Monday, February 24, 2014

THE PENDULUM SWINGS -


Due the many comments, public and private, I’ve had to cancel my intent to wind up the LGBT series by Feb 15, now that we’re already one week well past that date! So where are we? 

Ready to wave the white flag and simply say, let’s roll with the world, or with the other denominations who’ve already made that their choice. Or do we stand firm, hold tight to our colours and draw up a new positional statement with a slight deviation or two from the old one, becoming a bit more inclusive? Or ought we to continue our series a few more days to fully discern our current position and how we came to it?

"As he lies in his cell, a prisoner of the Lord, Paul is still preoccupied with the future of the gospel. His mind dwells now on the evil of the times, now on the diffidence of Timothy. Timothy is so weak, and the opposition so strong." (John Stott) Stott is referencing Paul’s instructions to the young Timothy. News had reached Timothy that his beloved teacher-mentor-friend had been arrested and was facing certain death at the hands of an executioner at a chopping block on Rome’s outskirts come spring.

 Paul was speaking of end times and humanly speaking of the church’s “trembling on the brink of annihilation”.  Paul wasn’t speaking of bad times, but of bad people. "We should note what the hardness or danger of this time is in Paul's view to be, not war, not famine or diseases, nor any of the other calamities or ills that befall the body, but the wicked and depraved ways of men." (Calvin)

The term perilous times or Paul’s ‘last days’ reference means that discernment matters. They’re broad terms applied to appropriate times when the church struggles to envisage or fashion its future.

In Matthew 16:1-4, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they did not or would not understand the meaning of their times: “Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times”. (Matthew 16:3).

Could not the same be said of Pastors, religious leaders today, worried about those whom we’ve trained, led and ordained; less faithful than we’d hoped – a bit rebellious, siding with the world, kicking up their heels, as we used to say. Is the Gospel’s truth no longer relevant or is it more a case that our translation and exposition lacks clarity, power and conviction.

Just how far has the pendulum swung? 
Research, documented in Dave Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends.  
Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this is one reason why. They aren’t talking generalities, but their LGBT friends!
How many LGBT friends can the average middle to old age churchgoer count in their list of friends? How many can you name in your church fellowship?

David Kinnaman, President, The Barna Group,

 documents his findings in the book unChristian; “The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays...has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”
 In my experience, and in the articles shared these last several years in the FSAOF blog all the anecdotal evidence backs up the research. 
Let’s stick with our friends at Focus on the Family and their current theories.
Even Jim Daly, president of the right-wing group seems to be waving the white flag. Here's what he told the evangelical World magazine last year about same-sex marriage? We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age—demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that. I don't want to be extremist here, but I think we need to start calculating where we are in the culture.
Daly has taken a more conciliatory approach to traditional hot-button issues than his predecessor at Focus, James Dobson, so perhaps it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to see him speak so candidly. But it can't help the anti-gay religious right to have such a prominent social conservative say that the crusade against gay marriage has essentially been lost and that it's time to accept that reality and move on.
The Pew Research LGBT survey population is distinctive in many ways beyond sexual orientation. Compared with the general public, survey respondents are more liberal, more Democratic, less religious, less happy with their lives, and more satisfied with the general direction of the country.
This report is based primarily on a Pew Research Center survey of the LGBT population conducted April 11-29, 2013, among a nationally representative sample of 1,197 self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults 18 years of age or older. Same-Sex Marriage
On the topic of same-sex marriage, not surprisingly, there is a large gap between the views of the general public and those of LGBT adults. Even though a record 51% of the public now favors allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, up from 32% in 2003, that share is still far below the 93% of LGBT adults who favor same-sex marriage.
Despite nearly universal support for same-sex marriage among LGBT adults, a significant minority of that population—39%—say that the issue has drawn too much attention away from other issues that are important to people who are LGBT. However, 58% say it should be the top priority even if it takes attention away from other issues.
The LGBT Population and its Sub-Groups
A new Pew Research Center analysis shows that among the general public, knowing someone who is gay or lesbian is linked with greater acceptance of homosexuality and support for same-sex marriage.
Still, a significant share of the public believes that homosexuality should be discouraged and that same-sex marriage should not be legal. Much of this resistance is rooted in deeply held religious attitudes, such as the belief that engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin.
Religion
Religion is a difficult terrain for many LGBT adults. Lopsided majorities describe the Muslim religion (84%), the Mormon Church (83%), the Catholic Church (79%) and evangelical churches (73%) as unfriendly toward people who are LGBT. They have more mixed views of the Jewish religion and mainline Protestant churches, with fewer than half of LGBT adults describing those religions as unfriendly, one-in-ten describing each of them as friendly and the rest saying they are neutral.
The survey finds that LGBT adults are less religious than the general public. Roughly half (48%) say they have no religious affiliation, compared with 20% of the public at large. Of those LGBT adults who are religiously affiliated, one-third say there is a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity. And among all LGBT adults, about three-in-ten (29%) say they have been made to feel unwelcome in a place of worship.
Pew Research surveys of the general public show that while societal views about homosexuality have shifted dramatically over the past decade, highly religious Americans remain more likely than others to believe that homosexuality should be discouraged rather than accepted by society. And among those who attend religious services weekly or more frequently, fully two-thirds say that homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs (with 50% saying there is a great deal of conflict). In addition, religious commitment is strongly correlated with opposition to same-sex marriage.

ABOUT PEW RESEARCH Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

13 comments:

Kjell Edlund said...

Although I do consider LGBT an important issue, I wouldn't be to surprised if some of the blog followers find the issue well covered by now.

However, if you count in the fact (!) that there are, depending on what method you prefer to use, between 3 up to 10 % LBGT:s within the ranks of the Salvation Army.
Not counting all those that are depending of the out reach Social work done by soldiers of the Army.

Then, in my opinion, the importance to recognize the magnitude of the question, is quite crucial, at least for those that are affected of how the Army at large handles this question.

Now, the Army has a great and glorious strength - it´s Internationalism - which also, like in this case - might be a big hinder and a problem when it comes to handling issues like the SS-marriage question.

There are many different territory's and cultures working side by side within this world wide organisation.

Of course the Army recognize the quite diversed and coloured Armyworld, and regards it as an asset of course.

But even if I my self are leaning towards a more inclusive marriage concept, I see the difficulties that lies ahead for the Salvation Army.
My sincere hope though is, that the Army's leadership don't surrender to a hard line, conservative and fundamentalist view on how to manage this wonderful Army of love.

William Booth were into Souls, and to get the people saved by using the pragmatic way of Soup Soap and Salvation, rather than to discuss the bumpy roads of Theology.

Kjell-Erik Edlund
Former
Sweden

Anonymous said...

3 - 10%? What about the 97 - 90%? I echo the above sentiments by Kjell-Erik - by catering for the minority, you have to give careful consideration what will be left afterwards. I'm sure TSA leadership will give careful consideration to the dollars situation if not to the 97 - 90 percenters. Choppy waters ahead!

Kjell Edlund said...

Bumpy roads and choppy waters.

Yes, I guess those decisions won´t be any easier in future then now.

And - how we treat our minorities does reflect our compassion and capability for christian love, doesn´t it?

We just yesterday saw another example of surpression of LGBT people, when the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, signed a true Anti Gay Law. He regards him self to be an evangelical christian...

So - should we abandon those LGBT of our own society to people like this president.
I don´t think so!

Anonymous said...

LUV your thoughtful insights Kjell! Too bad William Booth has been gone for 102 years now. He could put an end to the whole issue once and for all, with one autocratic statement. Then people would have to decide for themselves whether to stay in TSA or leave based on his decision.(lol!)

Yes siree those were the good old days! Then a couple of world wars happened, followed by television, along with documentaries showing bodies being bulldozed into mass graves at Auschwitz and suddenly autocracy and total loyalty to authority figures went out of fashion forever. (hopefully.)

Unfortunately, with human nature (or is it carnal nature?) being what it is, one should never underestimate the market for its return.

When it comes to doing the hard mental work required for making our own decisions about the morality of an issue and taking on the full responsibility for our own decisions and choices, it just gets so overwhelming that it becomes so much easier to stay morally lazy and follow some leader. Oh well.....

Daryl Lach
USA Central

Anonymous said...

'Although I do consider LGBT an important issue, I wouldn't be to surprised if some of the blog followers find the issue well covered by now.'
Amen to that - for goodness sake, put it to sleep - there can't be anything more to say - or should I say 'repeat'? There are much fewer comments - I guess because the readers feel they've said it all.

FORMER SALVATION ARMY OFFICERS FELLOWSHIP said...


Anonymous said...
'Although I do consider LGBT an important issue, I wouldn't be to surprised if some of the blog followers find the issue well covered by now.' There are much fewer comments - I guess because the readers feel they've said it all.'

As with most bloggers we don't measure impact by the number of comments, but rather by the number of daily blog visitors, and that count continues to run at 2 to 3 times the average number.

One last question as I'm in the middle of writing and posting the SA's many and varied beliefs across lands and cultures, pro and con… or is that also well known? If so, kindly enlighten and share it with us in a few paragraphs because I need help as I believe it's still unraveling.

Blessings

Anonymous said...

My comment wasn't meant to be insulting, so I didn't think there was any need for the sarcasm - it was just a weary declaration of exhaustion with the subject.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
My comment wasn't meant to be insulting"

- Sven pay him/her no attention. She just proved the point that comments keep rolling in!

Active officer
IUKT

Anonymous said...

"...- Sven pay him/her no attention....."
How childish. Especially as it wasn't a comment - merely an observation on this interminable series. The termination date for this series is like some end-time prophecies - the date keeps being passed with no fulfilment. One's hopes are raised one minute with the promise of some inspiring subject matter, and then dashed when one sees that date pass and more of the same appearing.
I appreciate a lot of time and effort has gone into these many, many, many, many, and even many more...... articles, but surely enough is enough? That's a rhetorical question - no need for an answer.

Anonymous said...

You gotta love it! He complains because there aren't enough comments and that signals a general lack of interest. But, he himself can't seem to pull himself away from the site, and in fact generates 60% of the comments! Bet this won't be the last word! lol

US Central

Anonymous said...

My officer father used to say: "There is always one or more in every Corps"

Kjell Edlund said...

I didn't last a verry long time as an officer, sorry to say!
But I did serv as a CO at 7 different corps, 8 if you count my summer practice as a cadet in Sundsvall...
And, I could also state the same as the posters father above; there were one or two in every corps...
That was at a time in my life, my quite young version, that had big difficulties how to handle those persons. To be honest, I blush red when I recall how badly I often managed them.
It's not that I were frank or hard in my way of talking to them.
I just didn't want to pay any notice...
And yes, I absolutely blush red every time I give it a thought.

That's 30 + years ago, and I don't turn them back any more!

Anonymous said...

The poster that begins 'You gotta love it!'
The reason I keep coming back is
(1) because I keep hoping there will be a change of subject
(2) because I want to see how my comments have been received.
This does NOT mean that I am in sympathy with this subject matter at all. My comments will show that, as I'm sure you've noticed.
And if you note that I, as a singular entity, have generated 60% of the comments, what does that tell you about the rest? It tells me that although people are looking at the site, they have nothing much to say about it. Maybe, like me, they were impressed with the spiritual content of the blog before this subject appeared, and are looking for spiritual sustenance - which was present in high doses before Christmas.
And to the person who said 'there's one or more in every corps' - and to Kjell-Erik - you really can't categorise people into compartments, you know. Just when you think you've sussed them out, they confound you with some uncharacteristic behaviour. I've seen it time and time again. I think the good Lord teaches us many lessons in not judging by appearances and by customary behaviours.