The book reviewer wrote,
“Too many authors when dealing with Scripture use it to tighten the circle, leave people out. Not this one. Emmy Kegler has the kind of warm and vulnerable voice that reads like an invitation. She uses the story of her own struggle to make sense of her calling to a church and profession that frequently seeks to exclude those who cry out from the margins – the very people toward whom Jesus gravitated.”
(Note: Emmy Kegler is an openly Lesbian Lutheran Pastor who is “married” to another woman in an open celebration of homosexuality in direct rebellion to God and His Word.)
This wasn’t the first time I had heard the “tight circle” argument.
In 1981, right after my wife and I were married, we rented a small apartment on the Ohio River in Williamstown, West Virginia.
Our landlord was Eddie Powers who was the son of David Powers, who was the minster/Evangelist of Williamstown Church of Christ.
One day Eddie came over to make some repairs and we had a very deep conversation about the future of the church. Eddie was about to take a job in Indianapolis as lead minister for the Indianapolis Church of Christ which was part of the “Crossroads Movement” that was sweeping some of the churches at that time.
The Indianapolis Church of Christ was a “Crossroads Church” which rejected the ridged, split-hair approach to teaching and preaching the scriptures found in most traditional Churches of Christ. (Those without musical instruments in their worship service.)
Eddie Powers was blunt: “The traditional Church of Christ is dying.”
“The only people we baptize anymore are the children of members. We disfellowship other Christians in our church on the slightest pretext and split our congregations over trivial, minute, esoteric details. We draw the circle ever tighter and tighter until there are only a handful of us that are within the tight, exclusionary sound doctrine circle we have drawn. We call ourselves Christians, but we are legalistic and we split hairs on Bible doctrine like the Pharisees and Sadducees did in Jesus’s time.”
His words shocked me.
I was a young Christian of 22 years of age back then, and I had only been a Christian for 3 years. And yet, even though I didn’t want to believe what he was saying, I knew deep down inside that he was right on a certain level. (He was right about some things, but wrong about others. The Crossroads Movement eventually died out.)
Just in that 3 short years as a Christian in the Church of Christ, I had seen dissension and church splits over using the (KJV) Bible, or the (NIV) Bible. I knew of congregations that didn’t fellowship with one another because one congregation used “one cup” for the Lord’s Supper, and the other ones (like mine) used individual tiny glasses. I knew brethren and preachers who believed that one comma missing from the Biblical text endangered your soul and put you close to the fires of Hell.
Yes, I fully understand the danger in being too ridged and inflexible on trivial, non-scriptural matters. (Although in fairness, many “one cup” congregations would argue that it is a scriptural matter to them.)
With all of that being said, in all honesty I must ask that if we as Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians, who actively (and correctly I believe) “exclude” women preachers and practicing homosexuals from our worship services; are we, “drawing the circle too tight?” (Or not tight enough?)
(I have wrestled with this question of the “tight circle” for years, on other issues but NEVER on the issues of women in the ministry or homosexuality. Every reading and translation of the Bible says that it is wicked and sinful.)
Can any honest Christian; “honest to Jesus” and the scriptures, argue that women and homosexuals should be ministers and teachers in the church in light of what the Bible plainly teaches? (Plainly teaches.)
Do any Christians read the Bible?
Putting aside for a moment all of the numerous Bible passages that prohibit women teachers and leaders, and prohibit homosexual conduct and lifestyle (I could quote you dozens), just ask yourself some very logical and very relevant questions.
If Bible verses prohibiting women teachers and acceptance of homosexuality are just “reflections” of “1st-Century cultural norms” and bigotry (as some believe), then why did Jesus or the apostles not challenge them? Why accept those cultural norms and bigotry?
Jesus and Paul were not shy about calling out and denouncing Jewish tradition that was contrary to God’s will: Why remain silent on women leaders and homosexuals? Why didn’t Jesus challenge “bigotry?”
Jesus challenged many traditional Jewish teachings or “settled doctrine” on things like divorce and working on the Sabbath. If homosexuality is “normal” and is really part of “God’s plan” why did Jesus not speak of it?
Why, were all of Jesus’s disciples MEN; and not women?
Why were none of them homosexuals?
Why is “gay marriage” not celebrated and mentioned in the Bible?
In fact, until our time, no society, culture, or faith has ever in 5,000 years of history, normalized and legalized homosexual “marriage.” Even the wicked and licentious Roman Empire that ruled the Holy Land in Jesus’s time, NEVER legalized or normalized homosexual unions.
Think about that. Ancient Rome; in all of it’s debauchery, depravity, wickedness and sin, NEVER, ever, considered legalizing and normalizing homosexual “marriage.” But now, 2,000 years later, God is supposedly going to “bless” something that not even idolatrous Rome sanctioned?
If modern-day Lesbian Pastors and Ministers are “good, right, and wholesome” in God’s sight; Why then do we not read about Lesbian leaders and priests among the Jews in the Old Testament?
Why no lesbian High Priests in Jewish temples in ancient Israel?
Why are there NO Lesbian Disciples, Elders, Pastors, Deacons and followers of Christ in the New Testament?
Yes, there is always the danger of legalism and “drawing the circle too tight.” But if you take the totality of the scriptural teachings on these issues, and combine them with the historical record, you must (if you are honest) come to the conclusion that they are to be EXCLUDED.
Are we hateful bigots?
Are our churches repositories of hate and intolerance because we will not allow women preachers and open homosexuals?
If you step back and look at the “big picture” and take the totality of the Bible, there is no other conclusion than that of God being exclusionary and drawing a very tight circle as to who is HIS and who is not.
Who are His people, and who are not?
God and His Word are Exclusionary
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
This EXCLUDES Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.
1st Corinthians 6: 9-10
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]homosexuals, nor [b]sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
This EXCLUDES practicing Homosexuals and Lesbians.
1 Timothy 2: 11-14
11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
God, His Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul could not be more clear: How could this scripture be explained away, rationalized, or ignored? The Word of God is clear on this topic.
Women are EXCLUDED from teaching, ministry, or holding any position of authority or leadership over men. Why?
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
So are we, “drawing the circle too tight?”
Or are we not drawing it tight enough?
Are we “excluding” too much?
Or are we not excluding enough?
The answer to these questions are staring you in the face.