Dr. Michael Brown Corrects Andrew Marin and Emergent Evangelicals on their ‘Celebration of Ambiguity’ on Homosexuality

Christians must reach out with Gospel in love but avoid “soulish sympathy” for practicing homosexuals, says Bible scholar

michael_brown_aftah_9-17-09.jpgBy Peter LaBarbera

Folks, Dr. Michael Brown gave an excellent presentation at AFTAH’s monthly dinner-lecture last week. We hope to post a YouTube on Dr. Brown’s succinct and compelling response to my question on the “Big Three” hostile questions thrown at Christians who defend the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual conduct:

  1. “But Jesus Christ never said anything about homosexuality”;
  2. “Why should we believe the Old Testament says about homosexuality when it also bans wearing polyester and eating shellfish?”; and
  3. “You Christians are so judgmental.”

Dr. Brown, a world renowned biblical scholar, hit it out of the park. He also challenged what he calls the “celebration of ambiguity”in describing neo-evangelicals’ and the “Emergent Church’s” evasive and equivocating — and unbiblical — positioning on the issue of homosexuality.

andrew_marinjpg.jpgBrown specifically challenged Chicago evangelical Andrew Marin (right), founder of the Marin Foundation and author of “Love Is Not an Orientation.” Brown praised Marin for wanting to reach out to homosexuals and the portions of the book in which Marin relays personal stories of homosexuals he has encountered who have been hurt by the Church. But he was highly critical of Marin’s misuse of Scripture in interpreting verses dealing with homosexuality.

Brown said of the Emergent Church — which is much more accepting of homosexual identity, uses the controversial term “gay Christian,” and generally scolds Christians for actively condemning homosexuality and the “gay” political/cultural agenda: “Their cure is worse than the sickness …. [they] have shown more solidarity with [homosexual] people than with God.”

“How are we helping anyone when we make the clear unclear … the unambiguous ambiguous? … How is that love?” Brown asked, calling on Christians to share the full truth of the Gospel in love. After first noting that Christians need to repent for neglecting to lovingly share God’s salvation plan with people caught up in homosexuality, Brown warned against believers falling into a “soulish sympathy” for homosexuals that overrides Biblical truth and their Christian conscience. [AFTAH will be offering a DVD of Brown’s talk; write americansfortruth@comcast.net for more information.]

“There is a fundamental denial of the power of the Gospel,” Brown said, noting that a key requirement of being a disciple of Christ is to “deny yourself.”

Brown — who strongly urged Christians to humble themselves and repent for not offering the grace and love of Christ to homosexual friends and acquaintances — will be writing a review of Marin’s book for AFTAH. We will also transcribe Brown’s important critique of Emergent philosophy in a future post.

DISCLAIMER: I have not read Marin’s book yet, but have been deeply troubled by his chameleon-like approach to ministry and his watered-down Gospel as it relates to the issue of homosexuality. Marin — a self-described former “bible-bangin’ homophobe” who moved to Chicago’s homosexual “Boystown” community to reach homosexuals after three of his friends “came out” to him as “gay” — turned on me last year after we both appeared on a Moody Radio broadcast in Chicago.

After our mutual appearance on Moody’s WMBI Radio, I posted a sympathetic Moody commentary about it by WMBI’s Julie Roys. After we republished Roys’ piece, Andrew and his wife pleaded with me to take it off AFTAH’s website to accommodate their covert-like approach to ministry (an approach that has earned him criticism and distrust from both homosexual activists like Michaelangelo Signorile and biblically faithful Christians). After I rejected his appeal, Marin did an online interview on ExGayWatch, a homosexual activist website, to supposedly “clear the record” and distance himself and his work from Americans For Truth.

Marin’s turnaround came just days after he praised me enthusiastically on Moody Radio for “[taking] the bullet for all of us” in opposing the homosexual activist movement. Predictably, ExGayWatch used Marin’s interview as an opportunity to bash my alleged “shameless self-promotion.” I was appalled that Marin would use a blatantly anti-biblical website — one bitterly hostile to the truth that Jesus Christ can help homosexuals leave the lifestyle — to undermine a fellow Christian believer.

(I have worked with Andrew before: in 2006 he once almost appeared at a press conference that I organized as executive director of Illinois Family Institute — comprised of local pro-family leaders confronting the “Gay Games,” which were being held in Chicago. Marin supported IFI’s efforts — which included a Gospel outreach to Gay Games participants — but he pulled out as a speaker at the press conference, fearing that his public stance would hurt his ministry.)

Below is Marin’s startling post on the “gay”-affirming site, ExGayWatch. I say “startling” because Marin — who regularly works with Moody Bible Institute and is promoted through sympathetic Moody Radio interviews — now seems intent on muddying up the Bible’s clear truth: that homosexual practice is sinful yet changeable through Christ. Dr. Brown noted the exact same tendency in Marin’s book, which he critiqued at AFTAH’s talk.

Needless to say, Christians like Marin who equivocate on biblical truth will be championed by the same homosexual activists who viciously (and erroneously) denounce AFTAH and groups like us as “hateful.”

The highly “ambiguous” Marin “Is Homosexuality a Sin?” piece below is actually a long comment posted on the same ExGayWatch thread that contains his self-serving online interview with homosexual activist David Roberts. To be honest, I was so disturbed by Marin’s actions that I could not bring myself to listen to his XGW interview, but now that he’s “out of the closet,” as it were, with his “Love is an orientation” approach toward homosexuality, it’s time to review his comments and correct the record ourselves. We will respond point-by-point to Marins’ take on what transpired with WMBI and his dubious exegesis of Scripture.

I do not believe — or at least I hope — that the equivocating Andrew Marin, who seems ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (at least as applied to homosexuality),  represents Moody Bible Institute’s approach towards the homosexual issue. Moody has faithfully served the Lord for decades. And I regret that despite Julie Roys’ hopeful commentary, we must now openly oppose Marin’s habit of downplaying the sin of homosexuality — forgiveness for which is part of the great transforming work of Christ!

Dr. Brown is absolutely right: there is a great need for ministry-minded Christians to lovingly share the Gospel with practicing homosexuals, but they should never resort to publicly obfuscating or denying biblical Truth to carry out that mission. Please pray for Andrew Marin — that he will return to the truth on this issue, including the parts that are politically incorrect. — Peter LaBarbera, Americans For Truth

_____________________________

DL Moody once preached:

That’s the trouble with the sinners in Chicago.  They’ve turned against God, broken His commandments, trampled His law under their feet, and their sins hang upon them; until they show signs of repentance their sin will remain.  But the moment they see their iniquity and come to God, forgiveness will be given them and their iniquity will be taken out of their way.  Said a person to me the other day, “It is my sin that stands between me and Christ.” “It isn’t,” I replied, “it’s your own will.” That’s what stands between the sinner and forgiveness.  Christ will take all your iniquities away if you will. Men are so proud that they won’t acknowledge and confess before God.  Don’t you see on the face of it, if your boy won’t repent you cannot forgive him, and how is God going to forgive a sinner if he don’t repent? If He was allowing an unrepentant sinner into His Kingdom, there would be war in Heaven in twenty-four hours.  You cannot live in a house with a boy who steals everything he can lay his hands on.  You would have to banish him from your house.

__________________________________

Andrew Marin’s Post on ExGayWatch

Andrew Marin’s comment posted on the homosexual activist website “ExGayWatch,” on April 24th, 2008:

Hello Everyone,

I am part of the subject of this post [referring to his online interview] and I wanted to say a few things. First, I appreciate the opportunity that I was given by David to explain what happened. I also appreciate everyone’s comments, and I want to let all of you know that I want to be as open and transparent as I can possibly be.

With that in mind I would like to address Bob’s concerns one by one because I am not trying to hide anything from anyone. I want to be honest about my life, my experiences and my organization – and so here are detailed answers for each of the concerns that were raised.

1. To explain my verbiage of “love” and “not judging” and how that influences our “educational work”:

As I said on the interview, my view of love is lived out through the following definition – love is a tangible and measurable expression of unconditional behaviors that no matter who you are, what you say or what you do I have your back 110% and will never leave or give up on your salvation/belief in God. I believe that the word love has become a trivial word coming from the Christian community to gays and lesbains because too often Christian expressions of love has become conditional. My goal is to unconditionally be apart of, and involved in people’s lives to overcome that negative perception and truth of what “love” has become. The Father is unconditional; Jesus is unconditional; and so to do I want to follow that example whether or not there is any “change” because at the end of the day only God can allow someone into heaven. So why not seek validation from the One who can bring eternal validation. Humanly opinions have no bearing on heavenly judgment, and therefore my wish is to take those humanly judgments away and focus on our Lord and let Him do as He sees fit for each of our lives. Therefore our entire educational work is based off of this premise.

2. Is homosexuality a sin?

Does anyone else ever wonder why when it comes to the most divisive topic in the church today that most questions revolve around one word, yes or no answers? I started to think about that, and I’ve come to the conclusion that both sides ask those same yes or no questions at the beginning so they can then label you and place you on their side, or the opponent’s side. This is nothing more than an expression of an “us vs. them” mindset. Building bridges cannot happen through an us vs. them mindset. Therefore, is homosexuality a sin?

I have three clear answers:

1. Romans 3:23 – we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

2. James 2:10 – in God’s eyes, if you have committed one sin you have committed them all

3. Matthew 7:1-2 – the measure you use to judge others will also be used to judge you

Theologically I believe that sin has been propitiated to us all through the Original Sin, and we are all born sinful into a sinful world. My position is that it is time to elevate the conversation past what is always fought about and shift our mind-frames to belief and communication with the Creator. If we can focus on a tangible expression of love, belief and a humbled understanding of ourselves, and each other’s point of view as valid to their experience – in our lives and our sexuality (from both sides) –then we can advance the worship and dialogue past negative debates and onto more important eternal issues. I strongly believe that we are all on the same plain constantly learning and growing in our lives and faith trying to figure this life out. The unique juxtaposition is that we will never figure it out and have to live by that same faith to continue on another day, in what many times is a non-felt security by God. We know He’s there and yet there are times, especially during the extremes of when things are great and when things are horrible, that we don’t feel Him. Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I feel as though it is my job to tangibly reach out to the GLBT community and apologize for what has happened in the past – and then help both sides to move forward to bring faith and spiritual reconciliation to a community evangelical Christians have traditionally only fought against.

3. Where do I stand of civil rights issues such as marriage equality?

I let the politicians handle the politics. I head a religious organization that is solely focused on religion and spirituality and to a bridge being built between time-tested opposing communities. I believe that politics does not have to enter into every conversation. I understand that many of the “religious right” have placed themselves in the middle of political debates and agendas, as well as many on the “left” have done the same. I will do neither. I have been put here for spiritual things, and that is my only focus. When our government decides either way, I will so live by those laws and not argue, disagree or fight in either direction. My world is not of this world because of what is to come.

4. “If I love gays, why do I oppose gay rights?”

I have never commented on gay rights so I am not sure where that statement is coming from – this is the first time. Just because I was connected by a third party to LaBarbera does not mean I agree or disagree. Others can continue to fight over politics, I just wish to focus on being as best of a representation I can to the one true God.

5. “In a Reader interview I flunked both tests”

The link to the Reader article is
http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/andrewmarin/

and if so inclined, please read it in its entirety. I believe that all quotes need further context, but becuase this issue was brought up here is a direct quote from that article:

The Marin Foundation takes no official position on gay marriage or gay adoption, although Marin praised one of his gay students who took in foster children from a third world country with his partner. And he says there’s no reason gays shouldn’t serve in the military. But these familiar debates are, for Marin, “nitpicking,” so mired in the realm of politics and worldly power that they detract from his broader spiritual mission. “I’m not political,” he insists. “I’m religious.”

6. There are other denominations that affirms the GLBT community so why do you need a “ministry”?

First, The Marin Foundation is not a ministry. We are an organization that is not connected to a church or denomination. We work with 9 different denominations in fact, including Episcopal and UCC churches. We are here because there are many people in the GLBT community who are frightened of church – the building, the dogma, the stigma that comes with the name. As a non-profit organization we are not a church, and therefore a safe place for people to come to talk, be validated as a child of God, listened to and not have to feel like they are being preached to or tied down to one thing or the other. Many people in the GLBT community who participate in our organization say that is the reason they go to us and not a church. Also, the Episcopal and UCC are traditionally liturgical in their approach. We have found that there are many GLBT people who were raised in evangelical homes and wish for that same environment. The Marin Foundation is one of the ways to return into spiritual things that are more comfortable for them then attending a church of any particular denomination. My denomination is the belief in God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit who love me as their child.

7. Bob [Schwartz, of the hard-left Gay Liberation Network] called me an “unabashed homophobe” and that I am a “velvet-gloved hammer of antigay bigotry and discrimination.”

I in deed was, for the first 19 years of my life a homophobe. There was no two-ways about it. But to call me that now, with so many people in the GLBT community who love and respect me and the work that I do through The Marin Foundation who has helped so many GLBT people who have been really hurt by religion, is off base. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and after I read Bob’s post I had an epiphany this morning.

“I need to release the burden of having to feel like I have to convince people who don’t like me, of the things that I know are true in my life whether they agree or not.”

This might seem like old hat to all of you reading that, but my problem is that I take way too much too personally. So when I am insulted it really hurts my soul. I’m not a hardened season veteran of this issue that insults don’t hurt. I don’t have people call me names everyday of my life, so it stings when it does happen. Maybe it’s because I’m younger than most who are already involved, maybe I am naive? I don’t know. But regardless of where it comes from the reason I felt that I needed to write all of these issues down was to clear my conscious of being saddened by what Bob said.

I believe now, that I have covered all of his major points. I am very open to peaceful discussion and I look forward to continuing this very important dialogue.

Thank you very much.

[Marin posts again in the discussion on ExGayWatch; you can also listen to his interview in which he opposes AFTAH’s Peter LaBarbera; go to: http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2008/04/labarberas-shameless-self-promotion-may-damage-a-real-ministry/]


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