The recent announcement by Christian Minister and longtime Democratic Party social justice activist Tony Campolo to "call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church," has underscored the great divide amongst Christian about the sensitive issue with the progressive Evangelical left applauding him and the conservative evangelical criticizing his statement.
In a statement, Camplo, a sociology professor at Eastern University in Philadelphia who had publicly disagreed with his wife Peggy about homosexuality, said he tried to approach the issue with grace and understanding as he struggled with his own Christian belief.
He said in a statement, It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church."
Campolo said that one major reason that influenced his change of heart was through his wife, he came to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own.
"Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end. We in the Church should actively support such families. Furthermore, we should be doing all we can to reach, comfort and include all those precious children of God who have been wrongly led to believe that they are mistakes or just not good enough for God, simply because they are not straight."
Responding to Campolo on Facebook was retired Christianity Today editor David Neff, who posted: "God bless Tony Campolo. He is acting in good faith and is, I think, on the right track," Christian News Wire said.
Neff told Christianity Today, "I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages."
A handful of Evangelical congregations made news in the past year for affirmation of same-sex couples, including Gracepointe Church in Franklin, TN and New Heart Community Church of La Mirada, CA. The reappraisal of homosexual practices by these congregations has been controversial internally as well as externally, with departures of members and lay leaders.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented, "Neff's and Campolo's full embrace of same-sex behavior indicates that theological and ethical orthodoxy may become increasingly difficult and rare for religionists on the political Left. As they quit the historic consensus on the Christian teaching now under most assault, they likely will be joined by a growing cadre of post-Evangelicals who prefer cultural accommodation to traditional Evangelical counter cultural witness.
"Campolo argued for same sex couples based more on personal experience than theology or empirical data. He dismisses theological arguments as a sort of nuisance, having heard 'every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage.'
"Campolo the social justice crusader and sociologist, uninterested in engaging 2,000 years of continuous Christian teaching, relies on progressivism to make his case. The Church was wrong about women as teachers, wrong about divorce, wrong about slavery, but it turns out we all know better now, and so too on same sex marriage. Let the nuptials begin!
"Such liberal Evangelicals becoming liberal Protestants will, like the rest of liberal Protestantism, stagnate and decline, while orthodox Christianity will continue to grow globally."
But CBN reported that Campolo's stand has also highlighted the great divide amongst Christian churches and communities about the acceptance of gay marriages.
The report cited latest date from the Pew Research Center which showed that a wide 70 percent majority of white Evangelicals and 57 percent of black Protestants do not support the legalization of same-sex marriage. But the same survey showed that 62 percent of white mainline Protestants and 56 percent of Catholics are in favor of same-sex marriage.