Over at First Things, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Robert Gagnon, a mainline New Testament scholar and ordained PC(USA) minister who has done more than anyone to reaffirm the Bible’s case against homosexual practice, wrote an excellent piece about San Francisco’s City Church, a large evangelical church that no longer requires gays and lesbians to be celibate, at least within the bonds of redefined marriage.
I recommend the whole piece, in part because he briefly reviews the (unambiguous) biblical case, but also because he makes a point that theological liberals, especially, ought to appreciate but don’t: that Jesus’ love for first-century tax collectors demanded that they change their behavior. Who would have it any other way? Who would argue that repentance in that case should be a matter of theological indifference? Why a double standard when it comes to sexual sin?
Although the City Church letter appeals to Jesus’ mission to outcasts as a basis for jettisoning a male-female requirement for marriage, it is difficult to claim that the Jesus we encounter in Scripture would have countenanced homosexual sex in the context of a “marriage.” Jesus appealed to the two-sexes requirement for marriage (and thus for all sexual activity) given in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as the foundation upon which all sexual ethics must be based, including the limitation of two persons to a sexual union. Just as Jesus did not reach out to exploitative tax-collectors in order to justify their exploitation of the poor, so too Jesus did not reach out to sexual sinners in order to provide a platform for impenitent sexuality. He reached out to both groups in order to call them to repentance so that they might inherit the very Kingdom of God that he was proclaiming. That is true love, not the impersonation of love now being peddled by City Church leadership.