Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Turd by Any Other Name

Brian McLaren, has chosen to officiate in his son's wedding - to another man. I am sorry to see this kind of thing, but only because McLaren used to call himself a Christian (not sure he does any more, and if he does, he's lying). I suppose this comes as little surprise to many Christians - in 2006 McLaren proposed a five year "moratorium" on Christian speech regarding homosexuality as a sin, while we were supposed to examine scientific causes, revisit texts and then decide what homosexuality is and how to address it. There is no reason for anyone to expect that kind of path to lead anywhere else. Every culture in every corner of the world has always cared deeply about what people do with their sexuality, and proscribed and prescribed until everyone was safe enough to go about their business and no one was satisfied enough to stop trying to bend the rules. The eye is not filled for seeing, and ever since Lamech we have been bending the rules, trying desperately to extract more delight per quantitative measure of experience. Wine wasn't good enough, so we invented whiskey, and then the Russians started making vodka, which tastes sort of like gin but with less Christmas tree and more potato. Somewhere, someone is slurping frozen orange juice concentrate.

I'm not mad at McLaren for turning his back on the Christian faith - and let's not condescendingly pretend that his actions are anything other - sad, maybe, a little, but only God knows what I would do in the same situation. I don't have a son, and if I did, he wouldn't be gay. I bet most Christian fathers think that, at least at some primitive, medulla oblongata level. Truthfully, I can't say I fault McLaren for standing by his son - I mean, what was he supposed to do, shun him? He didn't perform the ceremony, by the way, but rather a "commitment ceremony" after. But McLaren isn't just continuing to love his son - he is openly affirming homosexual relationships as wholesome. He is denying the historic Christian faith - something not surprising from someone who wrote a book called "A New Kind of Christianity". There are no new kinds of Christianity. It's kind of obvious, like a large piece of spinach flapping from some stranger's teeth. It is what it is - don't pretend otherwise. Don't call it Swiss chard - or worse, pretend that you brushed your teeth. McLaren has made his choice, and it isn't Christianity. I'm ok with that. Ironically, he doesn't seem to be, as each successive screed published at HuffPo or wherever takes painstaking care to establish that the thoughts of Christians are only evil continually, but Brian has found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Or something to that effect.

You know, I don't really care what McLaren does; and I don't really care what his son does with his naughty bits. Christianity is so much bigger than that. The world is so much bigger than that. It will sigh and roll over and let the sun scratch its belly, and then the sun will come up again. Summer and Winter; rain-time and harvest will go on. But I do care about McLaren's soul, which he seems to be gambling with like a drunken sailor in Bangkok risking his pocketbook and health during a too-short shore leave. And I care about others who might just be myopic enough to buy into this "new Christianity" thing, which is sort of like a painted face on a dead geisha.

But how did McLaren get to the place where he can brightly contradict two thousand years of teaching and still call it Christianity without any irony whatsoever? Just read the paragraph leading up to his suggestion that we need a moratorium:
Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.
 Well, I don't know "exactly" what Brian McL should think, but I do know exactly what the Bible says. And frankly, it isn't exactly nuanced. I mean, good grief. If 1 Timothy 1:10 or 1 Corinthians 6:9 are "nuanced and multilayered",  I'm not sure how Mclaren gets through his monthly Reader's Digest. It sure must be a burden slogging through all that nuanced world. But notice what McLaren has done in the above paragraph. He places himself as equal to the Holy Spirit in determining truth and righteousness. McLaren has followed the same thorn-strewn path of self-authority as so many other false religions, false philosophies, and New Kinds of Gnosticism. What is truth? Those were the words of the one who executed the truth. The truth is, we have the truth. God's Word is truth. And it sets us free.

God has spoken, and it is up to us to listen or to go our own way. McLaren has just decided that he doesn't like what the Bible actually teaches about homosexuality. He is blazing his own trail of tears, paving over the bones of those poor travelers who've gone before and calling it New. That's fine. Just don't call it Christianity.

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