Last week I referenced the article of emergent church leader Brian McLaren about a pastoral response to homosexuality. Across the blogosphere, the article got a lot of attention. Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle posted a response that likewise received a lot of attention. So McLaren came back to try to clarify and defend his comments.
I find his response hardly sufficient to address what the real issues were in the original post. I did not see anyone calling for a lack of love towards homosexuals. I think most agree that we need to be loving, kind, and tactful. We need to respond with compassion and love. We need to find out what lies behind questions.
The problem was that Brian is waffling on a clear declaration of Scripture and calling it love. How can that be? It can only be a misunderstanding of what love is.
Brian claims to love God and his word. But he sees "additional levels of complexity" to the texts about homosexuality. How so? I cannot find the confusion in Scripture. To deal with the text honestly and faithfully is to see the clarity with which homosexual behavior is condemned unilaterally in Scripture. We find no positive or neutral reference to homosexaulity. How can Brian conclude that there is room for disagreement or consideration on the matter? We should thoughtfully and prayerfully consider our responses. But homosexuality is a "no-brainer" for those devoted to Scripture.
Brian claims he still hasn't given his opinion about homosexuality. Brian, that is the problem. You haven't. God has spoken and you have so far refused to speak with clarity about what God has spoken about.
I won't defend Driscoll. I thought Mark's response was over the top. I thought it lacked humility and grace. I thought it dealt rudely with two real issues: how to deal with homosexuality and how to deal with those who do not take a biblical stand. Mark likes baseball. He'll understand what I mean when I say he whiffed on this one. He took the right stand in the wrong way. Having listened to Driscoll preach, and having read his book Radical Reformission, it is obvious that his style of communication is different than most. He is frequently sarcastic, very direct, and "in your face." It is refreshing at times, and no doubt used of God to confront people about their sinful condition. I have found myself challenged by his directness, both in my personal life and in my preaching. Yet at others, as with this article, Driscoll harms his point with needless sarcasm. If you read the comments, you will find that people missed Mark's point because of Mark's delivery. It hurts us all who agree with Mark, and who to one degree or another like Mark.
But don't blame Mark for Brian's failures in this area. Where God has clearly spoken, and he unquestionably has, then we need not say less than God said.
How lovingly is it to fail to speak directly about a soul-damning practice? Would a parent let his child play near the stove? Would the parent call for a five year moratorium on pronouncements about stove playing? Of course not. Why? Because they love their child and see the danger.
How much more important is it to address a situation that will not simply burn fingers; it will send people to eternal separation from God in hell? Of course, since some emergents are rethinking hell, that isn't a great concern to them.
It is sad to see Brian miss the point yet again. With a voice as loud as his, he needs to be rethinking his approach, rather than rethinking theology. The voice of God to a troubled generation is being muddled by too many.
God give us grace to stand with love and compassion, to ask the right questions, and to give the right answers. The pastor or church that disdains homosexual people is living in sin. The pastor or church that fails to compassionately reach out to them in their bondage is also living in sin. McLaren got it half right. But he also got it half wrong.