“Gay Christian” Explains Why She Now Accepts Same-Sex Marriage

Rodgers’s explanation—like her previous one—is long on personal experience and short on Bible

Written by Denny Burk | Monday, February 8, 2016

If she has a reasoned biblical rationale for her views, she doesn’t really share it. In fact, she says that when she held to the traditional view, it wasn’t based as much on biblical teaching as it was on her trust in what certain Christian leaders were telling her. When she stopped trusting those leaders, she stopped holding the traditional view. In other words, it doesn’t sound like her former faithfulness on the issue was rooted very deeply in God’s word.

I just read another public account of someone who is walking away from what the Bible teaches about marriage. Former Wheaton employee and self-identified “gay Christian” Julie Rodgers explains why she has embraced gay marriage. She has written about this previously, and I have responded previously. Nevertheless, this latest account is also worth some reflection. She writes:

Your beliefs don’t shift in an instant. We research and agonize, bouncing between hope and despair, until one day we hear ourselves say something a former version of ourselves never would have said. That’s how I came to support same-sex marriage in the church. When I came out as a teenager in Baptist circles in the Bible Belt, I never would’ve imagined God would still like me if I married a woman one day. And I want to try to explain, in theological(ish) terms, how I ended up here.

She goes on to tell the story, which I won’t rehash in full here. I will simply encourage you to read it for yourself. I offer here a short list of reflections on what she has written:

1. The apostles teach us that there is no greater joy than to see brothers and sisters walking faithfully in the truth (3 John 4). Likewise, they also teach us that there is almost nothing more heartbreaking than to see someone falling away from it (1 Tim. 1:19; 4:1). This issue of homosexuality is so fraught with emotion and pathos, and it only adds grief to grief to see so many running their faith aground over it. Such a public falling away can only cause sadness. There can be no joy in it.

2. Rodgers perceives that church leaders keep moving the goalposts on what Christian faithfulness looks like for same-sex attracted Christians. Although I don’t entirely agree with her account of things, I think she is right that some evangelicals have not always taught with biblical and theological clarity on this issue. We’ve been clear that homosexuality is immoral. But we haven’t always been clear about how a Christian can struggle well against unwanted same-sex attraction. But that is no argument for abandoning the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Rather, it is an argument for us to speak and to love and to minister in ways that reflect what the Bible actually teaches. Jesus’ teaching really is good for us—all of us. It is the path to life (Matt. 7:14). Abandoning what Jesus teaches us about marriage will not lead people to Jesus but away from him (Matthew 19:4-6).

3. Rodgers’s explanation—like her previous one—is long on personal experience and short on Bible. If she has a reasoned biblical rationale for her views, she doesn’t really share it. In fact, she says that when she held to the traditional view, it wasn’t based as much on biblical teaching as it was on her trust in what certain Christian leaders were telling her. When she stopped trusting those leaders, she stopped holding the traditional view. In other words, it doesn’t sound like her former faithfulness on the issue was rooted very deeply in God’s word. That may have something to do with her recent declension from it. In any case, we can draw a lesson from this. All of us need to have our consciences bound to the explicit teaching of God’s word, not to the traditions of men. Again, this is an argument for greater biblical and theological clarity in the life of the church, not less.

4. Rodgers connects this issue to the long-standing gender controversy among evangelicals. She reasons that if evangelicals are going to allow for egalitarian readings of scripture, then they must accept gay-affirming readings as well. She writes:

Thoughtful Christians have taught that all of Scripture points to a theology of marriage that involves one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment with a green light for sex in that context alone. This is based on the idea that the Bible is our ultimate authority, but it’s complicated by the fact that we bring an interpretive lens to the Bible. When we support women’s equality in all areas of leadership in the church, we trust one interpretive lens over another. Both sides are sincere Christians and both view the Bible as authoritative––they just differ on how the Bible, which was written in a patriarchal context in the 1st century, should apply to empowered women in the 21stcentury.

Complementarians have been saying for decades that egalitarian readings of scripture will eventually give way to gay-affirming readings. While we are thankful that many egalitarians never made this leap, we cannot help but observe that their theological children have no problem making the connection. And they are doing so based on reading strategies that they learned from their egalitarian mentors. This was inevitable.

5. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1). He can always reach his children wherever they are. He will speak. They will hear his voice and come to him (John 10:3-5). Permanent departure from his word only leads to desolation in the end. I am hoping and praying that the departures we are seeing now will only be temporary—that the Lord would eventually get through to them. His patience and mercy are more vast than we can imagine. Perhaps the Lord would be pleased to draw back those who have turned aside. That is how I will be praying anyway.

Denny Burk is Associate Professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

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You might be a dying breed of Christian if …

What will follow in a moment is a blog post from  the “Progressive Christian’  Faith Channel at Patheos.com,  I wanted to speak to some of the characteristics of the ‘dying breed of Christian’ (is that a bad thing?) however since I have been summarily blocked from commenting on ‘progressive Christian’ John’’ Shore’s blogs by the man himself , I am posting here at The Battle Cry. A couple characteristics on the list  should clearly make you want to be part of the ‘dying breed’, a couple seem just silly, while others would require more ‘definition’ (not a lot) in order to cast a vote. Here’s Mr. Shore’s post:

May You might be a dying breed of Christian if …

May 22, 2014 By John Shore

(With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.)

You might be a dying breed of Christian if …

1. You think the Bible is a rulebook spelling out exactly what you need to believe and think about everything.

2. You think that being a Christian automatically makes you the moral superior of anyone not a Christian.

3. You think being gay or transgender is an offense to God.

4. You let your pastor tell you how to vote.

5. You think men alone are suited to be the head of home and church.

6. You think that God wants wives to submit to their husbands.

7. You think God is a man.

8. You don’t think Purity Balls are appallingly inappropriate.

7. You think it’s a woman’s job to make sure that men don’t lust after her.

8. You think divorce is a sin.

9. You think the earth was created six to ten thousand years ago.

10. You think hell is an actual location that exists in real space and time, where everyone who dies a non-Christian is sentenced by God to spend eternity burning alive.

Boy. If only this were funny.

If, instead of the dying breed sort of Christian, you are the coming majority sort of Christian, come join us Unfundamentalist Christians via our Facebook page and/or our group blog.

It’s probably an astute observation that there is indeed a ‘dying breed’ of Christian and a ‘coming majority ‘ of Christians, however it’s a better indicator of rampant apostasy than anything else. Then again, maybe it’s not such an astute observation……….

Today’s ‘Contrary’ Gospel(s)

The Apostle Paul had some stern words concerning ‘contrary’ gospels:

"As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:9 ESV)

Some translations use the phrase ‘other than’ or ‘any other’ instead of ‘contrary’ in that passage, and both are most certainly true! Any gospel other than the one Paul preached is a false gospel. At the same time a ‘false’ gospel is a ‘contrary’ gospel. Is there a subtle difference in meaning here?

‘Other than’ means just that – anything not the same as. In this case a gospel not the gospel that Paul preached.

‘Contrary’ by definition means: opposed, as in character or purpose; opposite in direction or position. So not only are ‘other’ gospels not Paul’s gospel, they stand in direct opposition to and actually head in a different direction. When we turn to and accept other, contrary gospels, we can be led astray from true devotion to Christ. It does happen, if we believe the Apostle Paul:

"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough." (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 ESV)

It seems that Paul saw the work of the enemy, who is always opposed to the true gospel, in false gospels in his day. I fear nothing has changed. I recently read a sad story told by a Baptist Pastor in Namibia, Conrad Mbewe; that illustrates what is perhaps the chief ‘contrary’ gospel in our day:

"Last Sunday, a young man came to see me after our church service. He is the kind of guy who shows up at church once in a while and then disappears for a season. My guess is that he goes around churches sampling sermons and looking for answers. On this visit, he asked that I help him to overcome a failure in his life, and it was a failure to progress. He said that his greatest problem is that he does not believe in himself. Could I help him believe in himself so that he could become successful?

I gave him a booklet to read, entitled, What is a Biblical Christian? When we met the following day, he was honest enough to tell me that he was disappointed with what he read because it was not telling him what he wanted to hear. “What I want to know is how I can be successful. This booklet did not say anything about that.” I repeated what I told him earlier. What he needed was not belief in himself but belief in a Saviour sent from heaven. He needed forgiveness as a foundation for his life.

Yesterday, a church member told me that he met the young man in the local market. He had two booklets in his hands. The first was the one I had given him and the second one was by Joel Osteen. He told our member, “Pastor Mbewe gave me this book but I don’t like it because it makes me feel guilty. I prefer this one by Joel Osteen because it lifts me up. It motivates me.”

This false gospel takes many forms, and I won’t even try to list them all here. You will probably be able to identify some of those forms in Pastor Mbewe’s remarks:

"Sadly, motivational speaking has become the staple diet of many evangelical pulpits. The message being heard is, “God has put the potential in you and all you need to do is believe in yourself to unlock that potential. Have a grand vision and live out that vision. You must be a man or woman of destiny and the sky will be the limit for you. Don’t let your past failures get in your way of success. Look beyond them, as Jesus looked beyond the cross and thus overcame it. You are the head and not the tail."

In his online post at A Letter from Kabwata, Pastor Mbewe concludes with this:

"Motivational speaking is not biblical preaching. It is a blight on the landscape of true evangelicalism. It is filling the churches with dead people who are being told to live as if they are alive. We need to return to the good old gospel that truly gives life to the dead and sets men and women free. Like Paul of old, every truly evangelical pulpit must sound out the clear message of “repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Let us get rid of this curse of motivational speaking!

The question we must ask ourselves:

"Are we sitting under sound Biblical preaching that presents the true gospel, or do we spend our Sunday mornings listening to a ‘contrary’ gospel?"

Food for thought early on this Sunday morning, June 24, 2012.

Timing is Everything

Back in November 2010, The U.N. General Assembly unanimously signed a Resolution declaring the first week of February as ‘World Interfaith Harmony Week’. I learned of this magnificent proclamation of peace and goodwill just yesterday when I received notice from another blog I frequent that contained the following advertisement for ‘Harmony’:

Aside from all of the implications of this small add, in terms of crass ‘religious’ commercialism and gravely serious spiritual implications, the timing just might be perfect for the introduction of ‘Interfaith’ prayer beads, made of ‘olive wood from the Holy Land’, and ‘specially’ designed for ‘all faiths’.

After all, the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to God has taken serious hits of late, to include a ‘spirit’ of inclusivism within both Catholicism and certain circles of Protestantism. Significant ‘icons’ of Protestant evangelicalism have even refused to stand on the plain words of Christ (John 14:6) against the backdrop of Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment, when pinned down by Larry King on nationwide television.

It will be interesting to watch further ‘developments’.

Perhaps the real question is “What would Jesus think?” or maybe “What would Jesus really do?”, as opposed to what is being promoted behind the scenes by the archenemy of God and the enemy of the souls of men.

On a more positive note (if there is one), if they become popular doors will be blown wide open for opportunities to share the truth in love – the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dear Christian, are you up for the challenge? Am I?

"What are we to do about it?"

All religions can be examined in light of scripture, can they not?  The ‘acid’ test is almost always the gospel of Jesus Christ; how are men saved, by faith alone or by faith plus works. ‘Faith plus works’ (all religions except Christianity, and some ‘called’ Christian) is a sure sign of a false religion or apostate Christianity.

Yes, there are subtle forms of false teaching and clever ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing out there’ when all the right words are used and things seem on the up and up, and error is more difficult to spot. However when the clear light of scripture reveals an unbiblical gospel message concerning hoe God saves men, the matter should be closed, leaving the question, “What are we to do about it?”

When a loved one, friend, acquaintance (someone in our area of influence) is following what is false, with eternal consequences looming, we are to lovingly, compassionately, communicate what is true and what is false, with Bible in hand (opinions don’t count), and with much prayer. There are times when the most loving and compassionate thing we can do is issue a strong warning/apostasy alert.

At times, when the one with whom we are dealing resists scriptural truth to the “leave me alone” point, we need to stop talking but continue to pray fervently; for our friend/loved one, and our ‘delivery’.

Then there are the times when we need to shake the dust from our feet and move on, a decision point also needing prayer cover. It is not always easy and often is painful to make that decision.

Remember, scripture – the Bible –  is the standard, the measuring rod, the lamp of truth under which everything must be examined. That means everything!

The Great Western Heresy

The crisis of this moment has several parts, and . . ., they’re all related. The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.

Sounds like something that would come from a religious group outside of Christianity. For the source of that quote read this article.

Recognizing Counterfeits

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” – Acts 20:29-30

Here we find Paul warning some Ephesian brethren what was going to happen when he left them. False teachers (fierce wolves) would attack from outside the church and false teachers would arise from within. Paul didn’t tell them it “might” happen, he said it “will” happen. Both types of false teachers have the same goal, to draw away disciples after themselves.

Their chief tactic is scripture twisting; speaking perverse things; concerning God, and Christ, and the Gospel; distorted things, wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction, and that of others; things that are disagreeable to the word of God, and pernicious to the souls of men.” (John Gill 1697-1771)

Countless books have been written about false religions, dangerous cults, and spiritual ‘snake-oil’ salesmen, sometimes by the counterfeiters themselves (about other counterfeits and Christs true church).

How do you tell the genuine article from the counterfeit? You can try and read the countless books, but how do you know which ones to read, which author to trust?

I have a suggestion – why not start with the infallible book by the infallible author – the Bible. After all, the chief tactic used by false teachers everywhere is to distort the written word of God. When you know the real deal, and a ‘poser’ enters the room, spiritual ‘flags’ pop up, warning bells sound.

The more scripture you know, the easier it gets to spot ’em. You listen to what they say (they always have a lot to say) and something doesn’t ring true. Examine their words under the light of scripture and if they’re ‘playing Twister’, you’ll know. The deeper the written word is ‘hidden in your heart’, the sooner you will spot them. The sooner they are spotted and dealt with, the less damage they inflict. The less damage then inflict, the easier it becomes to restore believers who have been deceived.

Knowledge of the written word of God is key to the gift of discernment.

Truth, Lies and Horseback Riding

You are probably thinking that’s a rather silly title for a blog post. Maybe, maybe not. If it stimulated your curiosity to the point you are actually reading this, it accomplished the desired goal of the author. Therefore, it makes at least a little bit of sense. Agreed? No on to the point. . .

Months ago, maybe even years ago in some cases, while studying various aspects of Christianity in light of scripture (a favorite pastime of mine), I began to see beliefs in Christendom that had little or no scriptural support, and that some of those questionable beliefs had achieved the status of ‘doctrine’, and to disagree with them was labeled minimally as growth hindering misunderstanding of scripture, and blasphemy deserving of Hell at the other end of the ‘error spectrum’.  I had then, and then still have now, a soul deep conviction that God wrote the Book and therefore what was taught as truth, but didn’t agree with the context of scripture, was wrong or false in some measure and in some cases, was an outright lie.

The unavoidable question brought to this inquiring mind was, “How did these falsehoods and lies end up so widely believed by professing Christians? The answer arrived at after a considerable amount of studying scripture, researching a range of historical resources, and comparing them both to widely held beliefs of professing believers was. and IS, precisely this:

The ‘accepted’ lie always rides in on the back of truth. Without an element of scriptural truth upon which to hitch a ride, the lie never survives.

A prime example from the early church would be the Pelagian heresy that denied any adverse effect of Adam’s sin on the rest of mankind that was birthed after the Fall. That lie didn’t get very far and was condemned as heresy. the ‘Semi-Pelagianism that followed acknowledged that Adam’s sin affected of us, but man is still able in and of himself to cooperate with God in the salvation of his soul . That was also condemned as heresy (at the Council of Orange), but is in fact alive and well in both major camps of Christianity. No segment of Christianity has ever admitted to being Semi-Pelagian, although a synergistic Gospel is by nature, exactly that.

There you have one man’s explanation of the connection between truth, lies, and horseback riding. The initial lie, without an element of truth, failed. The second lie, while admitting ‘some’ truth, made a modified version of the first lie perfectly acceptable, and even pleasing to human sensibilities.

There have been other examples of lies riding in on the back of truth, some with a longer history of ‘acceptance’ than others. The two most damaging to both the cause of Christ and the souls of men are 1) that Christ established a single religious organization as the only true church with an ‘infallible’ human as head of that church and 2) that God ‘accepts’ us unconditionally, WITH our sin.

Both have a segment of truth. Christ did declare he would establish His church on earth. God does LOVE unconditionally – it’s His nature and one of His divine attributes.

The church that Christ established is made up of those persons for whom he died, from every tongue and tribe and nation – those whom He purchased with his own blood. We weren’t put on layaway!

If God could ‘accept’ us into His Kingdom WITH our sin, His Son died in vain. The first point of the Gospel is that Christ DIED for our sin!

Satan’s Gambit

In the world of chess, a gambit is a chess opening in which the first player risks or sacrifices material, usually a pawn, with the hope of achieving a resulting advantageous position. One article I found that contained a list of twenty opening gambits, including one colorfully named the Fried Liver Attack. Not included in the list was Satan’s Gambit.   Perhaps that’s because in the world of chess there isn’t an opening gambit with that name – at least I didn’t find one.

So what do I mean by Satan’s Gambit, and to what game does it apply? I’m glad you asked those questions – we’ll address them in reverse order.

Satan’s Gambit is not about a game, but about our Christian faith, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6;12), and Satan is the enemy’s CINC (Commande in Chief).  In the art of spiritual warfare, Satan’s opening gambit has always been to attack the authority of inspired Scripture, since the days of the New Testament church. The Apostle Paul specifically addressed ‘other gospels’ that had corrupted the pure Gospel of Christ.

The latest form of Satan’s Gambit would probably reside in the philosophy of the Emergent church, and the leaders of the ‘conversation’ whose passion for the uncertainty of scripture has been heard from their own lips and thoroughly documented, as have strong connections to the ‘contemplative prayer movement’ . As novel and appealing as their ideas might be, they lack a truly original thought.  The Emperor of Uncertainty has new clothes but he’s still running around naked.  Dr. John MacArthur had this to say in an insightful interview with Phil Johnson:

The bottom line, I think, in the movement is that it is a denial of the clarity of Scripture. It is a denial that we can know what the Bible really says. And as I said, it’s amorphous because there’s a mish-mash of approaches to this and a mish-mash of styles and things like that. But they have embraced this mystery as if it’s true spirituality. And so, it becomes celebration of mystery, a celebration of ignorance, a celebration that we can’t really know. I think it’s just another form of liberalism. I think it’s just another form of denying the clarity of Scripture. And I think there’s a motive behind it…it’s just another philosophy.

Post-modernism is another bad philosophy. Modernism was a bad philosophy. Post-modernism is another bad philosophy. But in both cases, they assault the Scripture. Modernism made reason, human reason, the king. Reason was supreme in modernism. Thomas Payne, The Age of Reason, The Enlightenment, all of those things, the Renaissance. Out of that came the worship of the human mind and the mind trumps God. Now mystery trumps the Bible. The human mind trumps the Bible in modernism, mystery trumps the Bible in post-modernism. It is at the foundation an unwillingness to accept the clear teaching of Scripture. (Online source) (Emphasis mine.)

However dangerous to the church the Emergent movement might be, there is a deceptive variant of Satan’s Gambit that is far more dangerous to the spiritual growth of the individual believer. Rather than openly doubting the authority of scripture, this version of the gambit is far more subtle. While seeming to allow for adherence to biblical doctrine, the variant assigns more importance to personal insights and feelings about scripture than the clear teaching of scripture itself. There is even an online university that advertises a book ‘Hearing God’s Voice – Guaranteed!’. The book teaches that the best way to hear God’s voice is through our ‘spontaneous thoughts, feelings and insights’. To test the validity of these ‘journaled’ spontaneous thoughts, they are given to three others who ‘discern’ whether or not it was God speaking.

I am not saying that God doesn’t ever speak, or isn’t involved in our thoughts and emotions. The test of their validity,however, should be the light of Scripture, not the ‘third party’ discernment described above. What we have here is a form of mysticism that teaches the gullible how to be false prophets to themselves! The authority and light of Scripture is supplanted by subjective internal feelings and experiences. Sound rather ridiculous? It should!

You might be asking “How do sincere believers fall for this kind of false teaching?”  Well, there are probably several ways, but I know of a perfect ‘training ground’ that the enemy uses to slide the gullible (usually believers young in their faith) right into it! I speak from experience because I’ve been there and back. What I am referring to is popular What Does this Verse Mean “to ME”? form of Bible study.

This highly subjective approach to scripture lets the individual interpret the text by what he/she ‘feels’  God is saying. When this is the accepted/preferred form of studying the Bible, all sorts of ‘wonderful insights’ are obtained and self-congratulation abounds, accompanied by considerable fawning over everyone else’s ‘insights’. I remember many such Bible studies in which no one was really growing in grace and discipleship, but we sure felt good about ourselves! Can you see the progression here?

  • Reading the Bible but spending more time discussing how one ‘feels’ about the text instead of inductive study to learn what it says in context and applying it.
  • Progressing to a deeper level of ‘hearing’ God’s voice and receiving ‘personal words’ of prophesy for one’s self and others, outside of scripture.
  • Doubting the very certainty of the truth of scripture and embracing forms of mysticism as the best or only way to really hear God.

While there may be other, smaller steps from innocent appearing Christian fellowship to complete apostasy, these three can almost always be observed in the process and all three attack the certainty and authority of scripture, almost invisibly at first, but sometimes resulting in embracing the heretical.

So there you have what I call Satan’s Gambit. Similar to a well played game of chess, there is an initial move that is not necessarily harmful, but that can escalate and end in disaster. Experienced chess players study various opening gambits and how to counter the advance of the enemy. How much more crucial it is for believers to be able to recognize the enemy of our souls and counter his subtle attacks!