Tags: Gay Marriage | Evangelicals | Catholics | gay marriage | Pope Francis | Synod

Evangelicals, Catholics Try to Adapt to Gays' Legal Wins

By    |   Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:04 PM

With advocates of gay marriage achieving legal victories, many conservative Christians and evangelicals are trying to adapt to the evolving change in the courts and broader society.

"One of the embarrassments that I have to bear is that I have written on some of these issues for 30 years. At a couple of points, I’ve got to say I got that wrong, and we’ve got to go back and correct it," Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler said yesterday at a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) conference on homosexuality, reports Nashville Public Radio.

Mohler says his error was in preaching that homosexuality is a choice, but remains firm in his belief that it is sinful. He also told the audience that Baptists know what the Bible teaches, but need to figure out how to apply those teachings to the present day, according to Nashville Public Radio.

Russell Moore, head of the convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, echoed Mohler's contention that the focus on this week's conference in Nashville is not about changing the SBC's stance on homosexuality or gay marriage.

"We cannot revise the gospel we’ve received. The goal is to start a conversation to help equip churches to minister in the changing culture on these issues," said Moore in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The idea for the conference, Moore said, resulted from questions ministers were facing about how to "articulate a Christian understanding of marriage to those who disagree with us."

Although same-sex marriage has gained greater acceptance in public opinion polls, evangelicals and people of other faiths largely remain firm in their beliefs.

In June, Pew Research reported evangelicals remain opposed to gay marriage, including 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 49 percent of African-American Protestants.

Evangelicals are, however, re-examining how their opposition is communicated.

In a joint interview in Christianity Today, John Stonestreet and Sean McDowell, the authors of the recently released book, "Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage," acknowledged some will call evangelicals "hateful bigots no matter what" but, they added, "There are a few things we can do to be most effective."

Like the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church is grappling with how to navigate a changing cultural landscape without abandoning biblical teachings. The challenge was evident at the recent Synod of Bishops during which Pope Francis called on the Church be more embracing of gays.

While the working document released at the conclusion of the two-week Synod reaffirmed the Church's opposition to same-sex marriage, it did stress that homosexuals "must be welcomed with respect and delicacy."

Some conservative Catholics saw that as controversial, but Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said it did not mean a departure from Church teaching.

"You got overwhelming agreement on things: First of all on the definition of marriage, given us by God and faithfully handed on by the church — one man and one woman, lifelong, life-giving, faithful, bringing about new life with children — enthusiastic response to that. And on the other side was how can we go embrace and never alienate those who are unable to live up to that noble ideal? And as usual, Pope Francis is saying, 'We need to keep both those values in mind,'" said Dolan on ABC News' "This Week."

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Even as evangelicals openly discuss how to adapt to the changes in federal and state laws concerning gay rights, their opposition to same-sex marriages, as well as any law which compels their participation in same-sex unions, will remain firm.

"In very practical terms, Christians cannot faithfully endorse same-sex unions as honoring to God. They cannot allow same-sex 'weddings' in their churches or on church property.

Their pastors must refuse to perform such unions anywhere. And churches may not accept as members people who are married to someone of the same sex or living in a sexually cohabiting relationship with one another (any more than they can accept as members sexually cohabiting heterosexual couples or anyone else walking in disobedience to biblical teachings). If government seeks to compel Evangelicals to do any of these things, they must obey God and not men," wrote the Family Research Council's Rob Schwarzwalder in The Christian Post.

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With advocates of gay marriage achieving legal victories, many conservative Christians and evangelicals are trying to adapt to the evolving change in the courts and broader society.
Evangelicals, Catholics, gay marriage, Pope Francis, Synod
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:04 PM
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