Biblical Silence?

Your candor in approaching the issue of homosexuality is to be commended [“Ex-Gay: Can Homosexuals Really Change?” Aug. 18]. How the church views its homosexual brothers and sisters is a vital item on the evangelical agenda. One thing puzzles some of us, however. Why the silence on the biblical position? Stanton Jones [“Homosexuality According to Science”] mentions the church’s “historic stance,” but there is no defense or articulation of that stance anywhere in your cluster of articles. And if you think the average layperson has a working understanding of the texts (and contexts) involved, then you might be in for a shock!

Rev. Gary McCary

Point Loma Seventh-day Adventist Church

San Diego, Calif.

Jones’s article was depressing. Surely CT can find an author willing to read a little more broadly in the scientific literature. Where were the references to physiology, animal behavior, neurochemistry, and sociology? This narrow reading by the author leaves the reader convinced that homosexuality might just be what the progay faction claims it to be—a fixed, integral part of a person’s identity. Good physiologists like Masters and Johnson have shown this to be false.

Jones says homosexuality is no worse than other sins. For the sinner, that may be true; but for the teacher who fails to teach about this activity, the guilt is more.

P. M. Webster, M.D.

Sunnybrook Hospital

Toronto, Ont., Canada

If gay people are largely not responsible for being gay, and have little or no hope of ever being other than gay, then the church is in serious error if it continues to sit in judgment of their romantic feelings toward their partners. I think it is the height of chauvinistic cruelty for those that have theirs and have it sanctioned by church, culture, and society to deny my right to enjoy the same. As long as it is within the confines of a loving, caring, committed, and monogamous relationship, my experience of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness is as valid as that of all the Cooks and Comiskys.

P. Thomas Cahill

San Francisco, Calif.

Ralph Blair has the strange notion that genital sex outside of marriage is moral as long as the sex is unnatural, and as long as one does not have what he nebulously calls “the gift of celibacy.” What a convenient rationalization!

Apparently Blair does not approve of adultery and fornication—just promiscuity for gays. No wonder he is a popular counselor with them.

Dan Lyons

Catholic Communications

Bloomsbury, N.J.

Kevin Pope’s cover illustration beautifully summarized all three articles: Yes, homosexuals can change, but with difficulty. I noticed something else very significant about the picture. There were few people in it. Perhaps if more Christians dared to get involved, the task of ex-gay ministry would be greatly expedited.

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Arthur Roberts

Novato, Calif.

Your cover story avoids the real issue, namely: Can God change homosexuals? If not, we worship a cruel God indeed, who commands moral behavior without providing the power to practice it.

Rev. Gordon Dalbey

Torrance, Calif.

Not only are these articles untruthful, misleading, and unscientific, they are poor psychology and bad theology. Gay and lesbian people are neither introduced nor are playing a third-gender role. Gay and lesbian Christians are simply human persons with erotic and loving preferences for same-sex relationships. There is no need for Exodus, Harvest, Vineyard, or Quest Learning centers. What is needed are open and affirming churches, nonjudging counseling, and holy unions celebrated to end the antigay homophobia rampant in today’s society.

Rev. Timm Peterson

Reconciling People

Chicago, Ill.

All of us are still in kindergarten when it comes to understanding the phenomenon of homosexuality. But there is another phenomenon, the existence of which none of us can deny, that may point to the ultimate solution: agape.

There is a relationship between agape and homosexuality. If “God is agape,” and if he created us male and female, it follows that agape is essentially heterosexual when it is manifested in humanity. The verb agapaō is used in the command, “Husbands, love your wives.” When heterosexual love goes awry, agape makes possible the path of duty and fidelity by creating the miracle of self-denial; and feelings of infidelity that are otherwise impossible to change are changed.

No philosopher or psychologist can account for the origin of agape except for a lonely cross on a hill outside Jerusalem. For us sinful human beings to experience it is as naturally “impossible” as it seems for sexual orientation to be changed. In the horror of the experience of God-forsakenness that Christ tasted on his cross when he exercised his choice to remain faithful in spite of those pressures not to, he forged out of that darkness what we call the miracle of the atonement—a reconciliation of irreconcilables.

In a true heart appreciation of Christ’s atonement, the “impossibly” alienated human soul is changed. “He who abides in agape abides in God, and God in him.” This is how faith works.

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Robert J. Wieland

Meadow Vista, Calif.

Celibacy is not a gift, it is a discipline.

Richard H. Parvin

Woodland Hills, Calif.

How We Handled Hand Raising

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. But who would have expected it from mild-mannered, rational, Jim Moseley, one of our leading laymen? The guy raised not one arm but two during the first hymn.

Now Jim always sits close to the front, so there was no hiding it. And we’re not talkin’ one of those half-hearted palms-up-at-the-waist-to-humor-the-song-leader efforts you see at big rallies. No sir, those arms went all the way up.

Mabel Zwimmer, who sits behind and to the left of the Moseleys, wobbled a bit, grabbed the pew in front of her, then finally had to sit down. Jim’s teenage son buried his face even deeper than usual into his hymnal, while his sister turned to friends with one of those “who is this guy?” looks. And our song leader fell two measures behind before he was able to collect himself.

After church, our pastor called an emergency meeting of the deacons. “I’m sure you all noticed Jim’s, uh, expression of praise this morning,” he began. “And I’m not suggesting what he did was out of place. But I thought we should at least discuss it, in case any of you think we have a problem here.”

One of the deacons said it didn’t really bother him, but he wondered what visitors might think. Another deacon allowed how he once felt like raising his hands, but decided not to. No one came right out and said anything against raising hands, but one of the deacons said we at least ought to appoint a committee to establish some guidelines for this and other examples of “spiritual exuberance.”

The pastor asked for a show of hands from anyone who would like to serve on such a committee. Too bad Jim’s not a deacon.

Not a hand was lifted.


No Absolute Monarchy

In his “Senior Editors” column of August 18, George Brushaber reveals the terrible power of a fundamentally faulty root metaphor in the understanding of Christian faith. He tells about a pleasant encounter with the benign and essentially powerless monarch of Sweden, then proceeds to contrast that current style of kingship with that of the Bible. Real kings, he says, were absolute, and God is like that only more so. The ancient earthly tyrant is the model for the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

But the whole thrust of the Bible is a polemic against absolute monarchy, beginning with Samuel’s effort to keep kings out of Israel entirely. The kings of the Bible are virtually all horrible examples of the evils of concentrated and unchecked power. Jesus nailed absolute power to the wall when he said, “It shall not be so among you; the greatest among you shall be servants.”

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Surely in the serving and suffering Christ we see a symbol of the divine and the true power of deity far more authentic than any Ahab or Nebuchadnezzar—or even David or Solomon as seen through the mists of idealizing Hebrew chauvinism.

David M. Stowe

Tenafly, N.J.

World Evangelization

Thank you for the coverage of the Lausanne II Congress in Manila [News, Aug. 18], We are hoping this “global camp meeting” will result in hard and effective thinking, planning, and evangelizing together.

I would like to amplify several statements I made to CT at the end of the congress.

First, [though] we may have misjudged in asking Jack Hayford to lead the closing commitment time after he and J. I. Packer had spoken from different perspectives on the Holy Spirit, I would like to make it clear that his leadership in worship and at other sessions was a blessing to many of the folks there, including myself.

Second, with regard to balance in plenary speakers, the program committee did a tremendous job under real time constraints in choosing speakers [representing a wide spectrum]. There were a few lacks in representation, but overall, it was magnificent.

Third, though the A.D. 2000 conference held last January was not sponsored by Lausanne, we do encourage all groups that are committed to biblical evangelization. The prominent inclusion of A.D. 2000 at Manila shows this.

It is my prayer that the Manila congress will lead to bold action for world evangelization in the years ahead.

Leighton Ford


Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization

If ever CT “damned with faint praise,” it was its totally inadequate article describing Lausanne II. Had the headline been describing Pentecost, it might have read, “Small City Revival Meeting.” The subtitle, “The whole gospel poses tough questions for participants,” misleads as if no solutions were considered. They were; in 44 “tracks,” 4,000 people spent an average of 10 hours each during the 10 days. Basic, strategic issues in contemporary world evangelization were seriously tackled by well-prepared leaders and participants.

The participants from 180-plus countries made this probably the most representative gathering of Christian leaders in church history. Scores came from what were “unreached people groups” at Lausanne I in 1974.

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Also, Ray Bakke was either misquoted or in error when he said, “In 1974 we almost had to sneak in the message of social ministry.” But plenary speakers and small groups dealt with it significantly then, though not as frequently as at Manila; 1974 also produced a second, little-noticed statement, “The Radical Discipleship Statement,” which voiced significant social concerns.

Finally, younger leaders were there in greater force and percentage than at any similar congress. Flaps and flaws there were at Lausanne II, but CT’s short summary was not worthy of Lausanne II.

Donald E. Hoke

Treasurer, LCWE

Knoxville, Tenn.

Prayers For China

After reading the editorial “Please Remember China” [by David Adeney, Aug. 18], I felt there were two gaps. First, my issue did not have a China update article in the News section, although the editorial encouraged me to see it.

Second, I was disappointed that Adeney did not call for prayers for the leaders of the Christian community in China who, several years ago, helped Ruth Bell Graham visit the land of her birth. Some, particularly Bishops K. H. Ting, Sun Yanlee, and Shen Yifan, welcomed Billy Graham and opened their pulpits to him in Beijing, Shanghai, and other places.

Marvin D. Hoff

President, Western Theological Seminary

Holland, Mich.

We regret the fact that the China update news article had to be bumped to the September 8 issue for lack of space.


The Ewci And Lesbianism

Your reporter made an untrue statement about the Evangelical Women’s Caucus [News, Aug 18]. EWCI at its 1986 conference did not “endorse lesbianism,” as the writer says. Rather, a majority of the members at the conference approved a resolution to take “a firm stand in favor of civil rights protection for homosexual persons”—a resolution far from endorsing lesbianism.

Gertrude Beversluis

Ada, Mich.

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