How Do Evangelical Churches Talk About Homosexuality?
Chu begins this section with one major theme: that among people leaving Christianity these days, judgmental behavior is the strongest factor spurring their departures. Secondly, he expresses surprise that Christian theology, even an idea as traditional as "God intends sex only for a marriage between a man and a woman," is expressed in such divergent ways (not to mention the many alterations of tradition). "It's almost as if people are speaking entirely different languages. And it's almost as if people are preaching totally different faiths."
In Part Two ("struggling") he describes Exodus International's approach to homosexuality, a mixed-orientation marriage, and the celibacy of a same-sex oriented man. Included here is transcript of an interview with Ted Haggard, who, after some strangely aggressive words at the beginning of the interview, settled down into some thoughtful discussion of his recent years. The accuracy and nuance with which Chu describes Exodus ministries is remarkable, given the organization's rapid changes of late. The story of 57-year-old Kevin Olson, life-long celibate with same-sex attraction, is wonderful. Chu engages Olson's story with Wesley Hill's (Washed and Waiting), raising good questions for Christians who advocate celibacy as the only biblical option other than marriage between a man and a woman. Though Olson is lonely and restrains himself from forbidden intimacy, he also conveys to Chu that celibacy is more than inaction; it's also an active pursuit of eternal joy and contentment in his relationship with God.
Part Three ("reconciling") describes a variety of progressive and/or liberal Christians and churches. Some don't rewrite their theology or view of the Bible; rather, they are shifting their "posture" from judgment to love. For example, David Johnson's ministry in South Carolina focuses on inviting gays and lesbians into a living relationship with God. He sees his role as reminding them that "God loves you no matter what," letting the implications for their sexual lives get worked out over time, rather than predetermining them up front. Others more explicitly alter tradition; Chu visits the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco and other locations on the "reconciling" extreme. He describes them as celebrating people more than focused on God, and says some participants even report an "oversexualized atmosphere." His conservative background shines through when he concludes that "by building the church as if it were fundamentally about making ourselves feel better, I wonder if we also totally miss God."