Thursday, January 7, 2010

Marinating views on homosexuality (UK style)

Marinating has to do with absorbing, changing taste and texture slowly. Andrew Marin is a US writer who is making his presence felt around the theme of (in my words) 'a new approach by evangelicals to issues concerning homosexuality', particularly with this book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. Peter Ould of An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy reports this comment by Andrew Marin after a visit to the UK:

"But the main difference that stuck out to me though, was that from the numbers of straight conservative Christians I talked to in England about the gay community I continued to receive two profound answers that were very consistent among almost everyone I talked to (I’m going to paraphrase here):

'Gays and lesbians are such an ingrained part of mainstream culture that their sexuality isn’t a big deal and we’re (Christians) are already over it'.


'The church isn’t giving the younger generation any theological or practical framework on how to properly engage this topic, and because of that the next generation is scared to say what they believe because they know it won’t be accepted; or they are torn because since there is no framework, how can a traditional interpretation of Scripture actually be lived out in culture when their examples are either dodging the question all together because they don’t want to make a scene or they’re a part of a small minority that thrives on making a scene?'

And from my perspective, therein lies the great debate within conservative Christendom in England. Which route is the church going to take – they’re over it (?), are they going to dig their heals in like American Christians have and fight (?), or are they going to try to figure out how to peacefully and productively engage a growing population of people that doesn’t need conservative Christianity to exist?
What are your thoughts?"

Peter Ould's own response to these comments by Andrew Marin is this:

"Well I’ll tell you what I think. I think the people Marin has listened to are absolutely right. The “culture war” about the acceptance of GLBT people and institutions like Civil Partnerships is over here in the UK. Conservative Christians need to be concentrating on the real issue which is how do we do mission in a country which has a completely different ethical basis than the Judeo-Christian model which we might prefer but that we need to recognise simply no longer runs the roosts in Britain.

"We need to equip the new generation of spirit-filled believers not with the old fashioned rhetorical devices of standing on street corners and berating a pagan culture, but rather with the theological tools to think clearly and biblically about human sexuality in the twenty-first century and how best to reach out to a broken society. Do we do that mission by always telling people they’re sinners, or do we love people first and wait for the Spirit to move in them, never compromising what we believe but at the same time never compromising on recognising the imago dei in everyone?"

I myself, here in Aotearoa NZ, do not want to offer a view on what our 'younger generation' is thinking. Partly because I am not confident of being closely in touch with it; partly because what I do think I know suggests that their might be a mixed response, some quite conservative, some quite open to the way things have generally become in our society (where we too, like the UK, have civil partnerships, except we call them civil unions).

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