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The New Christians

Do you think that Christian leaders who publicly support same sex marriage, gay rights, etc., should be pushed out of the closet?

Last fall, I publicly affirmed gay marriage as a Christian and biblically virtuous lifestyle. Of course, not all Christians agree with me. But some do. In fact, some Christian leaders do.

marriage.jpgLast weekend I was on the phone with one such leader (don’t even try to guess). He supports gay couples in his congregation — he’s a pastor — and he answers questions honestly when asked. But he also knows that as his influence rises (speaking, book deals, etc.), he’ll suffer consequences for telling the truth.

Another friend of mine who has never made a public pronouncement on the issue of homosexuality recently had a two-book deal nixed by a publisher, in large part on the issue of homosexuality. When he asked them to point to one instance of his positioning on this issue, they could not. But they said it was enough that he hadn’t spoken out against homosexuality and that he hung around people (ahem) who do support gay marriage.

And yet other Christian leaders on the progressive side of evangelicalism consistently tap dance when asked about homosexuality. Because, you see, if they indicate in any way that they’re softening on the issue, they’ll get Ciziked.

And then, goodbye Zondervan, Baker, and Thomas Nelson. So long Q, Catalyst, and NPC. See you later Origins.


But my friend on the phone pushed back at me when I said that to stay silent about an issue on which someone has gained a conviction lacks integrity, especially when there’s book contracts and speaking gigs on the line. He said that it’s an issue of calling. Some, he said, are called to speak out about contentious issues like same sex marriage, but others are not. Their roles are pastors, not prophets.

I see his point, but it rings a bit hollow to me. On the other hand, I admit that I am in no way neutral on this issue, and just a year ago I was on the other side: I kept quiet about my emerging viewpoint because I didn’t want Emergent Village to get tarred-and-feathered because of me.

So, I put it to you? Does a Christian leader who supports gay rights and gay marriage, but refuses to say so in public, lack integrity? Or is it an issue of calling? Or is it yet something else that I fail to see?

(This is NOT a debate about same sex marriage, per se. It’s about how those of us who are Christian “leaders” (yes, I say that with a smirk on my face) should act publicly.)

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