Spiritual Friendship and Julie Rodgers

Julie RodgersJulie Rodgers blogged for Spiritual Friendship between August, 2013 and October, 2014. Prior to that, she had spent a decade with Exodus International, serving as a keynote speaker at the final Exodus Freedom Conference in 2013. Until this past Monday, she also served in the Chaplain’s Office at Wheaton College, counselling students who were struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity issues.

On Monday, Julie resigned from Wheaton and put up this blog post. The post was mostly a cri de cœur about the damage done by conservative Christians who bind heavy burdens on LGBT people—particularly youth—without doing much to help. But she also wrote, “Though I’ve been slow to admit it to myself, I’ve quietly supported same-sex relationships for a while now.”

Although I spoke with Julie briefly as recently as a week before she put up this post, I had received no indication at all that her views were shifting, and did not learn of it until a friend drew my attention to her post Monday afternoon.

Julie is right that conservative Christians have done a bad job of showing Christ’s love to LGBT people.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for binding on heavy burdens without lifting a finger to help—and they returned the compliment by having Him crucified. I think it would be difficult for any honest observer to look at the way Christians have invested their time, talent, and treasure over the past 40 years and say that there has been as much concern for helping people to bear burdens as there has been on binding those burdens on. This is a betrayal of the Gospel, and Julie is right to call attention to it.

However, she is wrong in trying to respond to the brutality of modern-day Pharisees by watering down the Christian teaching on sexual ethics (as she herself agreed when she reviewed Matthew Vines’s book). Jesus was more demanding than the Pharisees when it came to sexual ethics (e.g. Matthew 19), but when confronted with a woman who had committed adultery, He did not lecture her about sexual sin; He forgave her, saved her life, and told her to go and sin no more. In the post just linked, I wrote:

The surprising thing about the teaching of Jesus and Paul is that they are both much kinder and much more demanding than the scribes and Pharisees. In His teaching about lust (Matthew 5:27-30) and His teaching about divorce and remarriage (Matthew 5:31-32; Matthew 19:3-12), Jesus presented a very demanding call to holiness.

If the woman taken in adultery became a follower of Christ and listened to His teaching, she would quickly learn that to “go and sin no more” as a follower of Christ demanded even more than obedience to the law of the scribes and Pharisees. But she would be learning that hard teaching from a teacher whose love and compassion had, very literally, given her a new lease on life.

Spiritual Friendship has always defended the orthodox Christian teaching on sexual ethics (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for examples that I can think of off the top of my head. Julie herself did so here.). But I am convinced that preaching the law without love is the work of a spiritually sterile soul. Along with our other writers, I have sought to foster within the Christian community the kind of loving pastoral concern that Christ showed to the outcast and the sinners of His own day.

We originally published Julie’s writing because she articulated the same passion. Now that her beliefs have changed, a number of people have asked us how we intend to respond. Here are answers to at least some of those questions.

Will Julie continue to write for Spiritual Friendship?

When the founders and regular writers at Spiritual Friendship originally got together, we united around the following statement: “God created us male and female, and His plan for sexual intimacy is only properly fulfilled in the union of husband and wife in marriage.”

We stand by that view today. Apart from rare, clearly labeled exceptions, we will not publish authors who do not share that belief. We will also never publish posts that are not intended to support those who are trying to live in accordance with that belief.

Given where Julie is at now, we will not be publishing her writing. (Since she hasn’t written anything for us since October of last year, this more or less continues the status quo.)

Will Julie’s posts remain on Spiritual Friendship?

We have no plans to remove them. However, because we had no prior warning about Julie’s shift in views, this is, necessarily, a preliminary answer. The following reasons seem compelling to me:

First, precedent argues that a responsible Christian publication would not immediately remove an author’s posts because that author comes to disagree with the publication on an important point. For example: a couple of years ago, Joseph Bottum, formerly an editor at First Things, came out in favor of same-sex marriage in a widely discussed article in Commonweal. While clearly rejecting Bottum’s conclusion, the editors at First Things did not remove Bottum’s articles from their archive.

Second, in the wake of her letter, many Christians will want to scrutinize her views. Spiritual Friendship has 20 posts—more than 20,000 words—that she wrote over the course of more than a year. This is an important resource for Christians who want to develop a responsible and informed opinion of her role in the debate. She began her blogging career at Spiritual Friendship with The Story that Led Me Here. Will she be able, as she continues to share her evolution, to explain why the convictions she articulated here and elsewhere changed? Others will want to evaluate the judgment of the editors at Spiritual Friendship for publishing her and the administration at Wheaton for employing her. Without the posts that describe what we knew then (as opposed to what we know now that she has come out in favor of same-sex relationships), important primary evidence needed for fair judgment would be lost.

Third, it is an unfortunate fact that a great deal of Christian writing about homosexuality is neither honest nor responsible. Removing these posts would make it difficult for honest readers to evaluate claims made about Julie, about Spiritual Friendship, or about Wheaton. Without them, there would be no way to tell the difference between a fair criticism and a straw man attack.

Fourth, and finally, regardless of what she believes today, we originally published her posts because we believed they said something worth saying. That has not changed, even if her mind has changed on gay relationships.

Does Julie’s change of heart show that describing oneself as a “celibate gay Christian” automatically undermines commitment to orthodox belief?

No.

It’s a little bit surprising to me that her public change of heart would be presented  as evidence of the failure of the Spiritual Friendship project by those who argue that we should call ourselves “same-sex attracted,” or that we should give more attention to orientation change. The unfortunate reality is that every organization that has promoted orthodox beliefs on homosexuality has had prominent members change their mind and support gay relationships at one point or another.

For example, the Former Ex-Gay Leaders Alliance includes leaders from Exodus International, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and a variety of local ministries. These leaders had previously argued strongly against describing oneself as “gay.” They had promoted orientation change, and many of them were married. Yet their convictions also changed, often with far more tragic consequences for their families than anything Julie has done. (It’s worth noting that Julie herself was involved with Exodus much longer and far more deeply than she was involved with Spiritual Friendship.)

The entire Christian community ought to ask why these changes of heart are so common.

With regard to Spiritual Friendship, we have honed our own approach from lessons learned from these numerous past failures. One of the first posts I wrote for Spiritual Friendship was called Conversion and Perseverance. In that post, I stressed that persevering in the Christian life is what I later called an arduous good: a real good which can only be achieved at the cost of suffering.

One concern that I have with Julie’s post is that she presents celibacy as the only option for LGBT Christians. While that is the reality for many of us (see this thoughtful commentary by Wesley Hill in the Washington Post yesterday), several of our bloggers have entered opposite sex marriages, despite being predominantly attracted to the same sex. Kyle Keating has written a good overview of  the writings on this site that explore various issues related to marriage. I have obviously been a long-time advocate of the view that celibacy can be a graced expression of God’s healing work in a person’s life and that chaste friendship can be an important source of support. But we certainly do not believe that it is the only way God could call a Christian struggling with homosexuality to holiness. Additionally, the acronym “LGBT” includes “bisexual,” and the dynamics with bisexual attraction can be different in ways that her post neglected to consider.

It’s important to acknowledge that Christian responses to LGBT Christians have often been hostile, and have pushed people away. But it’s also important to notice the seeds of hope. Wes wrote a post last year that explores the tensions of the Church’s response, the good and the bad. There have certainly been responses to Julie in the last few days that exemplify how much farther we have to go. But it’s also important to notice the positive developments.

In a commentary on Julie’s situation published earlier this morning, Owen Strachan wrote:

It is surely true that celibacy is a difficult road. We should empathize with all who yearn for union but cannot find it. If we hear the testimony of individuals who experience only same-sex attraction and just correct their views, we disobey Christ’s call to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). The ground for compassion is the incarnate Christ, who entered into our sorrows and wept at a fallen world (John 11:35).

But Christ does not only minister to us poor sinners. He sets an example for us. The argument that biblically faithful Christians deny people with SSA the opportunity to be loved neglects much, including Christ’s own model. Jesus did not marry. Jesus did not father children. Jesus lay by himself at night, with no one to warm him. In terms of a spouse, he had no inside jokes to share, no walks to take, no hand to hold, no anniversary to remember. If ever a single person feels strange for being unmarried, they may know that Jesus lived that same life.

The life of Christ was not easy, but he was the happiest man who ever lived. He drew disciples to himself. He poured out his life for the needy and desperate. He had close friends. By his blood, he created a family, a church, ensuring that all who came to him for salvation would never walk alone, but enter into a community that stretches over every boundary of the earth. The tired, the rejected, the prodigal, the baby choking on its blood in the wilderness — all these have a home, a name, and a future in Christ (Ezek. 16).

Strachan has been critical of Spiritual Friendship, and we have not always agreed with his conclusions. But Strachan’s response to Julie is also a huge leap forward from what I heard 25 years ago growing up in the Southern Baptist Church.

The path forward for all of us is to find what it means to preach the truth in love. Spiritual Friendship will continue to embrace orthodox Christian teaching on sexual ethics and will continue to explore how that teaching can be lived in love.

Pray for Julie. Pray for her students at Wheaton. Pray for her critics. Pray for the other writers at Spiritual Friendship. In the midst of important arguments about theology, let us not forget the human lives at the center of the debate.

Pray that all of us will draw closer to Christ and closer to each other by persevering in seeking the truth in love.

126 thoughts on “Spiritual Friendship and Julie Rodgers

  1. Dear friends,
    I have been a long time follower of this blog – and this project. It has challenged me more often than not to consider seriously the Christian call to engage and to love celibate and nine celibate gay Christians.

    I appreciate this post because it shows an honest commitment to its vision for sexuality and Christian praxis. But I think you would be doing your readers a great service if you asked Julie for longform interview… frankly, I would be fascinated to hear the why and the how from her perspective – and to hear honest conversation in return.

    Please, consider this. I think it would do many on both sides – not to mention the many pastors and lay leaders and simply Christians amongst us – real good.

    Many thanks… And much love to you all and Julie…

    Nathan

    • Yes, and Julie’s question is an important one: what level of misery is one prepare to put up with before deciding that the celibate way bears bad fruit or that, as she put it: no matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians. How much loneliness, alienation, whinging and misery are you prepared to face, even from your allies, before you allow yourselves to even begin to suspect that your ‘biblical’ position is wrong?

      • It may be worth saying, however, that “being a celibate gay faculty member at Wheaton” attracts to oneself an inordinate amount of misery. It’s a bit like being the first black member at a golf course that has been integrated by law. I don’t suspect most people in our sort of situation deal with one tenth of what Julie has had to put up with.

  2. Most of this post just seems unnecessary. So Julie doesn’t agree with your views anymore – she won’t wrote anymore for you. Why is it so difficult? As if she doesn’t have other meaningful things to say as a Christian?

    I read the post in question and to me it sounds like she’s in the process of figuring things out, as we all are. But I find it hard to believe that someone cab be automatically disqualified for having second thoughts about something that is not a cornerstone of the gospel message. Give her time to explain how she arrived at her conclusions before regarding her words as useless.

    • Her words aren’t useless. They’re just no longer exclusively committed to Side B. Considering how rare Side B gay blogs seem to be (this is the only one I know) I think it’s very important to expect that regular contributors will come from that perspective. Side A seems to be the majority position for gay blogging.

      I would expect Julie to make the occasional guest post, and I wish her the best. In the meantime, one thing this blog does and needs to continue to do is look beyond marriage as the only source of love and intimacy.

      It’s too bad social media promotes a sense of false intimacy by using the terms “friend” and “unfriend”. Just because I subscribe to a blog doesn’t make me a “friend” of all the blog members, nor does the fact that someone no longer fits the blog purpose mean that the blog members are somehow no longer “friends”.

      You know marketing people came up with these terms specifically to promote membership, because people like friends and feel guilty about “unfriending” someone, as if it means they don’t like them anymore. Good way to keep people attached to your social media product.

  3. I’m genuinely surprised at how strongly worded this piece is (which is not to say I disagree with any of it). I didn’t know how to react to Julie’s latest post – and found it easier to roll my eyes at the all too predictable glee that more strident pro-gay activists welcomed her change of heart/mind (if that’s what it is).

    Oh well, hopefully she will continue to influence others to write genuinely thoughtful commentary about the side she appears to have moved away from.

  4. Pingback: Julie Rodgers former Wheaton Employee Blogs About SSM | Leadingchurch.com

  5. I will not be critical of your post .. But in reading Julie’s post I am not so sure she has switched to fully affirming. She is still following a celibate path with a dream to have celibate friends come together even if it means traveling cross country. So it seems to me that she is still supporting the path of celibacy and not just for herself but for others. She also says in her post that she personally cannot fathom an affirming path from scripture. So it seems to me that she has dropped out of the us versus them mode and is into extending grace and supporting people in their journey even when it does not make biblical sense to her and is not what she practices. Isn’t that what we all do? Support others in their journey while holding tight to our convictions. Now perhaps your conversation with her revealed more than what she wrote. But I don’t see her sharing the stage with Matthew Vines and affirming gay marriage from a biblical stance. Obviously her views are in flux … but I don’t think she is where some people think she is.

    God bless,
    Dave

  6. I originally found this site through Julie’s writing and I have always found her words to be the ones that resonated most deeply with my own heart. While I understand that this site was founded on a traditional sexual ethic, I grieve for the loss of her as a contributor here. I’d also like to say, though I hate to nitpick about about word choice, I echo previous commenters in my surprise at the seriousness of this post and the divisive language used here. Particularly the accusation of Julie’s “defection” seems unwarranted and somewhat extreme. I will, of course, continue to follow this blog as it has been so instrumental in my growth as a follower of Christ, but I will also continue to read the things Julie writes and I hope that she will continue to have a good relationship with those still here.

    • I just used “defection” to indicate a change of side, not in an emotionally loaded way, but this is a fair point. I revised the post to say “change of heart.”

      • How did Julie change sides? You seem to be ascribing things that she did not say, Ron. And you seem to be creating artificial Divides .., based upon ideological and political considerations rather than dogmatic or spiritual ones.

  7. Wow this post reminds me why I fled Christianity years ago. It is full of mean spiritedness. No wonder there is so mistrust in the GLBT community of Side B with attitudes like this. I am glad to see other Side B people like Seth Crocker expressing his disappointment in this post.

  8. While I can technically agree with certain things in this post, I am concerned that it misses the point. I get the sense that this post was written to protect the reputation of Spiritual Friendship–concern that Julie’s previous affiliation could cast doubt on the mission of SF. It also seems like it is seeking to give an apologetic response out of concern over the impact Julie’s post might have on those who are struggling. Both of these concerns are understandable, but I guess I would have liked to have seen something more along the lines of what Eve Tushnet wrote in her response. Or even Wesley Hill.

    I think we are missing an important opportunity to reflect on key issues here. Such as:

    1. The damage and impact of ultraconservatives on those like Julie who have had the courage to put themselves out there. I have not seen much accountability demanded of those who made her life miserable over the past year while she was simply trying to serve God at Wheaton. There is no question in my mind that the ultraconservative reaction to her is a factor in her coming to this place. Someone ought to write a post that calls these ultraconservatives to account for their damaging and unChristlike behavior. We should also reflect on how we can support people in this kind of ministry better. What can we learn from this experience? How could we have supported Julie better? Or how might Julie have been counseled in such a way to navigate these challenges? Should we reconsider taking such jobs? Of course some things cannot be seen until after the fact. But I think this would be an important time to reflect on the dynamics involved and how they might be addressed for the future.

    2. Julie points to something that needs to be discussed and that is how the spiritual friendship ideal is sometimes just that–an ideal that many have not been able to achieve in their actual lives. This is not to say we should give up the vision. Definitely not. Nor do I think Julie has given up on spiritual friendship as indicated in her post. But, there is a gap between ideal and reality. And in that gap is a lot of suffering. I definitely agree with her that this suffering is underestimated, especially by straight folk. People like Owen, whom is quoted in this blog post, writes what sounds like the right words. But to a person who has no family, it rings hollow. Also, Owen is completely wrong about Jesus. Jesus lived an unmarried existence that is *nothing* like the unmarried existence today. In Jesus’ time people did not live alone. In fact, in America in the early 1900s only about 7% of people lived alone. That has jumped to almost 30% now. The unmarried life for Jesus was full of intimacy. In fact, I would not doubt if he did sleep close to his disciples for warmth. Not only did he have constant companionship but his brothers and mother were around as well. That is precisely what is missing from today’s unmarried folk. Being unmarried today often means significant social isolation in a way Jesus and most people in history have never experienced. And it is simply not sustainable. It really is not. So we can say all the “right” words about sacrifice, but that doesn’t make it achievable. We are social creatures who will experience significant mental health problems without intimacy.

    So, I would like to see how we can have a more productive conversation about the gap factor between ideal and reality. How do we maintain the vision of spiritual friendship while also acknowledging the cultural factors that make the ideal not always achievable. How do we get to the ideal? And how does one survive in the gap until the ideal is achieved without falling into Major Depression or having suicidal thoughts? I think we need a lot more mercy for those who are doing the best they can. Sometimes being in a relationship is the thing that is keeping someone alive. That is why I have been open to an accommodation view on a case by case basis for some time now. And I don’t know where Julie stands on this, but its possible that is all she means as well. She continues to hold to a traditionalist view for herself but is extending some grace.

    3. Given that Julie is still living side B and pursuing spiritual friendship, it bothers me that this post seems to be writing her off as no longer one of us. In my book she is still a part of us. I can understand why she would not be a regular contributor to Spiritual Friendship. But I see no reason why she might not be a guest writer occasionally like Tim Otto etc. Also, even if Julie’s views continue to evolve, I would hope that SF could model for the rest of the Christian world how to respond in love amid differences.

    4. Having said all the above, I will say that I wish Julie had reached out more to tell Ron or others at SF where she was at. That concerns me. I also wonder if the disclosure and resignation might have been handled in a slightly different way. Although without knowing all the details its hard to say. This issue might connect with the point I raised in #1 above– how can this help us think through best practices for those who are up front and in public? For example, what should a person do when views start shifting, how should one best disclose, resign etc? These are things that are hard to process in the moment and are best discussed in advanced for those who are considering taking on the responsibility of a public figure. Without a doubt public figures have influence and what public figures do has a significant impact. It is a big responsibility. So what can be learned from this experience? Maybe something the rest of the SF public folk can think about and discuss in case something like this comes up for someone else.

    • Thanks for this. Very well said.

      For many of these reasons, I have come to accept that, in some cases, same-sex marriage may indeed be the best plausible option for certain people.

    • Karen I decided to reply to you point #2.

      1- “There is a gap between ideal and reality and in this gap there is a lot of suffering”. Yes, this is true and that suffering is called the cross.

      2 – “Owen is completely wrong about Jesus. Jesus lived an unmarried existence that is nothing like the unmarried existence today”. This is also true. Clearly living today’s style of unmarried existence was not Jesus’ cross. He had his own cross which he did not want. But he carried it willingly in obedience to His father and it is in this way that he closed the gap between reality and ideal for all of us. His cross included being betrayed by one of his friends and being abandoned by the rest, except for John.

      This is the way of Christ: the cross and I invite Julie and all, gay or straight, to bear their crosses because if you don’t bare yours some else will have to. And don’t hide behind the unfairness of reality but bravely follow Christ.

  9. Wow, this post comes across as cold and detached for a site that purports to be all about elevating spiritual friendship. Makes it rich that you talk in the post about preaching the law with love. If your idea of love and compassion is casting Julie aside with barely a kind word to say about her, then I’d hate to see what your idea of hate would be. Nice rhetoric used, btw: “defection,” like she had joined the enemy. I can’t help but compare this post to the responses that Wesley Hill and Eve Tushnet wrote on their individual blogs, where they at least seemed to exude graciousness towards Julie as a person even though they obviously disagreed with her change in stance. Compared to their posts, this comes off as especially callous.

    Sorry, but you guys come off as jerks here and if this were the only example of so-called “spiritual friendship” celibacy that I had, I’d be turned off forever.

  10. I would echo Karen’s concerns as well. I certainly did not come away from Julie’s announcement with the same impression that Ron did. In many ways, I see her as reflecting on two issues in particular.

    First, the general refusal of conservative Christians to see grace in the lives of same-sex couples. Regardless of whether we believe that such relationships should constitute marriage, there is something wrong with us as Christians if we are blind to the genuine joy that many of these couples experience. I, like Julie, am enriched by the fact that many of the same-sex couples I know seem to live more fruitful lives together than they would have lived apart. We can’t reduce same-sex marriages down to gay sex any more than we can reduce opposite-sex marriages down to straight sex. The tendency of conservative Christians to reduce gay people down to their sexual desires is dehumanizing, and a clear indication that anti-gay bigotry may be playing a more forceful role in people’s thinking than they care to admit. That ties into the next point.

    Second, in its zeal to take a strong stance in the Culture Wars, conservative churches have often become more hostile to LGBTQ Christians within the past few years, even as the culture has become more accepting of LGBTQ people. Put another way, conservative churches seem to have doubles down on the family-values rhetoric, thereby making the church a less welcoming community for singles, especially LGBTQ singles. When Paul commended celibacy, he also intended that: (a) the church would honor it over marriage, (b) the practice of marriage would be focused on third-party social obligations within the Christian community, and (c) sexual desire would not be prominent in marriage. None of those conditions holds today in most conservative churches. Instead, marriage is honored over celibacy. Further, the church has come to construe marriage along the lines of the neo-Freudian “nuclear” model, where the practice of marriage is focused on the two parties to the arrangement. And it is widely promoted as an expression of their “natural” heterosexual desire for each other. So, like Julie, I have concerns about commending celibacy within a church community whose practice of marriage departs so radically from anything biblical.

    I don’t believe that same-sex marriage necessarily reflects God’s best for LGBTQ Christians. But pursuing God’s best can’t be done in isolation: It requires a broader Christian community that supports and nourishes that pursuit. Sadly, in most cases, conservative churches do little to help make that pursuit plausible for LGBTQ Christians. Thus, in most instances, LGBTQ Christians have no choice but to select a script that’s less than the best, as the best is simply implausible. Let’s not forget, though: Straight couples make this compromise all the time. The neo-Freudian “nuclear” model of doing family surely isn’t what’s God’s best for most straight couples. But most church communities aren’t really set up to support any other alternative. So, they simply accept the best alternative among a limited range of choices.

    I think it would be a shame if SF simply became a forum where we blindly encourage gay people to remain celibate, despite the fact that they may often find themselves in church situations where that may well be an inadvisable choice. I’d rather see SF become a forum that’s focused less on guilting LGBTQ Christians into remaining celibate and more on encouraging churches to ditch the godless family-values meme in favor of a church life that looks a bit more biblical.

    • There are stronger reasons for excluding “false teachers” than people who live messy lives. Side B is probably the only teaching that SF contributors are required to agree on – so it would be odd to continue on the basis that Side A or C etc are equally valid perspectives.

      Maybe it’s sometimes helpful to allow other sides to “tell their story” but that therapeutic approach is almost synonymous with the Side A narrative – which privileges those who assume that “relational” language is culturally superior. Ron’s post above is almost Germanic in it’s bluntness but that’s kind of refreshing when you consider how shrill Side A are about everyone adopting their preferred way of talking.

      • The prevailing Side A attitude has been, “If you’re attracted to the same gender, but don’t want to relate sexually or romantically, then don’t — but don’t try to impose your asceticism or your religious dogma upon those whose religious perspective is different.” That doesn’t sound shrill to me.

        Back in the ’90s, it was seen as ideal for the Sides to relate to each other with mutual respect. Julie Rodgers appears to reflect that perspective, whereas Side B now expects everyone on its side to oppose religious freedom.

      • Michael,

        I’m not referring to that perspective. The shrillness I’m referring to is requirement that everyone agreeing to debate gay Christian issues adopts a therapeutic “thank you for sharing” and “I hear your story”, conversational *style* (whether it is their natural voice or not). Matthew Vines berated this piece for it’s lack of “kind words” and “relational concern” about Julie He clearly interpreted this post as hostile but I’m not sure that it is hostile (especially when you consider who wrote it).

      • Joe,

        I don’t think there’s any way to view this post except as hostile. To me, it signals that a certain ideological purity test is being imposed on those who identify as Side B. It’s no longer enough that one has decided to remain celibate; one now can’t even acknowledge that there are certain merits to the Side A approach.

      • Hostile undercurrents perhaps, Evan, but there is also a certain amount of dismissiveness in it`s tenor and condescension towards Julie`s process and where she finds herself which is in a place of `wanting to widen her circle` of fellowship.

      • Was it entirely Ron B’s call or a joint decision with other key SF contributors? Given Ron’s history I don’t think it’s plausible that he meant to express hostility or even enforce an ideological purity test.

        Dunno. I’m not going to speculate any more until Ron and Julie say something.

      • This is not speculation Joe these are our impression, people’s words have an impact and we are all being impacted one way or another by this because we are participants in this discussion. We are all experiencing valid reactions. Hopefully in discussion and working together through our differences as followers of Christ something good can come from it

      • Evan said, “I don’t think there is any way to view this this post except as hostile.”
        Well, yes there is. Several people have found this post to be very charitable. Are you saying that they are wrong to react that that way?
        Kathy said she thought the tone of the post was dismissive and condescending. That is her point of view. It is not shared by everyone here.
        Of course people are going to have different reactions. This is very painful. Some people hear Ron’s message in relief that they still have a safe place to go for Side B support. Some people hear Ron’s message and feel the rejection of those who should have been their support all over again.
        Maybe Ron over reacted. I don’t know. It appears that he had to face a difficult situation with virtually no preparation. I doubt anything is cast in stone, except that this is, and will remain, a Side B blog.

      • Mary, I appreciate very much your comment. I am clearly side b myself as I have no life of my own except to make incessant comments on blogs haha, (…..joking…… but somewhat true….. I am pursuing celibacy yet having a difficult time finding my place in community or a church even though I am sticking to this.)

        I said to a friend today ` I am trying to live a side b life. ..but I can’t live it on the internet and there is no one here in a city of a million people who is trying to do what I do`

        Because, the truth is I do no have any side B friends here. All my gay Christian friends are side A (for lack of a better term) but… guess what… they validate me. They accept me and no one is trying to hook me up or telling me I would be better off in a relationship. Likewise, I don`t espouse the benefits of side B living with them either. (even though I complain a lot haha) They support me and want me to be myself. Interesting eh? They know how fiercely dedicated I am to honoring God by being celibate and they are sensitive to that. They would not want to influence me in any way.

        So I wonder how much of our knee jerk reaction to Julie is based on our inner struggle with our own issues about being side B and a over protectiveness to keep everyone on the path? If we are not able to do this on our own with Christ despite our environment then this will continue to be a horrible struggle and a barrier to our openness with others.

        This has been a safe place for me and a place where I draw encouragement as well as help to continue on my way…. but so has Julie. And I think or trust or hope that Julie will continue to offer herself as an advocate for those living out a side b life.

      • The Side B approach seems a bit more persuasive to me, but I don’t see where I have any business trying to bind anyone else’s conscience on these matters. Nearly all of my gay friends are Side A. It doesn’t bother me a bit. I don’t see where being Side B requires me to shun others who disagree with me.

        For me, being Side B relates to choices I’ve made concerning my life. I don’t see it as requiring me to take a certain stance toward others who have chosen differently. I may disagree with them, even though I see the merits in their position. It strikes me that Ron is suggesting that to be a “true” Side B Christian, you also have to deny that there is any merit to the Side A view. I can’t do that. I think it has its merits. I think the Side B view’s merits outweigh them. But I can’t in good conscience suppose that the Side A vie is meritless.

      • Hi Evan,

        There is no shunning going on here. Julie is certainly free to participate in the conversation here at SF; she just isn’t going to be one of the people originating posts. There are many, many other people who, for various reasons, aren’t allowed to originate posts. None of these people are being shunned.

        As for your comment about merits, they puzzle me, but perhaps because I understand the term differently. When I believe that a view has more merit than another view, I mean that I think the one view is true, and the other false. In that sense, the merit of the one view is the demerit of the other. To believe that “X is true” is to believe that “not-X is false.” So I believe, yes, that the Side A view is meritless.

        Now, that does NOT mean that I am upset at the people holding the view, nor that I think them disingenuous, nor that I think all their evidence is bogus, nor that I personally want to avoid them. It just means that I believe their view to be false. Believing my view to be true DOES require me to believe that opposing views are false. Such a belief is not unkind — indeed, I feel that the person who opposes me clearly and unambiguously is much KINDER than the person who attempts to candy coat their disagreement.

      • Hey Daniel, I agree with you about false teaching. I don’t agree that God intended those of the same sex to marry as it does not model creation or the ideal. Yet your statement is black and white and does not allow for nuances. Where nuance exists it throws a soft wrench into the `go and sin no more` scenario because although we try and try we do end up sinning more.

        Even, Christians mess up- make wrong choices and follow rabbit trails (which is what I have been doing on this post) and dangling glittery things or the things of the world. This is why we have Grace which yields to those nuances so that we may have opportunity to learn, to grow and to know Jesus better.

        There is definitely rock solid teaching about sexual morality in the Bible…for sure…. and God does expect more of us… but we who understand that deep within our being should bear with those who do not by making a distinction. Therefore, I will hold on to all my brothers and sisters of the faith who claim Jesus as Lord and walk with them in fellowship, making a distinction, in love.

      • Daniel,

        I would simply say that, in my opinion, the Side B view is more likely true than the Side A view, meaning that the Side B narrative makes better sense to me of the extant data. The notion of “false” implies that that a narrative makes no sense of the extant data whatsoever, and that there is no possibility that it could be true. That certainly cannot be said of the Side A position, at least if one is a Protestant. I would need far more information to be able to say conclusively that it is false. And I don’t have that information.

      • Most of my friends are either Side A or non-Christians. I appreciate SF as site that defends the traditional Christian sexual ethic as a standard (applicable to all).

        I don’t really care for (public) “safe spaces” but accept that the majority of gay/ssa Christians are hoping to find such places when they go looking for gay + Christian resources on the Internet.

      • Hey Joe. I appreciate that there are standards. I am not certain they need to be defended though because God’s standards exist independent of us and yes we are accountable to God. Have you ever been to court and watched the proceedings as those who are charged come forward? The presiding judge does not always go by the letter of the law in fact there are judges who look for an opportunity to show mercy or reduce the charges or even throw a case out. Often times the judges is looking for other solutions such as community work or counselling or other kinds of programs to offer the accused. So when I am talking about showing mercy or grace to those who we may deem as `sinning` or going against God’s standard I am considering everything about them- the relationship I have with them, their background, their personality, their gifts and their human potential rather than looking at the law or trying to figure out if they are sinning or not.

      • I find it ironic that the same arguments Joe and Daniel are making are being made against them by the ex-gay movement. Restored Hope Network published a position paper on Side B making the same arguments about you saying you were false teachers and not embracing the teachings of the Bible and you were wrong and they were right.

      • @Joe

        I wasn’t aware that being Side B required me to relate to Side A people in any particular way. I thought it was enough that I had chosen to live as a celibate LBGT+ Christian. I didn’t realize that I was offending that position by acknowledging the merits of the Side A position or giving credence to the grace of God at work in the lives of friends who are in same-sex marriages.

      • Kathy/Evan, I certainly don’t impose my views on my friends. I’m happy to support my close friends when they are in a (same-sex) relationship. I’m only thinking of the minimum requirement (statement of belief) for authors here at SF.

        Tim, I can deal with the ex-gay stuff – same goes for Denny Burk. Owen Strachan etc. It’s true that I don’t have deal with people like that in real life though.

  11. Sometimes I think Christians live incredibly sheltered lives. The reality is- if you actually immersed yourself in and lived with gay people who are in committed relationships- it would start to dawn on you that they are just like your mom and dad or the straight couples in your neighbourhood. Gay relationships and marriages are a reality we have to deal with through acceptance and affirmation because gay people are trying to live decent lives by contributing to society and by living moral lives. They are trying to be moral and are accused by Christians as immoral!! I think that is outrageous. But I think Christians live incredibly closed off sheltered lives. It is easy to separate and divide yourself from married gay Christian people and close your eyes and keep viewing them as unrepentant false Christians who you should not associate with or keep them at arm’s length but is that how Jesus lived? Did he not break down those barriers. Do you want to follow Paul’s advice and be hesitant fearful suspicious Christians or do you want to live with arms wide open like Jesus? Paul had a reason to be suspicious and issue warnings to the churches in his present day. He really was living in a dangerous time of imminent danger from persecution and false teachers trying to stop the gospel. I don’t think those persecutors were gay groups. Just like gay groups are not intent on persecuting anyone today they are seeking a just society. LGBT people have always been a part of humanity. As the population grows the gay population will grow. How are we to respond? Do you suppose by being gay Christians we might draw them to Jesus? who do you think will be best equipped to teach the gospel in the years to come to unbelieving LGBT people? Do you think that perhaps it is God working in the hearts of gay people to draw them away from how they used to live on the fringes of society and bring them in as contributors of society. Two things stand out in my mind from the Bible that supports this 1) even Paul says I become like a gentile to reach the gentiles with the gospel and 2) Jesus himself said do not prevent anyone who believes he is Lord. I remain celibate and chaste as I believe this is where God is leading me. And I believe that the ideal is the traditional marriage. But in reality we live in a messy world in which Christ is trying to redeem humanity and he is calling people out. How long and how much destruction does it take for a person to untangle themselves from their gay `lifestyle` or marriage or even rid themselves of their orientation before Christians accept them as one of them?? Do you really want to reject the friend who decides to marry someone of the same sex? Do you really want to not be there- to not support them? What if God has accommodated them and you have judged them? What if God’s mercy and accommodation is greater than we can imagine? There are two things to fear from God one is that our sins are not covered by the blood of Christ and the other fear is that we are not given mercy because we have not shown mercy.

    • How would allowing a person to teach false teaching on a website for impressionable young people be merciful? It certainly would not be merciful to the young people. And it would be a false mercy for Julie.

      If Julie is correct, she does not need our mercy; we need hers. If Julie is incorrect, then she should be engaged with, but not endorsed.

      • I don’t understand your question. Teaching people TO divorce is false teaching. Teaching people that divorce exists, obviously, is not false teaching.

        At any rate, since this website is ecumenical, it ought not have any teaching on divorce beyond that which all orthodox Christians share: that divorce is a bad thing, a thing that should not exist. That does not imply that divorce is always wrong (though some people here are from traditions that teach that), but rather that divorce is never something that God intends for us as an end. Neither, according to the organizing mission of Spiritual Friendship, do the authors here consider same-sex sexual relationships to be something that God ever intends as an end.

      • Daniel: you say that God doesn’t intend divorce and he doesn’t intend same sex relationships.

        But you say that “does not imply that divorce is always wrong”. Might that not suggest, analogously, that “same-sex sexual relationships” may not be always wrong?

      • Hypatia,

        Good question. I had a qualifier in what I wrote, though. I said that God didn’t intend divorce *as an end*. So the analogous question would be, “Could God intend same-sex relationships, but not intend them as an end?” I don’t understand how that would be possible. Supporters of gay romantic relationships certainly think of them as goods in themselves, not as necessary evils! So unless you can explain to me how a gay relationship could be good in a purely instrumental way, then I don’t think the analogy could stretch as far as you suggest.

        Peace,
        Daniel

      • so as you indicate divorce and same sex relationships are equal in either wrongness or non-wrongness. And something God might then permit as an accommodation. God `hated` divorce but he permitted it. Yet this does not mean broadly teaching either one of these as right in the eyes of God. Yet God might turn and show mercy on those whom need it not because grace is cheap but because we are human and flawed and needy and don`t know our right hand from our left.

      • Kathy,

        God doesn’t extend mercy by coddling future plans of sin. I’m not sure if that’s what you meant, but if it’s not, perhaps you could explain. God extends mercy by forgiving the past, and calling us on to future maturity and holiness.

        (Comparison: God *might* allow divorce, but He would never allow someone to get married in the expectation that they might divorce. That’s called “presuming on God’s mercy).

        Peace,
        Daniel

      • I suppose mercy is the very thing we need when we sin eh?

        But we cannot forget that God said said to Moses, ` “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” Rom. 9:15

        Anyone is a pretty broad category don`t you think ?

    • Yeah, I know gay people are like my mom and dad. My dad was gay (he died a few years ago). He and mom separated after over 30 years of marriage and several children.

      And I have no doubt there can be joy in gay relationships, just like there can be joy in second and third marriages after divorce. Most Christians just rolled over on that one, even Catholics, although some are beginning to realize that no, Vatican II didn’t actually change that teaching.

      No one did the hard work to make sure that people in difficult marriages, or who had to separate, weren’t isolated and got the support they needed. If we had, maybe we wouldn’t be dealing with the kind of isolation Julie and many gay people feel now. No, much easier just to tell people to divorce and remarry.

      • I agree Mary it a mess and there are people within the mess who need understanding and support not more condemnation and isolation

    • so as you indicate divorce and same sex relationships are equal in either wrongness or non-wrongness. And something God might then permit as an accommodation. God `hated` divorce but he permitted it. Yet this does not mean broadly teaching either one of these as right in the eyes of God. Yet God might turn and show mercy on those whom need it not because grace is cheap but because we are human and flawed and needy and don`t know our right hand from our left.

    • I disagree.

      Labeling Julie as a defector simply because she’s unwilling to be a shill for the Wheaton administration seems rather unwise.

      I think we have to take a strong stand against ex-gay therapy. I feel like too many on the “side B” side of things have failed to point out that there is no way that someone can support ex-gay therapy, knowing what we know today, and have any credible profession of faith. That needs to be said loudly and clearly.

    • Of course, you have nothing to gain from framing it so uncharitably? I don’t think there is a single person here who would discourage anyone from continuing to read Julie’s articles. She always writes such incredible posts – but (for now) Ron has decided that being committed to a particular statement (see above) is a requirement for authors wishing to contribute to this site. It’s hardly any different on affirming sites. Will the Reformation Project invite/allow speakers to state that gay sex is sin?

  12. I am surprised not by the post, but by the comments. Ron’s post was not One More Reaction Post to the news of Julie’s defection (and it is precisely correct to call it a defection, whether you applaud it, condemn it, or feel no particular feelings about it), but rather an attempt to address institutional concerns that arise when one of your writers suddenly joins the other side. When Joseph Bottum defected on SSM, First Things had to publish something like this even though he hadn’t been editor there for quite some time. When David Frum and Douglas Kmiec defected to the Democrats, politically conservative institutions that had published them in the past had to come to grips with their new political orientation… and make clear that they would not work with them in the future.

    Spiritual Friendship is not just a collection of random thoughts by random LGBT Christians. It is an institution with a particular mission — to discuss and advance theology, praxis, understanding, and quality-of-life regarding gay Christians committed to celibacy. Julie Rodgers is no longer a part of that mission. She therefore no longer has a place at SF. That’s not an attack on her. It’s not an excommunication or disfellowshipping; I’m sure many here and elsewhere will remain friends with Julie, and continue reading her work. But she can no longer advance SF’s mission, so her work will have to be published in some other forum where it *is* compatible with mission. It is both proper and necessary for Ron to make that clear, especially in response to outside inquiry. He goes to great lengths to frame his answers empathetically, which was a Christian kindness, without going so far that the necessary message was muddled.

    • The reason he had to address it was he was afraid Christian conservatives would stop paying him and Wesley and buying their books. He wanted to make sure to make it clear that they were still the trophy gays that Christian conservatives can roll out to beat up the rest of the heathen GLBT community. You can’t jeopardize you meal ticket now can you.

    • “Spiritual Friendship is not just a collection of random thoughts by random LGBT Christians. It is an institution with a particular mission — to discuss and advance theology, praxis, understanding, and quality-of-life regarding gay Christians committed to celibacy. Julie Rodgers is no longer a part of that mission.” ~ bcswowbagger

      Didn’t Julie say that Side B is her dream and that she is still strongly and personally committed to celibacy? Didn’t she say that she had a “lifelong goal” that the Christian community and Christian families would open their homes to other celibate gay Christians so they could have a sense of family and not be so alone?

      That sounds like she does want to “discuss and advance theology, praxis, understanding, and quality-of-life regarding gay Christians committed to celibacy.” I see not wavering in her personal commitment to celibacy or the “traditional sexual ethic” of man/woman marriage.

      She’s just asking the church to be supportive of gay couples as people. That cost her her job and now her ability to share her journey openly on this site. That’s not “excommunication or disfellowshipping”? I get it. She’s still welcome, just not here. That doesn’t sound like “Christian kindness” to me.

      • Kathy, I think people are listening. Julie is well liked.

        Maybe Ron was acting on an understanding of how people move from side B > C > A (or from closeted > bisexual > gay). He would have seen the progression many times before.

        I ‘interpreted’ Julie’s blog silence followed the pic Matthew Vines tweeted of them both (from the Q conference) in April as ‘90% sure that her views might be shifting’. But it’s up to her to confirm/deny this.

      • “Didn’t Julie say that Side B is her dream and that she is still strongly and personally committed to celibacy? Didn’t she say that she had a “lifelong goal” that the Christian community and Christian families would open their homes to other celibate gay Christians so they could have a sense of family and not be so alone?”

        No, she said neither of those things. She said that she is not currently dating anyone and is currently celibate — not that she has a personal commitment to celibacy. Indeed, the whole point of her post is that she has abandoned at least the principles underlying that commitment, and I thought she made it fairly clear that she is now *open* to the possibility of dating and ending her celibacy; she just hasn’t yet.

        She said that one part of Side B’s dream is still shared by her: “The Side B dream is one I truly believe in: it’s my lifelong goal to persuade people to make cross-country moves for friends, establish relationships across generations, share homes with married couples, and grow old with friends regardless.”

        But this is only one part of the Side B dream. The Side B dream is both committed friendship, exemplified by all LGBT people, and the glorification of celibacy, also exemplified by all LGBT people. The two halves go hand in hand, and, united, form the basis of Spiritual Friendship. The point of Julie’s post is that she is abandoning the second half. She is no longer Side B. She is no longer part of the Spiritual Friendship project. She can continue to share her journey openly, just not here. That’s no more “excommunication” than the fact that The New Republic won’t publish my articles calling for tax cuts on the rich — I can still be part of the conversation, but I can’t speak through their lips, because we are not of one voice.

  13. Wow you mean another believer, a Christian actually supports same sex marriage. And then the Christian response is to silence them. She has seen upfront the harm done to many who try to change their orientation all to no avail. And yet still today many Christians believe that being gay is a choice and that you can change who you are attracted to. Believe me this is total hogwash I am one of 10,000’s that went the ex-gay route and it proved to be disasterous of us. I know very few have read their bibles more, prayed more, confessed more, been delivered more, been accountable more, fasted more than me in the Christian world. Not just on this issue but this issue was involved many times. And guess what I am still gay. Thankfully I came to my senses and realized the only one I was harming was myself so stopped the abuse and began to love/like myself as well as letting God enter in to the times of confusion and doubt as I came to terms with who I am as a Christian who just happens to be gay. Not an easy feat for many because most gay men and lesbians leave their churches never to return due to the demonization that occurs in their churches. Just glad I came to my senses and now in a wonderful loving relationship that any heterosexual couple would be jealous of and soon will tie the knot legalizing our love and commitment to one another.

  14. While reading her post, I couldn’t come to a conclusion about her position. Has she become a SIDE A celibate Christian, fully affirming, or is she still a SIBE B Christian, but welcoming? I personally do not believe that welcoming is a bad thing! If that’s her view, I’m with her on that, I guess. I once read somewhere that we can affirm the individuals in same-sex relationship, but not the relationship itself. If it’s their decision to be in a relationship, what then are we supposed to do? While we can’t endorse the relationship, we can endorse them individually. Well, let’s wait and see. I’m not sure about her position being fully SIDE A either. It doesn’t look like it. It has never looked like it and it doesn’t look like it now! I think we must all be welcoming, but affirming? No. The Church in general was never welcoming. Imagine the scenario in which a gay couple went to Church service on sunday, together. Will they be treated well or are members going to start shouting “in love” aberrations, abominations, demons, call the police, etc?

    • Surely you can welcome two people into a church with open arms without “supporting same-sex relationships”. Spiritual Friendship is already welcoming in the former way. It’s the “supporting same-sex relationships” part that sounds like affirming, not just welcoming.

  15. Ron touches briefly on this, but I wonder if Rodger’s unfortunate change of heart could serve to reinforce some Christians’ negative prejudices concerning all men and women who experience sexual desires for members of their own gender, irrespective of the vocabulary they employ to describe it.

  16. So Spiritual Friends is an “institution with a particular mission” and that mission means you have to exclude any celibate Christians who don’t tow the SF line?

    That doesn’t sound “spiritual” or “friendly”. No wonder people (particularly LGBT’s and youth) are leaving Christian “institutions” by the droves.

      • kindness is a fruit of the spirit Michael doesn`t need to define it. We all know how it feels when someone is kind to us and we all know how to have empathy for someone when people are being unkind to them

  17. Kindness? That’s hard to define. As Kathy said, we all know instinctively when we are being treated with kindness. In means respect. Empathy. Compassion. Inclusion. Grace. Getting outside our comfort zone. A letting go of legalism to extend God’s love. Stuff like that.

    What “kindness” doesn’t bring to mind for me is theological dogmatism at the expense of the other person’s dignity or humanity. I don’t see it as “kind”, “spiritual” or “friendly” to kick her off this site because she is struggling with how celibate gay Christians should treat “Side A” people.

    Maybe kindness could summed up as “doing unto others what you would have them do unto you”. Julie (so far as I can tell) hasn’t changed her mind that gay relationships or gay marriage are OK with God. Side B is still her “dream”.

    She hasn’t “defected”. She’s not a heretic. I hear her calling for Christians to reach out to everyone (including people “in” gay relationships) to demonstrate the mercy that Christ bestowed. This banishment from Spiritual Friendship doesn’t at all reflect what I think of when I hear the word “kindness”.

    • Michael,

      I wonder what sort of empathy or compassion we would be having toward gay young people, if we just said, “We don’t care what doctrines you hold to; if we like you, we’ll post your stuff.” That doesn’t sound compassionate to them at all.

      Side A blogs refuse to publish Side B writings. That MAKES SENSE. After all, they believe that Side B writers are HARMING YOUNG PEOPLE. It only makes sense that Side B bloggers would believe the same about those who — in their view — have (however thoughtfully or sensitively) embraced a heresy. Christians are called to give a *clear and unified* witness to the Truth. Whichever side is right, they are certainly justified in carefully selecting who their mouthpieces are.

      Doing otherwise would be terribly unkind to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who need their guidance.

      Peace,
      Daniel

  18. No, we don’t instinctively know when we’re being treated with kindness. That only works when you fit majority enculturation. I realize many people have hurt me, genuinely believing they were being kind, and worse, I realize that when I thought I was being kind, they thought I was being mean.

    As for treating people as they would like to be treated, people often treat me the way THEY would like to be treated, which is often quite different than how I would like to be treated. I’ve learned to do the “translation” in my head for decades. That also seems to me to be a case of whether or not you fit the majority.

    • That is an interesting comment Mary. Just because someone believes they are being kind does not mean they are. I think this has reached epidemic proportions in the evangelical Christian community where they defend their belief of what kindness LGBT people must endure from them. For me I feel kindness, it is like receiving refreshment from someone. That is how I know.

      • Kindness is something you give to someone in which they experience good fruit -encouragement when you are down is one example. Kindness inherently adds to another persons well being. They as receivers recognize and are affected by kindness in a beneficial way. So yes I would think one would feel better after being treated kindly.

      • If an action is not an immoral one, it is possible to do it kindly. It is not immoral for a group blog to choose which bloggers represent it. Therefore, it is possible for a group blog to do such a thing kindly.

        Is Ron’s post kind? I see nothing unkind in it — and he corrected the one specific thing that anyone here claimed to be unkind. Could Ron (or others) have been unkind to Julie in private? Gosh, it’s possible — but it’s also possible they have been, throughout, very kind. Has anyone asked Julie?

    • I respect that each organization or blog has the right to choose those whose ideology matches theirs. A fully affirming blog might choose not to keep one of their writers if they defected .. oops … had a change of heart on whether God affirms gay sex and gay marriage. But they might keep such a person if they still affirmed gay marriage and chose also to affirm those who are celibate. It would depend on the organization. I think we all know that some affirming organizations consider anyone that disagrees with them to be hateful. The NO H8 nomenclature seems to indicate that. So there is a variance in how far is too far regardless of which side one is on. I continue to believe that Julie is Side B with a heart and respect for her Side A brothers and sisters. But I don’t know that for sure.

      In looking at some affirming churches I do see some interesting words of graciousness … Take the ELCA for example … from their sexuality statement…

      ++++++++
      ELCA
      http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/SexualitySS.pdf?_ga=1.140268340.607356446.1435484360

      This church recognizes that, with conviction and integrity: On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced

      • that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law. They believe same-gender sexual behavior carries the grave danger of unrepentant sin. They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle. Such decisions are intended to be accompanied by pastoral response and community support.

      On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced

      • that homosexuality and even lifelong, monogamous,
      homosexual relationships reflect a broken world in which some relationships do not pattern themselves after the creation God intended. While they acknowledge that such relationships may be lived out with mutuality and care, they do not believe that the neighbor or community are best served by publicly recognizing such relationships as traditional marriage.

      On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced

      • that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and lifelong loving and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are honored and held to high standards and public accountability, but they do not equate these relationships with marriage. They do, however, affirm the need for community support and the role of pastoral care and may wish to surround lifelong, monogamous relationships or covenant unions with prayer.

      On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced

      • that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are lived out with lifelong and monogamous commitments that are held to the same rigorous standards, sexual ethics, and status as heterosexual marriage. They surround such couples and their lifelong commitments with prayer to live in ways that glorify God, strength for the challenges that will be faced, and serve others. They believe same-gender couples should avail themselves of social and legal support for themselves, their children, and other dependents and seek the highest legal accountability available for their relationships.

      Although at this time this church lacks consensus on this matter, it encourages all people to live out their faith in the local and global community of the baptized with profound respect for the conscience-bound belief of the neighbor. This church calls for mutual respect in relationships and for guidance that seeks the good of each individual and of the community. Regarding our life together as we live with disagreement, the people in this church will continue to accompany one another in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect.

      +++++++
      I thought their statement was rather bluntly clear. I also looked up the PCUSA Statement /policy
      +++++
      PCUSA…
      News item June 17, 2014

      http://www.pcusa.org/news/2014/6/17/committee-recommends-presbyterian-pastors-be-permi/

      Pastors in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would be granted discretion to perform same-gender marriages in civil jurisdictions where they are legal if a recommendation from a committee at the 221st General Assembly (2014) is adopted by the full Assembly later this week.

      The Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues voted Tuesday 51-18 to recommend an authoritative interpretation of the denomination’s constitution that removes the proscription that pastors could not perform same-gender marriages.

      The proposed authoritative interpretation ― initiated by Heartland Presbytery with concurrence from 19 additional presbyteries ― carefully preserves individual ministers’ freedom of conscience, saying, “In no case shall any teaching elder’s conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her own understanding of the Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.”

      In a related action, the committee voted 49-18 to propose an amendment to W-4.9000 of the Book of Order that would change the constitutional definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people.”

      If approved by the full Assembly, the proposed amendment would go to the PC(USA)’s 172 presbyteries for their ratification during the next year. A majority of the presbyteries must approve any constitutional amendment in order for it to take effect. …..

      …..An amendment to the constitutional change proposal ― which originated in the Presbytery of Cascades with 16 concurrences ― also sought to protect the consciences of pastors and sessions. Proposed by Ruling Elder Commissioner Evan Hansen of Presbytery of Eastern Oregon, the addition states, “Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of the church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God.”

      PCUSA … Amendment 14a approved March of 2015
      http://www.pcusa.org/news/2015/3/17/amendment-14-f-approved/

      Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
      It appears from unofficial voting tallies that amendment 14-F of the Directory for Worship in the Book of Order has been approved by a majority of the presbyteries. The approval allows Teaching Elders wider discretion in whose weddings they may conduct and Sessions wider discretion in whose weddings it may host. That discretion could include same gender marriages in states where that is permitted.

      It is important to note that the determination of what couple a Teaching Elder will marry has and will continue to be with that Teaching Elder. Likewise, the determination by a Session as to whose weddings a congregation will host remains solely with the Session. There is nothing in the amendment to compel any Teaching Elder to conduct a wedding against his or her judgment, nor a Session to host one against its judgment.
      The Book of Order in F-3.0105 encourages us to exercise mutual forbearance toward each other when we differ. That forbearance should show itself in respect and genuine care for each other. As a church the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has received much grace from God in Jesus Christ. We should extend that grace to each other in all gentleness as we live into this chapter of our common life.

      There will be additional resources to help us understand and dialogue about the approved amendment soon at pcusa.org/marriage.
      ++++++
      Again the PCUSA recognizes a person’s conscience held belief and does not violate it.

      Again I want to empathize that any blog leader and any organization leader has the right to determine which authors to use on their blog or in their organization.

      However … I think it is a valid question to ask if we have come to a moment of time when blogs such as SF could continue to show the way of celibacy to the church while also demonstrating grace and respect to those whose beliefs are different. This would not mean an anything goes in the blog writings as you may not want to have full Side A discourse in terms of affirmation but you could have blog discourse on how to show love and respect to people we disagree with.

      I hope you and those who work with you on this blog as administrators will prayerfully consider this option. I realize that there is some risk to it … but Jesus never guaranteed risk free faith when we are following Him. I acknowledge that this is a difficult decision and I will respect your decision whatever it is.

      Blessings and peace,
      Dave Earp
      Pastor … Church of the Nazarene

    • Well I think it would be a generalization to say that all 60 posts were negative. I didn’t think mine was and there were many others that were not negative. A sister in Christ who is loved by many has had a change of heart on an issue. Whether that means a change of direction is uncertain. Many have written expressing concern for how this blog and her friends in general have responded or should respond to this. Personally I think that’s healthy. If there were no response to this I would be concerned about the spiritual health of this community.

      I will add in response to Tim W that just as it is inappropriate to judge the heart and mind of Julie it is equally inappropriate to judge the intents of the heart of the Administrators of this blog site. Raise concerns …. .yes …. make judgments on intent … no.

      Peace and God bless,

      Dave Earp
      Pastor, Church of the Nazarene

  19. Pingback: Defy the Cultural Trends | More Enigma Than Dogma

  20. I am thankful to Spiritual Friendship for pointing me in the right direction at a time when I needed it and I am grateful to all of you here for your steadfastness in the faith and the wisdom you teach. I have relied on this blog as a part of my discipleship and growth as a Christian dealing with ssa.

    So I guess this comes down to a fellowship issue for me because as long as we have points of doctrine as debates between Christian brothers and sisters then we will continue to oppose each other`s opinions based on our positioning and we will continue to run the risk of devaluing our relationships with Christ. We cannot help it. For a long time I mistakenly thought side A Christians were in danger of judgement because they were choosing to sin intentionally. For a long time I thought my same sex desires were sinful and shameful. I no longer think that way. And I feel free from those thoughts. But those condemning thoughts I had against myself and my brothers and sisters of the faith were not thoughts I came up with myself. They were taught. I was taught to doubt the calling and assurance of married gay Christians and I was taught to doubt myself.

    Therefore I have come to believe the only false teaching is teaching the Gospel falsely. It seems everything else other than Christ dying to cover our sins …such as doctrine, what we eat or how we dress or speak or who we love or choose to marry or who we are are currently in a relationship with is not central to the Gospel because those things are the mess of our lives. And spiritual friendship means we need a long term commitment from other Christians to walk with us through our circumstances. For many LGBT Christians it seems those opportunities for fellowship are few and far between and very precious when we find someone who will stick with us. We still hide away our attractions and second guess the way we present ourselves and hesitate to be real when we meet new friends- so having a close spiritual friend to fall back on is critical. And this continual debate does nothing to build up the precious relationships I have found in Christ. Instead it has lead to more division and doubt.

    I almost wish marriage didn’t exist as a formal sacrament and we were already together in heaven where they do not marry any more. I asked the question yesterday if God’s intent was Adam and Eve- one man and one woman joined together in matrimony- blessing the earth, blessing each other and glorifying God, what did God intend for me? I feel as though I was unintended- not thought of in God’s original design, at the foundation of the world when one man and one woman stood together. And that speaks to the deep insecurity I have felt all my life about my belonging in church community. God not loving me because I was a mistake and I cannot live up to that ideal. Or at least that is what I have been taught.

    So I can see what Spiritual Friendship is trying to do to change that in the church by offering the option for love in friendship. I don’t think SF has all the answers to my questions because I am always left needing more- and I think that is a chasm only Christ can fill. But what you teach has given me direction. You have influenced me to keep moving forward and to keep my focus on Christ- And, I think God loves and wants us all despite our sin (for which he died), despite our flaws and disabilities, despite our pride and hardness of heart, despite our futility. It is the love God has shown me that I want to extend to Side A Christians and for which my thoughts have been evolving. My heart desires to include them, accept them and find ways to honor them as they walk with Christ as well. The shape our love takes may look different in our current culture than it did two thousand years ago.

    peace and best wishes, I pray and hope this all works out for the best

    • Beautifully stated, Kathy. And I thank you for that grace. As a Side A Christian, this is a grace I try my best to extend to people like you as well who live on the “other Side” 🙂

      • Hey DJ, it is always a pleasure to hear from you 🙂 Honestly I wonder if those sides really exist at all except in our minds and arguments? I find the regurgitation of the same arguments over and over again only reinforces our divide. So I was wondering why is it that we have to put so much effort into re-stating our positions? It made me realize that if we stopped thinking about it obsessively we might find we would naturally come together in fellowship and communion and we might find that it does not matter if there is disagreement on this issue because there are more important concerns such as encouraging each other to continue in the faith.

      • Quote: if we stopped thinking about it obsessively we might find we would naturally come together in fellowship and communion and we might find that it does not matter

        I personally don’t see the problem of people ‘separating’ for the sake of some religious teaching or observance. Several denominations practice closed communion. I have never been offended visiting churches and being advised not to go up to the table because I’m not a (spiritually vetted) member of that church.This type of rule rarely requires anyone to treat ‘outsiders’ differently in any other context than fellowship and worship.

      • Joe,
        that is not the point I am making. Like you I am not offended by specific denominations based on their varying beliefs. I attended a Christmas Mass at a Catholic church and went forward during communion. I crossed my arms and was blessed by the priest. It was a wonderful experience. However the separation from fellowship for the sake of belief meaning one is no longer welcome or greeted on equal footing as a brother or sister of Christ or a child of God, and their faith is cast in doubt is the wrong I am referring to.

      • I see you point Kathy. I suppose all of my tension with Side A (which here at SF I’m happy to label as false teaching) is that it will ‘shout down’ Side B given the opportunity. I see that happening on every site where LGBT Christians get together. The ratios are in favor of Side A tolerating us as “not quite there yet”

      • Oh, okay, Joe fair enough. I can see that. Because you are talking about the `false`teaching of same sex marriage as an acceptable standard and the social movement involved with that, right? If I might use an analogy- I find those sort of environments are purposely geared towards stirring people up to action and like the rough wind on the ocean the turbulence is on the surface. But it is only superficial. Those kind of platforms are meant to move things along their course towards an end. But when you dive down deep with a Side A Christian friend in fellowship there is a place of spiritual communion. It is removed from the noise and bickering on the surface. I think God places people in our lives and we can choose to welcome Side A despite what is going on around us. Those who choose to take up those banners and causes are doing- some good – to help oppressed LGBTQ people in our society but it is not equal to furthering the gospel which is about Jesus welcoming all and calling all into a relationship with himself because he laid down his life to redeem us. So I think churches and some Christians groups are a little fearful of Side A Christians because of the rough waters out there but we might not need to be so worried about it- if we keep our eyes on God knowing he is pouring out his invitation and call on all people.

      • Joe they shout you down because you proclaim they are false teachers. You are one insisting they are wrong. I think groups like GCN have been extremely charitable in fact give too much deference to Side B that they refuse to take stands on things like marriage equality.

      • Tim, I’m not “insisting they are wrong” or expecting anyone else to make that kind of statement outside of SF – which is one multi-author blog.

        Kathy, thank you for your comments. Most of my close friends are either Side A or non-Christians – so I only express a Side B point of view online.

      • Joe so what you are saying is they are false teachers and how dare they shout you down when all you want to do is proclaim Side B is the only way and they are sinners who are going to burn in hell.

      • Tim you may find that most if not all side B Christians hold their position not out of an intent to condemn others but rather a fear of being condemned themselves should they pursue a same sex marriage.

    • I get that Joe, I try to not discuss opposing beliefs with friends who think differently than me as a way of constantly convincing them to change but there is a need at some point to establish our personal beliefs between one another and respect those differences without ending the fellowship. So it is great to hear you have that as well. But I think we tend t let go of that respect on line sometimes because it is less personal. I found SF is good at maintaining decorum. But our words can have the same effect on others as it does in person. So that is my major beef with on line rancor.

      This may be straying off topic a bit but two things come to mind.Should we be consistent both on line and off? Maybe some people are. But I wonder if we met Denny Burk for example would he come off the same in person? The second is that we have to be careful how we influence the people who are looking for answers- some of whom are lost. Is it best to lobby our point of view or is it best to express our story or express some wisdom about living well as Christians. I think there is a vast difference. Should we make arguments to prove God backs us up or should we point people to Jesus and say- this is what I have learned in my life through walking with Christ and this is to make you think if it might wok for you…. but ultimately I encourage you to find out for yourself what God desires of you, (keeping in mind we are accountable individually to God).

      what do you think?

      • That’s a tough one. It’s good to display consistency in any particular situation but I wouldn’t label anyone ‘inconsistent’ if they decided to focus on one aspect of a topic in one context and another aspect of the same topic in a different context.

        I’ve been dismissive of Deny here at SF. I’m sure he wouldn’t have triggered such a response if we had met in real life (or maybe he would?!). But I also admired his commitment to what we all decided was an extremely narrow focus (defining lust). I have no idea if his interactions with us were consistent in a more general sense. Would it annoy me if I found out he shows more ‘grace’ to straight people in his church? Probably. Don’t know. Don’t care. As I also thought he posted some very interesting comments here.

        I understand that other people might want SF to be more of a “safe space” – without characters like Burk dropping by to argue that same-sex desire itself is sinful. If that’s what the SF admin team want too, I’ll lurk a while before deciding to stay or leave. I think SF gets the storytelling/lobbying balance right – but that’s only my point of view.

      • Thanks for your thoughtful reply Joe.

        I agree with a lot of what you have said. In my life God has called me out of a place where I embraced secular thinking. I had the belief if we all sought the rights of others and through political movement made the world a better place and appealed to the goodness in people we could move towards a better society which made sense in an unjust and crooked world. (perhaps that belief still influences me) On the flip side I spent eight years in a fundamentalist church and it was a damaging experience because of the futility of black and white beliefs about sin, about an angry God, about judgement and hell and about homosexuality (perhaps I still feel the damaging effects of those beliefs). Reconciling those two mindsets I held at different times in my life is near impossible and yet has taught me to be flexible; to be open to people who hold opposite views, to be yielding to the paradoxes in the bible and the teachings of Jesus which were not always straight forward.

        As well it showed me that sometimes we can hold views that are essentially damaging or futile not because they don’t make sense and not because they are not biblical but because it may not apply in every single situation or the way we interpret it is from an egocentric viewpoint or it does not fall in line with what Christ is calling us to which is to love God above all and lay down our lives for others

        So belief about truth, about the gospel and about what is false teaching in my experience has been a gradual opening of the veil. We might find that each of us are redeemable even if we only see dimly the truth of the gospel; we might find that each of us is redeemable in a sin we have not been able to either define or recognize or overcome or one we have stumbled over. In my current belief that is the beauty of Grace. So it will always come down to how I treat others and relying on God’s grace through his merciful sacrifice.

      • Joe/Kathy,

        I also wonder whether the whole Side A/B distinction isn’t breaking down to a degree. In my view, these positions seem to operate from somewhat outdated notions of human sexuality. Even the Side A pitch seems to be about 20 years behind the times.

      • I agree Evan, I only use the terms in a limited way to help in these kinds of conversations. But essentially the concepts themselves don`t provide the nuance which is present in most Queer people. For a long time when I was out and dating women I was attracted to and seemed to attract primarily lipstick lesbians (outwardly feminine) yet in a relationship the dynamic was different as gender played out in a combination of feminine and masculine defining traits between each of us, despite the sexual attraction to the female body. So, sexuality is much more complex than simply strict male and female characteristics or sexual desire. Not all gay people are attracted to those who are gay sometimes we are attracted to those who present as heterosexual. Sometimes straight women can be very boyish as well. There is not one formula or definition for any of this.

        I find that I enjoy the company of gay men or effeminate men much more than straight men. So in terms of relationship it is plausible I could live long term with a gay male partner. Yet the church would probably require us to marry. In addition I know of a couple who is married and the husband is fully transitioned to female and they remain married. How could the church then require them to divorce, since they present as a same sex couple now?

        The problem I find is agreeing that gender variance is a direct result of the fall in every case or is it perhaps a result of God`s diversity? or both??

      • Kathy,

        I agree entirely. Attractions are complex, and don’t fall neatly along male-female lines. If I’m out shopping, my gaze is often drawn preferentially to men who have a certain physique and outward mannerisms (e.g., soccer-player build with a masculine-leaning androgynous affect). Incidentally, that physique is not too different from my own. Most of my male friends fall close to this spectrum. Then again, I meet most of my male friends through soccer and triathlon clubs. Even so, I’ve found that, if I try to push these relationships in a more romantic/erotic direction, they fall apart. I just don’t bond well with guys in that way. In fact, I find that I generally bond romantically and erotically much better with women, particularly women who are more feminist and independent (i.e., not matronly). So, if I were to have a purely physical one-night hook-up, it would most likely be with a guy. If I were to foster a long-term, stable, sexual relationship, it would most likely be with a woman.

        so, the whole gay label doesn’t work for me because I actually have no interest in having a long-term erotic relationship with a guy. Still, if I’m honest with myself, I am nevertheless attracted to certain guys in certain circumstances.

        I suspect that this complexity is far more usual than we admit. Surely Abercrombie’s homoerotic advertising isn’t just seeking to pique the sexual interests of the 2-3% of men who are exclusively sexually attracted to men. In fact, I’d guess that the majority of us are capable of being attracted sexually to certain members of either sex in certain situations. The whole Side A/B distinction seems to perpetuate the heterosexist/Freudian myth that it is “normal” to be exclusively attracted only to members of the opposite sex in all situations. And, oddly enough, a lot of LGBT folks buy into that myth with no less vigor than the good folks at CBMW and ERLC.

      • Hey Evan

        It is interesting that you used the term hook up. You said ,

        `So, if I were to have a purely physical one-night hook-up, it would most likely be with a guy. If I were to foster a long-term, stable, sexual relationship, it would most likely be with a woman.`

        How do you reconcile an attraction that only leads to anonymous sex ? Does it make sense as a viable attraction or a temptation? I would be interested to hear your response. Because one of the things I have found hopeful about same sex marriage… coming to the forefront… is that monogamous committed relationships have become a focus and an aspiration for sexual minorities. A place to land and call home. Whereas in the past anonymous hookups lead to isolation, secrecy and hiding the self…a lack of transparency which led to loneliness etc… and….which seems to persist in a sexually repressed environment for most people trying to `ultimately` avoid gay sex. At least that is what I have witnessed especially when watching a gay youth suddenly come out and not know how to manage their attractions with others. ie learning all the social cues and rules with about dating and respecting the boundaries of those you are attracted to as well as your own need for shared intimacy.

        As well one can spend the time to get to know what kinds of connection would make a meaningful long term relationship without the pain of having broken relationships and sexual ties with numerous partners whether anonymous or not. In the context of marriage I see the pursuit of a same sex committed relationships as a healthy option but I don’t see much benefit of a one night stand. Am I missing something from what you said? What do you think ?

      • Kathy,

        I was speaking somewhat facetiously. I was simply trying to make the point that our sexuality is complex and that committed same-sex relationships may not be workable for many LGBTQ people. In general, I reject the idea that a committed relationship must necessarily center around sexual desire. In fact, when we construe marriage in that way, we make marriage into little more than a long-term hook-up arrangement.

      • Kathy, non-Christian gay men have created a sub-culture where they have sex first and then decide whether it will develop into a relationship. This does lead to a lot of one night stands and insecurity around body image but most guys eventually find a long-term partner. Emotional relationships can go the distance but gay male couples rarely remain sexually monogamous after a few years (typically 1 – 2 years if they don’t break up because one half doesn’t want an open relationship). It’s a male-male thing rather a gay thing.

        Some gay men try to steer clear of mainstream (i.e. sex-obsessed) gay culture because of deeply held personal values (including Christians) or they are more isolated and have to make compromises (although hook-up apps have changed all that) but sex-first date-later is still the dominant pattern. There is tremendous peer pressure to deny all of this (to save face) and discussion between gay men about how to fix it but it remains. Gay marriage doesn’t make any difference.

      • Joe – Evan

        Yes Joe, I am pretty familiar with what you have described (btw sexual subcultures exist along the whole spectrum of sexual identity and expression including straight attracted as well) However, I was directing my thoughts more in reflection of the experiences I have had speaking with LGBT people I met at gay clubs (what else is there to do when not dancing or scoping out the crowd) and when it comes down to the heart of it I have found that everyone desires companionship and if they could start all over again with a better foundation from youth the strongest pull would be to meet the right guy or person and to have a intimate committed relationship with. But it was forbidden. I remember one conversation with a young man who admitted he regretted bitterly participating in one of those subcultures because now he felt trapped, labeled and stereotyped. He was coming out and had no idea how to cope with his new found freedom. I kind of regret my own leaning towards being more androgynous or butch because that is where I seemed to fit and presented myself based on what I saw around me or what was comfortable for me when socializing. Yet my personality is much more feminine and artistic. Sometimes we play roles in order to find our place and especially with LGBT people we are desperate to fit in somewhere. Perhaps that is less an issue now than it was because our society is more open that it used to be, eh?

        I am wondering how important coupling is between two people and how that all fits in community as well. Not just sexuality but relationship but…yes… sexual attraction as well has to be considered !! These aspects work in conjunction with each other because each of us has a self awareness of our sexuality and how we are connected to each other. But all the rules and norms for condoning sexual behaviour and even the relationships we can have are determined by outside forces church, society, family etc…so I am wondering how true those norms and rules are. We are afraid to break those rules and go against the norms because it has social consequences which has personal consequences- alienation- isolation- the breaking apart of bonds and ties between people etc…

        Yet some of us need the ….one on one companionship… perhaps more than the communal relationship in order to have a wholesome spiritual life. Are we are saying, in the premise of spiritual friendship, that sexual coupling is not as important nor can have the exact same level of fulfillment by demonstrating or experiencing a sacrificial spiritual life? It seems many think that celibacy is the ultimate state of spirituality. So I wonder if that is true? I am not convinced one way or the other.

        Specifically I think our need to give and receive sacrificial love is not limited to relevant to one specific kind of relationship – relationships in all their forms are essential. I think coupling for example marital – sexual bonding- is one of those kinds of relationships which transforms us significantly as far as teaching us to sacrifice and and to be faithful because there is a strong bond made through sexual intimacy. It can be a crucial avenue by which we experience our humanity, it can lead us to be more humble, more good, more thoughtful, more kind, more understanding, more patient, not just a safe haven to raise children.. In my experience (had I not been afraid I was going to be condemned) having a same sex partner was beneficial and helped me to feel what genuine love felt like. Therefore having a partner I promised to love and honor made me look long and hard in the mirror and challenged me to be less selfish. I suppose you can find that in community as well but it doesn’t work as deeply nor exactly the same for everyone. But to me a deep relationship which involves sexual intimacy helped me understand how passionate God’s love is and how far he would go to lay down his life for another.

        So my question is: can Jesus transform any relational experience we have into something good? It would seem that many traditional thinking christian believe same sex relationships to be immoral or wrong and therefore no good can come out of them and should be avoided at all cost at the risk of one`s salvation- I am speaking about christian believers here not the world. Yet I think God can accommodate that decision and work with us in the midst of the choices we make or at least that is where my thinking is these days.

  21. Two things that stand out to me are Julie Rogers’ statement, “Though I’ve been slow to admit it to myself, I’ve quietly supported same-sex relationships for a while now.”

    And Ron’s statement,
    “Although I spoke with Julie briefly as recently as a week before she put up this post, I had received no indication at all that her views were shifting, and did not learn of it until a friend drew my attention to her post Monday afternoon.”

    She must have also known that her post would have an effect on Ron personally and on Spiritual Friendship, and yet she not only gave him no warning, she didn’t even tell him after the fact. This is not the kind of thing that I would expect from a friend.

    If I were Ron, I would be very hurt by her actions. I was impressed by the charity he showed. Ron acknowledged the truth in her accusations against various people in Christian churches. He also pointed to the truth, that Julie herself pointed to, “The surprising thing about the teaching of Jesus and Paul is that they are both much kinder and much more demanding than the scribes and Pharisees.”

    He obviously had to address the policy questions, as she has now publicly taken a stand that is contrary to the mission of this blog. He did not say that she was no longer welcome to comment on posts. He also did not say that he was ending his friendship with her. My impression was rather the opposite. I don’t quite understand all the accusations being thrown at him.

  22. This post could’ve been a lot more charitable. I agree with the other commenters that said something along the lines of, “this post comes across as cold and detached for a site that purports to be all about elevating spiritual friendship.”

    It really does feel like Julie is being thrown under the bus here and the main concern of this post is preserving an untainted image of Spiritual Friendship, not engaging with a dear friend’s wrestlings with theology.

    Furthermore, I feel that everyone is putting words into Julie’s mouth. Side A is like, “Welcome to the fold,” Side B is like, “Sorry you’re leaving,” but if you actually read what she wrote, it seems she is dwelling in a place between the sides and still working out her own beliefs.

  23. It is pretty scary when I find myself agreeing with Daniel and Joe, but they are right, as is Ron. I couldn’t disagree more with the Side B but I didn’t read anything uncharitable into this post. Spiritual Friendship is a Chastity Focused Blog. Julie has voiced opinions that have made it clear she is sorting that sort of thing out and in between. Until she chooses a side, she can’t contribute any more here. That is reasonable.

    If I am being honest, I agree with Ford197something (forgot the number) and other commenters who consider celibacy to be dangerous and a morally/logically wrong teaching – why would I be surprised they hold the same view of my side?

    • The danger (harms others) argument isn’t any more neutral than Side B. It implies that Side B advocates are happy to make other people suffer – which would be decidedly unChristlike.

      Side B kinda live with that slur but Side A cannot tolerate Side B as a moral ideal/teaching? (we all agree on the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves).

      • “The danger (harms others) argument isn’t any more neutral than Side B. It implies that Side B advocates are happy to make other people suffer – which would be decidedly unChristlike.”

        You are correct. I think only those who are deluded on Side A would say we are being neutral in our opposition to the Side B doctrine on those grounds.

        “Side B kinda live with that slur but Side A cannot tolerate Side B as a moral ideal/teaching? (we all agree on the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves).”

        Side A lives with the slur that we are seeking to destroy children, that we have given in to debauchery, and that our faith and spiritual drives are self serving and cosmetic. Both sides slur the other. As far as tolerating as a moral teaching, I think this is a case where neither side tolerates the other as moral. That issue cannot be solved. Gay sexual relationships are either always wrong in every circumstance, morally, or they are not. Both believe God is on their side. Only death will show who is right in the end. God has chosen to remain silent on the matter.

      • I think Side B can tolerate Side A as a moral teaching. It may be flagged up as false teaching but nobody is trying to suppress it in the way that Side A are trying to silence Side B (because Side A’s claim of psychological harm is easier to verify than Side B’s argument for spiritual danger).

        The claim that Side A are seeking to destroy children and have given in to debauchery doesn’t really come from gay Side B. The slur that Side A spiritual drives are self serving and cosmetic is admittedly more common.

    • Maybe I’m missing something, but the title of this blog suggests that its focus is on discussing the revival of same-sex friendship within a Christian context. While this topic may be of greater interest to those who have chosen to remain celibate, I see no reason why it isn’t equally as beneficial to others, including LGBTQ folks in committed same-sex marriages. Marriage has come to be drudgerous in our society precisely because it’s forced to bear too heavy a load. That load could be lightened if all married people–whether in “traditional” marriages or not–took a less “nuclear” view of marriage and made way for third-party spiritual friendships.

      While I generally find Rosa’s soft-core heterosexism to be offensive, she is at least correct in noting that this project will fail if it allows itself to be limited to those who are unflinchingly committed to towing the line for Side B without any reservation or doubt.

      • Evan773

        Of course, spiritual friendship is a good goal for any, straight, gay, or in between but the blogs focus has always come from a location that stands firmly in traditionalism and a traditional view of marriage, love, sex, and romance. To show what I mean, take this from their About page (specifically Spiritual Friendship in 300 words):

        “…But God forbade the sexual and romantic love I desired. Was I just to be left out in the cold?

        Aelred helped me to see that obedience to Christ offered more to me than just the denial of sex and romance. Christ-centered chaste friendships offered a positive and fulfilling—albeit at times challenging—path to holiness.”

        In the same way that a Libertarian blog would shy away from allowing writers whose reasoning against legalizing Marijuana, for example, is defended by Scripture alone so to we see here that the pursuit of spiritual friendship is done through the prism of the B side of Christians.

      • My comments probably refer to a general frustration with this “movement” in general. I don’t really see it as making much of a difference in the broader church context. Instead, in evangelicalism, I generally observe a circle-the-wagons mentality emerging where unflinching commitment to the movement’s theological and social distinctives is demanded. Any dissent from the “family values” narrative is met with exclusion.

        I was asked to leave my former church (a PCA church) because the leadership feared that my presence would be a distraction to families with children. There’s also been a rash of firings recently at evangelical seminaries and colleges. Many of the fired professors had held their positions for years. There’s just no toleration for dissent anymore.

        I guess that’s my frustration with the Side B approach. It won’t directly challenge bigotry, and instead seems to make nice with virulently anti-LGBTQ organizations like the SBC and PCA.

      • Numbers are dropping. Millenials are either leaving or having fewer children. Churches are competing to keep the most productive members – young people who want big families. It’s about brand loyalty. Pastors don’t have much faith in any other area of church growth.

  24. Joe,

    I agree. Anyone unwilling to act according to the hegemonic heteronormative script is not within the target market for Evangelicalism Inc. And anyone who seeks to reach folks outside of that target market is denounced as having betrayed evangelical(TM) principles.

    Donald Trump is polling well ahead and any other GOP Presidential candidate among evangelicals. That alone says everything you need to know about how spiritually bankrupt the movement has become.

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