THE BLOG
01/15/2015 03:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

LGBT Community: Evangelical Scholar Calls for Full Acceptance in the Church

2015-01-15-Unknown.jpegGiven the title to Gushee's newest book, Changing Our Mind: A Call from America's Leading Evangelical Ethics Scholar for Full Acceptance of LGBT Christians in the Church, you might think that the distinguished and conservative Christian ethics theologian David P. Gushee is interested in changing the way the Evangelical branch of the Church regards the LGBT community.

If so, you would thinking correctly.

LGBT Community

Few issues have been more divisive within the church of the 20th and 21st century than the "full acceptance of LGBT Christians in the Church." It has not been resolved yet. But the social, cultural, and theological shift is occurring. While full acceptance must feel to the LGBT community to be moving at a snail's pace, when compared to how long it took Christians to shift their thinking and believing regarding slavery, this issue is moving at lightening speed.

Admittedly, it is hardly moving fast enough for those who have suffered the brutal judgments of the Church. That judgment gets expressed as phony compassion in the oft-reported refrain, "We love the sinner but hate the sin."

But changes are coming and, while there will likely be Christians who will harbor prejudice toward the LGBT community for decades still, the culture has reached a critical mass. In just a few years, for example, I suspect the majority of compassionate, thinking people will look back on the Church's discrimination toward LGBT persons and feel disgust, even revulsion, at the unholy and unjust war it waged on gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender persons.

LGBT Community: Full Acceptance

Presently, however, and not surprisingly, some branches of the Evangelical community, as well as the Catholic Church and its hierarchy, are still fighting this issue tooth and claw. It is just one more of the many reasons why Christians are leaving the Church is unprecedented and record numbers. Some evangelical Christians have simply conceded and given up their war against the LGBT community.

Unfortunately, what they have not given up are their misinformed opinions and their prejudices toward the LGBT community. These have not changed one iota. Some evangelicals even look for solace in a belief that our culture's increasing acceptance of the LGBT community is further proof "the end of the world is near" and Jesus is getting ready to return.

Consequently, I am thrilled to welcome Changing Our Mind. I commend it to your reading. If you are looking for some informed honesty around this topic, you need look no further. You'll find it in Gushee's book. He chronicles his circuitous journey that began at one place and has led him to another, an entirely different place altogether. He forthrightly examines the Biblical passages to which fundamentalist Christians always turn to support their opposition to the LGBT community.

David P. Gushee is the Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics and Director for the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. While he has been the author of several books, my guess is this book will ignite, if it has not done so already, a firestorm of protest from fundamentalist theologians and homophobic Christians who are still convinced homosexuality is wrong.

LGBT Community: Full Acceptance into the Church

Dr. Gushee makes a passionate plea in this book to end the long and painful suffering the church has inflicted on the LGBT community. It's way past time it ended, in my own view, once-and-for-all and never brought up again.

One more thing.

I find it interesting David Gushee titled the book Changing Our Mind. As you might know, the word "repentance" means to "change your mind." If your mind has not changed on this matter of the full inclusion of the LGBT community in the Church, then you might consider that, for you, salvation for you likely means you need to do a little "repenting."

Or, maybe a lot.

Recently, I had the opportunity of interviewing Dr. Gushee via SKYPE. Five primary questions guided our conversation:

1. Dr. Gushee, the title of your book suggests something has changed in your own thinking when it comes to the LGBT community. Could you share with us what has changed?

2. Was there any one watershed experienced that caused you to change your views toward the LGBT community or has it been more of a series of changes in your thinking over time?

3. How has Changing Our Mind been received, especially by the Evangelical community?

4. How has the LGBT community responded to the book? What do you say to your critics who argue that our culture's growing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is just further proof the end of the world is near?

5. As you know, Dr. Gushee, I've written extensively over the last few years regarding the steep declines in church attendance. So I never do an interview with an informed church person like yourself but what I ask, "What do you think is driving so many away from the Church today?"

The post first appeared at Dr. McSwain's website.

Dr. Steve McSwain is an author and speaker, counselor to non-profits and congregations, an advocate in the fields of self-development, interfaith cooperation, and spiritual growth. His blogs at BeliefNet.com, the Huffington Post, as well as his own website (www.SteveMcSwain.com) inspire people of all faith traditions. Dr. McSwain is an Ambassador to the Council on the Parliament for the World's Religions. His interfaith pendants are worn by thousands on virtually every continent, sharing his vision of creating a more conscious, compassionate, and charitable world. Visit his website for more information or to book him for an inspirational talk on happiness, inner peace, interfaith respect or charitable living.