Thinking Out Loud

July 20, 2013

We’re All Gay Now

In Acts chapter ten, Peter has a vision of many types of animals that the Jews considered unclean.

13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

You can read the whole chapter here.

The purpose of this story is to show that God is about to usher in something entirely new, what theologians might call ‘a new dispensation,’ or specifically ‘the Church age,’ or a time of transition from law to grace, from First Testament to Second Testament.

The 2013 edition

The 2013 edition

Adam Hamilton invokes this passage in his book When Christians Get It Wrong. The book was first issued in 2010 by Abingdon Press. Book and music publishers often talk about “throwing it against the wall and seeing if it sticks.” This book didn’t stick the first time, despite the popularity of Hamilton — who we profiled here the same year — as an author and conference speaker.  So it’s back again with a new cover.

On page 83 of the new edition, we read Hamilton’s take:

Along the way Peter had an epiphany. He suddenly understood: The rules are changing! … So even Peter, who spent three years with Jesus himself, struggled with the Bible and with a God who seemed to be saying that what was written in the Scripture and what the people had interpreted might not actually be God’s will.

That’s the takeaway. The rules are changing. He says this in a chapter devoted to the Church’s response to homosexuality as one of the things we’ve gotten wrong. Now, you’re not going to read many Evangelical Christian blogs that are as compassionate toward the gay issue as this one. Yes, this is an issue that the capital “C” Church has messed up and that some among our numbers are continuing to mess up. I agree with the core premise of Hamilton’s book, and its attempt to find some way to let a broader population know that we know we’ve dropped the ball on some issues.

I always tell people that apologetics doesn’t mean anybody is apologizing for anything, but in this case, someone is apologizing.

So Hamilton takes a view of science that is pro-Evolution theory; a view of world religions that leans toward inclusivism; a view of human tragedy and suffering that detaches God from such breaking news stories and somewhat absolves Him; and a view of homosexuality that emphasizes the need to love everyone.

To repeat, there is some wisdom in trying to meet people on level ground; to have discourse without being adversarial; to be seeker-friendly instead of seeker-hostile. I have had so many views challenged over the past few years — heaven, the rapture, women in ministry, etc. — and I’ve been so thankful that I wrote my doctrines and beliefs on these secondary issues in pencil and not indelible ink.

But where I part company with this book is where he forces the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10 to speak something into situations it was never designed to address. It panders to the postmodern mindset that truth is relative and that doctrines are “subject to change without notice.” So yes, the last few years have seen accelerating change in the Church on various issues, but this is not to imply that God is ushering in a new dispensation today.

The 2010 edition

The 2010 edition

Peter’s vision is a microcosm of the “before / after” transition that begins at the cross of Calvary. A new era has begun. This is where the Jewish story that we call The Old Testament is about to open up into a new act that introduces a much larger cast. It’s not a blanket verse that allows for what was inappropriate yesterday to be acceptable today. I didn’t get that memo. Are we all gay now?

In other words, while I might agree with some elements of Adam Hamilton’s approach and be more gay-friendly to his conclusion than you might think; I don’t believe you have to twist scripture to get there. Just state your opinion and tell your stories.

But that’s not the real reason I don’t like this book. I just think that at (barely) 114 digest-sized pages, it’s a rip-off at $14.99 US. And if it didn’t perform the first time, maybe there was a reason.

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8 Comments »

  1. Yes! I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching on this particular issue, and come to some similiar conclusions about the over-all response of the Church towards homosexuals being wrong. I’ve also seen close Christians friends come to a lot of differing conclusions concering homosexuality, from becoming gay, to accepting that it is not sin, to continuing to take an hardline stance towards denying gays the same basic civil rights as others. I think this issue, in our generation, is most revealing the legalism and un-Christlike place many churchs and Christians have come to. I’ve written two responses to this issue. The first, “Gay Marriage – A Change of Heart,” outlining my conviction about how we, as the Church, have been wrongly treating homosexuals. The second, “Gay Marriage – Four Perspectives,” trying to give a more complete response as to why I think denying gays the same marriage rights as others is wrong. I think imbalance on both sides has been either loving the sin with the sinner, or hating the sinner with the sin, and in the middle I find there are truly very few Christians standing. I hope you don’t mind, but here are the links to both of those blogs, if you’re interested in reading them.

    http://thrownostone.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/gay-marriage-a-change-of-heart/

    http://thrownostone.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/gay-marriage-four-perspectives/

    Comment by J. Randall Stewart — July 20, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    • I clicked the second link; very good article.

      I looked at this briefly before in this post:
      http://paulwilkinson.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/wrestling-with-the-gay-issue-at-church-when-good-is-not-good-enough/

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 20, 2013 @ 9:49 am

      • Thanks for your imput on this issue, and for taking some time to read some of my thoughts. I know it’s difficult sometimes for all of us to see past the Christian culture we’ve been taught, to the truth of how Jesus has called us to live. I know I can’t judge others for their views, or criticize. All we can really do is try and point to what Jesus said, and how he taught us to live. I think you do that quite well. Thanks.

        Comment by J. Randall Stewart — July 20, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

  2. First I will state that I am not someone who hates gay people or thinks any less of them as people because they are sexually attracted to the same sex. I know many lovely gay couples and have respect for their good works and kind hearts. But they are living in active sin. Just as some people are born with an inclination to steal or lie or gamble or be promiscuous, people born with gay tendencies need to confess their sin, be born again and flee from what tempts them. I can’t compromise on this. Jesus said hard things, The Bible sometimes draws hard lines. The church has erred in hating and neglecting to “seek and save” within the homosexual community. That is what we need to confess.

    Comment by Cynthia Almudevar — July 20, 2013 @ 11:02 am

    • I think we agree on this; it’s the implicaitons of sin we need to consider. Sin is what it is in the light of the holiness of God. But those outside the faith neither know God or are accountable to him. Sin in the Greek means missing the mark. We all miss the mark in various ways. As I’ve written elsewhere, this is the toughest issue the church will face in the next decade.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 20, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  3. I am sitting in church to the right of me is a gay man, to my left is an adulterous women and I happen to be a drunk! The preacher is sitting on his stool. We listen to how much God loves us, how He wishes to bless us with wealth and happiness. He tells us we need be the peace makers here on earth and to accept each other as we are. It’s all about mercy and grace and love, love, love. . . . So, when I get home and I open up my Bible and I read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV)

    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    Am I to assume that because I am loved by God that these scriptures have no value in our “new way of thinking” and I will go to heaven . . . because I have been told that Jesus loves me just as I am. I am a drunk, they have linked genes that determined that it runs in my family. I can’t help myself, the bottle is my life, a gene I inherited down the line of all the other drunks in my family . . .

    I think not. I take these scriptures to heart . . . If I were a drunk . . . I would pray and ask the Lord to free me from the enemies hold on my life, I would repent, ask for forgiveness, and go and sin no more. If I had a hard time letting it go, I would seek counseling, ask for prayer, plead, beg if I must for the Lord to heal me of my demon. If I failed and took a sip, I would repent and ask for forgiveness even if it took a million times. I would pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to help me. He is our helper and we will win the battle with the bottle.

    I am afraid the message of today’s church is off balanced ~ love + sin = eternal death ~ according to the Bible that I read. But, as the writer of this book says “The rules are changing” and it scares me to think how many are being lead off the narrow path!

    It is my prayer that all sinners whether lost or unsaved repent of their sin , find God’s mercy to overcome, except the grace of Jesus to be free of it and go and sin no more!

    Comment by theywhoseek — July 20, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    • First of all, if the preacher is promising that God is going to bless you with wealth, you may not be in the right church.

      You offer much to consider here, some of which is beyond the scope of this article, but all of which is important to you and other readers. Alcoholism is an addictive behavior, and as such it has complexity that people who haven’t endured addictive behavior cannot pretend to know. Still, I sometimes take issue with the AA greeting line — “Hi, my name is Paul and I am an alcoholic” because it flies in the face of the promise of II Cor. 5:17 :

      17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

      The person who endeavors to live “in Christ” transfers from death to life. That invisible traction — something I wrote about here — takes place in looking to the cross of Christ and trusting that his work on the cross was for all the world generally and for me specifically.

      That doesn’t mean that my drinking, or my gambling, or my sexual addition ceases immediately. While that does happen in the cases of dramatic conversion, it seems to be more the exception, not the rule. Salvation happens in an instant — what the oldtimers called the ‘crisis’ experience — but also involves a ‘process.’

      The Reformation Study Bible says of this passage:

      Persistence in wickedness would be an indication that their faith is false and that they have no place in the kingdom.

      As I discuss in the blog post I linked to in a previous comment, I believe that once a person comes under the loving Lordship of Jesus, they begin to experience a sense of the good-better-best distinction I outline there. But that doesn’t mean that change takes place overnight or even over a decade. The point is that after walking this spiritual journey with Jesus for a long time, there are things I might be convicted about which initially were never a problem, but as I seek to serve Him and am allowing His Spirit to work its work in me more fully, He shows me what things are not part of His best.

      It’s interesting to notice the parenthetic part of II Chronicles 6: 36

      “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near…”

      If it is true that our righteousness is as clean-up rags (or worse) then we have to expect to experience the consequences of living in two worlds, having two natures, etc.

      But where sin abounds, grace abounds more.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 20, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  4. […] 91 of the book’s 136 pages (including extensive footnotes) form the core text, and of those, chapter four, ‘Same Sex Marriage and the Anglican Church’ represents the heart of the book. Kydd fine tunes the distinction, for example, between the ‘blessing’ of same sex marriage, and actually having ‘rites’ for the institution of such (p.67) and also deconstructs the notion that the encounter between the Apostle Peter and Cornelius qualifies as a precedent for the ushering in as acceptable things that were formerly forbidden (pp 74-75). [We discussed that passage here at Thinking Out Loud just one week ago.] […]

    Pingback by Gay Marriage: Where Society is Headed | Thinking Out Loud — August 1, 2013 @ 8:29 am


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