“Third Way” Thoughts

Tony wrote this: Why There’s No “Third Way” on Gay Marriage

Al Mohler agreed

Zach Hoag disagreed with them both and wrote this: Yes, Al Mohler (and Tony Jones), There IS a Third Way

Pete Rollins wrote this: Gay people? North Korea, Hillsong and the Denial of Denial 

Ultimately, I think I resonate most with Tony’s conclusion, 

What I’m saying is that a church or an organization can study the issue in theory, and they can even do so for years. But this isn’t really a “third way” or a “middle ground.” Instead, it is a process. And at some point, that process has to end and practices have to be implemented. At that point, there’s no third way. You either affirm marriage equality in your practices, or you do not.

The distinction between a “third way” and a “process” is an important one. Calling what your doing a “way” indicates permanence while identifying that you’re in a process indicates a temporary arrangement. At some point, the official policies of a church need to be the markers for what kind of community it claims to be. To suggest a possible third way is to welcome gay brothers and sisters while not ever getting to a place where they can get married in the church or become church leaders….that’s not a sustainable, healthy way forward, in my opinion. It is just a conservative position dressed up as “welcoming” and “inclusive.”

One other troubling item from these posts is where Zach Hoag suggest that “genuine” inclusion can take place in churches and denominations that deem homosexuality a sin:

Beyond the theological/ethical position a church or denomination may take on gay relationships, there must be an affirmation of the existence of LGBT Christians and a loving support of both equal rights under law and genuine inclusion in the church. That is, a church or denomination may choose not to perform gay weddings. A church or denomination may even conclude that being in a gay relationship is sinful. But what a church or denomination must not do is conclude that LGBT Christians who disagree with that position are not genuine Christians. They must not do what Al Mohler (and Neo-Fundamentalists in general, like TGC, etc.) are aiming to do: close the gate of evangelicalism (really, “true Christianity”) to all open LGBT people, absolutely. 

 This, in my opinion, is a major stretch. What Hoag is asking for here is a baby step for fundamentalist church groups while branding it as “genuine” inclusion. Imagine belonging to a community of people who think your marriage is a sinful arrangement and see if in any way that would feel like real, authentic, genuine inclusion of you and your family. This might work for folks who insist on being celibate or straight regardless of orientation and that’s fine….but it’s not genuine inclusion of our gay brothers and sisters by any stretch of the imagination.