Gather round all ye children of the light and let us tell you a story. Yesterday, Kristen Kobes Du Mez, Author of ‘Jesus and John Wayne’ got into a bit of a verbal scrap with Denny Burk over her views on homosexuality, gender, and LGBTQ.
Du Mez is a rising star in certain more progressive circles and usually is mentioned in the one-two punch alongside Jemar Tisby and his Color of Compromise (never forget, that Tisby literally went to work for Ibram X Kendi) as books shaping the modern-day evangelical discourse. She appeared on the podcast Birds of a Feather where Aimee Byrd (Formerly of Carl Trueman’s The Mortification of Spin) and Michael Bird engaged Du Mez, Beth Allison Barr, and Devi Abraham about evangelicals and gender. Burk was mentioned in the podcast and was tagged on Twitter, and responded to another claim that CRT is a threat to the gospel.
When pressed, he gave this spicy quote from the book as being highly problematic and then notes
“Despite evangelicals’ frequent claims that the Bible is the source of their social and political commitments, evangelicalism must be seen as a cultural and political movement rather than a community chiefly defined by its theology. Evangelical views on any given issue are facets of this larger cultural identity, and no number of Bible verses will dislodge the greater truths at the heart of it” (pp. 297-98).
Rather than respond “yes” or “no” and despite ragging on him earlier for taking too long to respond to, she tweeted that she was out shopping at IKEA, and that she “Will get back to this when I can.” 12 hours later she has emerged with an article where she very much comes out in support of LGBTQisms, writing:
“Do I personally affirm “the church’s teaching that homosexuality is sinful?” Which church? My own church (local & denomination) is actively reexamining this issue in light of tradition, interpretation, history, & science. I’m participating, but as a historian, not a theologian.
I grew up holding the “traditional” view, that same-sex sexual relationships were sinful. As far back as I can remember, though, I never believed that a theological view on this matter should dictate government policy in a way that abridges fundamental civil rights.
This wasn’t because I was currying favor with progressives. I didn’t know many back then. My own strand of Reformed thinking comes w/ a deep respect for pluralism & rejection of Christian nationalism. (Esp among my Dutch profs who’d endured Nazi occupation.)
Since that time, I’ve encountered compelling theological & historical arguments that challenge or complicate traditional approaches to this issue. I’ve read several but have several more to read, and am doing so in conversation w/ “traditional” perspectives.
I’m doing this all in community, w/ scholars, pastors, theologians, & LGBTQ+ Chrs, as part of my local church, as part of an officially sanctioned denominational process, and in an official capacity as a representative of my university.”
“So, how do I treat “homosexuality” in J&JW? The fact that there’s a strong historical/theological tradition of Chrs denouncing same-sex relationships (there are also intriguing counterexamples) does not in & of itself explain Anita Bryant, anti-ERA, or seeing the “homosexual menace” as a threat to America.
It’s possible to hold “traditional” views on sexuality but hold them very differently. It’s possible to believe in male headship but refuse to link masculine “protection” to American militarism. It’s possible hold evangelical theological views but denounce Christian nationalism.”
So back to theology. Burk points to I Cor 15:1-5 as the heart of the gospel. Agreed! So much so that I refuse to use views on gender, sexuality, atonement theory, baptism, spiritual gifts and the like as a way to preemptively exclude believers from fellowship in the Body of Christ.
We can spend our lives asking what right belief & obedient discipleship looks like in all these areas, & we should. But I’m going to do so in conversation & communion with my LGBTQ sisters & brothers in Christ. Because of the gospel.
Now, a lesser discernment ministry would hold back. They would look at what she wrote and say that we have to take a cautious and *nuanced approach* to this. That nowhere did she say that she is affirming LGBTQ, only that her church and denomination is reexamining the issues, that she has encountered new theologies that ‘complicate traditional approaches to this issue’ but is in conversation about them, because unconventional views can be held traditionally in some way.
Sure she did not answer the question directly, and instead only wrote 1200 words on how she is considering what she believes. Still, given what we know and what she has said, we need to take a wait-and-see approach before we label her anything or assign any position to her, and not be so uncharitable in our rush to judgment.
She is pro-LGBTQ affirming as the day is long! She crossed that bridge a long time ago. It is so patently obvious that we could have told you this years ago were she on our radar and we were writing about her. Every second sentence in that article is a red flag and tacit admittance, and no one with half a brain could read that and not surmise that she is utterly and completely theologically broken and compromised when it comes to affirming sodomy as acceptable for the Christian. She’s been suckered in by it and has been given over to it. It’s a done deal. She is a wolfette – no doubt about it. While we’re at it- her church is awful and is heading towards a split or apostasy. The minute you start ‘examining the issues’ you are lost.
In a couple of years she’ll come out and say it explicitly, and then it will make news and other discernment ministries will write about it with shock and dismay, like this is something new that hasn’t been known forever. For us, it’ll be another feather in our hat, joining Ravi Zacharias, TGC, Russell Moore, and a host of others as people we called out years before, got beat up about, but were ultimately proven right.
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