My Mind Didn't Change (part two)

My comments on David Gushee's book "Changing Our Mind" continues with chapter four, entitled "What Exactly Is The Issue."  When reading books of this genre, one must be vigilant in identifying false choices.  Authors, all of us, tend to frame the debate in a way that serves our conclusions.  Sometimes these efforts are blatant and other times they are more subtle.

Early on this chapter, Gushee calls the viewpoint I hold as the "historic heterosexual norm" while referring to the alternative view that he holds as "...research and mental health efforts..." meaning that mine is based on a mere tradition born out of undue human influence and his is strongly scientific.  There is also a subtle accusation in his remarks that traditional gender roles are responsible for excesses like chauvinism.  That is the equivalent of saying that the institution of marriage is responsible for the sin of adultery.  Ludicrous.

This chapter also acknowledges that according to several studies in the U.S. the LGBTQI community only make up about 3.4 to 5 percent of the total population.  Does anyone else find this figure staggering?  How could such a small percent of people effect such cultural change in our society?  I am not trying to marginalize anyone or condone the degradation of anyone.  I believe everyone should be treated with respect, even if their view is different than mine on matters I classify as divisive doctrines.  My opinion is that they were successful because The Church over the last several decades has vilified people in the LGTBQI community instead of lovingly opposing their viewpoint.  Our response however because we failed in love must not be to make up for our sin by now extending permission.

Probably the most appalling statement by Gushee in this chapter is that he says the "ex-gay" movement has been a total failure.  This is another strategy employed by authors, to be overly dismissive of a contrary point in hopes of not having to address the opposition's point of view.  Gushee is either guilty of exaggeration or arrogance.  Neither alternative is noble.  All of the "research and clinical results" he frequently sites are only telling us what we already know.  Humanity has from the beginning of time suffered from the desire to self-direct.  Let me try and distill Gushee's premise into this statement:  because people continue to demonstrate a deep desire and longing for a life in regards to self determination with gender identification and same gender romantic, sexual relationships, we should doubt our understanding of Scripture's teaching on these matters.  I'm all for questioning and studying.  But let's not be surprised that humanity resists Scripture's boundaries.  If I am uncomfortable with conclusions that are divisive and conclusive then I am going to be uncomfortable with the idea of a sovereign God and an authoritative Scripture.

So Gushee in his books begins to call in question various texts that are central in this debate.  Because of this, I question whether or not he believes in the doctrine of a sovereign God and an authoritative Scripture.  I say that because of he begins to systematically undermine the texts that I would use to loving show God is opposed to someone rejecting the gender He assigned them and someone who wants to have same gender romantic and sexual relationships.  And one way people have always tried to minimize texts in Scripture that inconveniently oppose their point of view is to suggest that those particular texts are not from God but rather the insertion of a human influence.  If we are going to wrestle with the interpretation of Scripture, let's dance!  This is healthy.  This is edifying.  This helps everyone.  But if you begin by saying "God didn't write that" then there is nothing more to debate.  If you want to have a conversation that starts with, "What did God mean when He said..." then let's have that conversation.  But Gushee can't start there!  Why?  Because Gushee knows these texts do not lack clarity of intent.  So he must attack the credibility of the source.

Now the question of the whether or not all Scripture is divinely inspired is worthy of an entire series of its own.  I believe all Scripture is divinely inspired and God in His sovereignty was able to give us the Bible He intended for us to have.  I know that is a terribly oversimplified response but I wanted you to know where I stand on the authority of Scripture.  So not only do his comments in chapter four give me pause but also in chapter 14.  He makes this statement in reference to the creation account we so cherish in Genesis, "In Genesis 1-11, a primeval prehistory, the authors/editors both borrowed from and subverted their neighbor's creation stories, while adding new elements, to paint a theological picture of creation, human origins, marriage and family life..."    He goes on to say that "most scholars" agree that Genesis 1:1-2:4a and 2:4b-25 are two different creation accounts "interwoven by an editor."  Wow...really?

I have to admit.  If I had found those statements earlier in this book, I would not have survived its reading.  God is the author of Scripture.  Do we find similar accounts of creation in other cultures?  Yes!  Read Don Richardson's book "Eternity In Their Hearts."  The fact that these similarities exist is not a foregone conclusion that Genesis was borrowed but rather the realization that God as being the author of creation was somehow divinely revealed to other cultures as a confirmation of the accounts in Scripture we so deeply cherish.  Why?  Because as Mr. Richardson concludes, this positions these cultures to embrace the Gospel because they could relate to its origin!    And how about Gushee's opinion he presents as fact in regards to Genesis chapter one and two.  To say "most scholars" agree with him is irresponsible.  Maybe most of the "scholars" he knows!  I would say Christianity is about evenly split on that issue.  This is another example of being dismissive to avoid debating the real facts.  But the most disconcerting remark by Gushee for me is his use of the word "editor."  He is calling into question the divine authorship of certain Biblical texts.  This has always been the argument of people who want to undermine the texts that are inconveniently exclusive and divisive on issues and matters that oppose their point of view.

Be cautious of the conclusions of anyone who will not concede to the divine authorship of Scripture and the authority Scripture should hold over our lives.

I'm looking forward to continuing this series next week!

Pastor Fred