could that be if there is nothing we can possible do to earn our salvation. But rather we find our relationship with God, through Christ from within. When we accept Christ the change from within is evident in us. We are told that 'Faith, Hope and Love remain, but the greatest of these is Love'. Love God, Love your Neighbor, and examine YOURSELF daily to see if YOU are living up to the Laws of Love. Yes, the Laws ( rules ) of Love. Jesus tells us himself, 'The greatest commandments are to Love God...,and Love your Neighbor'. Any Christian who does not abide by this can hardly call themselves Christian.

Considering what Mr. Rumple has to say certainly in no way means that the Chruch is relieved of its responsibilities in this world. We are still called to be the 'Light of the World' and 'The Salt of the Earth'. And what sets Christians apart from the world is our ability to Love unconditionally. I have corresponded with Mr. Rumple and he tells me that he has received some 'hate mail'. I would hope and pray that not one single person that calls themself Christian was involved in any way in that type of behavior. Even if they feel that homosexuality is wrong, hate is not an acceptable Christian response. I encourage anyone who reads this entry to write to Mr. Rumple and in a loving manner, 'Extend the Right hand of Fellowship', ( as my Grandfather used to always say ).

We are encouraged in the Bible to seek out Knowledge and a Spirt of Discernment. Please do not be afraid to consider the information that Mr. Rumple has to offer. You will still be left with the option of choosing 'Right from Wrong'. This, after all, is one of the most important things God ever gave us, the ability to choose.

Grace and peace to you all, and yes, God will help us, ALL.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous again. I want to be clear on a few things for anyone that reads my posts. First, I have spoken with Rumple as well as JBC students and staff about this issue. Two, I will not start debating point by point in a blog as has been done on the JBC Facebook pages and elsewhere. It is a shame that Rumple has not elected to allow a blog on his own site. Three, I don't hate Rumple, but do not enjoy or appreciate the manner in which things have been done.

I am twice divorced and single again. I have engaged in many things that most would consider to be extremely sinful in the past. With that said, I don't attempt to alter Christian thought to conform with my sin and iniquities. I unfortunately have nothing to rely on to save me from my sins; past, present and future - other than the grace of God and the blood of Christ.

I have preached and taught in churches. I have served in various leadership roles within the church. As a divorced man, I would no longer be permitted in most churches to teach or preach. While I miss that, I accept that as a consequence of my actions. Instead, I have focused my actions on reaching out to those outside of the church and have had some of my best conversations about God, and some of my biggest impacts in less-than-"Christian" settings. Yes, the church today does a poor job of ministering to those who are divorced, single, gay, SINKs, DINKs, the handicapped, the obese, etc. Constructive criticism, dialogue, bringing the churches together to discuss this at the NACC or some other forum would be better than what has happened in the last few months.

What the real issue is here, that Rumple and some others don't seem to understand - is leadership, VISIBLE leadership in the church and the qualifications that have been laid out. Yes, God causes rain to fall on the just and unjust - but that does NOT give the church the right to fall in line with whatever new socially acceptable and politically acceptable view is at the time. It is this higher standard for leaders and teachers that James reminds us of in chapter 3 verse 1.

Leadership within a congregation is a very tricky affair. An example is expected of the ministers, often unfairly to be more than human and a little less than God. Ministers may be not be expected to walk on the water in the ocean - but the baptistry waters are up for grabs (that was a joke).

The point is, to lie to get into a position of authority and not have the courage to take the blows is not something that I see as being led by the Holy Spirit. After Jesus' crucifixion, we see a bunch of very afraid disciples who had a great deal more to fear that Rumple, or any other sinner - regardless of the sin - has to fear from our churches today. And yet, when the Holy Spirit was given to them by Jesus - we see sudden boldness and dramatic works. We see 3000 being converted in a day and suddenly ineloquent men being seen in public, speaking boldly (and oh my gosh, in TONGUES!) Now, the perfect has come (The Bible) and the imperfect has passed away, but the effects of the Spirit, and of bearing your cross for Christ should not have changed.

What I see is not Rumple being led by the Spirit to cast away 20 years of being untrue to himself and others with regards to his sexual identity - I see a man who cannot rectify his desire to do what he wants in the church and his own moral dilemma.

Where do the lies to himself if he believes he is truely created this way as a child of God fit in? Where does the cowardice in not revealing who he was for fear of losing his 'dream job' at JBC fit into the boldness of the Spirit? Why is it that being Spirit led can only apply to following his calling and position.

This issue, and the way that it was handled at one of the largest Christian Church colleges will have a ripple effect for a long time. This has already created a great deal of confusion and strife in churches, homes and schools across the country.

Abraham didn't wait on the Lord for his promise and took Sara's maiden, Hagar. Out of that sin, Ishmael was born. God still fulfilled his promise. Today, there is continued strife in the Middle East between Abraham's descendants. All because of one little sin or indiscretion.

Yes Alice, one man can make a difference and the consequences cannot be seen for a long time. I don't call Abraham's desire to serve God into question. I don't question Rumple's desire to serve God. I don't question their relationships with God. Each man must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Regarding evil, I agree that hatred is not the way of God. But I didn't see Jesus joking with the money changers in the temple, gently cajoling them and tickling them to get out. From what I remember while sitting on my front porch at 2:00 a.m. - I don't think the Torah had any real guidelines on that - and yet Jesus didn't need justification or wordplay from the Torah to take action.

Where today are those who can simply have faith like a child? Is it purely in love to condemn all in the Stone Campbell movement as simplistic, legalistic ideologues? Where is the unity in that? I define myself as a child of God only, and yet I admittedly take offense to the blanket statements being made on this issue.

The issue of unity is a complicated one at best. Jesus prayed for it and either God said "No", Satan is more powerful than the prayers of Jesus, or just maybe we've got the wrong idea of what unity actually is. Maybe when Jesus said that a day would come where we will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, he meant that people will be able to find God, whatever their emotional and mental character may be. Perhaps some people are just wired to be emotional. Perhaps they need emotion, or identify emotion as connection. I have no doubt that for those who need that and earnestly seek God, they will find him and salvation - even at a Pentecostal church. For those who have been brought up needing tradition, maybe their honest search for God will lead them to Catholicism. The point is - God has made himself available and it's our job to mold ourselves to Him, not mold Him or His bride to ourselves.

The extrapolations that can be made based on the arguments put forth by Rumple and a long list of others predating him have staggering implications and consequences for the church later, long after Rumple and others have been called to their perceived next calling.

We should rely on human experience? Should we also rely on the Greek practice of pedastry which is mentioned in a literary examination of homosexuality (but NOT condoned) in Mr. Cottle's blog? That was a human experience, that was socially acceptable even during the time of the early church.So what that it may not be socially agreeable now, NAMBLA would love that argument.

This line of thought can be used for virtually anything that is included in the human experience. As I mentioned in my previous post - this thinking does nothing to bring others to Christ. It simply redefines God's expectations of His children so that others can bring Christ to themselves - which seems to me inherently selfish.

Sexual Immorality separates us from God. It's not the unforgivable sin, but the Bible does state that liars, the sexually immoral as well as others will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven. In a perfect world, I should be figuring out how to run away from any and all forms of sexual immorality, whether with men, women or donkeys - it's all wrong (sexual immorality...and donkeys I'm pretty sure too).

So, if this is the way the church is to be, let's throw open wide the gates and be like everyone else. Christ accepts those who come to him - any and all could come to him. But generally, even Jesus made them give up their lifestyle to take up a cross and follow him - to be fishers of men. Peter and Andrew, James and John left their lifestyle of fishing to be wanderers of the countryside. Matthew left his very cushy government job. Judas Iscariot left his revolutionaries and followed Jesus. Each had their own reasons and none of them expected Jesus to hold court in their homes or jobs only. They followed him. They did not try to turn him into a fisherman, or a tax collector, or a revolutionary.

This is about leadership. Not about salvation - none of us can decide that for Rumple or God. My goal is to be the best I can be. But when the moneychangers enter the temple, I believe God expects us to stick up for him. The body consists of hands that can become fists when necessary. The culture in which we live today is a direct result of previous failings of the church to get involved. And the moneychangers are in the temple. I'm not talking exclusively about homosexuality - I'm talking about bad theology. I'm talking about people who say they want the kingdom, but don't want God in it.

Where will it end?

Pro-Drug theology: helps us open our minds to new concepts and thoughts we wouldn't otherwise consider?

How about Pro-Adultery Theology? This would keep many more ministers in the church, keep the divorce rate low.

Pro-Abortion Theology? Since children can't sin, we can increase the population of Heaven one unwanted fetus at a time.

Better yet, let's just throw our hat in with the world vision of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. We'll decant our babies, destroy our families and seduce the population of the church and the world, rather than beat them.

The now-disgraced Christian comedian Mike Warnke once said "The Bible is not a book of don'ts. It's a book of do's. And if you spend your time doing the do's, you won't have time to do the don'ts." So how about we drop the nit-picking of textual analysis, the legalism of the Pharisees, etc. and concentrate on what the Bible really is. It's not God's Word to man...it's God's Word to ME.

I will listen, I will read, I will discuss. But I am not comfortable basing my salvation on human experience or the American Pyschological Association. They didn't send someone to die for me, God did in the form of Jesus. I think I'm safer just sticking with him.

May God have mercy on all of us.

Anonymous said...

An often remark used by the pro-gay side is "closed minded". The idea is that those who favor a scriptual interpertation that we should deny ourselves and seek to be holy--therefore acting on feelings for the same sex is just as wrong as acting on feelings for the oppsite sex given the context--are close minded. Could it just be that we are activily seeking but no greater theological understading has presented itself? The oppsite appears to be true. It would appear that Rumple and the pro-gay side are just as close minded as they perpetrate others to be. They are just closed to accept that God may not be please with their actions (1 John 1:8).

Melissa Mae said...

i am a jbc alumnus and Rumple was one of my fav professors. I looked up to him and learned so much. BUt even still to this day it saddens me that he allowed for jbc to be his platform. He wanted to prove a point that gays could still be in ministry. He gave us assignments in romans and galatians class to read articles from gay pastors and discuss it in class. while all along he knew what he believed. He just wanted to see what we would say. He is also dead set on believing in evolution now too. I am just reminded of that verse in the bible that talks about in the last days people will twist the scriptures to what they want to hear and how it will tickle their ears. I feel like that is what is going on.