While Franklin Graham - who, by the way, would be a nobody except for his famous father - is calling for the boycott of LGBT companies and the Vatican seems to be doing all in its power to guarantee that the Roman Catholic Church of the future will be a much smaller, Africa based denomination, some evangelists are belatedly waking up to the reality that was addressed in recent blog posts: anti-gay extremism is killing the Christian brand in America. How else to explain Tony Campolo's recent statement that he has changed his position and now advocates for the full inclusion of LGBT Christians in the church. A piece in Patheos looks at Campolo's epiphany. Here are excerpts:
This morning, Dr. Tony Campolo, well known evangelical activist, educator, speaker, and founder of Red Letter Christians released a statement on his blog announcing his official change of heart and mind on LGBTQ inclusion in the church. In the statement he says:
“While I have always tried to communicate grace and understanding to people on both sides of the issue, my answer to that question has always been somewhat ambiguous. One reason for that ambiguity was that I felt I could do more good for my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters by serving as a bridge person, encouraging the rest of the Church to reach out in love and truly get to know them. The other reason was that, like so many other Christians, I was deeply uncertain about what was right.
It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”
His wife, Peggy has also been an advocate for full inclusion for many years, while Tony has notably remained unchanged in his position about what the Scriptures teach about same-sex relationships. Until now.
In the midst of this great step forward by Dr. Campolo, I do believe two critiques are necessary: It is not enough that Christian leaders simply step forward and announce their support for gay and lesbian Christians. It’s also important that they acknowledge the harm that has been caused by their use of an un-affirming theology and that they publicly repent for their sin of exclusion. This is a key move that many Christians leaders who have changed their mind have not considered, but is perhaps even more important than announcing their support for inclusion and equality.
It is also notable that Dr. Campolo only addresses “gay and lesbians”, without acknowledging bisexual, queer, and trans* people. For far too long, in both the Church and the broader LGBTQ community, these minorities have felt invisible. When Christians are moved to announce their support for inclusion, it is also essential that they include all sexual minorities. Otherwise, the oppressive cycle of invisibility will be perpetuated.