Dangerous to disagree

Evangelical Christianity may have a target on its back when it comes to same-sex issues, where approval – not acceptance – is sought. Want a latte, anyone?

When Bill Hybels came to the podium and told the Global Leadership Summit in August that he had bad news and good news, one might guess there was a cancellation (and replacement) in the conference lineup. There was, but the reasons were unexpected.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had cancelled out because a gay rights group said it was inappropriate for him to be speaking at an “anti-gay church,” that is, Willow Creek.

Hybels shared that his team and the management of Starbucks had been in conversations over the matter during the week, but that in the end, Schultz decided not to speak.

The gay rights group said that “it is unacceptable” that Schultz would appear on the stage, saying “the church has long practiced dangerous conversion therapy to ‘cure’ people of their sexual orientation … Not denouncing these practices is tacit approval.”

Hybels was gracious and generous in his explanation about the Starbucks CEO’s decision. But others, judging from the Christianity
Today blog, saw it differently.

Said one, “At some point the pro-gay movement is going to be called out for its blatant hyprocrisy and agenda against evangelicals. They’re overplaying their hand and almost forcing anyone who might appear to not automatically acquiesce to their agenda to bow down to them.”

“Well, let’s face it folks,” wrote another, “The guy [Schultz] did the best thing for his position. He knows full well that there won’t be blowback from his backing out of an event at a Christian church because of the protest.”

Well, that aside, is this just a one-time irritant, or does it hold deeper meaning, especially in view of other such challenges by the gay community? There are three implications to consider:

First, the gay community isn’t interested in being accepted by the culture — they want approval, a vastly different thing. We’ve reached the point where churches are being pushed to not simply tolerate their lifestyle, but to approve it — and all that comes with that, including marriage.

Second, the confrontation of the gays is a larger movement against Christian businesses and organizations. Now it is Starbucks, earlier it was the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, where one incident with the chicken sandwich firm is all about, said one observer, “controlling the narrative.”

Third, biblical authority is at stake. Some churches aren’t talking about the issues that affect their own denominations. I asked one Lutheran (ELCA) pastor what his congregation was going to do about the denomination’s acceptance of gay clergy two years ago, and in so many words, he said: “Most in my church aren’t following the issue, don’t have strong feelings about it, and I’m not likely to raise it with them, if I don’t need to do so.” It’s called avoidance.

A friend in the media told me, “Have we reached a point where a serious Christian [read that, one who believes that the gay lifestyle is sin] will never be able to achieve public office? Issues like marriage, submission, evil, and plenty of other things are not just disapproved of, they are made out to look ridiculous [by the media and gay community].”

He went on: “It does not bode well, and I’m not sure I see a way out of it. Christians are increasingly being marginalized to the point where anyone who seriously tried to defend these values is becoming ostracized. At what point do we start getting hunted?”

Maggie Gallagher, writing in the National Review in August, said, “Gay-marriage advocates have successfully shut down most public avenues for opposition: In entertainment, media, and the academy, opposition to gay marriage is considered suicidal.

“Ordinary Americans hear messages in support of marriage as the union of husband and wife in only two ways at this point: at church or synagogue, and in politics,” Gallagher wrote.

Seminary president Al Mohler  reminds us: “Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins.”

Elsewhere he commented: “It is not the world around us that is being tested, so much as the believing church. We are about to find out just how much we believe the Gospel we so eagerly preach.”



One Response to “Dangerous to disagree”

  1. Brian Gertig

    Good thoughts. I agree that the gay community is not interested in acceptance. They want to be viewed as righteous. I try not to over rate the sin of homosexuality. It is a sin, just as infidelity is. While I do not judge the individual, I also cannot condone the sin. If a church leader came out and said they were having an extra-marital affair, and not only that, but planned to continue it, we certainly wouldn’t say “No problem, you are free to be who you are; God loves you, so that is enough”

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