Recently, Tony Jones made a plea for all Christian leaders who are affirming of same-sex relationships to publicly state their support and “come out of the closet” so to speak. I certainly understand Tony’s desire for others to show their hand and in the case of non-pastors, I completely agree with him. But when it comes to pastors, I don’t think it’s necessary and, in the end, could ultimately be hurtful. I have friends who are pastors that find themselves on both sides of this issue and I really do appreciate the way they all take the issue very seriously and continue to wrestle with how this issue impacts their communities.
For pastors, I don’t believe a heavy hand is helpful at all. This is an issue that has and will work itself out on the basis of the various consensuses that each church community or denomination builds on its own. And when a pastor does decide to step out and decide to publicly state his or her affirmation, one hopes they do so after listening closely to the heartbeat of their church. Yes, people will leave but the beauty of the power of consensus is that there are other churches out there with a consensus for all kinds of perspectives.
Selfishly, I really do understand Tony’s call for folks to damn the consequences and publicly state what they believe on this issue. For me this impulse is rooted in the desire to nudge progress along a bit faster than it’s current pace. But the good news for those on the affirming side of this issue is that the needle has been and continues to move in our direction. Recently, a poll was released in by the Des Moines Register showed that while folks in Iowa are pretty much split down the middle on the issue, 95% of those polled believe that since same-sex marriage has been legalized in Iowa, it has not impacted their lives negatively. Even at the recent Value Voters Summit, opposition to gay marriage has fallen dramatically as a key issue to only 7% of folks citing it as their most pressing concern (down from last year’s 20% result).
There seems to be a trend where the disconnect between Biblically literalism and direct human experience with homosexuals is growing further and further apart, much in the same way it is with the views of women’s roles in the Church. I’ve covered that ad nauseum so I’ll spare y’all the repetition. In short, as we continue to debate this issue, I do believe the cracks in the conservative dam are very real and widening ever more. Yeah, it would be great to take a wrecking ball to the dam and help progress along but I think it better to spend that energy convincing conservatives and moderates that the new river resulting from this faulty dam will ultimately be a very good thing. It might actually be enjoyable! That’s where the pastor should be be focusing their energy: promoting a new, gradually formed river. Not wrecking an already faulty dam. Leave the wrecking ball to evil, hedonist, secular, rock musicians who don’t give a shit about book deals with Christian publishers and conference organizers.