For the Bride: Special Report

Prominent Evangelical ethicist David Gushee has announced that on November 8th, in a major address at The Reformation Project conference, he will announce he has changed his mind about LGBT relationships and will now not only affirm them but also work to protect the LGBT community from further harm. He will also release a book putting his considerations into print.

In less than a day, he has received swift and severe criticism from Fundamenlists, who (as always) allege he has defected from orthodox faith.  Additionally, they try to discount his change as being that of a late-comer, adding nothing significant to the matter.  But that’s not true.

When Evangelical Christians like Gushee, holding firmly to their orthodox faith, change their minds on matters of human sexuality, they do, in fact, offer something very significant.  They offer themselves and their scholarly reputations, confirmed by decades of careful and credible work–work which has often been applauded and honored by the schools where they have served.

They are not people who go off half cocked in the academy or in life in general, but rather do careful study and engage in deep reflection before stating their convictions. And that is what Gushee and other Evangelical scholars are doing now in relation to same-sex relationships.

Over against the lie that they are late comers who add nothing significant, we have only to cite the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), where the owner of the vineyard regards those who work fewer hours as equally valuable to the agricultural effort as those who had been in the field longer–and pays them the same wage.

So, in the current complex and controversial debate regarding same-sex relationships, let’s be sure not to embrace the caricatures leveled against people like David Gushee, who have paid their scholarly dues, and have earned the right to speak with the same credibility as has been characteristic of them and ascribed to them in the past–even if it is a more-recent word.

And just so there is no doubt, I offer my own changes of view in the same context as that of Gushee’s despite the opposition I too have received the past six months.

[To see the Huffington Post Report that prompted my meditation, go to

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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5 Responses to For the Bride: Special Report

  1. It is sad to see that you have decided to abandon the teachings of the Orthodox, Evangelical Church and cater to the whims of sinful society. You say that you and Gushee have “paid your dues” and done your scholarly work…but if that’s true it wasn’t scholarly work in the Scriptures.

    I remember sitting in your office not long after I graduated as you poured out your broken heart over a class that was giving you a bad time, who wanted to compromise the clear teachings of God’s Word. Now that is happening to me…and I feel great shame in having attended Asbury.

    I don’t know what has caused you to turn your back on Scripture…but I would suspect is it some type of personal experience. Someone you know and hold close has embraced the lie of homosexuality and out of “love” you have turned the Quadrilateral upside down and are placing your personal experience on top…and are trying to manipulate Scripture, Reason and Tradition to uphold your newly found belief. We used to call that being “cultic” now it’s being “open-minded.”

    You have forgotten something my old friend…something you used to teach. The essence of God is not love…it is holiness. Truth still trumps what now passing for love. We aren’t told that “we shall feel good about our sin and those good feelings will set us free.” We will KNOW the TRUTH and that TRUTH will set us free. There is nothing loving, there is nothing Christ-like about accepting and promoting sinful behavior. The most loving thing we can do is confront. There is still power in understanding sin, sacrifice, salvation and sanctification rather than cowardly bowing to god of expediency.

  2. Judith Warren-Brown says:

    Hello Steve+, I am “orthodox ” in my views on this subject. However, my thoughts are that those who are of a different view than I are so for many thoughtful reasons and too because they love their LGBT brothers and sisters and dislike judgmental attitudes and offensive behaviors towards them. I, too, dislike these negative attitudes and behaviors towards these brothers and sisters. However, because I hold an orthodox view does not make me a Fundamentalist nor does it make me intolerant. I know that God does not love me any more than someone who is LGBT. I was once in the other camp. Now I am not. It is now for me a conscience and discipleship issue, not one of judgment and condemnation. I post this because part of dialogue is understanding the other side’s point of view, getting behind their eyes and seeing the world as they see it. That does not necessarily make for agreement, but at the least it shows empathy and respect. It leaves the opposing parties in a place where they can disagree without animosity.

  3. Jay Kowalski says:

    It is too bad that those who disagree with you now, don’t have the same love, respect and appreciation for you and your contribution to the church that many of us had when we disagreed with you in the past. It has always been a privilege to call you a friend.

  4. jimharnish says:

    Many of us who see ourselves as Orthodox, Wesleyan, and evangelical are grateful for your faithful and costly witness.

  5. Gail Carlson says:

    As a mother of a gay son who is engaged to his life partner of 8 years, I am happy to see that evangelical scholars are coming to the same conclusion my heart has led me to.

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