Some Evangelicals think that if they can just get the Evangelical church to become more inclusive all will be well. They want the Evangelical church to throw open its doors to the LGBT community and admit them as full members of the church. (after they are saved and baptized, of course) Some Evangelicals, like Al Mohler, think the Evangelical church is at a crossroads. Giving in to the “gay agenda” means forsaking all that makes one an Evangelical. Mohler writes:
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.
The question is whether evangelicals will remain true to the teachings of Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over two thousand years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage.
The world is pressing this question upon us, but so are a number of voices from within the larger evangelical circle — voices that are calling for a radical revision of the church’s understanding of the Bible, sexual morality, and the meaning of marriage. We are living in the midst of a massive revolution in morality, and sexual morality is at the center of this revolution. But the question of same-sex relationships and sexuality is at the very center of the debate over sexual morality, and our answer to this question will both determine or reveal what we understand about everything the Bible reveals and everything the church teaches — even the gospel itself.
Lost in the discussion is the fact that many of those who are clamoring for the Evangelical church to be LGBT friendly still believe in the sexual prohibitions found in the Bible. They are still opposed to sex before marriage, promiscuity, and the like. What they want is for LGBT Christians to be brought under the Evangelical umbrella so they can be subjected to same Puritanical moral code as heterosexuals. While same-sex marriage will be OK, premarital sex will not.
Also lost in the discussion is the fact that there are MANY Evangelical beliefs that people like me find quite offensive. Things like:
- The exclusivity of Christianity, declaring all other belief systems as heretical and false
- Male domination of the church
- Subjugation of women, treating them as inferior, weaker vessels
- Proselytizing non-Evangelicals
- Aggressively evangelizing children
- Puritanical sexual rules and their obsession with human sexuality
- Rejection of evolution
- Christian nationalism and the prominence of right-wing politics
- Most of money spent by Evangelical churches going towards staff, benefits, buildings, and programs geared towards helping fat sheep get fatter
- Indifference to the plight of the poor and the sick
If an Evangelical church changes all the things I mentioned above, are they still Evangelical? Of course not. They are liberal/progressive Christians, not Evangelicals. I think that the move towards making the Evangelical church LGBT friendly will ultimately result in a schism like the one in the Southern Baptist Convention between fundamentalists and liberals. Those clamoring for a LGBT friendly church are tomorrow’s liberals and progressives.
So why do these people hang on to their Evangelical identity? Why not give the Evangelical church a double middle finger and join up with liberal/progressive churches that are inclusive? Liberal/progressive churches desperately need an infusion of new blood. Why not leave Evangelicalism and let it die the slow, horrible death it deserves? Perhaps it is time for a new Christianity, an inclusive Christianity built from the ground up. (one that cuts the Bible in half, getting rid of the patently offensive OT)
Only those who continue to try to force the Evangelical church to be LGBT friendly can answer these questions. Changing all of these things would certainly make the world a better and safer place to live, but it would not draw people like me back into the fold. Why? The reason is quite simple. The B-I-B-L-E.
I am not a Christian because I reject the foundational beliefs of Christianity. If the Evangelical church became LGBT friendly over night, it wouldn’t mean a thing to me. This would not change the fact that I do not believe the Christian narrative, that Jesus is God, that all humans are sinners in need of salvation, that Jesus came to earth, worked miracles, died on the cross for our sin, resurrected from the dead three days later, and then ascended back to heaven. I consider this narrative to be a myth, one that I am not willing to believe. (please see my post, Why I Stopped Believing)
So, I remain an interested spectator. I smirk and laugh when Al Mohler speaks of the Evangelical church being at a crossroads. The Evangelical church has been at so many crossroads that they are lost. If Evangelicals beat back the LBQT threat, does anyone think all will be well? Of course not. There will always be ANOTHER crossroads, another crisis over morality and faith. How would people like Al Mohler make a living if there wasn’t? Evangelicalism needs turmoil and crisis to survive. It needs an imminent returning Jesus, complete with judgment and wrath, to keep the people in the pew motivated.
I wish my crusading, inclusive Evangelical friends well. I wonder if they stop to consider that even if they make Evangelicalism a temple of inclusivism, they are still stuck with the one teaching in the Bible that can’t be erased; that those who are not Christians will go to hell when they die. And if they say there is not a hell, then aren’t they really universalists rather than Evangelicals? And if they are universalists, why bother? Why bother with wrangling, fussing, and fighting over doctrine? It seems like an awful lot of angst and effort if there is no divine payoff in the end.