[Thirty Pieces of Silver] At the beginning of 2013 the Christian community in America began to be flooded with new terms and players using new words for human sexuality, gender and sexual norms. These new speakers like Sam Allberry, Rosaria Butterfield, and a small herd of others, began making the rounds at conferences and working to ever so gently to move the church toward a new “understanding” of sexual minorities (LGBTQ ) whose “civil rights” were on a fast track into the mainstream. Although in conservative circles the assertion was that conventional Biblical perspectives were being retained and defended, the talking points were being changed and the language and terms were nuanced just in time for the massive redefining of sexual norms and marriage. This new language came from respected heavy hitters in conservative evangelical circles like Albert Mohler and Timothy Keller whose influence on next-gen pastors is immeasurable. As their endeavor surfaces several glaring realities come into focus.
- The church is being asked to rethink (a favorite progressive term for overhauling the past position) its rhetoric if not its stand on homosexuality and marriage.
- The church leadership has constructed a unified approach to accomplish a task, for whom and to what ultimate end is not YET in focus.
- The effort has brought to the “Conversation” some interesting players including a gay priest from the UK / Church of England whose ministry Living Out is pushing the “same-sex attracted”/ SSA language, inclusion and understanding, seasoned with a good dose of guilt and shame for the churches’ past failures to understand and distinguish SSA from homosexuality.
- Another major player in the conversation is a former lesbian and (as yet) quiet liberal academic whose professional specialty and activist training was in Marxist/Freudian / Darwinian flavored Critical Theory specializing in “Queer Theory” – Rosaria Butterfield, who has no theological background to address the issue with the conservative church.
- The church is suddenly being told that the “ick factor” recoil to same-sex desires is “sin” and is being asked to abandon 2,000 plus years of Biblically-based language and understanding of homosexuality, sexual temptation and desires.
WHY CHANGE THE LANGUAGE NOW?
The earliest use of the term “SSA Christian” and “victim of the church” internal talking points for evangelicals appears to be from the preparations of statements for the 2010 third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelism in Cape Town South Africa. This would place the insertion of SSA language and the emotion-packed narrative in the 2009 documents for the lead up to Cape Town 2010. The ministry to homosexuals is based on Lausanne’s partnership with Exodus Global Alliance (a distinct organization, according to its website, from Exodus International which famously abandoned the mission of rehabilitating homosexuals and apologized for hurting homosexuals in 2013). Exodus Global worked directly with the Lausanne committee to draft 4 essays on how the church is to minister to homosexuals.
Downloads are available here.
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Essay 1 Sexuality, Truth and Grace
Essay 2 Homosexuality and the Church
Essay 4 Equipping the Church to Respond
Examples of The New Talking Points and Approach
According to the Lausanne Global Conversation, homosexuals number 155 million worldwide and represent an “unreached people group.” Here is some of the narrative on “Homosexuality and the Church”:
“Some of the souls who are impacted by same sex attraction are Christians, and some are not. People dealing with same-sex attraction wander the streets of communities all over the world, and many of them are perishing because no one has seen them as worthy of evangelism and ministry.”
“Each of these persons represents people marginalized in the church.”
“The church can learn something from the fact that so many prominent gay activists and personalities share a common upbringing in the church. Their struggles began, in some way, in the church.”
“As these people share their stories, it is clear that condemnation, warning and fear can work to restrain someone dealing with same sex attraction for a time. At some point, however, these tools no longer work. Christian rules, Christian regiment, and Christian tradition will only go so far.”
Time and space do not permit going into greater detail and quoting more sources but the contents above show the tone of the essays. Gays are victims – not of homosexuality but mostly of an unaffirming culture and church and an old-school approach to the Gospel. REPENTANCE and saving FAITH are not discussed as the remedy as millions of us have historically left sins behind us in the traditional Christian faith. The CORE message of the new talking points? The church is at fault and MUST change.
EXODUS GLOBAL ALLIANCE SPOKESPERSON
Mike Goeke, pastor of Stonegate Fellowship since 2010 is now associate pastor of First Baptist San Francisco. Goeke authored several of the Exodus essays including the quotes above. In his testimony “Homosexual and Married,“ Goeke recounts his homosexual desires and online indulgence until finally departing from his marriage to pursue life as a gay man. Eventually, Goeke abandoned gay theology and homosexuality and returned to his wife and family. Though parts of his testimony reflect a clear repentance yet his family and Christian community’s support and loving outreach hardly confirm his espoused view that the church is mishandling ministry to homosexuals. And the Exodus/ Lausanne collaborations plainly call the CHURCH to change by asserting its failure in compassion toward homosexuals.
Goeke cannot be making these assumptions and assertions in the Lausanne essays from personal experience since his wife and family prayed and waited and believed. Somewhere in what should be an otherwise wonderful testimony is a confused narrative of mistreatment that did not come from the Christians in Goeke’s personal experience. Yet to date, as of 2017, he asserts that Christians retain homosexual or SSA desires well after conversion. These retained desires now in the broader narrative are not temptations but taken as proof of “orientation”. One of the primary contributors to this determination is psychologist Mark Yarhouse. He was commissioned by DA Carson of The Gospel Coalition to develop this ideology for TGC and TEDS “Christin on Campus Initiative ” and it was applied as the gold standard on sexuality and to the general topic of the church and homosexuality in 2010 (same time as the Lausanne Movement South Africa meetings launched the works it had commissioned developing the SSA narrative and elevating Tim Keller – Carson’s co-founder at TGC). Yarhouse assertions that Sexual Orientation is proven and a reality then concludes a person with homosexual temptation has a homosexual of LGBTQ+ “Sexual Identity ” . If that individual holds to a faith then they also have a “Faith Identity”. If that faith does not affirm LGBTQ+ identity or practices then they resulting “conflict” must be resolved. The Yarhouse resolution is to merge the Sexual Identity with Faith Identity in an acceptance of a “Gay Christian Identity “. If that individual’s faith tradition does not affirm homosexual behavior then the critical piece of the process for resolution is to advocate celibacy or mixed orientation marriages where one opposite-sex partner identifies as homosexual the other as heterosexual. THIS is the answer that Lausanne, TGC , and others who follow in their wake have decided to develop and promote to the church and from the church to a lost world. The question for the reader? “Is this the Gospel and the Power of Christ sacrifice to save sinners and make us saints? A simple study of scripture and the testimony of millions of redeemed souls no longer in bondage to past sins or the temptations to engage in them – and no longer defined by nuanced language to coddle and preserve them – stand in total opposition to this sad and false set of unbiblical beliefs.
The approach to SSA Christianity mirrors the “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic” of Alcoholics Anonymous and does not reflect Biblical salvation. SSA begs acceptance by the church of a sexual orientation to homosexuality. Therefore, if orientation exists as an inborn trait, then homosexual attraction is something that cannot change and the church “must begin its journey toward acceptance” of the new science, understanding, language, and an era of inclusion. The only verdict yet to be determined is whether we in the church will continue to REQUIRE celibacy by the newly labeled victims of SSA as the determinate for inclusion in the faith and in the church and in leadership roles within it.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
You can see from articles linked below where this 2010 development of and 2013 full launch of the Lausanne Movements SSA branding and language have taken the church thus far. Sam Allberry /Living Out ministry has introduced a “Church Audit on LGBTQ+ Inclusion ” which will be coming to the States in November 2018 through TGC affiliated 9MARKS churches of Southern Baptist Mark Dever. Tim Keller was the keynote speaker at the June 2018 meetings of Living Out where the Church Inclusion Audit was launched.
In the lead up to the June meetings with Keller in London, Living Out endorsed the radical Revoice Conference” for out U S audience ” which is “promoting “LGBTQ+ flourishing ( a favorite word of Keller and Lausanne and their associated think tanks ) in historic Christian traditions”. Both the Revoice group and Living Out want the Church to Rethink and Revoice the conversation of homosexuality in the church . The word salad and nuancing that was drafted in 2010 and launched in earnest in 2013 by Lausanne, The Gospel Coalition, Christian media , and a host of others- continues to mute the voices of opposition and distort and twist the scriptures , muddle clarity , and promote the normalization of a Gay Christianity to an unsuspecting evangelical church on a global scale. Key research articles tracking this decline into full compliance -acceptance- welcome and eventually affirmation of the global LGBTQ+ agenda by the global church can be found at this link. Here are a few key articles related to the advance of the SSA narrative and the decline of Biblical perspective on the issue of the Gospel and LGBTQ+.
The following are a video and article that may help the reader decide if these talking points are Biblical or more driven by emotions and the changing times. A great deal is riding on the present considerations as no denomination has historically ever continued to grow as a result of affirming, including, welcoming LGBTQ and none have recovered from the onset of steep decline once the bridge is crossed.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Thomas Littleton and first published at Thirty Pieces of Silver]