This month, Brian Houston, the senior minister of global megachurch, Hillsong, declared that his church is in “an ongoing conversation” about same-sex marriage — saying that it is appropriate “to consider the words of the Bible alongside the changing culture and the experience of people in the pews.”
While Houston’s stance might be seen as blasphemous to the extent that it is drawing backlash from several other evangelical leaders (read the comments on the Christian Post article here) and still many others are recognizing Houston’s stance as a progressive achievement (See the New York Times), I see it as the quickest way out without saying anything of value.
And it simply isn’t good enough
Let’s be clear: Houston was correct in not speaking on behalf of the thousands of persons who attend Hillsong campuses around the world. That is not his job. His job is to speak on behalf of the scriptures and the evidence of God’s grace and justice throughout the history of creation not the opinions of his parishioners.
Asserting a need to re-“consider” the Bible based on cultural change incorrectly assumes not only that homosexuality is a new trend but also that the Bible has ever has changed her mind about homosexuality.
Although I can understand why Houston is reticent to dig deeper into his personal feelings considering the magnitude of the responsibility he carries to be all things to many people, I am baffled as to why he is not willing to dig deeper into the Bible.
There is a shift within Christianity that is becoming increasingly affirming of homosexuality. This should not come as a shock to anybody that is reading their Bible.
A quick look at Jesus’ encounter with the Centurion (found in Mark, Matthew, and Luke) who reached out to Jesus and broke social and political protocols to save his “lad” illustrates both Jesus’ compassion towards and inclusion of homosexuals. It also reminds us that homosexuality is hardly a cultural change.
At least not in the last 2000 years.
I would have been satisfied with Houston calling for a re-examination of the Levitical laws that we now accept as irrelevant and outdated. I would even be willing to swallow down a little vomit as Houston called for a “Love the sinner hate the sin!” focus on inclusivity because at least Houston would have been fostering a conversation in the name of Christianity.
Instead, Houston gave a different answer. It was not Christian. It was political.
This is a cop-out. It refuses to acknowledge that an increasing acceptance of homosexuality suggests that Houston – and many others who believed the Bible was “Anti-Gay” – misunderstood the Bible.
It is not a cultural change that requires a re-examination of the Bible. It is the acceptance of an oversight on the part of the mainline Church to have for so long misread what the Bible has been saying all along.
It’s bad enough to prooftext biblical laws that were more appropriately applied to property than people. It is bad enough to ignore a gospel of love and justice for the sake of a couple of exaggerated Pauline comments. But to change his stance on homosexuality and fail to accept responsibility for it… that is simply unacceptable.
In his closing statements, Houston reiterated the Church’s challenge to stay relevant.
He’s wrong again.
In order to survive the Church needs to appeal to a generation that is asking more questions and not accepting political answers.
The Church does not need to be “relevant.” It needs to be honest.