At EFCA One in Austin, Texas the EFCA is going to vote on a resolution on Biblical sexuality. The resolution is a reaction to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell vs. Hodges. This post is why the EFCA should reject this resolution. Is the EFCA going to be known for practicing faith or for living in fear?
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”
in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?
Psalm 56:11 NIV
This is the first of two posts dealing with proposed changes that the EFCA is going to be voting on at the EFCA One Conference in Austin, Texas. EFCA One I believe is an biennial conference where the EFCA gets together and conducts business. The most significant item of business of EFCA One in 2015 is the election of Kevin Kompelien. The first one deals with the amendment to change Article 9 of the EFCA Statement on Faith. You can read that here. Then there is the proposed change to Trinity International University’s bylaws which you can read here. If all goes well I hope to write about those two issues before the conference happens in Austin on June 20. One of the resolutions that is to be voted on deals with the EFCA response to the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage that recently occurred. You can read that proposed resolution in “EFCA Conference Resolution: Biblical Sexuality and the Covenant of Marriage” The resolution on gay marriage I believe is going to deeply hurt the EFCA if it passes. Let me explain why in the post below. At the end I am going to challenge the EFCA to do the right thing.
Driven By Irrational Fear?
One of the many concerns I have about this resolution is that it is driven by irrational fear. A fear that is not grounded in reality, and a fear that is not legitimate. People and organizations can make a lot of foolish mistakes that come back to haunt a person or an organization in time. The history books are littered with examples of people taking action based out of fear. For example here at The Wondering Eagle I once wrote about a Japanese-American man I knew who was interned in World War II in California out of fear. The fear was irrational and linked to his Japanese ancestry. You can read about that in “What a College Kid Learned from a Japanese-American who was Interned During World War II; Are Evangelical Christians Going to Take Responsibility for the Current Refugee Crisis?” In this case many evangelicals have an irrational fear about gay marriage that is not legitimate.
This fear that many evangelicals posses about gay marriage shows that many struggle with their faith. It also reveals that for many faith is skin deep and can’t deal with issues of change in society. Faith should be anchored in the Lord and not what the Supreme Court had done or will do. The church should be known for its love and grace. It should not be known for its fear and anxiety. The messages that are being communicated by such a resolution are not helpful for the evangelical discussion on how to engage the gay community. And yes, I will say this as well….you can be a conservative evangelical Christian and have a high view of sexual ethics and Scripture and choose another path that is not grounded in fear. No one wins when fear wins, the EFCA and the church and people looking for the Gospel all lose when fear wins. I want to challenge the EFCA denomination to stop, think hard and rise to the level of being a denomination that can lead a way in love. But reading this resolution raises another question that I must ask the EFCA
Does the EFCA Understand the Difference Between Religious and State/Civil Marriage?
Here is the other question that I would like to pose to the EFCA. Does the EFCA denomination understand the difference between religious and church marriages and civil/state marriages? Does the EFCA understand we are talking about two separate situations? Let me use Bill Kynes Cornerstone here in the Northern Virginia area to make my point. If 2 gay men walked off the street and came to Cornerstone and said to Bill that they wanted to get married in Cornerstone then I could say that the resolution before the EFCA would be justified. But that is not what is happening. What is occurring is that you have gay men and women going the secular route and getting married by the state in the cities and communities they are living in. Gays aren’t coming to EFCA churches and saying “Marry us.” Gay men and women are avoiding the evangelical scene altogether. Its why I ask the question…does the EFCA understand the difference between spiritual/religious marriage and secular/civil marriage? As a reminder you also have atheists who marry in a civil/secular marriage ceremony. Spiritual and church marriage is the uniting of two couples into one in a church setting. I know what the Bible says on marriage. For some scriptural verses on marriage you can read Proverbs 18:22, Genesis 2:22-24, Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9. But those verses applies to those in the church. They do not apply to society or secular government at large. Secular or civil marriage is marriage that happens outside the church. It happens in the context of courts and the secular government system. Secular marriage doesn’t threaten the church. Individuals who get married in the secular system do so for benefits that helps them in society. They do so for tax reasons and other purposes.
Make it Harder to Preach the Gospel? And a Badly Worded Resolution
The resolution to be voted on at the EFCA meeting in Austin will be bad policy for another reason. This resolution is badly worded. Stop and consider the following sentence in the resolution.
Although these issues are not the gospel, they are connected to the gospel, and they are critical issues to address as the EFCA stands on the inerrant, sufficient and authoritative Scriptures.
So think about what that sentence says. The EFCA is saying that gay marriage is not linked to the Gospel. But believes that they are critical issue, thus they need to vote on it regardless. Whoever drafted this resolution should speak to a doctor about schizophrenia as this sentence is in so much conflict. First they are saying its not tied to the Gospel, and then they tie it to the Gospel. Its one of the sentences that left me scratching my head in many ways. By taking this action the EFCA is making it harder to teach and preach the Gospel. Plus this also illustrates that the EFCA has no clue what the Supreme Court actually did. This sentence indicates further as to how this resolution is based in fear as I wrote above. No one is going to force an EFCA church to perform a gay marriage against their will.
This resolution is going to make it harder for many EFCA churches and pastors to perform their jobs. Now they are placing an additional burdens and walls that create further obstacles. Jesus once said “Come to me all who are weary…” Now the EFCA is going to say “Get away from the church all ye that struggle…” In this statement its not just aimed at those who are gay, but its also aimed at those who have family members, loved ones or friends who are gay. This statement puts them in a difficult bind as it forces them to make an unnecessary choice. How sad is it that some will be forced away because of this, and yes that includes people who have no interest in gay marriage but because of extenuating circumstances are affected by this issue. So for people like Bill Kynes this creates an additional problem for him. Now he is going to have to shout over the wall that is being built. Its bad enough that the term Christian carries so much baggage and connotation. It makes it much harder for him to teach or preach. Now this resolution and new policy will force Bill Kynes to have to diffuse a bomb every time someone new comes to the church.
This is why I openly wonder if the EFCA will be able to survive as an entity in the course of time. If it can’t deal with changing culture how will it survive? I would like to ask the question how would the EFCA survive in the days of Rome or Greece? What if we had a Nero in charge? What if we had Temple Prostitutes in places like Memphis, Chicago, Minneapolis and more? What if pedophilia was more openly embraced like it was in the Greek culture? Again how would the EFCA be able to survive and deal with it? Or would it survive?
Illustrates Why the EFCA is Not as Autonomous as It Claims?
The EFCA likes to claim its autonomous but sometimes I wonder if that is truly the case. If any “autonomous” EFCA church performed a gay marriage or installed a senior pastor who was a woman I would bet my 401K that the denomination would move quickly to address that particular church. That is one of the reasons why I am not so certain that I buy into the belief that the EFCA is fully autonomous. I wonder if the goal of this resolution is to put many EFCA churches on notice about this subject. Does the EFCA fear that a church, one in the 1,500 in the denomination will perform a gay marriage one day? Is that part of the issue that is playing out in this situation? Will the passage of this resolution allow the EFCA to come down on that church? Will Greg Strand yank a pastor’s credentials? Or will the EFCA remove that church from the denomination? Is that the real goal behind all this? These are questions that I have going through my mind as I read this proposal that is to be voted on.
This Needs to be Voted Down
This resolution that will be before the EFCA at Austin One is a seriously fraught with deep and pervasive issues. It is my sincere hope that sanity and clarity will come to the EFCA before this resolution is voted on. These are the reasons why this needs to be rejected.
- Its being driven by fear and not by faith. That fear is unfounded and a source of desperation.
- Its not well thought out, after all as I pointed out this proposal has contradictions in it. Whoever sat down and composed this needs to resume taking their Haloperidol.
- It makes teaching and preaching harder. Bill Kynes job in Cornerstone will become much more difficult. So will Andrew Smith and Jeff Loven of The Bridge Fresno. This will also I believe adversely create problems for Dr. Fred Lybrand and Mike Kaylani at Austin Oaks Church which is hosting EFCA One.
- It sends a message that is unnecessary. You can be conservative and hold a high view of scripture and not go down this path. What does the EFCA want to be remembered and known for in the world? Its love of God or its love of the culture wars?
- This resolution indicates that it can’t deal with changing issues as society changes. Now please hear me I am not saying that it means that the EFCA need embrace gay marriage. What I am saying is that it reveals a church movement that is reactionary that struggles to put its thoughts and mind together as it deals with differing situations.
But as I close this post out my biggest hope is that the EFCA will reject this and in return shows that it has faith in the Lord and scripture. Faith to do the right thing so that a millstone won’t be laid upon the denomination in 2025, 2030, 2040 and beyond. If the EFCA is to have faith it needs to show it through love. Faith rewards and builds up the organization. Faith can help it unite and bring people together. Faith is the way forward. For the health of the EFCA I sincerely hope that this will be rejected. That’s it for today guys, I will hopefully get the other post up dealing with the other resolutiosn shortly.