Deti asked me to clarify what I meant in my last post about complementarian gay activists twisting the idea of repentance and being freed from sin. Instead of framing being freed from sin as something gays should be thankful to God for, they frame gays repenting from sin as something straight Christians should be thankful to gays for. What complementarians are doing here is framing perversion as something good, something gays deserve compensation for giving up. Rosaria Butterfield does this in her ERLC article and concludes that non gay Christians owe it to gay Christians to compensate them for the great things they left behind in the gay lifestyle (emphasis mine):
Take, for example, our Christian brothers and sisters who struggle with unchosen homosexual desires and longings, sensibilities and affections, temptations and capacities. Our brothers and sisters need the church to function as the Lord has called it to—as a family. Because Christian conversion always comes in exchange for the life you once loved, not in addition to it, people have much to lose in coming to Christ—and some people have more to lose than others. Some people have one cross, and others have ten to carry. People who live daily with unchosen homosexual desires also live with a host of unanswered questions and unfulfilled life dreams. What is your responsibility to those brothers and sisters who are in this position in life?
God’s people need to wake up to something. If you want to share the gospel with the LGBTQ community or anyone who will lose family and homes, the gospel must come with a house key.
The problem here is not the coordinated ERLC claim that we as members of the church are to form a new kind of family that all of us can benefit from. The problem is the twisted way it looks at perversion, at sin. From a Christian point of view gays are ensnared, trapped, in something awful. Being freed from that trap is in and of itself a profound gift. But Butterfield and her colleagues at the ERLC don’t see it that way. They see being freed from the trap as a loss, at least in our earthly lives.
Pastor Sam Allberry has the same frame of mind in his ERLC speech The Church as the Family of God: Singleness, Same-Sex Attraction, and the Hope of Hospitality. Allberry describes a gay man who is highly satisfied with his current gay relationship. The satisfied-with-being-gay man asked Allberry what would be the benefit of leaving his gay relationship and following Jesus. Allberry says he really struggled to think of a here and now answer to this question. Unspoken is his view that the man’s gay relationship is something of real value, not something terrible to be freed from:
He said to me, listen this partnership I’m in has by far been the best thing that’s happened to me. What could possibly be worth giving that up for? And I sat there for a moment and thought “Yeah that’s a good question”. And I looked at him and said “that’s a very good question.” And I remember praying “Lord that’s a really good question. A bit of air cover here would be useful”. And I could have answered it by saying “Well you get heaven. You get a relationship with God you get forgiveness of sins, those things are gloriously true. But it was a ground level here and now question, that was looking for a ground level here and now answer.
I can understand why Allberry might choose not to lead with being freed from the trap of sin and perversion right off the bat in the conversation. But Allberry speaks at length as if the happy gay man has a great point. The reality is the man doesn’t have a point at all, his conscience is seared so he can’t feel the pain that comes with his depravity. Yet Allberry never recognizes this in the speech. More importantly, what Allberry and his ERLC colleagues are doing (along with Piper and Roen) is trying to sear the consciences of non gay Christians on the subject.
Pastor Matt Chandler touched on the same theme in his own ERLC speech:
All of us have to die to ourselves. There’s no question that the invitation to come and follow Christ is the invitation to come and die (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). And yet there are some crosses that are heavier than others. Scott Sauls (a pastor in Nashville) one time talked about having this yearning for companionship while fighting for sexual purity as a single man. It was difficult, but should never be compared with those who earnestly desire that kind of companionship and sexual companionship for whom that’s simply not coming in this lifetime.
Imagine another group of Christians forming a sort of sin lobby for their favorite perversion, and claiming that they were better than other Christians because they gave up their wonderful perversion for Jesus! This is absurd, but it is the frame the ERLC is promoting.
For another example of this twisted perspective, see the conversation below between Rosaria Butterfield and ERLC President Russell Moore. Listen closely to Butterfield to try to spot any sense that she is fortunate to have been freed from her wicked life of lesbianism and gay activism. I will confess that I’ve only watched the first 15 minutes, so it is possible that Butterfield eventually recognizes that her conscience had been seared. I’ll ask my braver readers to take one for the team and listen all the way through and report back in the comments.