The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Love in Moderation: The New Wave Theology of John C. Danforth

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John C. Danforth, an Episcopal minister and former Republican Senator from Missouri, has weighed in on Christian involvement in social issues. He begins his article on “Moderate Christians put love first” by arguing that since not all Christians agree on issues like stem cell research and homosexuality that there can not be any dogmatism. Danforth writes that “Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgment of the limitations of human beings.”[1] Since he raises the question of homosexuality, where is the ambiguity on this subject? Danforth says that moderates like him “attend church, read the Bible and pray.” This must mean that he has some knowledge of the Bible and believes it has something to say on this issue. I would like a lesson from Episcopal minister Danforth on where the moderate position on homosexuality is found in the Bible? Is it in Romans 1 where homosexuality is described as “unnatural” and “indecent” (1:27)? I’m not seeing the ambiguity. Arguments in favor of this type of behavior follow from the fact that “the truth of God” is exchanged “for a lie” (1:25). Where is the moderate position in this verse?

Paul talks a great deal about love. In Romans 13:8 he writes, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Is this the same Paul of 1 Timothy 1:7–11 where we read “the law is good, if one uses it lawfully”? The law is necessary because there are “lawless and rebellious” people in the world who are described as “ungodly and sinners, “unholy and profane.” He includes in this designation “homosexuals.” In the Bible, love and law are not mutually exclusive. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).  John writes, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Laws prohibiting homosexuality are commandments. Love does not trump these commandments no matter how well intended by moderates like Danforth. Earlier in the same epistle, John tells us, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). There does not seem to be much wiggle room here. If the Bible says something specific about homosexual behavior, and a Christian does not act on what the Bible clearly states, then he is a liar and the truth is not in him. Ouch!

Danforth wants to reach out in compassion to homosexuals but without the law. He claims that putting laws on the books denying homosexuals the right to engage in unnatural and unlawful behavior “would humiliate homosexuals.” There are laws on the books against prostitution, pedophilia, incest, bigamy, and drunk driving. I’m sure people who get caught in any of these crimes are humiliated.

Is it any wonder that most young Christians today are moral relativists when they hear the moral mishmash from a person holding John Danforth’s credentials? Josh McDowell, in an interview in Campus Crusade’s Worldwide Challenge magazine, describes the sorry state of the youth culture, even the Christian youth culture:

This is where you get the popular phrase, “If it’s true for you, wonderful. But it’s not true for me.” Without this external reference point, all values, beliefs, lifestyles and claims to truth are equal. If you say otherwise, you are a bigot—intolerant, anti-multicultural and anti-diversity.[2]

Why do more than 90 percent of Christian teenagers no longer believe in absolute truth? You can blame it on the John Danforths of this world.

Endnotes:

[1] John Danforth, “Moderate Christians put love first,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (June 23, 2005), A17.
[2] “What Lies Beyond Belief?,” Worldwide Challenge (July/August 2005), 33.

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