Please! Don’t call me a fundamentalist!

Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California writes (Newsweek, February 9, 2009),

Yes, I voted for Prop 8.  Yes, I oppose gay marriage.  But that doesn’t make me a religious fundamentalist. . . .

Angry shouts. Shaking fists.  It makes me sad.  This is something that happens on occasion in an intimate relationship.  People who care deeply about each other start arguing about some touchy issue.  As temperatures rise, so does the rhetoric.  Mean-spirited things get said.  The situation seems hopeless.  That is why I want to issue this plea to my fellow citizens on both sides of this divide over sexuality:  Can we talk?

I ask this as someone who has been one of the angry ones — angry about things that have been said about people like me.  I’ve been on talk shows where people phone in to call me a fascist or equate me with those who burned accused witches at the stake.  One remark that hit especially close to home was made by the editor of this magazine.  He wrote that anyone–anyone!–who tries to make a scriptural case against same-sex marriage is guilty of “the worst kind of fundamentalism.”

That hurt.  I have spent several decades of my life trying to spell out an evangelical alternative to “the worst kind of fundamentalism.”  My friends and I have argued that the Bible supports racial justice, gender equality, peacemaking and care for the environment–views that often draw the ire of the worst kind of fundamentalists.  But none of that seems to matter to folks who don’t like our views about same-sex relations.  Because we also believe that the Bible frowns on sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and a woman, we are being relegated to the margins of the civil dialogue.

I refuse to go to the margins. . . .

I wonder what Richard would think of Jeremiah’s ministry?

We are in Jeremiah 11 tonight.  The persecution starts.  Everything begins to go downhill.


  1. Increasingly I think we (ev’s and LDs alike) are headed to the margins…not saying that is a good thing, but the culture at large has decided that the Christian religion (and they would include LDS, our differences to them seem minor) is not so much FALSE as IRRELEVANT….they’ve flipped the channel

    for MOST of them, we are talking to the back end of an I-pod blasting head…. I do appreciate Mouw’s desire to not be marginalized….but I think the cow is well past the gate…

  2. This is an ironic situation Mouw has found himself in. Many advocates of same-sex marriage feel like they are past the tentative dialog stage of fundamental idea-formulation. To them, the time is for preaching, heralding, witnessing, and denouncing. To get someone to stop preaching, and to get them to withhold judgment and simply engage in ecumenical (or quasi-ecumenical) dialog is a very effective way of neutralizing fervor and outspokenness. Some important Mormons understand this.

    Now we’re on the other side, and our ideological opponents refuse to compromise, nor to reflect any spirit of compromise with quasi-ecumenical dialog.

    This is an all-out ideological war we are in. The time, Mr. Mouw, is not for ecumenical dialog, but for hearty debate and passionate preaching. There is no sense anymore in creating a false dichotomy between convicted civility and passionate public proclamation. Even the world understands that there is a time to stand on a rooftop and sound the trumpet, although the world done this in a very sinful way.

  3. Good Morning AARON….is your boy still running wild throughout the house….LOL

    you wrote:
    Now we’re on the other side, and our ideological opponents refuse to compromise, nor to reflect any spirit of compromise with quasi-ecumenical dialog.

    I think they play this one BOTH ways: look at the ivitations for the inaugaral prayer: Warren and Robinson BOTH…..throw a bone to the ev.’s….sort of…..but don’t change your mind about anything…

    I agree that the opposition has gotten, and will maintain a strident voice on this one for a simple reason: they have almost all the cultural momentum on this issue, popular sentiment is going their way, and they know it. Gays being 3%to 5% means nothing here….they are a new minority, as far as our culture is concerned….

    I’m all for strong public proclamation IF we also as christians:
    1)stop the insanity of treating homosexuality as some deeper category of sin that is so much more evil than say….gossip or greed or garden variety selfishness (masquarading as “God wants to make me rich….today..”)

    2)start rolling up our sleeves and HELPING gays make the adjustments to live either a celibate life (yes this IS possible) OR live out a heterosexual expression within marriage….

    I’ve know MANY gays…..and seen some BIG successes (Andy Comiskey with EXODUS…..) but this is a tough road to walk…especially if they are treated like the lepers of Jesus’ day….

    PS: ev’s have the reputation of talking loud, and doing next to nothing….let’s turn that around.

  4. This issue is starting to piss me off. I’m about as tolerant as an evangelical can be on this. I think the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin, but I’ve always treated my gay friends (and relatives!) with love and respect, and I’m not sure my private belief in homosexuality being wrong means the government ought to try and regulate it. Normally I’m politically conservative to the core, but I’m a complete fence-sitter on the gay marriage issue.

    And now these people want to call me names because of my private religious belief that homosexuality is wrong? Shouldn’t their only concern be how I treat gays and how I plan to vote on it?

    I realize that it’s petty and small-minded to vote a certain way on an issue just to spite people who mistreat you, but truth be told, I’m starting to not care.

  5. BJack: welcome to the party, here are some rules:

    1)take anyone with a strong truth claim that includes moral instruction

    2)place in blender

    3)label as “FUNDAMENTALIST’ and close tightly

    4)puree till desired smoothness and serve at the “Toleration Ball”

    notice #1 includes total JERKS and those who can be , and are, totally civill…….does NOT matter

    in my state, the honorable Fred Phelps, a protestant (of course) preacher and his flock protest loudly at gay and war veteran funerals…..he goes into the blender just ahead of YOU, even though he makes your skin crawl as much as mine

    like a said, we are losing…..and/or have lost the culture war on this one…..that doesn’t mean we can’t preach and act with power, what it means is that we will be “hate-mongers” for the duration…….at least that’s the way I see it

    keep in mind that as far as I know (correct this anyone) CANADA has laws RIGHT NOW that make preaching explicitly against homosexuality a CRIME….we are well on the way to that …this is more a big deal than a gov’t sanctioned union of any kind, in my mind

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