The chap who wrote this is from Ann Arbor Michigan and Pastors a Vineyard (Pentecostal on steroids) church. I’m told that is an influential church and he is a influential man. Would that God would deliver us from influential Churches and Pastors. Be that as it may be, I thought it would be important to expose the severe failures in his reasoning.
The original piece can be found here,
What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy
A priest going against the grain
C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and the greatest apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century, fell in love with a divorced woman, Joy Davidman. Her husband was an alcoholic (and not a Christian) and their marriage fell apart. Lewis had never been married. His beloved Church of England, hewing to the biblical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, refused to sanction this union on the grounds that in marrying Joy, Lewis would be marrying another man’s wife, making them both adulterers.
Deconstructing Ken Wilson (hereafter “DKW”)
1.) C. S. Lewis was not, by any consideration, the greatest apologist for the Christian faith in the 20th century. Indeed it is doubtful that he makes the top 10. I will concede that he was perhaps the most widely known Christian apologist in the 20th century.
2.) Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, that the Church got the marriage and divorce matter wrong. Clearly, according to the record Davidman’s husband (Wm. Lindsey Gresham) was an adulterer and a philanderer. If that is true, then clearly the Scriptures do allow for divorce despite what the Anglican Church pronounced. However, all because the Church has not been correct on some matters doesn’t mean that it is wrong on all matters. Just because the Church may have been wrong about the proper context for re-marriage doesn’t mean that it is wrong about forbidding sodomite marriage.
But there was one priest who was willing to go against the grain, Father Peter Bide. Lewis turned to Bide, a former pupil who had become an Anglican priest, after the bishop of Oxford refused to marry Lewis and Davidman. Bide knew that Lewis was asking for something that wasn’t consistent with the teaching of the Church of England. But this naïve priest prayed about it. That’s right. He asked Jesus what he should do. What a concept! As if Jesus were alive and might talk back! And he felt led by the Spirit to perform the wedding.
1.) Typical Vineyard hyper Pentecostalism with its notorious “word from the Lord” theology. Bide knew in his soul that he could do the marriage despite what the Church said. Too bad Bide didn’t just look in Scripture to find out that Jesus Himself said that divorce was an option in the case of porneia, of which Joy Davidmen’s husband was guilty. Vineyard “Pastor” Ken Wilson would have us believe that the Jesus who talks back in prayer is more to be consulted than the Jesus who speaks in Scripture.
2.) Why does Wilson seem to suppose that Pastors don’t pray about difficult matters? And honestly why should Pastors pray for wisdom about difficult matters when the Scripture speaks directly to the issue at hand. I don’t need to ask for additional wisdom from God when He has already given me the Wisdom I’m asking about in Scripture.
During the ceremony, which took place in the hospital room where the bride was battling cancer, he placed his hands on her and prayed for her healing. She went into an unexpected remission almost immediately and Lewis and Davidman had a blessed reprieve in which to enjoy their union. They had what so many of us long for, including people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender: someone to pair bond with, someone to cuddle with at night, someone committed to care for the other should the other — as so many of us eventually do — get sick and die.
Most evangelical churches have remarried leaders. No one speaks of loving these remarried people but hating their sin.
That was then, over 50 years ago. This is now. The most theologically conservative expressions of Christian faith in the 21st century — Roman Catholicism and evangelicalism — wouldn’t blink at the thought of blessing the union of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. The Catholic Church would do so by annulling Davidman’s first marriage. Most evangelical churches would ask her a few questions (if that) and determine that God was surely blessing this new marriage.
1.) But God has called such “bonding,” “cuddling,” and “caring,” “sin” when it is done in the context of sodomy.In Romans 1, I Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, Jude 1 and others.
2.) Ken Wilson seems to take the position that human desire for reverted companionship trumps what Scripture has to say regarding the companionship He delights in.
3.) Evangelical Churches who have re-married leaders whose divorce was not Biblical and who have not repented because of their unbiblical divorce should continue to plead with those married leaders to repent. Wilson seems to take the position that two wrongs make a right. Since the Church has been wrong on re-married leaders, therefore they can be wrong also in approving sodomite Marriage.
4.) Is there no place in Wilson’s theology for hating sin?
5.) If, as the record states, that Davidman’s husband was unfaithful to his wife then Davidman had grounds for Biblical divorce. However, there are no Biblical grounds for sodomite marriage.
A third way for evangelicals on same-sex marriage
I studied the scriptures on divorce and remarriage extensively as a younger pastor. I studied the early church fathers and the Protestant Reformers. Their grounds for allowing remarriage were extremely strict, based on a plain reading of scripture. This older consensus held sway in the church — Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox — until it was flooded with remarried couples after World War II.
Today, most evangelical churches have remarried lay leaders and board members. Some have remarried pastors. No one speaks of loving these remarried people but hating their sin. Instead, they are fully accepted into the life of the church. A veritable cottage industry of evangelical books exists to help the conscientious Bible reader make sense of the biblical prohibitions in light of their historical context and apply their teaching in light of the experience of the remarried people we know, love, and often, are.
As I reflected on this issue, the thought hit me like a punch in the gut: if we gave the same considerate reading to the handful of texts condemning same-sex sexual practices that we give to passages on divorce (what did they mean in their historical context and how should we apply them today?), we would likely come up with a very different approach to gay, lesbian, and transgender people. We might even find a way to fully include them in the life of the church as we have done for so many remarried people.
1.) Wilson seems to suggest that the standard by which the Church really adjudicates right and wrong is by popular opinion. Many people were being remarried so the Church allowed re-marriage. Many people are sodomites so the Church should re-think sodomy. Now, it may be accurate that the Church determines right and wrong by polling but that doesn’t mean that such a technique is honoring to Christ.
2.) I’m sure we could read the texts in such a way so as to allow the LGBT crowd into the Church. I’m also sure we could read the Scriptures in such a way as to allow the Necrophiliacs, Bestiality crowd, and the Pedophilia crowd into the Church. We could read the Scriptures in such a way to prove that Jesus was a sodomite. We could read the Scriptures in such a way so as to prove that God hates heterosexuality. But really, Pastor Ken Wilson, what does that prove?
3.) If forced to choose between going back to a unduly harsh policy on remarriage or a unduly cultural Marxist reading of Scripture regarding sodomites, I much prefer to going back to over-protecting Heterosexual marriage.
“And I wondered: are we reluctant to consider this possibility because it’s virtually impossible to finance an evangelical congregation without remarried people, while it’s easy enough to do so without gay, lesbian, and transgender people simply because there are fewer of them?
Then, the knock-out blow occurred to me: how would that square with the good shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go after the one which has wandered from (or been driven out by) the rest of the flock?
With much trepidation and a sometimes paralyzing dose of fear, I opened myself to the possibility that my received tradition on this subject might be wrong. So I have proposed what I am calling a “third way” between the longstanding and polarized binary — either “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “open and affirming.”
1.) So, is the point here of Pastor Ken Wilson that if we can finance a congregation via sodomite members that we should go ahead and do so? Is that Wilson’s standard of determining right and wrong?
2.) The good shepherd leaves the 99 to go gather the one who is part of the flock and has wandered away. Where is there any evidence that unrepentant Queer people are part of the flock? Wilson keeps setting up these emotional laden argument and never pauses to tell us how the Scripture is wrong when it explicitly teaches that sodomy is contrary to Nature.
I Cor. 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? [m]Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor wantons, nor buggerers, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the [n]Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Note that St. Paul says that formerly some of them were buggerers (1599 Geneva Bible) but now they no longer are and because they no longer are they are now part of the Church because they’ve been “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified.”
Wilson, is merely another Pastor who in his moral cowardice is surrendering to the Zeitgeist.
“Why Christians can agree to disagree on gay marriage
Some have objected that this “third way” is just “open and affirming” in disguise. But I maintain that this “third way” — I call it “welcome and wanted” — is not equivalent to “open and affirming” for two important reasons.
First, it grounds the full acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender people in a much-ignored portion of scripture: Romans 14-15, in which Paul introduces a category he calls “disputable matters.” The upshot is this: the church in Rome was splitting over disputes about first order moral issues — like whether or not eating meat sacrificed to idols constituted idolatry (one could make the case!), or whether ignoring the command to rest on the seventh day was a sin against one of the Ten Commandments, even a sin against nature, since God himself rested on the seventh day in the Genesis creation account.
If how the biblical prohibitions of same-sex sexual practices apply to modern same-sex couples is an example of a “disputable matter,” then it follows that the church can “agree to disagree” on this question, while practicing full acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender people, not to mention full acceptance of those who disagree with whether such people sin by having sex with their covenanted partners.
1.) It would be fine that sodomy would be considered adiaphora (indifferent things) if the Scripture didn’t insist that it was not a matter of indifference.
24 [ao]Wherefore [ap]also God [aq]gave them up to their hearts lusts, unto uncleanness, to defile their own bodies between themselves: 25 Which turned the truth of God unto a lie, and worshipped and served the creature, forsaking the Creator which is blessed forever, Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. 27 And likewise also the men left the natural use of the woman, and burned in their lust one toward another, and man with man wrought filthiness, and received in themselves such [ar]recompense of their error, as was meet.
God does call sodomy a matter of indifference Rev. Ken Wilson or does he call it a matter of vile affections?
2.) Covenanted partners by whose standard? If God defines marriage as between a man and a woman how can it be suggested that it is possible to covenant with someone, in the context of marriage, who is of the same gender?
3.) The Church can not agree to disagree. Look what Jude says on this matter,
7 As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, which in like manner as they did, [l]committed fornication, and followed [m]strange flesh, are set forth for an example, and suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.
But let me guess Ken … you’re going to read this through some new lenses and discover that it does not say what it really says.
The biblical “ideal,” if there is such a thing, is not marriage, but celibacy.
Ken arrives at this via a misreading of the text. Nowhere does the Scripture teach that the Biblical ideal in every context is celibacy.
I realize that in the current climate of intense controversy over this issue, that would be hard to pull off in many local churches, but that, too, seems to be Paul’s point: Jesus is more powerful than other lords (like Caesar) precisely because he is risen from the dead, and can empower those who follow him to do improbable things — like remain in a unity of the Spirit despite sharp disagreement over important questions. In fact, this demonstrates his resurrection power: he can do what mere religion can’t — keep people together who watch different cable news-entertainment networks.
1.) Note Wilson tries to reduce this issue down to the equivalency over people fighting over which cable News entertainment networks they should watch.
2.) Jesus does not look for Unity when the integral aspects of the Scriptures are being conveniently ignored. Ken Wilson would have the resurrected Jesus using His resurrection power to keep people together who highhandedly disobey God with people who think High-handed sin is dreadful and blasphemous.
Second, the “third way” questions why people who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ think they have any business assuming that our acceptance of one another “in Christ” is contingent on granting each other our moral approval. The “affirming” in “open and affirming” implies that the congregation so tagged offers its moral approval to gay couples. But what does that have to do with the gospel? Isn’t the whole point of the gospel that God accepts us thanks to the faithfulness of Jesus and not because he approves of all our moral choices? And that we are to do likewise with each other? Where does this insistence that our unity depends on granting each other moral approval come from?
In any event, the biblical “ideal,” if there is such a thing, is not marriage, but celibacy, according to the teachings of Jesus and Paul. Marriage, according to both, is a concession to human weakness. “If you can’t remain celibate, it’s better to marry than to burn,” said Paul. Hardly a ringing endorsement of marriage. This business of granting marriage some privileged moral status is far from the New Testament ideal.
1.) Wilson’s first paragraph turns the Holy Love of God for His people into the love of a whore for her rotating Johns.
2.) By Wilson’s standards the Gospel wouldn’t be questioned if people fornicated during Sunday Worship service. After all, Isn’t the whole point of the gospel that God accepts us thanks to the faithfulness of Jesus and not because he approves of all our moral choices? And that we are to do likewise with each other? Where does this insistence that our unity depends on granting each other moral approval come from?
3.) According to Wilson a common faith has nothing to do with a shared orthopraxy. Can you say “anti-nomian.”
4.) When Paul says it is better to marry than burn he is speaking of a specific situation. He is not speaking of a Universal given. There was a situation in Corinth whereby Paul taught that given the circumstances in Corinth at the time it was better to be single though better to marry than burn.
5.) Wilson seems to be teaching that since heterosexual Marriage is not the ideal therefore sodomite marriage — also not being the ideal — is acceptable. That’s like saying that since losing two legs in an accident is not ideal therefore losing one leg is acceptable. Again, Wilson’s interpretation of the celibacy passages is not accurate.
Call me naïve, but I think there’s a third way for evangelicals in the gay marriage debate, and it’s a way that honors the Bible and the power of the gospel better than “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “open and affirming.” Whether or not it works is another matter. But I think it’s time to give it a try, especially if it could bear witness to a risen Lord better than the current rehashed moralism that we’re calling the gospel.
If you are an evangelical pastor who has felt the same troubled conscience that I have over your exclusion of gay, lesbian, and transgender people, you might try what the pastor who married C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman did: ask Jesus what you should do and do that, come what may.
1.) Wilson disapproves of “rehashed moralism” and offers his own new hashed moralism as a substitute.
2.) “Come follow Jesus and be a better witness as you countenance what God clearly says is vile.” Sounds like a good marketing meme for a new Vineyard Church.
3.) Wilson ends with his hyper Pentecostal nonsense in tact. Just get Jesus to talk to you audibly and go with that. You can’t lose.
One thought on “Vineyard Ann Arbor Pastor Offers Third Way … The Offer Examined”
You’re a light in the darkening culture. Your finesse for clear direct analysis is a real gift.
The following line was my show stopper, “That’s like saying that since losing two legs in an accident is not ideal therefore losing one leg is acceptable.”