McLaren Changed His Mind

Brian McLaren recently posted a very interesting note from a former fan who was feeling the need to ‘break ranks’ with the author over his position regarding homosexuality. 

I wanted to post part of it here for several reasons.

  1. I have been saying that ‘People Do Change Their Minds’. 
  2. We talked about Brian doing the religious  ceremony for his son and his son’s partner on the last TNT.
  3. In the post Brian quotes his new book – which we are giving away next week.
  4. Brian doesn’t allow comments on his blog so I thought it would nice to host a little comparing of notes conversation.

After the reader’s very cordial note, McLaren begins his response by saying that we don’t actually have to break ranks with each other.

So, it’s important for you to know that if you hold a different view than I do, whatever the issue – I would not want to “break ranks” with you. In fact, I am continually enriched, instructed, and challenged by people who differ with me on this and other issues – and I hope the reverse could be true.

Brian’s second point is that in the current configuration of conservative v. liberal positions, some groups place a lot of pressure of people to ‘break ranks’ with those who differ – or they are in danger of ‘guilt by association’.

McLaren’s third point is that if you just look at sheer percentages, that if roughly 6% of every population is homosexual …  if they were not forced to live in silence,  in denial, or in the closet  … that the numbers quickly become significant of people who are directly affected (parents, siblings, and friends) to the point that old views simply become untenable. [you will actually want to read McLaren’s reasoning here if you plan to push-back on it.]

Then he gets to the quote from the book (p. 52).

I think of a friend of mine from the same background of Christian fundamentalism I hail from. When his son came out, he had no support to help him accept the possibility that his son could be both gay and good. With deep ambivalence, he stood with his tradition and condemned his son. The cost alienation from his son – was high, but it grew unspeakably higher when his son internalized the rejection and condemnation of his community and took his own life. Or I think of another friend, the mother of a gay son, also from my heritage. She came to me in secret to talk, knowing that one of my sons had come out around the same time as hers. Through tears she said, “I feel like I’m being forced to choose between my father and my son. If I affirm my son, I’m rejecting everything my father stood for. If I stand with my father, I’m rejecting my son.”
In religion as in parenthood, uncritical loyalty to our ancestors may implicate us in an injustice against our descendants: imprisoning them in the errors of our ancestors. Yes, there are costs either way.

Finally McLaren says the most interesting thing of all: 
“I want to add one more brief comment. You ask, if we change our way of interpreting the Bible on this issue (my words, not yours) “- what else will happen next?” Here’s what I hope will happen. After acknowledging the full humanity and human rights of gay people, I hope we will tackle the elephant in the room, so to speak – the big subject of poverty. If homosexuality directly and indirectly affects 6 – 30% of the population, poverty indirectly and directly affects 60 – 100%. What would happen if we acknowledged the full humanity and full human rights of poor people? And then people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses and impairments? And then, what after that? What would happen if we acknowledged the spiritual, theological, moral value – far beyond monetary or corporate value – of the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, of seas and mountains and valleys and ecosystems? To me, Jesus’ proclamation of the reign or commonwealth of God requires us to keep pressing forward, opening blind eyes, setting captives free, proclaiming God’s amazing grace to all creation.”

And that is why I thought the conversation might be worth hosting here.   What are you thoughts about the last part?  

 

 

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6 comments
Isaac FL
Isaac FL

Yesterday my wife asked me, "what would you do if our son was gay?" I thought about it and I said to myself, will I love my son the same if he was gay?

dangarvin
dangarvin

Seeing the way Brian handled this with such love and grace is a thing of beauty. Talk about fruit of the spirit.

 

As to the last part I have nothing to add at this point other than to say: Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times YES!

NaomiPassarelli
NaomiPassarelli

The key is really to look at what is IMPORTANT. I feel like we fixate on things that God tends not to. When Jesus came he was constantly on the religious people of the day for ignoring the needs of the sick, outcast, and poor. Why on earth do we as a society continue to ignore Jesus' pleas?

Jesse Turri
Jesse Turri

Brian is such a treasure; I'm so glad he exists. He's done so much good for so many and has so muchore good left to do. God bless 'em :)

JanG
JanG

I'm right there with him!  All along, as retired Methodist Bishop Talbert is finding support, I've said, "May this one issue blossom into equality for all, in all."  In addition, we have to look at impoverished people and not see menial labor for our use; at our beautiful California redwoods and not see board feet; and we have to stop judging people by what they do in the privacy of their homes.  The larger our vision of "acceptable" behavior and life styles, the larger our vision of God can be.

Gaston
Gaston

Just like in "As good as it gets" I'd say to McLaren: "You make me wanna be a better man".

 

: )