You get the sense, observing the shifting cultural landscape, that we’ve reached a point on gay rights that is similar to that moment in a football game, or an election, or a relationship, when you know it’s over even though it’s not over.
It appears increasingly obvious that social acceptance of gay men and lesbians and insistence on their equal rights are inexorable. If the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” weren’t enough to signal the turning point, or the classification of several gay-resisting Christian right organizations as “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there came news that Exodus International was ending its involvement in the anti-homosexuality “Day of Truth” in U.S. high schools. “We need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace,” Exodus President Alan Chambers explained, “while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether we agree with them or not.”
Add it up, and you see a decision point at hand for socially conservative Christian groups such as the Family Research Council that have led resistance to gay rights. Do they fight to the last ditch, continue shouting the anti-gay rhetoric that rings false and mean to the many Americans who live and work with gay people, or who themselves are gay? Or do they soften their tone and turn their attention to other fronts?
Prayerful discernment and simple Christian decency would strongly suggest the latter. The alternative looks worse by the day — a quixotic battle more likely to discredit its fighters and their fine religion than win any hearts and minds for Jesus. Christianity has far worthier causes than this.For all its drama and rally-the-troops appeal, “fighting to the end” is a sure loser. More and more Americans — young people in particular, Christians very much included — know gay men and lesbians and see how the anti-gay talking points and caricatures fail to square with the reality under our noses.
But the Bible says … “Young Christians increasingly have family members who are gay, have people in their lives who really matter to them who are gay, and that changes how they approach these issues,” says Gabe Lyons, author of the new book The Next Christians and a leader and chronicler of the new generation of evangelicals. “This doesn’t mean their convictions on the matter have changed, but in this new environment, people don’t want to see their friends being discriminated against; they don’t want them labeled as someone who should be feared and blamed.”
In explaining its withdrawal from the “Day of Truth,” Exodus International outlines a smart way forward for conservative Christian groups — one that does not require that they sacrifice their core beliefs. Note that Alan Chambers did not announce a change in his organization’s philosophy that people can be saved from homosexuality through faith in Christ. What he did signal, though, was a change in tone and emphasis, and in doing so he invoked a foundational Christian principle: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
- "For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." -- I Cor. 13:12
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