Those spooky evangelical churches

Halloween Halloween is over, folks, but we're still seeing some "scary" descriptions popping up.

Take a look at this piece titled "Highlands Church takes all-inclusive approach to homosexuality" by Electa Draper for The Denver Post.

An evangelical church can be a scary place for gay people, yet the Rev. Mark Tidd's Highlands Church in Denver is trying "to live and love without labels" in an inclusive community.

This kind of open-minded approach to full church life for gay, lesbian and transgender people, along with everyone else, Tidd said, could be "kind of the kiss of death" for a new congregation, one started just last Christmas.

"But I knew it was the right thing to do," Tidd said.

Whoa. Hold on there. Why would an evangelical church be a scary place for gay people? Are we supposed to just know what she's talking about? When I think of the word "scary," I think of bears, dungeons, hurricanes, not entering a building where people might disagree with me. Nevertheless, Draper should ask the pastor for some examples of how it might be scary for gay people.

Also, let's look at that headline again: "Highlands Church takes all-inclusive approach to homosexuality." Reporters don't usually write the headlines, but why would a newspaper use "inclusive" to describe a church that doesn't include people who believe the traditional Christian interpretation of sexuality. How is that inclusive?

Moving on, it looks like Draper was actually covering a symposium "offering a progressive perspective on homosexuality and Christianity." Yes, the church offers one perspective. She writes that the pastor lost half of his congregation and two-thirds of his financial support, but what did those people have to say about dropping their support?

Then she quotes another pastor who changed his preaching style.

"Any of us who take steps in this direction soon find ourselves in a hornet's nest," said theology professor Mark Achtemeier of Dubuque Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian who no longer preaches church exclusion of gay relationships.

"If you had told me 10 years ago I would be standing here . . . speaking out in favor of gay marriage and ordination, I would have told you (that) you were crazy," Achtemeier said.

What changed him was witnessing the real lives of gay Christians who were persuaded that same-gender attraction was a disorder and genuinely tried to embrace celibacy or live as heterosexuals.

I still don't understand--Why does Achtemeier find himself in a hornet's nest? I also don't get how watching "the real lives of gay Christians" changed his mind to stop preaching against gay relationships. Instead of quoting Achtemeier, she quotes the first pastor again and then paraphrases:

"Achtemeier said Christians shouldn't settle for an interpretation of the Bible that doesn't make powerful sense of ordinary human lives."

What does making "powerful sense of ordinary human lives" even mean?

Draper ends the story with this bit:

The symposium drew more than 100 people, most of them heterosexuals, event organizer Joe Quillin said. People from several churches and ministries attended.

Quillin said his search for speakers reminded him of "how scary it still is" to be gay and Christian.

It is interesting that different pastors would come together for a symposium like this, but it feels so one-sided for an event that only drew about 100 people. Draper again assumes we know what she's talking about. What about his search was scary? Why leave this to our imagination?

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