John Huffman, Jr., is getting used to controversy. Earlier this year the Presbyterian congregation he pastors in Newport Beach, California, withheld $300,000 in support from the Synod of Southern California because the synod refused to take disciplinary action against a pro-homosexual group. Instead, Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church directed the money toward starting new churches and supporting ethnic congregations within its presbytery.

During his 30 years as a pastor, Huffman has compassionately counseled practicing homosexuals in his congregation while acting as an outspoken opponent of same-sex practice in his denomination. He was one of the chief authors of the current, official statement against ordaining practicing homosexuals adopted by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Here he talks about life on the front lines of a cultural battle.

Presbyterian pastor John Huffman is caught in the crossfire in his denomination’s homosexuality debate.

People on both sides of the homosexual issue consider you an enemy. Why?

I am seen in the denomination and in the secular press as anti-homosexual. Yet some who are familiar with my pastoral ministry believe I am too accepting of gays and lesbians.

Unfortunately, the dynamic center has fallen out of American social, political, and theological discourse. The high-volume people are the ones who get heard, and these are the people moving increasingly to the Left or the Right. Those of us who try to do biblical theology in a healthy, balanced way end up being misunderstood. We sound “political,” like we’re speaking out of both sides of our mouths.

Have you and your church taken heat for withholding money from the synod over the issue of homosexuality?

Ninety to ninety-five percent of the ...

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