The Emerging Church and Homosexuality

The following is excerpted from What Is the Emerging Church? which is available from Way of Life in print and eBook editions --

Brian McLaren says: 

In December 2006, McLaren spoke at the Open Door Community Church in Sherwood, Arkansas. The church’s web site says: 

“The leadership at Open Door Community Churches are excited to see gay and non-gay Christians worshiping together as one. We believe that gay and non-gay Christians can and should come to the table of the Lord together, side by side, without labels. We believe that as these two historically separate communities join together at the cross of Jesus Christ a healing and a new understanding of oneness in Christ occurs in both groups. We are part of a growing revival of grace-filled Christians transcending either the terms ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’ Above all things, we are a GRACE CHURCH! We are a family embracing the full spectrum of race, age, gender, family status, sexual orientation, economic status and denominational background.”

In September 2012, McLaren’s son Trevor “married” Owen Ryan in a civil ceremony led by Brian at Woodend Sanctuary of the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, Maryland (“Weddings/Celebrations,”
New York Times, Sept. 23, 2012).

Tony Jones, National Coordinator of the Emerging Village, says:

“I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state” (Jones, “How I Went from There to Here: Same Sex Marriage Blogalogue,” Nov. 18, 2008, 

On January 18, 2009, Jones wrote: “Adele Sakler, whom I’ve known for a few years, has started yet another ‘hyphenated’ group within the emergent network-of-networks. She’s calling it ‘Qeermergent,’ and, as you might guess, it’s focused on GLBTQ issues.”   

Doug Pagitt says: 

“It we have a theology formed in a worldview that sees sexuality as sin, our means, intentions, and explanations of sexuality will be affected” (
Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, p. 140). 

In an interview Chris Seay said: 

“In your community, are you called to the gospel of Christ, or are you called to be the moral police? Approach homosexuals without condemnation but with God’s love and the gospel” (“Shayne Wheeler and Chris Seay on Homosexuals and the Church,”, June 19, 2007). 

Spencer Burke believes that “the evangelical church may be wrong about homosexuality” ('spencer%20burke%20homosexuality).

Donald McCullough says that “condemning homosexuality feels natural because about 95 percent of us could never imagine engaging in such a practice” but “in a world turned upside down by grace, we must distrust whatever feels natural” (
If Grace Is So Amazing, Why Don’t We Like It, pp. 201, 202). 

Donald Miller tells of an experience he had as a guest on a conservative radio talk show program. He was asked what he thought about the homosexuals who are trying to take over the country. Instead of expressing concern about the radical homosexual agenda, Miller naively claimed that he wasn’t aware of such a thing and expressed more concern about Christians who oppose homosexuals (pp. 187-189). He said that “morality as a battle cry against a depraved culture is simply not a New Testament idea” (p. 186). He said that if Christians are “using war rhetoric to communicate a battle mentality, we are fighting on Satan’s side” (p. 190). 

Tony Campolo believes that homosexuals are usually born that way, that it is not a “volitional” problem. Campolo’s wife, Peggy, supports homosexual marriage. In fact, she is affiliated with the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, the mission of which is “to create and support a community of churches, organizations and individuals committed to the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the full life and mission of Baptist churches.” At the New Baptist Covenant Celebration (AWAB) in Atlanta in January 2008, which I attended with press credentials, I interviewed an AWAB council member named Kathy Stayton. She said that she does not believe the first three chapters of Genesis are literal history, that marriage is a divinely-ordained institution, or that homosexual acts, even outside of “committed relationships,” are sinful. 

At their booth at the new Baptist Covenant Celebration the AWAB was distributing an article by Peggy Campolo entitled “Some Answers to the Most Common Questions about God’s GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered] Children” from the Summer 2000 edition of
The InSpiriter. She counsels homosexuals to “ask the Holy Spirit to give you a sense of God’s timing” about “coming out” of the closet! She says, “I can celebrate the committed monogamous partnerships of my gay brothers and lesbian sisters.” 

Jim Wallis, founder of
Sojourners, says in his book The Great Awakening (2008), that “civil rights for gay and lesbian people and equal protection under the law for same-sex couples” is “a justice issue” (p. 229). It appears that he doesn’t believe that homosexuality is the moral abomination that the Bible says it is, because it would be difficult to understand why a professing Christian would think that it would be “just” to legalize a moral abomination. He also says that he supports “civil unions” and “spiritual ‘blessings’ for gay couples.” 

Dan Kimball says:

“Because this is such a huge issue in our culture, and because all of the tension and discussion on this issue is over what the Bible says about it, we can no longer just regurgitate what we have been taught about homosexuality. ... As I talk to them and hear their stories and get to know them, I come to understand that their sexual orientation isn’t something they can just turn off. Homosexual attraction is not something people simply choose to have, as is quite often erroneously taught from many pulpits” (
They Like Jesus but Not the Church, pp. 137, 138). 

Philip Yancy was scheduled as the keynote speaker at the Gay Christian Network’s annual Mountain Top Experience in January 2011. The other main speaker is “Rev.” Ann Phillips who “has been married for four years to her soulmate, Heather Wayne.” Obviously he will not be condemning their unrepentant sin. 

In a 2004 interview with Candace Chellew-Hodge for
Whosoever, a homosexual publication, Yancy said,

“When it gets to particular matters of policy, like ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, I’m confused, like a lot of people (“Amazed by Grace,”
Whosoever online magazine). 

In 2013, Rob Bell, author of
Velvet Elvis and former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, said that he supports same sex “marriage.” During a guest appearance at the apostate Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Bell said, “I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man” (‘Rob Bell Supports Same-Sex Marriage,” Christian Post, Mar. 18, 2013). 

Also in 2013 Jim Wallis of Sojourners came out in support of homosexual “marriage.” In an interview with
The Huffington Post, Wallis said:

“I think we should include same-sex couples in that renewal of marriage ... I want a deeper commitment to marriage that is more and more inclusive, and that's where I think the country is going” (“Jim Wallis Talks Faith’s Role in Politics, Gay Marriage and Immigration,”
Huffington Post, Apr. 6, 2013).

The Huffington Post asked Wallis to clarify if that meant he specifically supports same-sex marriage, Wallis answered, “Yes.”

In a 2008 interview with
Christianity Today Wallis had opposed “same-sex marriage,” saying, "I don’t think the sacrament of marriage should be changed. Some people say that Jesus didn't talk about homosexuality, and that's technically true. But marriage is all through the Bible, and it's not gender-neutral.” 

The Bible hasn’t changed, and Jesus hasn’t changed, but “evangelicalism” has continued its apostasy from God’s Word.


The Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality unequivocally. 

The Bible teaches that sexual relationships and activities outside of the holy bond of marriage are sinful. “
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). From the beginning, the Bible defines lawful marriage as a holy union between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:21-25), and Christ pointed back to the beginning as the divine standard (Mat. 19:4-6). The Law of Moses defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman (Mal. 2:14-15). Since sexual relationships outside of marriage are sinful and since the Bible nowhere legitimizes marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, it is obvious that homosexuality is forbidden. It is nowhere legitimized by Scripture. To say that homosexual unions are right is to reject the authority of the Bible. 

In the Old Testament, homosexual practice is condemned severely. The homosexuals in Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire from Heaven (Genesis 18:1-24). Homosexual activists claim that the cities were destroyed for their lack of hospitality or for some reason other than homosexuality, but the New Testament makes it clear that they were destroyed for their “filthy conversation” (2 Peter 2:6-8) and their “fornication” (Jude 7). 

Under the Law of Moses homosexuality brought the death penalty:

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). 

This Law of Moses was given to Israel and it is not in force in Gentile nations today, but it does teach us what God thinks of homosexuality. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19).

What about the biblical term “sodomite”? Some say that it referred only to prostitution associated with pagan temple worship and not to homosexuality in general. It is true that the term refers to male prostitution and homosexual moral perversion practiced in connection with idolatry (Deut. 23:17; 1 Ki. 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Ki. 23:7). But the term is also identified with homosexuality and moral perversion in general. The 1828 Webster dictionary defined sodomy as “a crime against nature.” The
Webster’s Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary of 1983 defines sodomy as “any sexual intercourse regarded as abnormal, as between persons of the same sex, especially males, or between a person and an animal.” The term is descriptive of the moral perversion of the city of Sodom (Genesis 19; Jude 1:7).

The New Testament also treats homosexuality as a moral abomination. In Romans 1 homosexuality is described in especially intense terms.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:22-28). 

Paul identified homosexuality as the product of men’s rejection of God and God giving them up to their own sinful ways. This passage calls homosexuality “vile affections” (v. 26), “against nature” (v. 26), “leaving the natural” (v. 27), “unseemly” (v. 27), “reprobate mind” (v. 28), and “not convenient” (v. 28). 

The passage warns that homosexuality is the corruption of the imagination. It is the product of a reprobate mind. When the imagination is allowed to pursue wicked things it is dragged farther and farther into darkness and moral perversion, and this can begin at a very young age.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9, we learn that some of the members of the church at Corinth had been involved in homosexuality before they were saved. 

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” 

The term “effeminate” is from the Greek word “malakos.” It is used three times in the New Testament and twice it is translated “soft” (Mat. 11:8; Lk. 7:25). Webster defines it as “having the qualities of the female sex; soft or delicate to an unmanly degree; womanish.” The woman is supposed to be effeminate, but 1 Corinthians 6:9 refers to moral perversion. It refers to the passive, feminine side of homosexuality.

The term “abusers of themselves with mankind” refers to the masculine side of homosexuality. It refers to that which is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26-27). The Greek word “arsenokoites” means “to lie with, or to cohabit with, a male.” Matthew Henry (1662-1714), exemplifying the common interpretation of this term in earlier centuries, identified “abusers of themselves with mankind” with sodomy.
The Bible Exposition Commentary says: “‘Effeminate’ and ‘abusers’ describe the passive and active partners in a homosexual relationship.” 

Some try to make the case that Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality, pretending that this (if it were true) would prove that Christians should also be silent on the subject. The fact is that the He did mention homosexuality. He mentioned the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah twice in His teachings (Mark 6:10; Luke 17:29). Christ also upheld the Law of Moses (Mat. 5:18-19). Further, after His resurrection and ascension Christ sent the Holy Spirit to lead the disciples into all truth and to inspire the completion of the Scriptures (John 16:7-15). All of the words of the New Testament are given by divine inspiration and are inerrantly authoritative and come to us as revelation from Jesus Christ. 

The New Testament commands us to abhor and reprove the evil works of darkness.

To say that it is wrong for Christians to reprove sin in society is to reject the Bible’s own instruction. 

“But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done” (Luke 3:19).

“Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9)

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). 

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). 

The homosexual can be saved by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. 

Paul speaks of the homosexuality in the church at Corinth in the past tense -- “
and such WERE some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11). The members of the church at Corinth had repented of their sin and had become new creatures in Christ. No sinner is so evil that God cannot save him, but he must repent of his sin rather than justify it, and when God saves He changes (2 Corinthians 5:17). This doesn’t mean the believer is sinless; it means he is converted and he delights in righteousness even when he doesn’t always live up to God’s righteous standards.

The modern movement to allow homosexuals into churches without repenting of homosexuality is unscriptural. Bible believers are not “homophobic” any more than they are “adulteryphobic” or “thiefphobic” or “lierphobic.” They do not hate homosexuals. They simply believe that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin before God and that men must repent of sin in order to be saved. 

They also know that homosexuality is a special kind of sin in the sense that it is a sin against nature itself and a sin that is a particular attack upon biblical marriage and therefore has the power to corrupt society in a unique way.


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