Christianity after Louie Giglio

Jason Merritt GETTY IMAGES Louie Giglio arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, … Continued

Jason Merritt

GETTY IMAGES

Louie Giglio arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Upon initial glance, the Rev. Louie Giglio presents himself as a compassionate evangelical conservative with a ministry focusing on doing good not damning others. He isn’t calling for a day of prayer to save American from the evils brought forth by the Obama administration in the spirit of Governor Mike Huckabee. Nor is he hosting a presidential inaugural prayer breakfast that bills itself as a non-partisan inter-denominational event even though the lineup reads like a who’s who of the religious right. And no sane Christian would participate in Terry Jones’ pre-inauguration burning of effigies and images of President Obama.

But what these individuals share in common is based on their belief that “homosexuality is a sin” in large part by citing select Bible verses that theologian James Alison deems the “clobber texts.” This method of biblical analysis could be found in previous eras when similarly minded church leaders used a very small smattering of Bible verses to condemn women and people of color as inferior beings. Now, anyone who espouses such outdated thinking gets called out on the carpet, and rightly so.

According to a Washington Post poll, between 2006 and 2012, the percentage of all Americans who support same-sex marriage has climbed from 36 to 53 percent. Along those lines, megachurch pastor Rick Warren delivered the invocation in 2009 despite his public views against gay rights, and President Obama did not support marriage equality publicly until the closing months of his re-election campaign. Following Obama’s re-election and the growing support for marriage equality, religious conservative stalwarts like Dr. James Dobson admit they are losing the battle on this issue especially among young evangelicals.

Ross Murray, Director of Religion, Faith & Values for GLAAD, reflects on this cultural shifting:

“I had hoped that Pastor Giglio was able to “evolve” much like our president did on the issue of LGBT equality. From reading in between the lines of his recent statements, that is not the case. He found that his main issue was elsewhere, working to end human trafficking. That’s an issue I can support. I think it is to his credit to not stake his ministry off of opposing LGBT people, but to do something that helps society. And I continue to hope that he will listen and learn from LGBT people and eventually come to the understanding that we are all children of God.”

Furthermore, this fracas signifies a trend in progressive evangelical circles where leaders like Giglio, Warren, and Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children and producer of the KONY 2012 video sensation], champion civil rights in Africa while forming alliances with clergy working against LGBT rights in African countries. Similarly, Sojourners President Jim Wallis cites a document signed by 46 religious leaders that condemns persecution against LGBT people in Uganda but fails to denounce their teachings that fuel this anti-gay violence. Also, evangelist Tony Campolo compares the theology of his Red Letter Christian (RLC) group with that of the Family, host of the National Prayer Breakfast even though religion scholar Jeff Sharlet’s research connects the Family to the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

Therein lies the elephant in the room -the one that needs to be taken out of the closet. In mainline and more liberal religious settings, one finds the rise of an ecclesiology that embraces LGBT people in all aspects of the church’s rites including ordination and marriage. Central to this development is a refutation of “homosexuality” as a “sin” and an embrace of a more incarnational theology that views all of humanity as created good in the image of God. This worldview embraces the myriad of discoveries from science, psychology, theology, and other disciplines that inform changing attitudes toward LGBT people.

Hopefully, the media can stop presenting evangelicals voices as the sole representatives of Christianity because the reality of the faith at the grassroots level proves to be much more multifaceted.

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  • FrenchChef

    Great article. Thanks for reminding readers that many, many Christians reject the anti-gay hate speech pushed by some sects.

  • PhillyJimi1

    I am an atheist, but it really still blows my mind that so called Christians bash other Christians for following the exact words of the bible. God is clear in the bible that homosexuality is wrong.

    I think the whole bible is a complete work of fiction but if your going to believe then believe it. I don’t get how some people can pick and choose and still think they are being faithful Christians.

    If you don’t like certain parts of the bible or your religion then it may be time to examine it to determine if any of it make any sense. If you dare to you might end up like me. If didn’t reject god. I just can’t believe the zombie story anymore.

    It isn’t a choice but kind of knowing how a magic trick works you can’t pretend to know it is magic anymore once you know the how the illusion is done.

  • jay2drummer

    The thing about the bible is that it actually is not clear, especially the old testament, which, i read in it’s original language, can be translated many ways, and then interpreted to confirm pretty much any belief you want it to. Here is what it says in some of the most commonly referred to “anti-homosexual” parts of the bible:

    Lev 18:22- “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.” Yes, don’t lie with a man as you would a woman. And gay men don’t lie with men as they would a women, they lie with them as YOU might not lie with a women, but not as they would. That could just as easily mean “Don’t pretend to be or force yourself to be attracted to the sex you’re not naturally attracted to.” Again, you INTERPRET it to mean what you want it to based on your pre-determined biases, but it does not in any way clearly condemn homosexuality.

    Lev 20:13- “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Again, same explanation as 18:22, it could be every bit as much a condemnation on pretending to be straight when gay or gay when straight, an abomination, because it implies you believe God made a mistake.

  • jay2drummer

    Sodom and Gamorrah- God was actually punishing them for RAPING strangers. It made no reference to homosexuality, just forced sex and mistreatment of the stranger.

    Romans- “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” The indecent acts the passage goes onto describe make no reference to sleeping with men, but rather describes what sounds simply like a night in Las Vegas, drinking, carrying on, gambling, sex outside of marriage, etc. It says they gave into “unnatural” relationships, but makes zero reference to what those are. As is the case with the Leviticus lines it could simply be not being attracted to the people God meant for them to be.

    It’s not a matter of picking and choosing which parts you believe, but rather, it comes down to how you actually interpret the text and who is doing the translating.

  • jimmykraktov

    There was a time when co-joined twins were, of course, sent off to the Circus. We don’t do that anymore. Many of the birth defects people are born with now can be reversed or otherwise repaired. This is a new Century and around the end of the last one we stopped persecuting people who weren’t born as ‘textbook’ examples of humanity. Maybe one day we’ll find the biological ‘switch’ that isn’t working, but until then why can’t we just let Gay people be who they are?

  • SimonTemplar

    The scriptures say what they say about homosexuality, Garrison’s attempt to dilute them not withstanding.

    Christian belief should not hinge on what the “majority of Americans” believe about a given subject but on what Christians believe God has said about a given subject.

  • CarolAnne1

    Want to know what the Bible says about same-sex love? Read Samuel 1 & 2 about David and Jonathan.

  • EastCoastCommentator

    OK, here it is:
    1 Sam 18
    the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself

    It says nothing about sex, only love.

    The Bible also says this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself

    Will you now claim that this states everyone is to be homosexual?

  • jay2drummer

    It says as much about sex as any of the quotes generally used to condemn homosexuality.

  • cricket44

    “Hopefully, the media can stop presenting evangelicals voices as the sole representatives of Christianity ”

    YES! This ought to have been stopped long ago.

  • jantroy

    Sadly, this type of article misinforms people of a great many things. I guess all that matters is that God has spoken to us through his word. I am saddened when there is so much arguing going on by so many people. Unfortunately the far right wing republicans have used the bible and God himself to forward their selfish agendas. It is just as unfortunate that the far left has adopted the anything goes mentality that will ultimately lead to the moral destruction of America.
    When it is all said and done and we breathe our last breath we will stand before God. At that point it is irrelevant what we have done all our life, weather we were a homosexual, or straight. We will stand guilty in front of God, and eternity will rest on our relationship with Jesus Christ. We will either be redeemed because of what Jesus did or sentenced to Hell forever. Anyone who reads this response, it is my prayer that you will repent and put your trust in Jesus Crist.
    I challenge anyone reading this to pick up the bible and read the gospel of John. There are 21 chapters. Read a verse a day for 21 days. Find out just who Jesus Christ was and once you understand that your opinion/thought of things will change. The gospel is the answer to all your questions.
    God bless you all

  • Secular1

    I say throw that piece of bigoted filth ridden piece of crap and take to reading books like Age of Reason

  • SimonTemplar

    Are we currently living in the Age of Reason? Is that why we seem to be unable to find solutions to the problems facing western civilization? We seem to have entered the Age of Reason with the conviction that Truth does not exist.

    Well it is a moot point anyway. The article is not about what the “Age of Reason” has to say about homosexuality.

  • Catken1

    And someday, you can look forward to sitting in your cushy spot in Paradise and clapping and cheering and fawning on your god while he burns billions of good, decent people, your brothers and sisters, in agony forever and ever without rest or respite, because they didn’t hold to your religious faith.

    And then you can preen yourself on being so much more moral than them, because you guessed right (or were taught right) in the religious Russian roulette game we all seem to be playing, in your eyes, and nothing else – not how you treated other people, not how honest or fair or gentle or loving you were, not what kind of a person you strove to be, just what you believed about religion and God – mattered, not at all.

    What a sadistic, awful belief system that is.

  • Catken1

    Have we ever had a nice shiny list of solutions for all the problems facing Western civilization, or any civilization, even when no one had a better explanation for the world than religion? Would you rather live in the lovely pious Middle Ages than today, honestly? Do you think the problems facing us can just be wished away by talking to a magic superbeing who will make Everything All Better (never mind that he never has done, not even for the most devoted theocracies)?

    When it comes to any practical effort to solve human problems, reason works better than religion any day.

    Truth, or rather truths, do exist. The world is not flat. We are not all descended from one single pair of humans magicked into existence by a superbeing, but share DNA and relationship with every living creature on this earth. Smallpox and other vicious diseases are still better dealt with by vaccination than by prayer, we will explore space better with rockets and engines and science than with heavenly levitation, and religious freedom still results in a healthier, more vibrant, and freer nation than theocracy ever has.

  • SODDI

    “When it is all said and done and we breathe our last breath we will stand before God..”

    Please provide verifiable evidence for this and for the imaginary critter “god”.

  • jjlc125

    I wasn’t aware that Biblical commands were now subject to being decided by public opinion polls. Ms. Garrison might want to provide chapter and verse if she believes otherwise.

  • jjlc125

    Nice try, CarolAnne1, but there’s no Biblical proof for your argument.

  • jjlc125

    jay2drummer, you might want to read Jude 1:7.

  • jay2drummer

    Of course, you have no problem with them being INTERPRETED (since none of anti-gay rhetoric is anything more than interpretation) by public opinion, so long as it’s yours, right?

  • jantroy6613

    evidence of God is all around you. The creation is evidence of the
    Creator. Psalms 53:1 ” The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile”

  • jantroy6613

    Creation is the evidence of the creator. Psalms 53:1 says “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile”

  • Catken1

    Oh, gee, what a big surprise. Your holy book says it’s foolish not to believe in your god.

    And next, the Republicans will be saying that only fools vote Democratic, and vice versa. Could you imagine?

  • jay2drummer

    Yes, “sexual immorality and perversion…” It then goes on to talk about what those perversions were. They were raping strangers and engaging in sex with multiple partners and out of wedlock. It does not say anything about homosexuality.

  • Catken1

    There’s no Biblical proof for any of those arguments. It’s all interpretation. Which is yet another reason why demanding that the Bible be treated as Inerrant Moral Guide 1 is just foolish.

  • SODDI

    Fail, jantroy6613. You have provided no proof.

    It’s a sucker bet really. Believers cannot supply proof because gods never existed. I won’t dignify it by calling it a holdover from the cavemen, because the cavemen were brilliant – they invented paint, tools, fire, conceptulization – the fundamentals of human civilization.

  • ThomasBaum

    SODDI

    You wrote, ” Fail, jantroy6613. You have provided no proof.

    It’s a sucker bet really. Believers cannot supply proof because gods never existed.”

    I know that I can not provide “proof” that God Is, only God can.

  • Catken1

    Yes, but IIRC from your previous posts, you also don’t insist that everyone who doesn’t abide by your religious taboos will, or deserves to, burn in hell. So even if your God hasn’t offered proof, at least he won’t horribly torture everyone who doesn’t take your assertions at face value without it.
    Your religion may not be scientific, but at least it’s not cruel.

  • DigitalQuaker

    Actually, there is some translation involved as well jay2drummer. Why don’t we actually talk about what’s said, in what translations, and THEN talk about how that is interpreted by different people?

    And for the record, there is plenty of rhetoric coming from all sides of these issues. How about a little more listening, and more compassion, from ALL sides?

  • DigitalQuaker

    Jantroy, it takes more than just picking up the bible and reading from it to understand the message of God to us. There is context, and understanding the message in context. And there is the larger messages of God that go beyond the literal word. And do not dismiss the work of the counselor, the Holy Spirit, in our lives each day. Christianity is not a closed theology.

  • DigitalQuaker

    Catken1, you need to get over yourself, and get over your anger. Seriously, go talk to someone, but stop inflicting yourself on us here, you’re not even dealing with the issue, your just hating.

  • DigitalQuaker

    In the end, it all comes down to what it means to you. The important things is to be honest with yourself in what it means, not what you want it to mean, and to then be true to your beliefs. God has given us the gift of free will. We are free to love, and free to hate. We are free to live in the teachings of God, and we are free to sin. In the end, it is no ones choice but our own, but God will know the truth in our hearts.

    What we all need to do is SHARE with each other what we believe, with love and tenderness, and respect each other enough to allow each of us to follow our own path to God as it has been revealed to us. But let us not deceive ourselves, an be true in our hearts to what we believe Gods expects from us and wants for us.

  • DigitalQuaker

    Catken1, you really have no idea what being a Christian is. I’m sorry if someone hurt you when you were young, but you really need to get over it. Seek some professional help if you have to, but seriously, stop with the hate.
    And no, the fact that others hate is no excuse for you to.

  • Catken1

    Please, instead of just telling me, “You’re challenging my precious religion’s ideas, therefore you’re a Nasty Mean Hater,” would you answer my questions?
    Tell me why modern secular civilization is inferior to the Middle Ages, or any other period or nation where religion dominates public life. Tell me why religion provides more solutions to our practical problems then science. Tell me why theocracies are pleasant and loving places to live, rather than, as history has proven over and over, paranoid, suspicious places where people are burned or tortured or killed for believing slightly different ideas than their neighbors.

    No, we don’t have all the answers now. But science and reason have made our lives a lot safer, healthier, kinder and better than religion ever has. If you want to dispute that, dispute that, but stop whining that I’m being “hateful” for not restricting myself to falling at your feet, kissing your rear, and telling you how wonderful your religion is.

  • Joel Hardman

    Arguing about what the Bible says about homosexuality is putting the cart before the horse. First explain why I should use the Bible as a guide to morality, then maybe I’ll care what it says. Religious arguments about homosexuality illustrate one of the greatest problems with religion: it causes many people to elevate the words in a book over basic human compassion.

  • SODDI

    The bible also says that you should lock your wife up in a shed out back when she has her period.

    Have you done this, ye sinners? If you haven’t, prepare to burn for eternity!

    Pardon me, I’m off to make some bacon. Mmmm, sweet meat of the divideth not the hoof nor cheweth not the cud.

  • NOMA1

    The collective contemporary American understanding of human compassion is inextricably linked to Middle Eastern and Western theology, especially the Abrahamic religions.

    Objectively, you could no more carve out Abrahamic religion from our modern day interpretations and values (including atheist, agnostic, and Eastern religious values) than you could any other long-standing, basic influence on social and political thought.

    Hence, without making the case for why you should use “the bible” as a guide to morality, which surely is doomed to fail given the posture of your comment, I respectfully submit that it’s not wholly irrelevant for believers and non-believers alike to debate the Judeo-Christian bibles’ discussion of homosexuality (among other things) in trying to forge some sense of broad social agreement on homosexual rights and standing under the law and within churches, synagogues, and mosques.

  • SODDI

    But if you’ve eaten shrimp or lobster, you’re gonna BURN!

    Isn’t biblical morality woderful?

  • Joel Hardman

    NOMA1,

    I’m not asking anyone to forget what’s happened in the past 5,000 years. That being said, it’s impossible to understand Abrahamic laws without understanding what came before, but I don’t here many people debating what the Code of Hammurabi would have to say about homosexuality.

    If there are good moral principles in Abrahamic religions, fine. Those principles should defensible on their own merits if you can’t give me reason to think that the Bible has some special claim to truth.

  • Joel Hardman

    *Those principles should BE defensible on their own merits if you can’t give me reason to think the Bible has some special claim to truth.

  • DRJJJ

    Time Magazine interview with Einstein in his 50s:
    To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”

    Do you accept the historical existence of Jesus? “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

    Do you believe in God? “I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books.”

  • DRJJJ

    The general revelation of a God through the micro and macro symphony/complexity of nature (there is a painter behind this painting) the fullfilled prophecy in the Bible (100s and scary accurate), the life of Christ & his followers (they cleared forests to cruxcify Christians in the 1-2 century & nobody dies like this for a hoax) the near death experiences of millions (see the light), the sense of right/wrong built into all of us (sense of justice), the eye witness testimony to Christ (takes one eyewitness to condemn a man to death today) the miracle of the Bible (see the dead sea scrolls 2500 years later for example-hasn’t changed) just to name some evidence! It’s the intellectually honest world view folks and there’s room for one more! Moral relativity leads to chaos-see all of history!

  • NOMA1

    Joel – The impact of the Abrahamic religions, both positive and negative are readily and persistently identifiable throughout Western history.

    It’snot possible with empirical certainty to attribute any given human action, particularly across different cultures and circumstances over the course several millennia to any one thing. But that said, Abrahamic religions are one of the most lasting and broadest influences on human life in the last 5,000 years. Acts of great compassion and charity, beautiful works of art and music, works of science and whole intellectual disciplines, as well as many democratic ideals were manifestly and specifically influenced and inspired by, if not in some cases caused by Jews, Christians, and Muslims’ religious thought. The core of those traditions are their respective revered texts, which whether you believe in them or not, all contain themes and messages that most contemporary thinkers would deem unquestionably beneficial to the social good.

    Of course, the same texts, and themes which inspire what we would deem positive actions today, also manifestly influenced and/ or inspired deplorable acts of violence, hypocrisy, anti-intellectualism, atrocities on massive scales, and other terrible conduct.

    The fact that these religions influence and inspired both of the above, indicates among other things, conflicts of interpretation and/or abuse of powerful concepts depending on your interpretation, which is why cutting loose religious discussion of homosexuality is a mistake in my (an apparently the President’s) opinion.

    If you’d earnestly like me to list some of the good moral principals I think are clearly embodied in the Torah & Talmud, Christian Bible, and Quaran, I’ll check in tomorrow.

  • NOMA1

    I should add, to what was already a marathon post, that
    SODDI’s comment illustrates a particular difficulty with rationally discussing the merits of religion and whether or not it is on balance a positive or negative cultural influence – criticizing religions for things they don’t believe in because their theological differences are misunderstood or ignored.

    It’s true – the Torah (Deuteronomy and Leviticus in the Christian bible) forbids consumption of shellfish, which is such a silly thing for which to “burn” of course. Zing!

    However, most modern Jews do not read the Torah or other Jewish holy texts to posit the sense of hell that most iterations of Christianity developed. Meanwhile, despite their rather well-developed sense of hell, Christians in particular, believe that their god formed a new covenant with them that among other things, does not require observance of a kosher diet and many other laws in what they deem the “old testament.”

  • SODDI

    It’s in the same prohibitions which forbids homosexuality – Leviticus.

    So you cafeteria christians DO pick and choose for yourselves, but if you were being good little brainless fundamentalists you would be required to obey ALL of the Levitican laws.

    Which includes locking up your wife in a shed while she’s menstruating.

    It merely demonstrates the depth of your hypocricy.

  • Joel Hardman

    NOMA1,

    I agree that there are some positive messages in pretty much any religious text. If they are beneficially to the social good, then they should be evaluated on that basis, not on claims of divine inspiration. If someone can make a rational argument about homosexuality based on a principle of the Bible, fine. “Romans says this” or “Leviticus says that” are not arguments and make no sense without an unproven assumption that what the Bible teaches is right by definition.

  • NOMA1

    Joel – First, I have appreciated this discussion and your insights. I agree with you in the terms of bringing religious argument into modern public policy. One can’t fairly say the law is “x” simply because a holy text, which not everyone believes in says so. It’s one of the most important principals of American civics.

    I also think there’s a genuine opportunity for what I think is good progress specifically on the issue of homosexual rights by appealing to both reasons religious persons believe and what many “moderate” and “liberal” Jews, Christians and Muslims believe. That was certainly the case during the civil rights movement, where both religious persons generally, and religious leaders translated Abrahamic traditions and viewpoints (contradictions and all) into fuel to take the right side of what a fight for liberty.

  • Joel Hardman

    Biblical principles have long been decided by public opinion. For example, Christians for the past hundred and fifty years or so have decided that the Bible doesn’t support slavery. Where was that consensus before? The Bible didn’t change, but the popular interpretation did. Why? Wouldn’t the interpretation evidenced by the behavior of the earliest Christians be the best, since they were closest to the actual teachings of Jesus?

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