On gays, Christian youth taught with false & mis-leading doctrine

In a magazine directed toward Christian college youth, an advice column tells one student being gay is sinful, caused by bad parenting and child molestation, and finally instructs the youth to consult Focus on the Family for more information.

In the March-April 2007 issue CampusLife’s Ignite (a magazine owned by ChristianityToday.com), author and youth-worker Jim Burns (President of HomeWord ministries) takes a question. Titled, “Born Gay?” the question asks:

I have a friend who’s gay and says it’s not wrong because he was born that way. Is that true? How can I talk to him about this?

Burns proceeds to answer the young persons question in the same “nice,” “polite” way that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have come to expect from the Relgious Right:

“Your questions don’t have easy answers. Let me start by saying the Bible is clear: Just like adultery, premarital sex and all other sins, homosexual behavior is wrong (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). It is not what God intended for us when he created us as male and female. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV). Believing in that God created humans to have sex with someone of the opposite gender comes down to our belief in the Bible as the Word of God. If we commit to following the Bible, we have to admit that some things in this life are sins.”

No overtly or blatantly hateful rhetoric is present in Burns’ answer. The “politeness” of the responses from many Religious Right leaders have become commonplace in our environment. Burns gives us the reason, as he explains our “politically correct” culture:

But saying homosexuality is a sin is a hard comment to make today. Our politically correct world wants to affirm all lifestyles. Our culture doesn’t want to say anyone’s beliefs are wrong. And, many times, we don’t want to hurt people we care about by saying the way they live displeases God.

To his own credit, Burns admits that the question of what causes sexual orientation is hotly debated. He admits that the “answer isn’t a simple yes or no,” and clearly states that “We just don’t know how sexuality is determined.” But then he goes into the normal, Religious Right rhetoric again:

I believe there are several factors that can lead people to experience same-sex attraction or become confused about their sexuality. Gender confusion might be the result of a broken relationship with a same-sex parent, a shortage of certain hormones or being molested as a child.

And here is the crux of the Religious Right’s argument. Their objection to LGBT people is not based on some irrational fear of how we live our lives. Yes, some people have that irrational fear, but for the leadership of the Religious Right, upholding their traditional doctrines on gender and gender roles in society is the basis for their unfettered twisting of Christian Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible.

A man is to be a man. A woman to be a woman. Earlier in the magazine, in another article, another writer says as much: “Some believe that God, while valuing everyone equally, asigns certain roles to men and certain ones to women in the home and the church.”

That article correctly points out that “those who believe in distinct and specific roles for men and women… are ‘complementarians’ because the male and female roles are said to ‘complement’ each other.”

What neither Burns’ or the other author will tell you is that the “Complementarian Theory” is one not based on what Scripture says, but rather on what Scripture does not say. “Complementarian Theory” is a theory that attempts to create doctrine from the silence and the absence of God, something that Rick Brentlinger, pastor and author, says is entirely misleading and abuse of God’s intention for his Holy Word:

Complementarians base their belief on an inflexibly literal reading of Genesis. According to Complementarians, the only relationship God mentions in the second chapter of Genesis is a heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman… This is interpreted to mean that God proscribes every other marriage relationship. Complementarian theory is alleged to prove that God is against a loving, committed relationship between a man and more than one woman or between two men and two women. (15)

In other words, Complementarians believe that because the creation story is silent about other relationships, then those other relationships must not be valid and cannot be recognized. Brentlinger says that the “traditional view is illogical” as it attempts to create doctrine from something that isn’t there:

Reading into the text something the text does not say and then teaching as doctrine what the text does not say, is called eisogesis. It is a false method of interpreting scripture and leads to false conclusions. Reading into the text something the text does not say and then demanding other Christians live according to what the text does not say, is the Pharisee method of misinterpretation. Jesus frequently butted heads with the Pharisees over their bizarre beliefs. Ancient Pharisees lived by many rules not found in scripture… Their lives were bound up in legalistic rules which are not found in scripture… Thoughtful Christians understand that conjecture about God’s will, based on God’s silence, can never be the foundation of sound doctrine. Viewing Adam and Eve as the prototypical marriage model, from which no deviations are allowed, violates our common sense and our knowledge of God’s dealings with His people throughout history. (20-21)

To more quickly and more effectively illustrate his view, Brentlinger uses the same illogicality of the Religious Right to make further arguments against basing doctrine on what Scripture does not say:

The Genesis 2 marriage model says nothing about getting married in church therefore, God must be against getting married in church. The Genesis 2 marriage model says nothing about adopting children, therefore God must be against adopting children. The Genesis 2 marriage model says nothing about same-sex relationships therefore God must be against same sex relationships. This type of argument, reductio ad falsum (reduction to the fase) and reductio ad ridiculum (reduction to the ridiculous) leads to fase and ridiculous conclusions. (19-20)

If the argument from silence is valid, we can also conclude God is against are conditioners, automobiles, computers, ice cream and supermarkets since God does not affirm them in scripture. For that matter we would have to conclude that God is against heterosexual marriages performed in a church building by a pastor since those are not affirmed in scripture. Obviously, I am using absurdity to make a point. We use and enjoy many things in the twenty-first century which are not affirmed in scripture. A thing can be good, right, sacred and perfectly fine with God without being affirmed in Scripture. (28)

In Burns’ original answer to the young person, he cites 1 Corinthians and Genesis as two biblical passages affirming his anti-gay theology. Clearly, his use of Genesis is based not on what God says, but on what God does not say. His use of 1 Corinthians is also misleading.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Saint Paul makes a list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. The Religious Right would say that the text includes homosexuals. A careful look at the text and the original Greek isn’t so clear. One of the words used to describe what the Religious Right says are homosexuals is a Greek word extremely rare in the entire history of Greek literature, appearing only 77 times in 2100 years of writing; the word itself is hardly ever used in the context of describing homosexual activity (Brentlinter, 306).

Finally, Burns’ directs his young reader to get more information from Focus on the Family, a group which has directed more hate-filled rhetoric on to the LGBT community than almost any other.

Burns’ “nice” and “polite” answer to the youth may sound that way, but his words are nothing more than fancy gift and bubble-wrap around a doctrine and theology based and founded only upon hate, exclusion and Scriptural misinterpretation.

And this is what is being taught to young people around the country. In over 200 private, Christian schools youth are being taught false methods of Scriptural interpretation. They are being taught to imprint their own prejudices into a text written two thousand years ago. And, they are being taught to exclude from God’s kingdom those to whom He says, “Come unto me.”

The Religious Right cannot claim to be accurately representing Scripture or God. My God… the God of my Christian heritage and the Father of my Saviour, would never, ever advocate exclusion or the use of hate against those who wish only to be close to Christ and members of His Body. Pushing away those who seek to follow Christ with mis-leading, false, and hate-based rhetoric and the twisted use of Scripture sounds to me as many sins wrapped up in to one action.

What does the church and the Religious Right gain when they do that which is exactly opposed to Christ’s Great Commission? How does exclusion build up Christ’s church on earth? Finally, how will the church and the Religious Right pay for the horrible sin? How can they save those who have drifted away from Christ from no choice of their own, but rather because they were violently pushed away and cast aside?

Brentlinger, Rick. Gay Christian 101: Spiritual Self-Defense for Gay Christians. 2007 Rick Brentlinger. Salient Press, Florida.

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