I missed it at the time, but apparently emerging church guru Brian McLaren suggested in 2006 that Christians have a five year moratorium on dealing with the subject of homosexuality. He wrote:
Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out. Maybe this moratorium would help us resist the “winds of doctrine” blowing furiously from the left and right, so we can patiently wait for the wind of the Spirit to set our course.
The translation of this has turned out to be, “I’m trying to figure out a way to agree with liberals in repudiating biblical teaching without losing my evangelical cred. Give me a few years to come up with something.” Judging by what I’ve read from him in the meantime (you didn’t really think he’d take his own call for a moratorium seriously, did you?), he hasn’t come up with anything, the result of which is that he is increasingly lionized by leaders in the mainline/sideline/deadline churches, and ignored in all but the Sojourners wing of evangelicalism.
Anyway, with the end of the five years coming up this Sunday, Stand Firm directed my attention to a blog called Pyromaniacs, which I suspect is going to become regular reading for me. In it, Frank Turk takes on McLaren in a way I could not hope to top. So I’ll give you a bit of it here to whet your whistle, and urge you to stop by and check out the whole thing:
You asked us to take 5 years off and to think about these things and see if we couldn’t come up with something “windy” to say about the whole ordeal. Frankly, I think your alleged agnosticism here on the issue is well undercut by the way you frame the view that homosexuality is a sin, and by the way you frame the humanity (or the lack thereof) of those who would say so. But that’s neither here nor there, because here we are, 5 years later, and I’m writing to tell you what some of us have come up with.
First off: your public comments have not improved with time — not on this subject, or any other….So as we consider your words and the challenge you gave us, let’s not pretend they were high-minded words of concern for the health and welfare of Christian love and belief: they were overtly words meant to scare people into being what you wanted them to be.
Second: the discussion itself is an interesting one because you seem to think this is a question which was unasked and unanswered in the last 2000 years — when in fact most places in the West under Christendom (and all the places in the East under Christendom) unanimously have rejected the question as untenable. The longer I have personally considered this question as you have framed it, the less cogent the question becomes. It is based on nothing but your clan’s assertions that the moral issue needs to be reopened.
Let’s face it, Brian: what you’re really saying in this discussion is that Jesus wasn’t really speaking from the Jewish tradition of moral and ethical reasoning. If we’re to be as generous as possible with you that’s just wishful anachronism on your part — but truthfully you find “science” and “philosophy” as compelling as whatever it was Jesus was on about. You may in fact be an advocate of Doug Pagitt’s view that the bible is only one voice which needs to be considered in a community of voices — and that, only as one of a past generation.
Third on my list of items for writing to you today is that if you want to go the route of L. Ron Hubbard and start your own religion, I offer you that as a clear and cogent solution to the many problems you face right now. You’ve written a few manifestos, and a few books, and you have a legion of followers who are spiritual but not religious, and you also have experience with trying to make a conversation into something more — and to paraphrase Edison, at least you now know one way in which establishing a new religion will not work. If you want to establish a religion in which there is no ethical or moral difference between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions, I say swing for the wall. Please establish that religion — but please stop trying to make this into an issue about what Jesus would “really” do.
What Jesus would really do is take the list of sins found in the Old Testament and proclaim them all from a mountainside, making all people doubt that they have any hope at all of being seen as righteous before God, and then when he had their attention and their conviction under the law of Moses, he would tell them that God saves sinners who repent. And then he would get on a cross and die for the sake of the sins of world, and raise himself from the dead to prove he wasn’t kidding.
As they say in the blog biz, read it all.