Editorial: Brian McLaren, Homosexuality, and Apostolic Loathing -- By: Denny R. Burk

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Editorial: Brian McLaren, Homosexuality, and Apostolic Loathing
Author: Denny R. Burk

Brian McLaren, Homosexuality,
and Apostolic Loathing

Denny Burk

Editor, The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Dean of Boyce College
Associate Professor of New Testament

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

Breaking the Moratorium

In 2006, Brian McLaren infamously urged evangelicals to observe a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements about the moral status of homosexuality. He deemed Christianity’s 2,000-year-old ethic too offensive to be preached to modern people and the Bible’s teaching unclear. McLaren argued that evangelicals needed to have a five-year period of studied, humble conversation about homosexuality. In essence, McLaren told evangelicals and not to offend moderns with Christian sexual ethics.

Well, that was then, and this is now. McLaren himself has made a moral pronouncement with still a year remaining on his moratorium. In his 2010 book A New Kind of Christianity, McLaren seeks to redefine the Christian faith for a new day, and in one chapter in particular he argues that traditional evangelicals need to get over their hang-ups with homosexuality. He pillories their beliefs as “fundasexuality,” which he defines as a “reactive, combative brand of religious fundamentalism that preoccupies itself with sexuality…. It is a kind of heterophobia: the fear of people who are different” (174-75). Traditional evangelicals, he argues, need an enemy against which they can coalesce in common cause: “Groups can exist without a god, but no group can exist without a devil. Some individual or group needs to be identified as the enemy…. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are an ideal choice for this kind of scapegoating” (175). For McLaren, evangelicals who treat homosexuals as sinners are really just looking for an enemy—a scapegoat. In other words, traditionalist faith is less about theology than it is about psychology. Evangelicals need someone to loathe, and homosexuals are the unfortunate target. In this way, McLaren likens traditional evangelicals to racist bigots and misogynists of a former generation.

McLaren’s Apostolic Loathing

There are a number of problems with McLaren’s argument concerning homosexuality, but I want to address one in particular. There is a kind of apostolic loathing in McLaren’s treatment of the Bible. He simply doesn’t like what the apostles have to say, and he appeals to Jesus to back him up. McLaren views Jesus as the hermeneutical trump card in all discussions about the Bible and theology. That means that when other biblical texts disagree with Jesu...

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