From the Supreme Court to Main Street, our nation is having a spirited—sometimes heated!—conversation about homosexuality. Here in Springfield, Missouri, City Council has convened a Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Task Force to consider extending protected-class status in city ordinances to persons based on those two categories.
Recently, Pastor John Lindell of James River Assembly of God offered testimony to the Task Force regarding this proposed ordinance. He gave “a theologically conservative viewpoint on the issue,” listing biblical and practical reasons for opposing the ordinance. In reply, 23 Springfield ministers from mainline Protestant churches, published an open letter to Pastor Lindell in the Springfield News-Leader.
Because I felt their open letter presented a distorted interpretation of Scripture to the Springfield community, I wrote a reply to the 23 pastors, which the News-Leader also published. Rev. Phil Snider of Brentwood Christian Church, one of the signers of the open letter to Pastor Lindell, critiqued my News-Leader editorial in an open letter to me on his blog. Today, I am posting an open reply to him here on my blog.
Debates like this can be frustrating, but they are worth having. Jesus taught us to exercise a salt-and-light influence on our communities (Matthew 5:13-16). “Saltiness” requires us to understand and promote what the Bible teaches. It also requires us to respond clearly and charitably to misinterpretations of the Bible, lest the Bible’s moral witness be presented in a confusing way to the broader public. That is what I am trying to do here.
Finally, my open reply to Rev. Snider focuses on only one aspect of the conversation we are having about homosexuality here in Springfield, namely, the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual conduct. In the near future, I hope to post a letter to the Task Force regarding the other aspect of the conversation, namely, whether it is advisable to extend protected-class status to sexual orientation and gender identity as a matter of public policy.