Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question 4: McLaren's Response

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.

January 30, 2006

Displaying 1–10 of 123 comments


February 01, 2006  1:01pm

Some justify their anger, indignation, and sarcasm by pointing to examples of Jesus' use of such. I trust that Jesus had a handle on his motives, I don't trust that you or I do. Some of the responses reek of pride and arrogance. Only God and the reflective individual really knows which ones have that source, but if I was a betting person I could probably make some good money guessing. Time for brave to do some self-examination and get past it.

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February 01, 2006  12:23pm

I'm not sure my comment is even worthwhile at this point given how many others there are. I would just like to point out that in his original article, Brian seemed to me to be asking what the best thing to say AT THAT MOMENT was. And that required sensitivity, love, and inquiry into deeper issues. It in no way negated his personal beliefs about homosexuality or biblical standards, or even the fact that there may well BE a time and place to share his standards and perhaps confront. Truth is best dispensed in the context of a loving relationship. This couple had no relationship with Brian at the moment, and certainly their fathers did not. But it is a far more powerful statement for Brian and the church to create an environment of welcome for the couple and their gay fathers than it is to blatantly state a truth that might cause all four of them to run the opposite direction and possibly out of the church altogether at that point in time. We are all floundering together as we seek to emulate Christ. There are no perfect answers in this imperfect world. But I NEVER saw Christ speak the truth in such a way that shut the door in the face of an honest, inquiring person. And that, I believe, is at the heart of the matter. Brian, I deeply respect your voice and your honest and humble attempts to be heard and understood. Thank-you.

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February 01, 2006  12:22pm

Mark Is that really your responce? C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity, calls Pride the great sin. I've watched you, listened, I even attended the Reformission conf. at Mars Hill Seattle. I have friends and children of friends who've attended "your church" and have come to the understanding that MHS is an Emergent bate and switch. Let's play relevant with crude speach then pound 5 point dogma like some sort of neo-Bill Gothard seminar. I've wanted to like and endorse your work but find myself sad. Step back, listen to your own words. Jim

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sam stilley

February 01, 2006  12:19pm

Maybe we could save some time: Could we all agree that Driscoll is arrogant and his tone is harmful to some? Could we also agree that it might be helpful for Brian to declare himself on this issue? Then, we can all get back to our respective responsiblites and ministries

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February 01, 2006  11:44am

Three things stand out to me; 1. Why did Jesus not address homosexuality? It has been apart of world history, prevalent since the begining of time as we know it. So much so that God was even willing to start fresh. ie. Noah. (Not that homosexuality was the only reason for the flood, but one of many.) We know homosexuality was around in Jesus time, just look at Romans and 1 Corinthians, writen only shortly after Jesus assended to heaven. 2. When Jesus was asked a question more often then not he answered with a question or a story, and Not an Answer. Why is that? 3. Jesus knew the answers to many of life's great debates. He is God after all. Just imagine, what would have happened if He would have corrected humanity in all our wrongs/beliefs/opinions when he walked the earth 2000 years ago?(ie.the shape of the earth, what was the center of the solar system/galaxy/universe, and even why people are homosexuals in the first place) Ps Brian keep on writing, I am continously challenged by your questions.

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February 01, 2006  10:43am

A word to the folks who are saying that Jesus and Paul used sarcasm - it's a poor comparison. Please stop. First of all, if you've ever read any first-century rhetoric you'd know that how they spoke was mild compared to their context. In other words, as compared to their context, they showed grace. Second, let's be real - Jesus was sinless in every way, including his motivations. We do not have that same perspective - we speak with mixed motives and sinful hearts. Can we be honest and say that while harsh words can be used in love, they are more often borne of anger and malice? As to Paul, again, here is someone writing under the inspiration of the Spirit to those over whom he has apostolic authority. We can claim no such impartiality, and no such authority. I notice that those of you arguing that harsh language is acceptable are "reinterpreting" the "clear teaching of scripture" to speak with grace and respect. Why the debate over something that is so apparent? Ironic, isn't it?

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Jamey Bowles

February 01, 2006  10:19am

As Christians, the Bible does tell us to confront one another in a "Biblical" way about our differences in the "Body of Christ". I am concerned with the issue that has been discussed on this blog. It has eternal implications for people throughout the world. I guess what disturbs me more is that Mr. Driscoll and Mr. McLaren having chosen to "air" their diferrences in this matter. I have a 14 year old daughter who spends a lot of time on the computer sending "instant messages" back and forth with her friends. In the matter of an hour, they could have "broken up with a boyfriend", "gotten a new boyfriend", "made a movie date for Friday", and "have that date cancelled" with everyone left feeling hurt and mad. What is a major reason this happens? Because there is no personal contact. It's very easy to say whatever you want when you don't say it to the person "face-to-face" (or even over the phone). The non-Christian world is already suspect of us. We don't need to add fuel to the fire. When they see us attacking and devouring each other, they're definitely not going to want what we've got! Mr. Driscoll and Mr. McLaren if you have not settled your differences with each other, I encourage you to do so (in person, face-to-face, or at least "voice-to-voice").You may never agree on this issue, but I believe as Christians we can "agree to disagree" on some issues as long as we believe in the authority and saving power of Jesus in our lives. I may be "just" a children's pastor out in the middle of Oklahoma, but I believe God would want nothing less than this from 2 great leaders in "His Body".

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Alan Levering

February 01, 2006  8:38am

RE: JR Rivera's Reply to Brian's orignal post ( dated January 24, 2006 01:45 PM JR Riviera wrote: "I did tell him that God is seeking a relationship with him but his life style has to change and God will give him the strength to change" One could easily infer from this that God will not get near a person UNTIL they change. As I tell many who struggle with Same-Sex Attraction, seek out God first, seek out a relationship with Him FIRST. Change will happen as a result of the relationship, not the other way around. With much love, Alan Levering, Director and Founder NCXDS Ex-Gay Christian Internet Ministries Http:// (Also an active member of an "emergent-style" church)

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Alan Levering

February 01, 2006  8:37am

RE: Brian's original post ( (I will be responding to the other post's as well) There seems to be a bit of confusion on terminology. I actually AGREE with Brian in his statement that homosexuality in itself is NOT sin. Before throwing a bucket full of stones my way, let me explain. Similar to how the Eskimos (Iniut) have many names for snow, us in Ex-gay ministry have several terms to specifically deliniate homosexuality. We use the term "Same Sex Attraction" (SSA) to describe the set of feelings and attractions an individual has towards ones own gender. The attraction is NOT sin any more than a heterosexual attraction to someone other than one's spouse is sinful. A layman may call this "attraction" under the umbrella of "homosexuality" and then further label all "homosexuality" as SIN. This is NOT the case. The bible is clear that homosexual ACTS are sinful as are any sexual ACTS outside a heterosexual marriage. The bible is also clear that sexual LUSTS (hetero- or homo-) are sinful as well. The bible is also clear that there is NOT a "pecking order" for sin. As Brian alludes to, the church has yet to figure out HOW do we love the sinner and hate the sin at the SAME level we do all other sins. There is still too much fear and misunderstanding at the local church level to allow much "loving of the sinner" to actually take place. It is a rarety to see any actual love taking place towards SSA strugglers. When was the last time any of you Chrisitan leaders had an outreach to strugglers? Was it truly in love, or did it merely look similar to the "God hates f**s" Church that is ever-present at pro-gay events. Brian shows a sensitivity that is a rarity in the local church. With much love, Alan Levering, Director and Founder NCXDS Ex-Gay Christian Internet Ministries Http:// (Also an active member of an "emergent-style" church)

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Michael Doerr

February 01, 2006  7:55am

Living in a world where we must "work out our salvation in fear and trembling" in the relationship between truth and love. Be devoted to the biblical truth? Amen. So–most here would agree that the answer to Mark Driscoll's question would be yes, all such activity is sinful. Be more devoted to living out the truth in a way that draws sinners to Christ? Even more strongly, Amen! How many of us came to Christ as adults? That is, now followers of Jesus but not brought up as a child within the church. How did you come to Christ? Can we all agree to be humble about the fact that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation? Can we all agree that compassion is not compromise? Can we all agree that "mercy triumphs over judgment"? Find the more difficult but more faithful path. Avoid the "Those people are going to hell, and aren't we glad!" bit, please. Weep for the lost. Give everything to share Jesus with the lost. And join with all the other sinners around us to become more like Jesus as we pray, live, struggle and rely on the Holy Spirit to set us free from whatever particular sin we need set free from–never losing sight of the promise that we have already been set free from all sins' power over us because Jesus already paid the price, and because Jesus is alive!!

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