Several highly respected Christian theologians are responding to a series of tweets by the lead singer of the popular Christian band Jars of Clay that downplayed the authority of Scripture on moral issues and suggested there was nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.
Dan Haseltine tweeted: “I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. ?? Anyone?”
Further, in a statement he later regretted, he said: “I don’t particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”
Denver Seminary philosophy professor, theologian and author Douglas Groothuis told WND that “same-sex couples can no more be married than a square can be a circle.”
“To pretend otherwise, is simply sin. To be an influential Christian and to claim otherwise is an especially heinous sin,” he said.
Reformation Bible College Philosophy Department Chairman R.C. Sproul Jr. said that when “leaders in the church go down this path, you can expect many to follow.”
“A day is coming when affirming a biblical sexual ethic will give one all the social cachet of being the grand wizard of the KKK,” he warned. “What we are witnessing is a mad rush by professing Christians to flee that ship. And in so doing, they are fleeing the shame of the cross.”
In his series of tweets, Haseltine asked: “Just curious what ‘condoning a persons homosexuality’ does. Does it change you? Does it hurt someone? What is behind the conviction?”
Haseltine’s band has sold more than 5 million albums since it was formed in 1996.
“It is perhaps less important to know what is ‘right and wrong’ morally speaking, than to know how to act toward those we consider wrong,” he said in another tweet.
He criticized those who used Scripture to question his stance.
“Tweeting Scripture verses to settle my questions of gay marriage isn’t helpful. Simple answers to complex questions= meh.”
The Urban Dictionary says the slang term “meh” means: “Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.”
In a column for Charisma News, Michael Brown, author of “Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality,” took Haseltine to task for saying he never liked the phrase “Scripture clearly says.”
“Is the Bible not clear about anything? Sin? Salvation? Forgiveness? Jesus being the only Savior and Lord? Adultery being bad? Fidelity being good?”
The Christian Post’s Crossmap blog pointed out that Scripture “addresses homosexual behavior in both the Old and New Testaments, warning that immoral sexual activity will lead to death and eternal damnation.”
Haseltine then responded online:
“In the heat of discussion, I communicated poorly and thus unintentionally wrote that I did not care about what Scripture said. Thus, the tsunami hit. It was picked up by bloggers and written into editorials before I could blink. And rightly so, people were shocked and offended by my statement dismissing the value of Scripture. I got it. And possibly, I got what that combination of statements warranted for response. I should’ve chosen my words more wisely.
“I care about what Scripture says. It matters.”
But he also noted: “I have received so many great messages from gay Christians. You have encouraged me.”
“So many gay couples display more loving characteristics and healthy relationship practices than most traditional marriage couples,” he said.
Groothuis said the damage has already been done, because sometimes music speaks louder than words.
“Art can work on us very subtly. A bad philosophy or theology may seem good when put in music that people like and remember,” he said.
The author of “Truth Decay” said Christians must be on their guard.
“Christian lyrics must be brought before the Word of God for scrutiny. Christians must be people of the Bible if they are going to have any hope of separating truth from error,” Groothuis said.
And not using the Bible as a foundation creates problems, he said.
Sproul agreed. But he said running from God’s truth is nothing new.
“Since the Garden of Eden, bad things have happened first, when His creatures go against the truth of God, and second, when His people began to doubt God’s Word,” Sproul said.
Brown, who also is a WND columnist, said while he’s “deeply concerned about this departure from clear biblical foundations,” he thinks it’s beneficial that “people are revealing their true beliefs, since where the church stands on homosexual practice has become the great dividing line for today.”
“This issue will separate the true Bible believers from those who put experience or personal relationships above Scripture, and while it might result in some real challenges for those who hold to the Word, this could be just what the church of America needs today: a wakeup call to arise from our apathy and man-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me gospel, and a determination to follow Jesus regardless of cost or consequence,” Brown said.
Gordon-Conwell Seminary Prof. David Wells said he’s concerned that “resistance to the gay agenda has very much dissipated among younger evangelicals.”
Groothuis said Haseltine is misguided in attempting to contrast the love of Christ with addressing sin. There is no difference between the two, he said.
“The love of Jesus is never expressed against His character and that of the Bible, which fulfills and authorizes. God ordained heterosexual monogamy as the pattern of God’s creation and design.”
Sproul said the idea of Christians endorsing same-sex marriage amounts to “syncretism.” Believing one can be a Christian and accept same-sex marriage is almost like inventing a separate religion.
“When we pit one revelation of God, that He is loving and caring, against another part, that God not only forbids sodomy, but sees it for what it is, an abomination against Him, we are falling into the inveterate sin of God’s people – syncretism. In fact this is [replacing] the worship of the true God with the worship of a god of our own making,” Sproul said.
The Twitter discussion was heated at times, prompting Haseltine to comment:”Ah! The messiness shows itself! :). False dichotomy. Can we love and judge? Can we not condone and love? Is it our job to convict and love?”
In the middle of the discussion, Haseltine asked some basic questions about marriage itself.
“Arranged marriage? Marriage out of convenience? Marriage out of pregnancy? Etc… It’s as vague a term as ‘Christian,’” he tweeted.