Friday, July 17, 2015
The positive prophet of Red Letter Christianity. . .
For a long time he was pro-life and anti-gay marriage. Now Tony has changed. Change is something very much a part of Tony Campolo's life from conservative Baptist roots to evangelical media star -- mostly while teaching at several secular universities. In 2011 he began hosting the TV show Red Letter Christians, aired on JC-TV. Tony Campolo is an interesting and captivating speaker and quite persuasive when he wants to be. He was for a long time one of the few liberals to be pro-life and against same sex marriage on the progressive wing of the evangelical movement. That has changed. He is now in favor of same sex marriage.
Interestingly, his mind was not changed by Scripture or arguments from the Word of God but by his experience, his own reason, and the claims of modern science and psychology. One reason I am changing my position on this issue is that, through Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own,said Campolo. In other words, I love my wife and I appreciate the life we have together and it would be patently unfair to deny this same blessing to others on the basis of sexual orientation. In addition, I have seen that same sex couples have relationships that work pretty much like mine. (Tony's point of view).
Secondly, As a social scientist, I have concluded that sexual orientation is almost never a choice and I have seen how damaging it can be to try to “cure” someone from being gay. As a Christian, my responsibility is not to condemn or reject gay people, but rather to love and embrace them, and to endeavor to draw them into the fellowship of the Church. When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too. In other words, Tony is too smart to buy the Biblical objections and too rational to accept that one order is from God and only one order. We all come to Jesus just as we are and Jesus loves us that way because He made us that way. . . according to Tony's logic.
Those are inevitably the two paths that almost everyone heads down when they change their minds about what marriage is and who it is for. I know gay people and they are basically like me and they want the same things I want and it would just be unfair and unjust to deny them what I have. The second argument is that I am a 21st century person with modern values, a scientific world view, and a certain level of sophistication and to reject same sex marriage or question it is barbaric and contrary to my elevated sense of self and my educated opinions.
What is missing here is any sense of the impact of the Fall and original sin upon the human condition as a whole. What is missing here is any sense that any of our desires could be disordered and in opposition to divine intent and Biblical revelation. What is missing here is any sense that love is strong enough to meet people in their sins but not leave them there, not approve their sins as good, and not support every disordered desire that proceeds from the sinful heart. What is missing here is any sense that marriage was ordered for more than my companionship and sexual pleasure -- that it exists primarily to fulfill the divine mandate to be fruitful and multiply and to prevent sexual sin (the first thing that sin broke was marriage and the first skewed desire was the sexual desire according to Genesis).
Recall how the old Book of Common Prayer rite succinctly defined the purposes of marriage:
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.
If our experiences and our reason are the primary drivers of our opinions, Tony is but the first of many who will end up wondering why anyone could or should be denied their right to pleasure with whomever they desire and to fulfill their want for companionship with whomever they choose. This will happen any time and every time we replace truth with feelings and experience. Tony has decided that his experience, reason, and science says that the Bible is wrong. Well, if the Bible is wrong about this, what else is it wrong about?