Marin on the Uncomfortableness of Real Mission

Andrew Marin is writing some brilliant posts at the moment on his blog and here’s his latest on how he responds to those who accuse him of undermining the Gospel.

I do not hide the fact that, theologically, I believe in a traditional interpretation of Scripture. The difference that ultimately leads to others being ‘concerned that I am undermining a traditional conservative stance on this topic’ is because I live out my conservative beliefs differently. I live them out incarnationally with my wife in the gay community, though I am straight and have always been such.

As I explained, I intentionally moved into the gay neighbourhood to learn from and listen to the same GLBT people that I wanted nothing to do with, that I didn’t agree with socially or theologically and that I repeatedly hurt and thought not worthy of my Christ.

It is very difficult for me to respond to such accusations from my own brothers and sisters in Christ. Not because I can’t put together an air-tight missiology that completely aligns with a conservative paradigm but rather because I am confused why my actions threaten so many people, why they feel the need to resort to knee-jerk reactions that question my belief system, a belief system no different than theirs. Maybe it’s because I use Jesus’ example and I won’t answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to ‘yes or no?’ questions? Maybe it’s because I use Jesus’ example that I didn’t come to preach and live among already saved Christians but rather came to those who are well acculturated with a great life and don’t feel the need to know Him? Maybe it’s because I use Jesus’ example of not being the first one to cast a stone as I concentrate more intently on the plank in my own eye before the speck in my brother’s? Maybe it’s because I use Jesus’ example of a humble servant, one that relentlessly serves those on the outside while asking nothing in return? Maybe it’s because I use the biblical model of knowing my Kingdom Job Description: it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love? Or maybe it’s because I use all of these examples with gays and lesbians and that just flat out frightens a lot of people who are already threatened by a God that longs to see a simple and pure faith lived out on earth as it is in heaven.

I have to admit that, in their fear, they hurt me. I have great pain when brothers and sisters call me names because of their own fear. I have great pain when the publication Anglican Mainstream prints that I am more dangerous to Christianity than the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson. I am still yet to figure out what is dangerous about me. Is it my conservative belief in Scripture or is it that I model my life after Jesus? At the end of the day, if how I am living my faith is dangerous then, Lord willing, might there be more dangerous believers around the corner to keep relentlessly working toward a biblical reconciliation between two warring factions no matter who or what, from either community, tries to tear us from God and from each other.

Perhaps that’s a challenge to others. Andrew is perfectly orthodox in is his understanding of what Scripture says is and isn’t acceptable sexual practice for Christians. Given this, can someone who thinks Marin is “dangerous” explain how showing love to sinners but never compromising on what the Bible says when asked is undermining the truth?

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9 Comments on “Marin on the Uncomfortableness of Real Mission

  1. I tried to figure out what the controversy was about. I found a book review by Raven at Anglican Mainstream that ended with this and another post by Nolland that quoted the first paragraph of this.

    The question which will pressing more and more insistently on Western evangelicals is this – how can I maintain my integrity as a biblical Christian yet live as a normal citizen and stay on the right side of the law as gay culture and rights are increasingly privileged through equality and anti-discrimination legislation? Marin will have unwittingly come to their rescue because the dilution of the clear teaching of Scripture and a stress on unconditional acceptance which minimizes the cross, and so desensitizes to sin, neatly eases the Christian conscience in conforming to ungodly or immoral legislation, not to mention accommodating to false teaching in the Church itself. More than that, it is not difficult to see how Marin’s concept of love could be used to criticize those who do make a stand as unloving, even people of ‘hate’.

    Energised by these cultural pressures on the Church, I expect that Marin’s project will be very popular, but it will increasingly diverge from biblical Christianity. This attempt to flavour and tenderize the Christian faith will eventually cause it to disintegrate, but because it bears the label ‘evangelical’ the truth may take a long time to dawn.

    So despite his noble vision and fine qualities, Andrew Marin poses a much more serious and subtle danger to evangelical life and witness than did Gene Robinson at Greenbelt this year. Just as the pace of secularization in the surrounding culture is quickening, thousands of evangelical Christians will be immersed in Marin’s mindset, thinking that they are being equipped for biblical mission, while being inadvertently set up for assimilation by a culture increasingly under the sway of the malign ‘gods of olden time’.

    Charles Raven
    2 October 2009

  2. Peter – in Marin’s book he dismisses as irrelvant the New Testament and Old Testament prohibitions on homosexuality (it is a vague sexual immorality not homosexuality that is condemned in the second letter of Peter, the words used in 1 Corinthians 9 are too vague for us to apply them to homosexuality). He also says that in the evidence shown to him homosexuality is genetic in origin. It is there in black and white in his book for those who want to read it (yes I can quote chapter and verse and will do so when I get my copy back from the person I’ve lent it to). Put simply, Marin comes across (in both the book and when listening to him in person which I have had the priviledge of doing) as a sexual revisionist. May be this is why Changing Attitudes like him so much.

    As an ex-gay who works with people who want to change I have tried to engage with Marin about his scientific and theological position, as have friends of mine who are leaders in the ex-gay movement in the US. If Marin is so interested in raising the level of conversation why has he failed to answer my emails of clarification?

    • Phelim,

      I think we’ll need to do chapter and verse (or at least page number) because I simply don’t get that from his book.

      As for Changing Attitude (read Colin Coward) liking Marin so much, that has more to do with Coward’s unfortunate current tendency to only accept what agrees with his perspective and to filter out that which is contrary to his paradigm. So, in the same way that Coward is happy to read Lambeth ’98 1:10 as affirming of same-sex unions, he won’t engage with Marin’s conservative sexual ethic.

  3. Actually Peter, have you read “Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie” by Jeremy Marks. Comparing the theology in that book to the theology of Marin is an interesting – and frightening exercise.

    • I have Phelim – Marks’ book is really very shallow and regurgitates outdated arguments and theology that I’ve spent time on this site countering.

      The distinction between Marks and Marin is quite simply the fact that Marks has a differing theology of sexual practice from Marin. Marks’ position is that some forms of same-sex practice are acceptable for Christians. Marin’s position is that no form of same-sex practice is acceptable for a Christian, but he’ll only raise the issue if someone asks him. Subtle difference but with hugely important missiological implications.

      Right, I’m off to cook my wife dinner!

  4. What seems to be happening is that so many of us who attempt to stay true to biblical orthodoxy in this increasingly daunting era have been forced to defend ourselves so many times, in so many places, that we’ve been hardened by the experience. I think that if Marin’s voice and approach were the only thing out there, then some of his critics might have more room to complain. As it stands, however, there are plenty of voices that are explicating scripture and speaking to the nuts and bolts of the biblical sexual ethic. Marin’s project, it seems to me, is to find ways of living that ethic out in the context of Christian love and sacrifice. In my opinion, he does so without ever giving up on core principles. He is bringing together love and justice. Many of us in the Church have forgotten love in our quest to uphold justice. I fear sometimes that we’re more interested in being right than in being right with God.

  5. Hmm, I don’t know enough not having read the book, so just the extract to go on. However it seems to me that the extract is somewhat boastful, and therefore somewhat distasteful. I would worry that he’s in for some of Our Lord’s refining fire to bring about a little humility!

    • Rosemary,

      That’s exactly what I was thinking! But of course, let’s be charitable, give him the benefit of the doubt, etc. He may be feeling a bit persecuted…

      But anyway, I wonder if he is trying, or ought to try, to be as empathetic to those homosexuals on the inside, so to speak, struggling to live their lives as God wants them to, needing re-enforcement for their beliefs, as he is being to those who have rejected Christianity?

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