Can Bible-bending be a force for good? Should we use the Bible to change the way the Bible is used--finding other passages in the Bible to cool down the heated ones?
Take homosexuality, for instance. According to a Barna survey, "While six in 10 young Americans said the homosexual lifestyle is a problem facing America, just 1 percent said they pray for those who identify as homosexual." Citizen Link and I disagree which portion of the survey is the most disturbing but it is a good sign to see Christians being more introspected on this issue.
"It's appropriate to be anti-homosexuality," David Kinnaman, President of Barna group and co-author of unChristian, told Family News in Focus. "It's not appropriate, for us as Christian believers, to be anti-homosexual, to be anti-sinner, to be against these people. And that really is the perception, that Christians have lost the ability to love and to deal with and to have meaningful friendships with these individuals." So Family News in Focus has encouraged anti-homosexuality Christians to listen.This positive note came after the Love Won Out conference held in Indianapolis this weekend. "We are proponents of loving men and women who are gay-identified," said Melissa Fryrear, director of the gender issues department at Focus on the Family and former lesbian, "with the hope that we can witness Jesus Christ, and that those persons will come to know Christ personally, and then be open one day, ideally, to God radically transforming their lives and helping them to overcome homosexuality.
"Our message is twofold: It is standing for biblical truth, and also complementing that truth with much love, with much grace and compassion."Sad? Yes. According to a recent study, Exodus can describe 38 percent of its programs' participants as successes: changing to either a "meaningful but complicated" heterosexuality (15 percent) or a stable chastity (23 percent). (Results that Christianity Today says are the fruits of a 30-year-old program!)
Better than the approach of that these sorry-excuses for human beings are taking? Absolutely.
While "forgiveness" is on the surface a positive application of the Bible (and feels like being attacked by a pack of puppies when set to music and images), the question "what is there to forgive?" becomes more divisive than Hilary Clinton. This past year the film Because the Bible Tells Me So has tackled the issue of negotiating a bellicose memorandum on homosexuality and the message of love and acceptance. While fighting Bible with Bible is only destined to repeat itself ad infinitum, I cannot fault efforts like those of Kinnaman to nudge what it means to be Christian in a more open minded direction. Perhaps it will also encourage the secularist among us to re-think the sense of superiority.