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Conveniently Changing our Minds

By September 29, 2017 7 Comments

I can just see it. Ten, maybe twenty, years from now, an avalanche of new books will come out. Or, maybe it will just be an edited volume, conveniently declaring how leaders in the evangelical world, how leaders in the Reformed world, have “changed their minds” on homosexuality. Think of all the past issues, all the prior slippery slopes, all of the “here I stand” moments that have come and gone. Women in church leadership? Minds changed. Evolution? Minds changed. Racism, segregation, civil rights? Minds changed. And thank God for it! But it always comes at a price. It always comes too late. All of the political banter, shoring up a constituency, positioning ourselves to be “successful”, to stand up for religious freedom, whatever the reason—we’re late to the game. Writing books and articles twenty years after other people have already moved on certainly isn’t courageous. Think about the people whose lives have been destroyed, careers derailed, all because they wanted to thoughtfully engage an issue when everyone else is having the conversation. And yet, out of fear or self righteousness, they are sent packing, they are labeled troublemakers, or “liberals”, or “heretics”. Only to discover that years down the road the very same people who apparently knew better have changed their mind? They get to write a book about it?, they’re heralded as open minded, thoughtful, and courageous? Sigh… What about the body count? What about all the carnage? Must be the price one has to pay to play ball in the kingdom of God.

Here’s an idea: What if we allowed people to engage in thoughtful conversation? What if we made room for differences on this issue right now? What if we acknowledged that there are good Christian people who are working hard to think through these issues biblically, theologically, and pastorally right now? What if we stopped playing the culture war game, what if we refused to be reactive and fearful, and agreed to disagree on this issue? What if we allowed for people to thoughtfully explore and discuss without fear of reprimand or being labeled? Crazy, I know.

What’s troubling is to see all the social media posts and articles on football and kneeling, or all the churches publicly taking a stand on issues like racism and immigration, but on the issue of homosexuality? Crickets. It seems loving my neighbor in one area (race and immigration) should lead us to figure out what it means to love all of our neighbors.

Please don’t think you know what I believe about sexuality just because you read a silly blog post. The issue is too complex to reduce it to 400 words. Besides, I’m still wrestling, still thinking, still listening to my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. But that’s supposed to be the point. Hopefully we can learn to be charitable to each other now on these issues, instead of waiting twenty years to write about it in a book.

Jason Lief

Jason Lief teaches Practical Theology at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He served as editor of Reformed Journal for many years and was one of the original bloggers on the RJ blog. You can find more of his writing at


  • I agree. We do need to engage in thoughtful conversation. Few people disagree about that imperative. To do so, however, we need to pay more attention to the process of “thoughtful conversation”. Good process will help create a context for these crucial conversations and navigate the difficult content. Look to practitioners such as David Bohm and his work on Dialogue, Harrison Owns and his work on Open Space Technology, the guidacne offered by the World Cafe Community, Marvin Weisbord and Future Search, and/or Joseph Grenny and Kerry Patterson and Crucial Conversations for the tools to help and equip us to do what you suggest….to do what we must do.

  • James Payton says:

    Your post reminds me of something Francis Schaeffer wrote decades ago. He was talking about problems in society and how attitudes change and then commented: “The church is always the last to know.” — Sigh …

  • Oh, but many churches have addressed the issue of homosexuality and have “changed their mind” on that. The UCC is a good example. And right now in Holland, Michigan, Room For All (a group working for full inclusion within the RCA) is holding its conference with hundreds of people attending, and the Spirit blowing the doors off the church.

  • abeunk says:

    The Church is a collection of denominations, traditions, and congregations. It is partially true to say The Church caught up with society on women in church leadership, but not universally true. And it’s only partially true that Reformed churches did. There are still many denominations, traditions, and congregations, including Reformed ones, that do not ordain women into church leadership. The same will be true on the issue of affirming same-sex marriage and diversity with respect to gender expression, gender identity, and sexual proclivity. Some denominations have already or likely will soon adopted an affirming hermeneutic. Others will maintain the tradition. Let’s accept that fact now and encourage people to find denominations/congregations where their understanding of Scripture is welcomed and affirmed.

  • Jack Wanlberg. (AKA Skylander) says:

    The issues are grounded is source of authority. Does The Bible forbid certain lifestyles or does it over rule as the Dispensations change? If Love is the rule and life has progressed beyond certain prohibitions promulgated in ancient society then what was the rule is overuled. The Church aeems stuck with a semi literal mode of viewing scriptural authority. I say semi literal for no one stones sinners these days but the righteous have no trouble with shunning. With some churches creating church growth through splintering and splitting into a greater number of churches, and others opening their doors to anyone who seems interested in joining, there is a conflict of crowd control built into our denomination.

  • mstair says:

    This is all a part of “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phillipians 2:12). Being mindful, as Jesus said, that He “will build His church.” It is not our act of assembling believers that makes up the church, it is His – through The Holy Spirit.

    “God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

    We need to work out how we’re going to welcome, love, and make disciples of all those He sends us.

  • George Ertel says:

    Oh, I do agree it’s a silly blog post. The author assumes the future will move in the direction he expects.

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