The Nashville Statement and the Moral Bankruptcy of Evangelicalism

I’m not going to dignify the CBMW’s Nashville Statement with any kind of point by point response, the whole thing is a tiresome rehash of what evangelicals have been saying about LGBT people for years. I already did a point by point breakdown of the SBC’s anti-trans resolution a few years ago, it basically covers the same things I would say here, so consider that my response to the statement itself. What I’d rather talk about is what evangelicals aren’t issuing joint statements condemning, namely, white nationalism. Their silence in the face of the rising tide of fascism and white supremacy in this country is deafening.

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This Week in Imaginary Persecution: Chris Pratt and Women’s World Cup edition

Did you hear about how Chris Pratt is totes persecuted for being a Christian and liberals are literally blackballing him for talking about his faith? We know it’s true because Facebook told us so and random clickbait from rightwing websites never lies. I mean, he’s so persecuted that his blockbuster summer popcorn franchise only made half a billion dollars opening weekend. And in the unfairness of it all, he just signed on to costar with Jennifer Lawrence in a big budget sci-fi space opera, because what choice of films does he have, being blackballed by Hollywood and everything? Without this dreadful persecution, he’d be the biggest, most beloved action-star-of-the-moment on both Earth and Mars, but because everyone hates Christians he’s going to have to settle for being loved by just earthlings. The tragedy of it all. Plus, I thought we were supposed to hate Jurassic Park because EVILution! Also taking a bold stand for their faith in the face of risking persecution from the homogheys are the professing Christians on the USWNT at the World Cup. Or at least that’s what WORLD Magazine would like us to infer: At least four professing Christians join hands on the current team, including Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly, as the U.S. team tries to get back to the World Cup Final July 5, where the United States women lost to Japan in 2011. In World Cup defeat or gold medal glory, “when I walk away my identity is still the same,” Holiday told Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I’m still a follower of Jesus Christ.” In contrast, team leaders Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach and coach Jill Ellis all identify as lesbians. A national team, of necessity, creates a functional pluralism with mutual respect and practical sacrificial love as teammates work toward a common[…]

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John MacArthur to parents: Shun your gay kids

Well, not all your gay children, just the ones who are adults (I think, he wasn’t really clear on the adult bit) and who are Christians. If your kid isn’t a Christian, you’re supposed to consider them a heathen and treat them accordingly, and go all out trying to convert them. If your kid is a Christian and comes out to you though, you’re supposed to Matthew 18 them, going so far as dragging them before the church and excommunicating them. And then you’re supposed to cut off contact, don’t eat meals with them, shun them back into the kingdom.  Oh, and he doesn’t actually define “adult,” so presumably this could mean kicking out your kid who’s 18, still in high school and living at home, relying on you for support. Not to mention that even though in the video he seems to be talking about adult children, the title of the video is, “How to Respond to a Homosexual Child,” as is the title of the post on his website. How many parents are going to watch this video and end up kicking their child out? Half of all homeless youth in this country are LGBT, in large part due to parental rejection. How many more kids will end up homeless because of John MacArthur?  Parental rejection, this Matthew 18-style shunning that MacArthur considers Biblical, is a significant contributing risk factor for suicides by LGBT people. How many people are going to end up being “loved” right into an early grave by parents following MacArthur’s advice? At best, John MacArthur’s advice will destroy the relationships between parents and children and do immeasurable harm to the person who is shunned. Doing that to your own child isn’t love, it’s the ultimate in cruelty. And for what? A handful of Bible verses that[…]

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Franklin Graham wants you to think he cares about child exploitation

Franklin Graham wants you to think he cares about child exploitation He doesn’t. Franklin Graham is busy pretending he cares about child exploitation and that’s why he doesn’t want to let gay people adopt. He thinks gay people recruit children. Aside from pointing out the utter absurdity of this idea, I have one thing to say to Franklin Graham. Speak out against the abuse in the church. If you really care about children being harmed, then use your voice and your famous name to do something about the abuse and exploitation of children in evangelical and fundamentalist churches and institutions. Speak out against the way churches protect child molesters while shaming their victims. Speak up for the children. Condemn the Bill Gothards, the Doug Phillipses, the Sovereign Grace Ministries, the Christian colleges that refuse to do anything about sexual harassment and assault and punish the victims. Speak against the system that enables the abuse and looks the other way when it happens. Speak out. Speak against the child abuse. Against the Pearls, the Ezzos, the parenting “experts” who tell parents that the way to create godly children is to beat them into submission. Speak out against the forces in the homeschool world who are fighting tooth and nail against any efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect. Franklin Graham, you need to get your house in order. Instead of cozying up to the human rights-abusing quasi-dictator that is Vladimir Putin, just because he hates gay people as much as you do, take some of that effort and do something about the very serious and very real abuse problem in the church. And as for me? I’m too busy trying to do what you won’t do, working hard to keep any more children from being beaten or starved to death[…]

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On belief

It was a confidence that got you byWhen you know you believed it, but you didn’t know whyNo one imagines it will come to thisBut it gets so hard when people don’t want to listen Shivering with doubts that you left unattendedSo you toss away the cloak that you should have mendedDon’t you know by now why the chosen are few?It’s harder to believe than not to –Steve Taylor, “Harder to Believe Than Not To” I’ve written before about how I believe even though sometimes it seems that it would be easier to just toss out my faith and stop caring. Faith is hard. The very idea that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen speaks to the intangible at the heart of the discussion.  Belief is hard, there’s always going to be doubts and questions, and anyone who says that they do not doubt is lying. All of the apologetics books in the world aren’t going to erase doubt because faith is about more than logic. You can’t logic your way into making yourself or anyone else believe in God, the supernatural, the divine, or anything outside of themselves and the physical world. That’s why when Tony Jones attempted to explain why he’s still a Christian despite his doubts, he failed miserably. Aside from the fact that arguing that God must exist because 7 billion people can’t be wrong does nothing to prove that the supernatural entity is the God of the Bible, it doesn’t actually prove anything. It’s like arguing that McDonald’s must be good because billions of people eat it. Hemant Mehta is right, it may possibly be the worst argument anyone has made for belief in God.  Humanity has been wrong about a lot of things. Wildly wrong. So[…]

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“Not all Christians are like that”, or, why I support the NALT Project

When I first saw about the launch of the NALT Christians Project, my reaction was, “Good, finally somebody telling people to put up or shut up when they use the "not all Christians are like that” line.“ I suppose I should have expected controversy, people don’t like being told that their favorite platitude isn’t particularly useful or helpful. I didn’t, however, expect so many straight Christian progressives absolutely losing it, and in the process deciding that they’re the ones who get to speak for all LGBT people. The same straight Christian progressives who get mad when men deign to speak for women have demonstrated no problem speaking for all LGBT people.  And so, since I’ve already written a piece to non-affirming Christians, this piece is dedicated to the straight Christian progressives who are too busy chiming in to actually listen. Dear straight progressive Christians, this isn’t about you. Not really. Sure, Dan Savage and John Shore are asking you to speak up in support of LGBT rights, but it’s not really about you. Instead of getting your feelings hurt that they aren’t doing it the way you want, you need to stop and listen to the voices of LGBT people. Now, I recognize that not every LGBT person agrees, we’re not a monolithic hive mind or anything, but if you’re busy dragging out your LGBT friends who agree with you and refusing to listen to anybody else, you aren’t really listening. You’re not seeing your friend as a person, you’re seeing them as a cudgel you can use to attack those who disagree with you. That’s a problem.  Picking and choosing who to listen to based on whether they agree with you and then using them as tools isn’t a good way to be a supporter. It’s divisive and it refuses[…]

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Wichita anti-abortion activists need to stop calling themselves “pro-life”

If you call yourself “pro-life” you need to actually be just that–pro life. As in, you don’t support killing people. As in, you believe in a culture of life, not one of death. That you care about the lives of more than just those who are yet to be born.  You know what it doesn’t mean? Asking the city to zone an abortion clinic out of existence on the grounds that people keep shooting abortionists there.Yes, you read that right. Anti-abortion activists in Wichita are asking the city to keep an abortion clinic from opening because they can’t manage to stop shooting at people.  If you use the violence that your own associates have committed as the excuse for why a clinic shouldn’t be allowed to open, I’m not going to call you pro-life. You aren’t. You can’t call yourself pro-life and then use the specter of violence like this. It’s not pro-life. If it’s pro anything, it’s pro-birth, but as much as I know that the movement hates it when people use the term “anti-abortion”, that’s all you are.  As I’ve written about before, this is the kind of thing that caused me to become disillusioned with the pro-life movement. If you think I’m being overly harsh, snarky, or sarcastic in this post, you try being trotted out in front of cameras at 12 years old to play the role of the “innocent kid who will be made a criminal if you pass abortion clinic buffer zone laws” and to insist that the movement is non-violent, not knowing that the people who had sent you out in front of the cameras had already gotten word that the movement had turned deadly that day and see how you react. And try being a 13 year old picketer and having clinic defenders screaming[…]

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Millennials and the church, or, How evangelicals turned me into a cynic

It seems that everyone these days is talking about millennials leaving the church. CNN even gave Rachel Held Evans valuable front page real estate to write about it. Since everyone else is writing about it, I figure I might as well add my two cents, especially because I feel like nobody’s actually asking those of us who have left or are leaving the evangelical world. This is my story. Ahh, but Kathryn, you say, isn’t everyone saying that millennials are leaving the church because of how evangelicals treat LGBT people? Aren’t you just another example of that? Here’s the thing though. While that may be the cherry on top of the icing on the cake, it’s a far cry from having anything to do with what turned me into a cynic.  I’m a cynic about American evangelicalism. I might as well just say it. I don’t trust evangelical leaders and if I see you on TV or find your books in giant stacks in the front of Barnes and Noble, I’m going to automatically be on alert. I have a hard time shutting off the cynicism and distrust when I’m in an evangelical church. To be blunt, I can’t step into an evangelical church without my bullshit meter going on high alert. I think the breaking point for me was when I was living in Vietnam. The South African interim pastor at the international church sent out an email to the church mailing list that said that the election of Barack Obama was the WORST THING EVAR and we should all pray for American Christians because they would soon be facing persecution. There was also something about how the California state supreme court challenge to Prop 8 was the WORST THING EVAR and proof of the coming persecution because people[…]

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More on Christian culture and consent

For those of you who are unfamiliar with how Tumblr, the blogging platform I use, works, one of the big features is the ability for reblog others’ posts and add your comments to the post. One blogger who reblogged my post added a lengthy comment that I think deserves further discussion.  *** This blogger suggested that discussion of consent needs to be motivated by something outside of the individual, and suggested that the motivation should be doing what Jesus wants. Now, while I do not in any way disagree that faith can definitely play a role in the discussion, if the only reason for making sure that the other party is giving full consent is because to do otherwise makes Baby Jesus cry, then if you remove faith from the discussion you have no framework for ethical sexual behavior. If consent is only about what Jesus wants, then what about those who don’t believe?  It’s still just a system based on following rules. In this case, the blogger suggests that since, if you’re a Christian it means Christ lives within you, if you have sex outside of marriage–sex that in a traditional Christian framework is going against what God wants–then you are, “raping Jesus.” See, Jesus lives within you, so what you’re doing with your body isn’t just your body, it’s like doing it to Jesus, and since Jesus doesn’t want you to have sex outside of marriage, then it’s like raping him. Now, aside from the fact that this isn’t an entirely scriptural interpretation–the Bible teaches that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, which is rather different than an interpretation that brings to my mind the image of Jesus wearing people like a skin suit–it once again shifts the discussion away from the right of each[…]

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Let’s talk about Christian culture and the concept of consent in relationships

A friend made a comment on one of my Facebook posts today that got me thinking. The comment was about how a lot of people in the Church don’t have any kind of sexual ethic, just a bunch rules that they follow. I think that’s a good description of how it is that people buy into slippery slope arguments–the old, “if we allow people to gay marry, then what’s to stop them from toaster marrying?” logic. If you’ve got a sexual ethic based on consent, then the answer is obvious: because toasters are incapable of consent. If you are just operating by rules, then it makes sense that you’d think that if one of your rules gets tossed then what’s to stop all your rules from going out the window.  The comment on my Facebook post made me realize that in all of the years of growing up in the Church, of getting lectures about abstinence in Sunday school and youth group and True Love Waits, I cannot remember a single mention of consent. I remember Dawson McAllister coming to town to a True Love Waits event and telling us that anal sex was still sex and not a way to remain a virgin (which is not a bad piece of information, incidentally, though really rather stupid if the only reason you’re telling them is to make sure they remain more than just technical virgins), but for all of the talk about what you couldn’t do, the only talk about saying “no” was about not sinning. I’ve racked my brain trying to remember even a single time that I’ve ever heard consent mentioned in a church-related setting growing up and I can’t remember a single one.  By not teaching about consent, you produce girls who don’t know that they can[…]

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