Evangelicals are Joining the Gay Rights Discussion Table
Are evangelical Christians changing their position on homosexuality as a sin? Maybe not, but with a new wave of young Christians who are not only supportive of gay rights, but may even be gay themselves, the church and its leaders are re-evaluating how they approach the topic in discussions. New York Times writer LAURIE GOODSTEIN explores this as she chronicles young, gay Christian activist Matthew Vines’ meetings across the country with evangelical leaders and pastors.
Vines, 25, became a spark of attention in the community when his novel “God and the Gay Christian” came out last year. Vines wrote the book after he dropped out of college and moved back home to Wichita, Kansas. After coming out to his parents, he began studying Scripture and biblical exegesis on homosexuality. Vines has embarked on a slew of meetings nationwide, some private and some highly publicized, in order to start the conversation with evangelical leaders about any shifting beliefs they might have with regards to homosexuality and gay rights.
One meeting in particular took place at Biola, with the Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach, who is one of the new generation of pastors who his “pushing the church to de-escalate the fight over homosexuality.” Kaltenbach has his own personal story in dealing with homosexuality. His parents divorced when he was young, and later he found out that both his mother and father are gay. Because of this, he has tried to reconcile homosexuality and the Bible on numerous occasions, but still comes up short. However, he believes that “evangelicals should welcome gay people with “acceptance, but not approval.””
Vines didn’t expect to change their beliefs, but rather to open up a dialogue for true, critical discussion. Still, “he explained that the first step in changing churches would be to identify the “silent sympathizers” and encourage them to speak up.” He found this is Rev. Ian DiOrio, who had worked in a gay bar and also has a gay brother who was recently married. DiOrio met with Vines and discussed the topic at length, from whether or not reproduction alone determined marriage was designed to be between man and woman. DiOrio’s response was no, and he “confided that he was infertile and that he and his wife had adopted three children.”
While minds may not have been changed, the discussions did open the eyes of the pastors. Vines believes that DiOrio could be “definitely movable” in his positions, while Kaltenbach himself said, “it showed me all the more that evangelical Christians need to do more listening than talking right now.”
Information for this article was sourced from The New York Times.