A longtime social justice activist and a former Christianity Today editor have announced their affirmation of same sex couples, signaling a gradual movement among politically liberal Evangelicals towards a reappraisal of historic Christian views on marriage and sexual ethics.
“I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” declared a news release from Tony Campolo, a longtime popular speaker, Democratic Party activist and sociology professor at Eastern University in Philadelphia.
Responding to Campolo on Facebook was retired Christianity Today editor David Neff, who posted: “God bless Tony Campolo. He is acting in good faith and is, I think, on the right track.”
Neff told his former employer, Christianity Today: “I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”
A handful of small and medium-sized Evangelical congregations have made news in the past year for their affirmation of same-sex couples, including Gracepointe Church in Franklin, TN and New Heart Community Church of La Mirada, CA. The reappraisal of homosexual practices by these congregations has been controversial internally as well as externally, with several experiencing large departures of members and lay leaders.
Neff’s and Campolo’s full embrace of same-sex behavior indicates that theological and ethical orthodoxy may become increasingly difficult and rare for religionists on the political Left. As they quit the historic consensus on the Christian teaching now under most assault, they likely will be joined by a growing cadre of post-Evangelicals who prefer cultural accommodation to traditional Evangelical counter cultural witness.
Campolo argued for same sex couples based more on personal experience than theology or empirical data. He dismisses theological arguments as a sort of nuisance, having heard ‘every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage.’
Campolo the social justice crusader and sociologist, uninterested in engaging 2,000 years of continuous Christian teaching, relies on progressivism to make his case. The Church was wrong about women as teachers, wrong about divorce, wrong about slavery, but it turns out we all know better now, and so too on same sex marriage. Let the nuptials begin!
Such liberal Evangelicals becoming liberal Protestants will, like the rest of liberal Protestantism, stagnate and decline, while orthodox Christianity will continue to grow globally.