Evangelicals’ New Sexual Language: Where Did SSA Talking Points Come From?

Rev Thomas Littleton

At the beginning of 2013 the Christian community in America began to be flooded with new terms and players using new words for human sexuality, gender and sexual norms. These new speakers like Sam Allberry, Rosaria Butterfield, and a small herd of others, began making the rounds at conferences and working to ever so gently to move the church toward a new “understanding” of sexual minorities (LGBTQ ) whose “civil rights” were on a fast track into the mainstream.  Although in conservative circles the assertion was that conventional Biblical perspectives were being retained and defended, the talking points were being changed and the language and terms were nuanced just in time for the massive redefining of sexual norms and marriage.  This new language came from respected heavy hitters in conservative evangelical circles like Albert Mohler and Timothy Keller whose influence on next gen pastors is immeasurable.  As their endeavor surfaces several glaring realities come into focus.

*The church is being asked to rethink (a favorite progressive term for overhauling the past position) its rhetoric if not its stand on homosexuality and marriage.

*The church leadership have constructed a unified approach to accomplish a task, for whom and to what ultimate end is not YET in focus.

*The effort has brought to the “Conversation” some interesting players including a gay priest from the UK / Church of England whose ministry Living Out is pushing the “same-sex attracted”/ SSA language, inclusion and understanding, seasoned with a good dose of guilt and shame for the churches’ past failures to understand and distinguish SSA from homosexuality.

*Another major player in the conversation is a former lesbian and (as yet) quiet liberal academic whose professional specialty and activist training was in Marxist/Freudian / Darwinian flavored Critical Theory specializing in “Queer Theory” – Rosaria Butterfield, who has no theological background to address the issue with the conservative church.

*The church is suddenly being told that the “ick factor” recoil to same sex desires is “sin” and is being asked to abandon 2,000 plus years of Biblically-based language and understanding of homosexuality, sexual temptation and desires.

Why Change The Language NOW?

The earliest use of the term “SSA Christian” and “victim of the church” internal talking points for evangelicals appears to be from the preparations of statements for the 2010 third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelism in Cape Town South Africa. This would place the insertion of SSA language and the emotion packed narrative in the 2009 documents for the lead up to Cape Town 2010.  The ministry to homosexuals is based on Lausanne’s partnership with Exodus Global Alliance (a distinct organization, according to its web site, from Exodus International which famously abandoned the mission of rehabilitating homosexuals and apologized for hurting homosexuals in 2013). Exodus Global worked directly with the Lausanne committee to draft 4 essays on how the church is to minister to homosexuals.

Downloads are available here.

NAME / DESCRIPTION

Essay 1 Sexuality, Truth and Grace

Essay 2 Homosexuality and the Church

Essay 3 God’s Work to Redeem People Involved in Homosexuality

Essay 4 Equipping the Church to Respond

Examples of The New Talking Points and Approach

According to Lausanne, homosexuals number 155 million worldwide and represent an “unreached people group.” Here is some of the narrative on “Homosexuality and the Church”:

“Some of the souls who are impacted by same sex attraction are Christians, and some are not. People dealing with same-sex attraction wander the streets of communities all over the world, and many of them are perishing because no one has seen them as worthy of evangelism and ministry.”

“Each of these persons represents people marginalized in the church.”

“The church can learn something from the fact that so many prominent gay activists and personalities share a common upbringing in the church. Their struggles began, in some way, in the church.”

“As these people share their stories, it is clear that condemnation, warning and fear can work to restrain someone dealing with same sex attraction for a time. At some point, however, these tools no longer work. Christian rules, Christian regiment, and Christian tradition will only go so far.”

Time and space do not permit going into greater detail and quoting more sources but the contents above show the tone of the essays. Gays are victims – not of homosexuality but mostly of an unaffirming culture and church and an old school approach to the Gospel.  REPENTANCE and saving FAITH are not discussed as the remedy as millions of us have historically left sins behind us in traditional Christian faith. The CORE message of the new talking points?  The church is at fault and MUST change.

Exodus Global Alliance Spokesperson

Mike Goeke, pastor of Stonegate Fellowship since 2010 is now associate pastor of First Baptist San Francisco.  Goeke authored several of the Exodus essays including the quotes above. In his testimony “Homosexual and Married,“ Goeke recounts his homosexual desires and online indulgence until finally departing from his marriage to pursue life as a gay man. Eventually, Goeke abandoned gay theology and homosexuality and returned to his wife and family. Though parts of his testimony reflect a clear repentance yet his family and Christian community’s support and loving outreach hardly confirm his espoused view that the church is mishandling ministry to homosexuals. And the Exodus/ Lausanne collaborations plainly call the CHURCH to change by asserting its failure in compassion toward homosexuals.

Goeke cannot be making these assumptions and assertions in the Lausanne essays from personal experience since his wife and family prayed and waited and believed.  Somewhere in what should be an otherwise wonderful testimony is a confused narrative of mistreatment that did not come from the Christians in Goeke’s personal experience. Yet to date, as of 2017, he asserts that Christians retain homosexual or SSA desires well after conversion.

The approach to SSA Christianity mirrors the “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic” of Alcoholics Anonymous and does not reflect Biblical salvation. SSA begs acceptance by the church of a sexual orientation to homosexuality. Therefore, if orientation exists as an inborn trait, then homosexual attraction is something that cannot change and the church “must begin its journey toward acceptance” of the new science, understanding, language, and an era of inclusion. The only verdict yet to be determined is whether we in the church will continue to REQUIRE celibacy by the newly labeled victims of SSA as the determinate for inclusion in the faith and in the church and in leadership roles within it.

The following are a video and article that may help the reader decide if these talking points are Biblical or more driven by emotions and the changing times. A great deal is riding on the present considerations as no denomination has historically ever continued to grow as a result of affirming, including, welcoming LGBTQ and none have recovered from the onset of steep decline once the bridge is crossed.

Practical Steps For Church Based Same Sex Attraction Ministry

Biography of Mike Goeke, Executive Vice President, Exodus International

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