I read with interest - and some pain - the first few days' worth of responses to my article. I thought that some readers would be interested in a few of my responses to their responses.
Before beginning though, I should say that I just learned today that Leadership Journal/CTI has an informal editorial policy on homosexuality. I was unaware of this policy when I wrote the article. If I had known, I wouldn't have submitted the article because it assumes a variety of opinion on the issue that is beyond the journal's policy. If I were a guest in your home, I wouldn't knowingly bring up subjects that are against family policy, out of common courtesy as guest to host ? and I feel that I have been rude, albeit unintentionally, in causing discomfort to the hosts and readers of this column. Please do not hold the hosts responsible for your disapproval of my guest column. In my defense, I was told that the subject of this issue was sexuality, and I was simply trying to offer something of value to pastoral leaders on this subject. But I should have inquired as to a policy on this subject before writing my column. Speaking of rudeness, I would also like to express my dismay that the editors allowed my friend Doug Pagitt to be treated despicably in one response. I'm glad they removed the most offensive sentence, but I find it stunning that people would applaud that kind of thing. I would much rather stand with Doug as ones being insulted than stand with those casting or celebrating the insults.
Now, on to some responses.
First, readers should know that titles are often created by editors, not the writers themselves. In this case, I wouldn't choose the title "More Important Than Being Right" that was used in the Journal. I said that being right wasn't enough, and that we also must also be wise, loving, patient, and pastoral. None of these things are necessarily more important than being right, but they are all important along with being right in "finding a pastoral response" (which was a more helpful title, included in the blog). Similarly, in the text, I never said that being right was unimportant ? only that we must also be pastoral.
Second, a number of responders suggested I lack concern for being Biblical or caring about truth. These readers must have missed this sentence, "To put it biblically, we want to be sure our answers are ?seasoned with salt' and appropriate ?to the need of the moment' (Col. 4, Eph. 4)," where I refer to Scripture to support the main point of the article (which was not the legitimacy of homosexual behavior, but rather the need for pastoral sensitivity). Many readers seem to assume that by quoting verses from Leviticus, Romans, and 1 Corinthians, they have solved the problem. It looks like an open-and-shut case to them, and the only reason they can surmise for the fact that some of us find the issue more complex is that we must be ignorant, lazy, rebellious, incompetent, cowardly, compromised, or postmodern.
Please be assured that as a pastor and as someone who loves and seeks to follow the Bible, I am aware of Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and related texts. Believe me, I have read them and prayerfully pondered them, and have read extensively on all the many sides of the issue. I understand that for many people, these verses end all dialogue and people like me must seem horribly stupid not to see what's there so clearly to them. I wish they could understand that some of us encounter additional levels of complexity when we try honestly and faithfully to face these texts. We have become aware of as-yet unanswered scholarly questions, such as questions about the precise meaning of malakoi and arsenokoitai in Paul's writings, and we wonder why these words were used in place of paiderasste, the meaning of which would be much clearer if Paul's intent were to address behavior more like what we would call homosexuality. (If responses are posted to this submission, please ? there is no need to reply that you know the actual meaning of these disputed Greek words. There are dozens of websites that already address these important issues in great detail, but they are peripheral matters to what I was trying to say in the original article and here as well.)