When Pastor Adam Phillips moved across the country with his wife two years ago and planted a new congregation in Portland, Ore., he was heeding the call of his Christian roots, an Evangelical Covenant tradition that today has a primary mission “to reach young people, engage a growing multiethnic population, and develop vibrant local churches that make disciples.”
“Pastor Adam,” as his congregation at Christ Church: Portland calls him, was well suited for such a mission. Young, familiar as much with Tumblr as with theological tomes, and a former director of faith mobilization for the ONE Campaign, the antipoverty group cofounded by U2’s Bono, Mr. Phillips brought a charisma and enthusiasm common to generations of evangelical ministers.
Phillips is also part of a growing movement of young Evangelicals who have come to support the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Christians in the church, including in leadership positions, he says. Though he does not perform same-sex marriages, which are strictly forbidden by his denomination, he has advocated that traditional church teachings on what he has called “celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage” be extended to, and expected of, LGBT Christians as well.
Because of these views, he says, in early February, leaders of the Chicago-based Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), a denomination begun by Swedish Pietists in 1885 and which ordained Phillips in 2007, told their church-planting pastor that they would no longer support his ministry. They withdrew their commitment of $150,000 a year for three years.
Across America, many Evangelicals, estimated to be about 25 percent of the US population and a potent political force, have been grappling with the swift-moving cultural changes that have transformed attitudes about LGBT people and have so far made same-sex marriage legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C.
As a group, Evangelicals remain by far those most opposed to same-sex marriage in the United States, a Pew Research poll found last September. But over the past decade, support has nearly doubled among this mostly conservative segment of Christianity. In 2004, 11 percent of white evangelical Protestants expressed support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry. By 2014, a younger generation of Evangelicals had pushed this figure to 21 percent, according to the Pew survey….
As a faith tradition, Evangelicals have defined themselves for centuries with a high view of the integrity and authority of Scripture. In both the Old and New Testaments, most argue, the Bible is clear in its condemnation of same-sex relationships as an affront to the natural, God-ordained order of human sexuality, expressed only within the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman.
“Some people want … [to] take a surgeon’s scalpel to the Word of God,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, in a response to the movement last year. He accuses the movement of trying to reinterpret “what the Bible clearly calls immorality.”
“This is infidelity to the gospel we’ve received,” Mr. Moore continues. “First of all, no one refusing to repent of sin – be it homosexuality or fornication or anything else – will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). This strategy leaves people in condemnation before the Judgment Seat of Christ, without reconciliation and without hope.”
– The Trumpet Online –