Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Change brewing among younger Evangelicals

The New York Times profiles the Journey, a St. Louis area Southern Baptist mega-Church full of younger Evangelicals who seem ready to move beyond the culture wars. They even have gatherings in brew pubs.

They say they are tired of the culture wars. They say they do not want the test of their faith to be the fight against gay rights. They say they want to broaden the traditional evangelical anti-abortion agenda to include care for the poor, the environment, immigrants and people with H.I.V., according to experts on younger evangelicals and the young people themselves.


None of that means younger evangelicals have abandoned the core tenets of their faith, including a belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus and the literal truth of the Bible. They think abortion and homosexuality are sins.

Very much akin to the position outlined in An Evangelical Manifesto, these younger Evangelicals really haven't abandoned their sense of the truth. They have importantly changed the emphasis, though.

But this comment was the most provocative in the piece:

“The easy thing is to fight, but the hard thing is to put your gloves down and work together towards a common cause,” said the Rev. Scott Thomas, director of the Acts 29 Network, which helps pastors start churches. “Our generation would like to put our gloves down. We don’t want to be out there picketing. We want to be out there serving.”

Evangelicals, by virtue of a long history and a textual tradition that emphasizes being for others rather than for self have the tools to make this transition. Whether the will is there is another question. That made me wonder whether the GLBT community can do the same. Until we are safe from hate crimes and until we have fundamental rights like marriage, we will continue to fight. But how can we at the same time show that we are for others and not merely for ourselves? Of course, as individuals, millions of members of our community are and have been involved in all kinds of movements that do not directly benefit us in terms of our sexual orientation and gender identity. But I don't think that is the image of our movement. The overwhelming image of our movement is that we are out for number one. I don't apologize for that because we can't expect anyone else to take our rights seriously if we don't do stand up for ourselves. But we will erode our basic humanness if we can't make the transition to a movement that both is and is perceived to be in the service of others.

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