Pious Sincerity vs. Truth
by JUSTIN D. BARNARD
Director of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship
February 14, 2013 - According to recent research by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, attitudes toward same-sex marriage in the US have been changing over the past decade. In short, moral opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage appears to be eroding. The Pew data shows that this shift is occurring in almost every demographic sector. It is particular pronounced among the young. And evangelicals are not immune to the declination.
For some, the eventual complete embrace of homosexual behavior as a morally legitimate way of life is inevitable. These “optimists” imagine a future in which objection to homosexual behavior will seem as backward and as morally reprehensible as advocating for slavery. Thus, like Adam Hamilton, they frame the present opposition to homosexual behavior on biblical grounds in terms of biblical opposition to the abolition of slavery.
Hamilton summarizes his enlightenment thus: “As I listened to their stories I saw that they did not fit the stereotypes I had been taught about gay and lesbian people. The love they shared with others looked very much like the love I share with my wife --a deep friendship and companionship. And their faith was as authentic as that of anyone else in my congregation.”
The logic of this sort of eisegesis is as simple as it is pernicious. Elevate personal sincerity (a.k.a. “authenticity”) over truth. Place the narrative Self (i.e., the “stories” of individual experience) at the center of reality. Subjugate Scriptural authority to personal desires.
Of course, only a crank (or perhaps a faithful Christian) would object to the serpentine rhetoric with which Hamilton makes these interpretive moves. “As I listened to their stories . . .” – an act oozing with the same compassion and piety as another Snake who sympathetically asked, “Did God actually say . . . ?”.
Evangelicals will continue to lose moral confidence on the matter of homosexual behavior for as long as they fail to grasp the nature and purpose of Holy Writ. God’s Word is not something we work to fit into our otherwise happy, comfortable existences. Rather, it is that to which our otherwise broken, twisted, corrupt, fallen existences must conform.
Listening to people’s personal “stories” may seem the height of piety and compassion. (And most assuredly, there are times to hear.) But the move that places personal desire over and against the demands of Divine will is the ancient lie. And those who promulgate it in God’s flock are wolves in sheep’s clothing.