Interview with Ken Wilson on ‘Letter to My Congregation’

Cover of Ken Wilson A Letter to My Congregation by ReadTheSpirit BooksAMERICAN attitudes toward our gay and lesbian relatives, friends and co-workers are changing so dramatically that the Pew Research Center ranked this shift as the first historic milestone among 13 changes that researchers identified over the past year.

TODAY, two major evangelical voices—and two highly respected observers of American religious life—are joining in the launch of a new book: A Letter to My Congregation. The four are …

  • KEN WILSON, author of this book-length letter, which he wrote to his large congregation in the Midwest to explain why even devoutly evangelical Christians should welcome gay, lesbian and transgendered men and women.
  • DAVID P. GUSHEE, based at Mercer University, where he is a theologian and author widely read in evangelical congregations. Most significantly, Gushee decided to publicly change his stance on this issue in the opening pages of Ken Wilson’s new book. (His Wikipedia entry.)
  • PHYLLIS TICKLE, a scholar and journalist who is highly respected for her books, magazine articles and lectures about trends in American religious life. (Her Wikipedia entry.)
  • And, TANYA LUHRMANN, based at Stanford University, where she is a leading anthropologist studying religious movements—including the Vineyard denomination in which Ken Wilson is a pastor. (Her Wikipedia entry.)

Tickle, Gushee and Luhrmann explain why they are supporting Ken’s efforts in a series of introductions to his new book—and you can read all three introductions on our new resource page for A Letter to My Congregation.

In this daring and compassionate journey of faith, the Rev. Ken Wilson apparently becomes the first pastor of a large evangelical congregation in America to so publicly reverse centuries of condemnation of gays and lesbians—and bring his congregation with him in welcoming gay and lesbian members at all levels of the church.

With the launch of this book, many people nationwide are asking: How did Ken Wilson do this?

In today’s interview you will learn: He did it by slowly and carefully studying the Bible, praying about these matters and talking with families in his congregation. The result, according to early online reviews of his book, “adds incredible freshness and insight” to a debate that threatens to tear churches and families apart. Reviewer David C. Sinclair writes that Ken “shows us a way forward that embraces our differences. … And, most importantly, he cogently argues for unconditional inclusion as we seek God together.”

ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm talks with Ken Wilson in …

HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR INTERVIEW
WITH KEN WILSON ABOUT
‘A LETTER TO MY CONGREGATION’

Photo of the Rev. Ken Wilson by Julia Huttar Bailey. Used with permission.

Photo of the Rev. Ken Wilson by Julia Huttar Bailey. Used with permission.

DAVID: The Pew Research Center reports that we’re at a historic turning point on this issue, based on their tracking of data nationwide. But, beyond all that data, what have you seen from a pastor’s point of view? Can you see and feel the change among the people you encounter everyday?

KEN: Yes, 10 years ago, as an evangelical pastor I didn’t know gay people and a lot of the people in my congregation would have said they didn’t know gay people—but that has shifted dramatically. Now, most people say they have at least one gay friend. And, even more importantly, for young people this is a non-issue. Of Millennials who leave the church, a large number leave over the church’s exclusionary stance on LGBT people. Young people just can’t understand that exclusion. They know plenty of LGBT people personally and they don’t want to be part of a church that excludes their friends.

Now, this has become a big issue for parents who have children who are affected by this in various ways. They’re losing their kids over this question, whether those kids are LGBT themselves or they know and care about someone who is. The question for men and women in the church becomes: Do I care so much about the ideology of this issue that I’m willing to lose my children over this? This is an issue where parents and their children are absolutely affected everyday in local congregations.

I had a small group of people from our church who reviewed an early version of this letter with me. We went around the room and asked each person to tell us: What’s my personal stake in this conversation?

Every single person had a gay friend or loved one or family member and each one told the group—often with tears in their eyes—how much this mattered to them. This included people who accepted gay relationships and people who still had moral questions about gay relationships. We all were affected. This really is a historic change.

DAVID: I’ve been a journalist covering religion in American life for nearly three decades and I believe it’s accurate to say that you’re the first pastor of a large, evangelical church to go public about such a dramatic change on this issue with your congregation coming along on the journey. Millions of readers know that Rob Bell and Brian McLaren have changed in their public stance on this issue, but that was after they had left their congregations.

For readers wondering about this claim, I want to clarify: We’re talking about large, traditionally evangelical congregations and pastors who have gone so public in reversing their LGBT policies with their congregations. I’m not seeing them, at this point. If you’re out there reading this, please email us at ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com

But, having said all of that, let me ask: Are you aware of anyone else we should mention here?

KEN: I’ve been looking, too, and I am aware of some other evangelical congregations across the country that are moving in this direction. I don’t want to name them because they’re still on this journey and they’re not wanting to go public right now. And, just like you, David, I’d love to find and talk with others who are on this journey. I’d love to learn from them about how to do this—and how we can help others to do this.

‘The eyes of the world …?’

DAVID: Since David P. Gushee is also putting his name on the line with this book, the two of you were invited to speak at the California LGBT film festival, called Level Ground, last week. The festival was covered in the Los Angeles Times and other news media. Do you feel the eyes of the world are upon you?

KEN: No, I don’t feel that way and I don’t want to focus on the psychological pressure. My first responsibility is to lead my church through this transition successfully. Yes, I know there is a lot at stake here. There are many evangelical pastors out there whose hearts are inclined to go in this direction, but they can’t even begin to talk about this. I think once we can demonstrate that, yes, it can be done—then I think there are going to be many evangelical congregations that will follow. Before long, there is going to be a strong and growing expression of evangelicalism in America that is making space for gay people.

DAVID: How do they start? I can imagine a lot of readers of this interview—and readers of your book—wanting to know: How did Ken do it? How can I start this process?

KEN: The first thing is to convince pastors that they should give themselves permission to start asking the questions. There are so many pastors and other church leaders who want to do that, but they are inhibited from even starting the process. They see this as a “loser” issue for them. They don’t see any way to build a coalition around this—no way to build a consensus in their congregation. So, they don’t even start lifting up the questions that their hearts want to ask.

DAVID: You found the courage. Now, you have opened up the conversation in your church to a point at which you realize how deeply many families care about this issue. But we’re talking here about the very first, private steps—the first moral questioning. Give us a little sense of how that began for you.

KEN: Well, for me, I asked myself: Why am I willing to make so much space in the church for people who are remarried after divorce—despite the Bible’s very strict teaching against that—and I’m not willing to make space for gay and lesbian people? And I kept asking myself: Why does this particular moral stance of the church about LGBT people cause so much harm?

‘Is this really the teaching of Jesus …?’

DAVID: Let’s talk about the harm. In your book, you make an eloquent appeal: We can’t keep waiting on this issue. We can’t keep kicking these questions down the road. Every day, real people are being harmed by the church’s rigid condemnation.

KEN: When I started pondering these questions, I realized that this particular stance of the church really is harmful. When a married man in a congregation has an adulterous affair with another woman—and he’s confronted about it—we don’t have suicides as a result. But, we do have teenagers committing suicides at higher rates when they are part of congregations that have these exclusionary teachings about homosexuality. Is this really the teaching of Jesus when our exclusion of people is contributing to a rise in suicide?

DAVID: These are tough questions for evangelical leaders to ask. There’s a lot of fear around even raising the questions, isn’t there?

KEN: The church is an anxious system. It’s organized around the most anxious members, including those who threaten to leave if exclusionary policies aren’t upheld. In fact, pastors become so anxious about these members that we tend to overestimate how many in the congregation share these views.

‘My worst fears …’

DAVID: You were afraid, right?

KEN: I had a lot of fear about this! I dreaded it! And, you know what? My worst fears have not been realized. Not even close to my worst fears. Yes, I have lost some key people and, yes, we have lost some income over this and it has affected attendance—but not nearly as badly as I had expected.

If you’re a pastor, it’s easy to exaggerate the fear. As pastors, we have to find ways to duck out from under this big cloud of fear that surrounds this issue.

‘A healer’s heart …’

DAVID: This took time. This book describes a journey with your congregation that began years ago. How long ago?

The Divine Hours by Phyllis TickleKEN: Phyllis Tickle is a big part of this story from the very beginning. Our Vineyard church in Ann Arbor began working with Phyllis Tickle on prayer about 10 years ago. Our church helped Phyllis to promote praying The Divine Hours and we became an online host for the Divine Hours. She visited our congregation in 2005 and, as I got to know her, she became a personal confidant. I would send her prayer updates as I began experiencing a significant shift in my own prayer life. Eventually, my wife Nancy and I were invited to their home outside Memphis. And that’s how I met Dr. Sam Tickle, Phyllis’ husband, a leading doctor in the Memphis area and, some years ago, one of the first to begin treating people in the AIDS crisis.

A a result of all this, Sam and Phyllis had a lot of gay and lesbian friends and they took us to a church that was filled with gay and lesbian and transgendered people. It was as if someone had gathered a congregation of sexually excluded Christians and I was just taken aback by the clear presence of Jesus in that assembly of people. The cognitive dissonance I was experiencing—as a traditional evangelical pastor—was just through the roof! I credit Dr. Sam Tickle with really helping me in this journey. He was so obviously a compassionate and caring physician and Christian and he related to people with a healer’s heart that was just infectious.

DAVID: Everyone on the cover of your book played a role in this journey, including Dr. Tanya Luhrmann, the famous scholar and researcher. Tell us how your paths crossed.

When God Talks Back T.M. LuhrmannKEN: Tanya is a world-class anthropologist who had done research on how evangelical spirituality mediates an experience of God. She studied this in Vineyard churches and I became aware of her work. I read her book When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God and I thought it was brilliant. Her book helped me to be a better pastor and I got to know Tanya herself through a gathering of Vineyard scholars, where we both talked about her book.

‘Describing a journey
and inviting others …’

DAVID: You found many of Tanya’s ideas to be very helpful, especially the questions she raises about how a person can communicate a personal spiritual journey to others. You also worked with a prayer exercise Tanya provided and, in the midst of that exercise you found your method: writing a letter.

KEN: How would I communicate all of this? I thought a lot about that. And, I decided to write out the whole process of what I was going through as a pastor struggling with these questions. Through this letter, my struggle could become a representative struggle for others. I wasn’t writing an argument. I was describing a journey and inviting others to accompany me.

DAVID: Then, I also want to ask you about David P. Gushee, who dramatically decided to go public with his own change on this issue in the opening pages of your book. How did that come about?

KEN: I met David Gushee in 2006 through another issue we were working on. We were in a gathering of evangelical leaders with top-level environmental scientists—people like E.O. Wilson—to talk about climate change and environmental concerns.

So, I had known David and I had worked with him on that environmental issue. He is the co-author of Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, which is a top book in evangelical seminaries. I liked that book, too, but the one section I thought was weak in Kingdom Ethics was the section on homosexuality. I called David and I said, “I love your book, but I have questions about this one section. It feels to me like you’re just rehearsing the traditionalist views.” And I asked him, “Where are you on this—now?”

He told me that someone close to him had come out as gay and his views were changing. I sent him the manuscript of my letter, then, hoping that he might say something like: Well, I don’t agree with Ken’s conclusion, but this is a legitimate part of the conversation. That was as much as I could hope.

DAVID: Instead, you got a shock.

KEN: It was a shock! His reply was: “What can I do to help you?” And, then, he wrote such a powerful Foreword to the book. I mean, I was feeling way out on a limb here and it was such a blessing that he came forward and was so supportive of this. I’m a pastor. I’m not the kind of scholar that Dr. David P. Gushee is. And yet he stepped forward and has been so supportive of the whole thing.

‘Who wants to go up against 2,000 years …?’

DAVID: The Pew Research Center captures the historic opportunity we all have, right now, to help people make a transition on this issue. In just 10 years, Pew reports, Americans have gone from less than half of us saying “homosexuality should be accepted by society” to 60 percent today! Then, there’s another dramatic jump when the question is asked another way: “Is same-sex marriage inevitable?” Then, more than 7 in 10 Americans say: Yes.

Those two answers show us millions of Americans who are in turmoil on this issue. Millions know this change is coming—but still can’t find a way to accept LGBT people as a part of society. One of the brilliant strategies in your book is to say: Church members don’t have to be united in our personal moral conclusions—but we must unite in welcoming people into the church. Am I saying that correctly? You’re not demanding that everyone immediately agree on moral acceptance, but you are saying that it’s time for the church to fully welcome LGBT people.

KEN: Right. The problem is that so many people in the evangelical community—and in the faith community in general—want to find a way to accept and include gay and lesbian people, but they have serious questions based on their faith tradition. Who wants to go up against 2,000 years of Christian consensus on an issue? But, already, many people do know that our hearts are telling us something else. People are realizing that, even if they don’t fully understand how to think through this issue, there’s a more serious question we’re facing: the do-no-harm test.

‘What is the Good News of Jesus?’

DAVID: Yes, Pew explains this shift in American experience. This has become personal for Americans nationwide. Pew reports that a huge number of people—7 in 10 Americans—say they know “some” or “a lot” of gay or lesbian people. In other words, we know who we’re hurting if we condemn gay and lesbian people. They’re our friends, our family.

KEN: Right, we’re talking about a lot of people! And, this issue is the tip of a much, much bigger iceberg, which is the branding of Christianity—ever since the rise of the Religious Right—as this movement of people who primarily are “against things” and, even worse, as a movement that is “against people.”

Christianity is losing followers in America because of this. What’s at stake is more than just individuals with gay friends. What’s at stake here is how Americans make friends with Jesus. The bigger question is: How can the church promote human flourishing? Have we reduced the message of Jesus to a rigid list of things that people are forbidden to do—or, worse yet, to a list of people we’re mad at? Are we just a movement that stigmatizes and excludes people?

We’re really asking is: What is the Good News of Jesus? What does Jesus stand for?

DAVID: These are the emotionally wrenching questions you’re hearing from families, as a pastor, right?

KEN: Exactly. I began to realize this when parents started coming to me privately as their pastor, telling me that a teenage son or daughter thought they were gay. I saw how much fear, how much distress—and how much harm—was happening in these families. I began to realize: Something is wrong with this picture.

Parents were having to choose between their faith and their own children. This was a profound problem! Of course, some parents tried to adopt the approach of “loving the person but hating the sin,” and that might sound like a nice bromide if you’re not actually living in these relationships. In real lives, in real human relationships, that is such an alienating thing to say.

The truth is: There are gay young people in all congregations, whatever the congregation teaches about homosexuality. So, we’ve got a dangerous situation here when we condemn and exclude people. Just look at the data on suicide rates. As a pastor, I began to realize: This can’t be the fruit of the Spirit. There’s something wrong here.

‘The Gospel is an invitation.’

DAVID: You’re sure to draw a lot of criticism, along with all the appreciation that’s sure to come your way, as well. What final thought do you want to leave with readers—critics and supporters of your work?

KEN: I hope that people who care about the church will ask themselves: Don’t we care about the harm being done to vulnerable people? Do we really want to sacrifice our children? Is that the message of Jesus? Or, is the Gospel an acceptance of us that is so powerful that it is life changing? And, as a result, we want to invite others into the company of Jesus. I think the Gospel is an invitation.

LEARN MORE ABOUT KEN WILSON
AND ‘A LETTER TO MY CONGREGATION’

CLICK THIS COVER to learn more about the book and order a copy in print or digital formats.

CLICK THIS COVER to learn more about the book and order a copy in print or digital formats.

VISIT our resource page for the new book, which includes all three introductions by Gushee, Tickle and Luhrmann … plus much more! Order a copy of the book, right now, from Amazon (via links with this interview)—or use the links in the resource page to order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other online retailers. Bookmark our resource page for the book, because—in coming weeks—we will be adding free Discussion Guides.

PLEASE share this interview with friends. You are free to republish this interview as long as you include the credit line (see the italic line at the end of this post). Or, you can share this by using the blue-“f” Facebook icons or the tiny envelope-shaped email icons.

ALL THIS WEEK, read more about the latest research into changing American attitudes on these issues in the OurValues.org project, hosted by University of Michigan sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker.

(Originally published at www.ReadTheSpirit.com, an on line magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)

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Comments: (19)
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Comments

  1. I would have more respect for Mr. Wilson if he would stop claiming to lead a Christian church and be truthful– he is preaching a gospel of his own making, and it’s one that’s only loosely based on the actual Gospels of Jesus. He has led his congregation astray and has become a false teacher. There is a distinct difference between loving every sinner (of which I am front and center) in truth, and telling a sinner that the manner in which s/he chooses to live is acceptable to God. I pray that his congregants are able to discern wisely what he is really preaching.

    • Ms. Did you read the book?
      Try it!

    • RollieB says:

      Ms, As a member of an Open and Affirming Christian Church I can honestly say that love and acceptance is of The Spirit, marginalization is not. Open your heart to more love, it’s a healing experience.

    • I have only read the article. I got nothing of substance, what he stands for. I would like to have heard more without having to read the entire book. Not that I wouldn’t. I might, but have not heard enough information to pique my interest. His vagueness only leaves me to think that he’s tapping into the movement for church growth (translation: $$$$$$$$$$$$)purposes.

    • Ted Hayes says:

      “There is a distinct difference between loving every sinner (of which I am front and center) in truth. . .” smells to me like the hypocrites to whom Jesus referred when he said, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pra standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be see of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Matt. 6:5 (KJV)

      Seems also as if you are preaching a God made in your own image. Jesus preached love; Ken Wilson preaches love. What is it that you preach?

  2. Proud to have called him my pastor. Proud to have called his son my pastor and friend.

  3. Wow. This just made my day, week, month– and I haven’t even read the book yet. I am an out lesbian pastor in a long term relationship and my church is inclusive. Not just affirming, open, but INCLUSIVE. I now have growing hope that Christians will someday come back to fellowship in the Present Christ and Holy Spirit! Thank you!

  4. Can we be loving, welcoming without condoning the sin? If we say that homosexuality is not a sin, are we to say that adultery is not a sin because we don’t want to exclude them or how about liars, we might not want them to be excluded from our church! I don’t think it’s the loving thing to do-to condone sin. Let’s welcome all to our churches and in love, share the truth with them!

  5. This is nothing short of a seeker-friendly, grab for big church dollars at stake over the next decades. Yes, churches that use the Pew Research will grow big on the cutting edge of culture. But, for what and whose gain or purpose?

  6. Charles says:

    I agree with others on this, I really didn’t read anything of substance here. Only vagueness. What’s next? Do you say it’s ok for openly practicing child molesters to serve in leadership roles at your church? Where does it stop?

    • Ted Hayes says:

      “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.” ~ Amos B. Alcott

  7. Michelle says:

    This is very disturbing to me. As Christians our one purpose is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. That good news is that although I am a sinner, He paid the price for my redemption and yours with His blood. In order for me to receive that pardon, no matter what sin I have committed, I must repent of that sin and turn away from that sin. But when I do I receive a full pardon because of the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God the Father, that he shed for me.
    The Bible clearly states those that will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    I Corinthians 6:9-10
    9)Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,
    10)or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

    If your child is doing something that will harm him or ultimately destroy him, do you pat him on the back and say oh, it’s ok. I love you so everything will be ok. NO! Because of your love for that child you tell them the truth! This is going to destroy you!

    No matter what the sin is, we love the person. But that love drives us to tell people the truth! Repent! Let God cleanse you from all unrighteousness!

    I’m very tired of hearing people say that Christians hate gays just because we take a stance against sin. It’s not about hating them, it’s about loving their soul! I want them to be set free and I want them to be in heaven, not in hell. Yes, we should love them and accept them into our congregations but they need to hear the truth when they come! You cannot continue in this sin or any other and make it to heaven.

    • Kirby Kral says:

      Amen, Michelle. Christians are not hating gay people for telling them they need Jesus, because of their sins. All people are sinners in need of grace and the cross. People struggle with different kinds of sins,but God hates all our sins. The most loving thing a Christian can do for anyone trapped in sin is to lovingly warn them of it’s danger and that God is willing to cleanse them from it. Any self-professed Christian that claims God condones homosexual conduct is no Christian, but a deluded heretic in need of knowing the actual God of the Bible and not the false idol they have erected in their minds and worship in God’s place. I might as well claim that heterosexual sex outside of marriage is condoned by God, too, but that would be evil of me. This pastor should be deeply ashamed of himself. Accepting and loving gay people who were created in God’s image is entirely possible without accepting their sinful behavior. This pastor will only lead these people that Jesus loves and died for, like he did for everyone, to be eternally separated from God. As the apostle Paul said in Galatians, anyone who brings a different gospel than the one that was taught, to be considered as accursed.

      • Ted Hayes says:

        “The most loving thing a Christian can do for anyone trapped in sin is to lovingly warn them of it’s danger and that God is willing to cleanse them from it.” Perhaps it would be more beneficial if your were to make certain all the logs are removed from your own eyes before attemptimg to remove the moat from mine.

        I much prefer Ken Wilson’s to your God who must be created in your own image.

        “Accepting and loving gay people who were created in God’s image is entirely possible without accepting their sinful behavior.” Sounds like the old fundamentalist’s standby: “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” an effort to remove the guilt you must experience for being a ‘christian’ who hates. However, if you define me, the homosexual (the sinner), as the behavior you call sin (sexual relations with the same-sex partner in a relationship of love and commitment), then you must look elsewhere for your absolution since, by doing this, you are really saying, “Hate the sinner, hate the sin.” You cannot have it both ways.

        • Mark Sullivan says:

          You’re trying to prove that someone who disagrees with you is hateful, which is unfair. If one hates the sin of a murderer, he is not forced to hate the murderer. In fact, he is commanded by Jesus not to hate the murderer. Otherwise, the command to love your enemy (someone with whom you disagree with and who may be doing you an injustice) makes no sense. In other words, if you believe that what Ted Hayes says is hateful, then you would have to define his hate as sin. By your logic, you could not hate his sin without hating him.

  8. Chris Sadler says:

    Somewhere between a hairy caveman and a sensitive artistic man, lie all men. To polarise the human species into gay and straight is utter nonsense. Many, many animals show homosexual tendencies yet have procreated for millenia.

    Whilst, I’m on the subject, to claim a Copyright on a route to Salvation is pure folly and naive in extremis.

    As a default, we all believe what we are taught at our mother’s knee.

    Narrow-minded Pentecostal FORCED views were nothing short of emotional abuse in my youth, the damage has been far reaching. I am now SO GLAD of a TRULY free mind.

    Why on earth would God give us the power of independent philosophical enquiry if there were only 1 answer to be arrived at?!

    If there were 2 doors leading out of my house, one leading to heaven and one to hell – why on earth would I not block up the hell one?

    The Bible was a book written thousands of years ago as a Moral Compass.

    It was never intended to be the “Opiate of the Masses” (Karl Marx)

  9. Rich Monson says:

    As someone who has never picked nor chosen who I minister to, as all of us are wretched sinners, in desperate need of repentance and God’s salvation.
    Also having ministered the Gospel in its fullness in the gay ghetto in LBC CA
    Also having had my state job at risk during a previous time for sharing the Gospel at work with homosexuals and even during HR ran training inservices on being pc. To the point the greater state HR and other offices became involved put our jobs at risk and ACLJ blessed us with temporarily becoming involved.

    So with all that said, I speak as one who has a love for the lost period, no matter what someones favorite provision for the flesh is pre-Christ.

    A lot could be said about this, from it’s dependence upon pragmatic views, instead of Biblical ones.
    And great questions that need asked regarding what is meant when one speaks of “condemnation,” harsh treatment or Biblically confronting sin. And then there is the concern over inclusion of the world in the Church, when the Church was never meant to coddle worldlings, but to be gathering place for believers, to worship and take in the Word of God being equipped for the work of ministry, and that ministry being the “Church” the people going out to win the lost, including those of the LGBT community and then come in under Christ and His Word, with a life that is self denying, dying and following Jesus no matter ones fleshly leanings of which they are to make NO provision for whether it is a fornicator, adulterer or homosexual.

    He stated, “Who wants to go up against 2,000 years of Christian consensus on an issue? But, already, many people do know that our hearts are telling us something else. ”

    First separate from Jesus Christ our hearts are utterly wretched. Jeremiah 17:9. And untrustworthy, so we should be listening to the Word of God Romans 1, and what God says of any one living any sin as a practice a lifestyle unrepentantly in 1 John etc.
    And the consensus of 2000 yrs actually 3500 yrs tracing the roots back to the law. Is founded on what used to be the predominant aspect of any Biblical sect of Christianity, that we encamped about the Word of God on such issues. So the issue is not consensus, but what are we rallying around to have consensus founded upon. The Word of God or the Word of men. The heart of God or the heart of men.
    And with that, how is it that some who profess to be men of God, called of God fail to declare the full counsel of God whether there be consensus or not.

    It is, always has been and ever shall be the Gospel which saves, it remains the power of God unto salvation. And all mans compromise only hinders the way of true salvation.

    May we love all sinners, treating them lovingly in daily life and with the love of God enough to speak the truth in love, which leads to their salvation. Not the messages of the arising Laodicean age, with its slopes full bent on listening to what tickles the ears and leads to the ever increasing falling away, from the truth, into apostasy.
    We must even lay our lives down that they may be saved, being shunned, mocked, belittled, fired, jailed attacked or killed.
    Just as those before us, no one has ever been persecuted for being loving, as we should be loving. But for speaking the truth and proclaiming the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, as defined by the Word of God. Love walks in both. Word and deed.
    Not this next wave of pc invasion into the Church.

    This is why Jesus said we must hate others and love Him or not be worthy to be His disciples. it is not a matter of treatment of them, but a matter that Jesus alone must hold preeminence in all relationships, or we would compromise the message, and rather have them in hell, that to lose those friends and relationships with family.
    The Church needs to return to the Word, and find our consensus there upon Christ alone.

    Compassion yes, patient yes, lovingly yes.
    But love rejoices in truth and does not rejoice iniquity.
    I have had a good number of gay friends, and each one of them knows I would go pick them up if they were in trouble or come pray for them at the hospital, or do anything I can to help them as individuals. But they also know the Gospel from me and that the Word of God says they must repent, that I will never accept their relationships grounded in unrepentant sin, unrepentant sin as if one was approving of a person committing, practicing unrepentant, bestiality, pedophilia, adultery, fornication. All being sin issues, not civil rights or any other foolishness.

    No we must preach and teach once again, for one thing.
    For an audience of One! The approval of the One who called us, as He has defined it in His Word. Not pragmatism or mans consensus, man doing what is right in His own eyes.

    “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

    “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way And from the evil of their doings.” (Jeremiah 23:21-22)

    “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word.” (Jeremiah 26:2)

    Ezekiel ch 3 and 33.

    “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

    “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26-27)

    “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;”
    (2 Peter 2:1-6)

    “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

    “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:13-15)

  10. Norman Steen says:

    Some powerful statements here on both sides. “I didn’t really read anything of substance…vague…” Yes, but this is just an interview, a conversation, but here is some substance, I believe: Jesus on divorce and remarriage…and the presence of divorced and remarried people in our churches… This raises a whole host of questions and issues for those of us who want to honor the authority if the Bible. I think we’ll need to read the book to see how Mr Wilson handles these. I don’t like to be pushed around by sociological or demographic trends and fears about the future, but I just do not sense Mr Wilson being motivated primarily or even secondarily by lust for success in the religion marketplace.

  11. Kelvin Smith says:

    It seems to me the fundamental error here is to equate “embracing” people with “approving of their decisions and actions.” The corollary is to define LGBT people by not merely their sexual orientation, but their sexual activities. This means that to welcome someone with same-sex attraction to our church but preach that genital sexual activity is limited to a heterosexual marriage is seen as dishonest or disingenuous.

    Has the church historically applied a double standard, treating heterosexual sin as less heinous than homosexual sin? Undoubtedly. But the proper answer is not to lower standards ever further, but instead to admit our moral failure and complicity and to return to a more Biblical standard.

    LGBT activists posit that one’s sexual identity is the primary characteristic about an individual. I would hope any Christian considers his primary characteristic to be the fact that he is a sinner saved by grace, and that being a Christian is more important than any other characteristic, be it sexuality, nationality, temperament, profession, or whatever else. If that is true, then the question of how people react to God’s message is not the most important issue; the most important issue is carefully discerning, and proclaiming, the whole counsel of God. And if the Bible is not a trustworthy revelation of that counsel, what basis have we for determining it? Our own sinful hearts? That might be plausible in Buddhism or other Eastern religions, where flawed humans strive toward the divine and record their best efforts. But it is completely foreign to the claim of Christianity that God Himself has chosen to reveal his truth by revelation in the Bible.

    The LGBT activist claims that denying him genital sexual expression negates who he is. How, then, does he speak to the single Christian heterosexual woman facing the demographic fact that there are fewer Christian men than women; the spouse of a soldier rendered a quadriplegic by a roadside bomb, or of an Alzheimer’s sufferer; or the Catholic priest or sister who takes the vows of chastity seriously? Is he privileged over ordinary heterosexuals? Should they also feel free to disregard the clear commands of Scripture lest they be denied their full humanity? Does that mean that Jesus, who (pace Dan Brown) lived a celibate life, wasn’t fully human?

    The argument against considering homosexual activity morally acceptable is undoubtedly more challenging in a secular context. But it’s really hard to understand how someone who claims to accept the Bible as entirely true and authoritative (which I’ve always thought of as one of the fundamental traits of evangelicalism) can go down that road. Let every church by all means be a welcoming place to all people, of whatever background; but we love them too much to pretend that what the Bible clearly condemns as sin is really no big deal, or is actually a good thing. All of us need to come to the Cross as penitents, admit that our old ways of looking at life were crooked, and seek the path of eternal life.