There are popes and there are popes.

A lot of people don’t like the current one, I imagine, with his emphasis on helping the poor, eschewing fine raiments, restoring relations with Cuba — sounds almost socialist, if you ask me.  Where’s the part about tax cuts for the rich and opposing the minimum wage?

Similarly, there are evangelical Christians and there are evangelical Christians.

Interestingly, in the view of a couple of professors who’ve analyzed the data, “White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus.”

One of my favorite evangelical Christians is Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and a leading Red-Letter Christian.

Before I get to the point, I have to re-tell you my favorite story.

It was five years ago.  I’d just gotten the Google app — a new thing back then — for my iPhone, and had given a little talk referring to it.  “Before, if I needed to settle a bet at dinner, I’d reach for my iPhone, go to the Safari web browser, pull up Google, and type in what I needed.  Worked reasonably well.  But now I just jerk it up to my ear, say what I want, and — voila!

Jim came up afterward and asked me what it was exactly I’d been talking about.

I showed him my iPhone as I touched the Google icon, then jerked the phone up to my ear, got the beep, and said, “Jim Wallis,” whose new book, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street, had just come out.

The common spelling would be “Wallace” – that’s how it sounds – and I was afraid my little demonstration would be a complete bust . . . but within seconds, Google was showing us this list of info on Jim Wallis.

“How does it do that?!” marveled the theologian.

“It’s a miracle!” replied the atheist.

So that’s my story.

Here’s my point:  There are a lot of evangelicals who read the Bible differently from the Jerry Falwells (“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals”) and the Robert Gallatys.  Indeed, an estimated 23% now favor marriage equality (which is a far cry from thinking hurricanes are caused by homosexuality).

Behold the January cover story of Jim Wallis’s SOJOURNERS Magazine:

Tackling the Hard Questions
by David P. Gushee

It’s time for Bible-believing Christians to take a new look at what scripture teaches us about gays and lesbians

If you or a friend or relative is having trouble accepting God’s LGBT children as, in fact, His children, well, I offer the article for your consideration.  As it says near the end, “It is appropriate to wonder whether what Paul is so harshly condemning in Romans 1 has much if anything to do with that devout, loving, lesbian couple who have been together 20 years and sit in the third row at church. Their lives do not at all look like the overall picture of depravity offered in Romans 1:18-32. You certainly wonder about this when you know that couple—or when you are that couple.”

(Or, harking back to a line I’ve been offering for decades now:  It probably IS unnatural for two people of the same sex to lie down together — if they’re straight.  If they’re gay, it’s the most natural thing in the world.  No?  Can’t we just leave it at that?)

 

 

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