The Meeting House is an anabaptist, postmodern church with a charismatic teaching pastor, Bruxy Cavey, who has built a large following among young adults in particular by a combination of high-tech approaches, modern “worship band” music and a personal message aimed at individuals that eschews the culture wars or any form of more general responsibility for the wider society.
Like many evangelical organizations today, The Meeting House is trying to find a viable “Third Way” between the long-standing Christian prohibition of homosexual behaviour and the understanding of same-sex attraction as a temptation and a vice to be resisted and, if possible, overcome, on the one hand, and the complete capitulation to the spirit of the age by the celebration of sodomy as a beautiful and spiritual edifying thing, which is best symbolized by the unholy spectacle of Christian clergy participating in the neo-pagan festival known as the Gay Pride Parade.
Does such a “Third Way” exist? If so, it is an intellectually defensible position? Or is it a temporary stop-over on the way to full capitulation that has the function of allowing one to talk about sexual perversions non-stop until the late-adopters in your organizations finally fall into line?
First, let’s look at what The Meeting House says about its position on the homosexuality issue. In an on-line pdf document entitled, Responding to the Gay Marriage Debate, they say that they are trying not to be either “conservative” or “liberal” on this issue. They define conservative churches as those which “invest large amounts of energy into fighting against any perceived queer community agenda.” They define liberal churches as in reaction against this “love-less approach” and as “embracing members of the queer community with no distinction and no challenge toward change.” The document goes on to describe liberal churches as also going on “to approve of, and support homosexual orientation and practice.”
How then does The Meeting House position itself as distinct from these two positions? They say it amounts to disagreeing with people but still respecting and embracing them. The document states: “When Christians follow Jesus rather than use the Bible to prop up their own conservative agendas, everything changes.” They then go on to say: “We consider The Meeting House to be a queer-positive church. We do not preach that people must change their sexual orientation in order to follow Jesus.”
So how do we evaluate this “Third Way”? First, note that the document accuses conservatives of having a non-Biblical conservative agenda that they then use the Bible to prop up. This has the effect of driving a wedge between the Bible itself and conservative antipathy to homosexuality. But conservatives think that their antipathy to homosexuality comes from the Bible itself and so they reject this attempt to water down what the Bible teaches.
What the “Third Way” seems to mean in practice is the acceptance of the sexual revolution’s account of “sexual orientations” as a whole range of sexual “identities” other than male and female. Of course, at first it is just the homosexual orientation that is highlighted, but the long-range goal is to accept bisexual, transgender, and all the others. The point is to affirm those who self-identify in these ways in their own, chosen “orientations.” Even for an organization that does not affirm the goodness of homosexual behaviour, this is seen as a step toward making people who self-identify this way feel loved and accepted. What is wrong with doing this?
Well, a great deal is wrong with doing it. First, biblical teaching is extremely clear that God’s creational intent is to make all humans as either male or female. There is no indication anywhere is the Bible that God intends people to have other sexual identities but lot’s of evidence to show that the Bible consistently condemns behaviour flowing from those sexual identities.
Second, this is a rejection of biblical and moral theological language used by the church for its whole existence to describe same-sex attraction. We understand same-sex attraction as temptation. If the action is sin, the inclination to commit the action is temptation. And temptation is not good or even neutral.
James 1:13 should give us pause at this point. We are not to accuse God of tempting us. But if the point of talking about “orientations” instead of “temptations” is to say that such “orientations” are in some way “natural” or “the way we were made” or “equal to heterosexual ‘orientations'”, then we are basically saying that God is placing temptations in us. This is why we have to understand homosexual orientations as the result of the Fall and as disorders, rather than neutral (or even good) “orientations” or “sexual identities” to be cherished and affirmed.
Third, to accept a homosexual “orientation” as a valid component of a person’s personhood would be to elevate experience above revelation and to replace biblical authority with the will and experience of the autonomous self. In other words, we are looking at an example of the classical method of theological liberalism. Theological anthropology must be based on Scriptural revelation, rather than on the experience of fallen creatures seeking to justify their urges and behaviours. Experience is read in the light of Scripture, not the other way around.
Fourth, accepting a homosexual “orientation” as good is half-way to affirming the behaviour it leads to as good. In fact, it is illogical to condemn as morally bad the action promoted by a morally good “orientation” or “sexual identity.” In one organization after another in which this path has been followed – from Exodus USA to New Directions to the Anglican Church of Canada – we see a period of “Third Way” acceptance of the concepts of sexual “orientation” followed by outright acceptance of homosexual sin as good. The Meeting House is just going through a phase and the next phase likely will be full acceptance of practicing, unrepentant homosexuals as full members of the church, unless it repents and turns around and goes in the other direction.
Our opponents in the culture wars are very clear about what they want. They want us to celebrate sodomy religiously as they do. Nothing else will satisfy them. We cannot expect tolerance; they are against tolerance in principle. Only the coercive power of the law will prevent them from crushing us and putting us out of business and our legal protections are eroding steadily as Western society becomes less and less tolerant of Christianity.
It is enlightening to read the thoughts of those pushing the church toward full acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual behaviour. For example, in this blog addressing the position of The Meeting House, The Third Way or the Way of Celebration, the anonymous author evaluates the policy of The Meeting House from the perspective of someone who has moved along the path now being followed by The Meeting House earlier in time. This person gives The Meeting House a pat on the head for having moved a considerable way toward full acceptance of homosexuality, but also says that it has a way to go.
How far does The Meeting House have to go? We are presented by this blogger with The Riddle Scale, which was developed by Dorothy Riddle in 1973-4 as a measure of “homophobia.” The scale has 8 steps: 1. Repulsion, 2. Pity, 3. Tolerance, 4. Acceptance, 5. Support, 6. Admiration, 7. Appreciation, 8. Nurture. This blogger, however, adds a ninth, i.e., “9. Celebration.”
The endgame is “Celebration of Homosexuality.” The Meeting House is said to be somewhere between 4 and 7 on this scale, but it still has a ways to go. Unfortunately, however, it appears that Bruxy Cavey insists that for celebration to be possible the homosexual person has to embrace celibacy. Here is the pro-homosexual blogger’s reaction to that idea: “Excuse me while I throw up.” This is concise, clear and typical of the sexual revolutionaries. Until The Meeting House embraces homosexual behaviour (and the many and various behaviours generated by an endlessly growing number of other sexual perversions) it will remain “homophobic” and “unloving.”
Undoubtedly, Bruxy Cavey’s and The Meeting House’s motivations are admirable. They are trying their best to love people unconditionally, as all Christians should do. But they fail to grasp that affirming a homosexual “orientation” as morally good is inconsistent with condemning the behaviour that flows from such an “orientation” as morally bad. And they fail to grasp that they have, in the name of love, moved away from orthodox and biblical thinking about homosexuality.
The irony is that, for all the good it is going to do them, they might as well have stayed with the traditional and biblical language of sin, vice, temptation, and repentance. At least then it would be clear what they are going to be persecuted for and, in the meantime, perhaps there will be sinners who repent when they hear the gospel unobscured by pseudo-social scientific jargon and undiluted by muddled thinking.