An interesting article recently appeared on the Christian Today website apparently showing that there is a big shift in Christian attitudes towards same sex relationships. Apparently one in four church goers now thinks that same sex relationships are ok but 37% of those are too frightened to speak out.
But is it really that straight forward? There are lies, damn lies and ‘research statistics’. You will forgive my cynicism but there are several pointers here that indicate this ‘research’ is somewhat skewed and dishonest.
1) The research was done by Oasis Trust – which is campaigning vociferiously on this issue. It is not impartial, independently verified research. I trust it as much as I trust UKIP research which shows that the majority of British people are against immigrants!
2) The ‘research’ refers to ‘church goers’ which includes everyone from Quakers to charismatics. There are no figures given for those Christians who say they actually believe the Bible. I suspect if you took out the atheists, agnostics, pick ‘n’ mix Christians the figures would be very different – but then the head lines would not be so dramatic.
3) The questions are clearly biased. For example more than two thirds said their views had become more ‘inclusive’ over the years and 61% of those as a result of “understanding or interpreting the Bible differently”. These were in response to ‘set’ questions – not their own independent comments. You can see what has happened – what would you say if you asked are you more ‘inclusive’ or ‘exclusive’…have your views changed because you have come to understand the Bible better?! Its all in how the question is worded.
4) Ah – but you say. This is a Christian organisation – it does not do things in ‘worldly ways’. These are honest brothers and sisters who are just doing impartial research and then commenting on it. How I wish that were true. Oasis is being profoundly political and dishonest, (the fact that it does a lot of good does not detract from its dishonesty on this issue). It is being as dishonest in this ‘research’ as it is in its publicity for its Open Church conference on ‘The Church, sexuality, mission and the future” to be held in April (if you can afford the £85 fee). This conference is supposed to be a conversation between people of different views. Just looking at the list of speakers will tell you how much ‘diversity’ will really be allowed.
- Andrew Marin – President and founder of the Marin Foundation in Chicago, which is a charity that works to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church through biblical and social education, scientific research and diverse community gatherings.
- Vicky Beeching – Theologian, writer and religious commentator. Vicky is passionate about working to bring equality and change to the Church and its views on homosexuality.
- Tony Campolo – Professor emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University, Philadelphia.
- Steve Chalke MBE – Founder of Oasis Charitable Trust,
- Rachel Mann – Anglican parish priest, writer and broadcaster. She is the author of several books including The Church Times bestseller, Dazzling Darkness; a memoir of being trans, lesbian and a Christian
And you can add to this Bishop Alan Wilson, Guardian writer and equalities campaigner,
Reverend Cameron Trimble – Cameron is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Progressive Renewal which exists to train entrepreneurial Church leaders, support the birth of new congregations and renew and strengthen existing churches across the USA. She is also the co-pastor of Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta. Cameron and Ann have been married for 15 years and have two children.
Other speakers and workshop leaders include:
Dr Christine Rose – Christine is a highly experienced equality and diversity consultant, who is an expert in UK legislation and offers advice and support to charities, business and churches as they improve their work in this field.
Matt Hurst – Matt has experience in the challenges faced by gay people as they engage in faith communities. Both he and his partner Nathan are now actively involved in Oasis Church Waterloo, where Matt is a member of the leadership team. He is also an expert in the dynamics of culture and building relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, with 15 years of experience in international communications. He is currently Executive Vice President of Culture at one of the world’s largest communications firm.
Jill Rowe – Jill is a qualified Youth and Community Worker and Secondary School Teacher, having been Head of Religious Studies at an inner-city school in Derby. She joined Oasis in 1997 and is now National Director of Ethos & Formation. Jill is a speaker and writer and is passionate about the transformation of people and communities.
Rev. Benny Hazlehurst – Benny is a vicar and also Director of Accepting Evangelicals, an open network of evangelical Christians who believe the time has come to move towards the acceptance of faithful, loving same-sex partnerships at every level of church life. He is passionate about the development of a positive Christian ethic for lesbian and gay people.
Can you spot the ‘traditional’ (ie biblical) proponent? Tony Campolo? Really? Have you heard him speak on this issue? A wet blanket would give a better defence of the biblical position. If you look at the list of topics you can see what this conference is all about – how to take the church further down the road of SSM. It is not about dialogue. It is not about conversation. The whole conference is a complete set up, based on a lie and deceit. Some may consider that a bit harsh…but ask yourself why no-one from the biblical position has been asked to speak in this ‘dialogue’? I would happily come down and give the biblical position – as would others. But it is unlikely that we would be asked because this is not about dialogue, this is about politics and propaganda. Its sad that much of the Christian media just buy into it and regurgitate the propaganda coming from Oasis.
The deceit and dishonesty in pursuit of this godless agenda is bad enough (and how sad that so many Christians are taken in by it), but I think what really sticks in my throat is the self-publicity and complete hubris of Steve Chalke and his organisation. According to Steve “A huge number of church leaders, both local and national, have come to me and said ‘Steve, we’re with you, but we don’t want to stand up and take the shots for this,'” Many of the most senior church leaders in the country have said they support same-sex relationships, but feel they cannot state it publicly, he added. Can you see what Steve is saying here (based on his ‘research’). He is ‘outing’ many church leaders and boosting his own profile as a martyr and hero of the faith. There are apparently a ‘huge number of church leaders’ who, unlike the heroic Steve, are dishonest cowards without any backbone – who believe one thing but practice another. They don’t want to stand up and take the shots. But meanwhile our hero Steve, will take the bullets for everyone. Oasis should be embarrassed to promote this kind of self-aggrandisment. And the Christian media should be prepared to call it out for what it is. As for these cowardly ‘church leaders’ who are supposed to taking up their cross and following Christ, they need to stop being so pathetic and start being honest with themselves and everyone else. How can you claim to be a follower of Jesus and then live a lie? Mind you how can you be a follower of Jesus and deny what he taught about marriage?
Personally I have no doubt that there has been a shift in ‘church goers’ towards SSM and other cultural shibboleths in our society. After all once people move away from what the Bible teaches there really is no need to believe anything that would differentiate you from the wider culture. Why not in the name of love, tolerance and inclusiveness, just include all that our culture wants, and exclude all that our culture does not want – especially those who dare to actually believe what Jesus said! And then have the gall to hold a conference on inclusivity, which excludes all who do not agree with you. Way to go Oasis….
But all is not lost. Personally given the criteria, who was being sampled and who was doing the sampling I am quite astonished that 75% of churchgoers are still opposed to the church affirming same sex relationships. It seems that most of us are not being swayed by the propaganda, politics and emotional bullying. Steve thinks that the tide is on his side. I think that whilst the cultural fashions Steve follows may last for a while, they will fade or morph into something else more hellish. But meanwhile the Word of God will last forever. I ain’t too bothered about the tide….I am about the One who controls the whole sea! Some of us will follow Jesus and stick with his Word – its only that that can bring about real inclusion.