One of the few prominent evangelical/fundamentalist pastors who has largely stayed out of political hankering has dipped his toe into those waters--and in one of the ugliest ways possible. John MacArthur pastors Grace Community Church in the San Fernando Valley and hosts the daily radio show "Grace to You." He has a sterling reputation in the evangelical community, and his show has been a ratings juggernaut on Christian radio for decades.
Last week, MacArthur got a letter from a listener who wanted to know what to do after one of her kids came out as gay. MacArthur's advice? Unless that child "repents," he or she should be completely disowned and isolated. Watch here.
MacArthur says that if a parent finds out his or her child his gay, that parent has to completely shun them and "turn them over to Satan." I've seen some pretty ugly rants against gays before, but this has got to be one of the worst. If there's any difference at all between the spirit of this message from MacArthur and the spirit of Westboro, I'd like to know--because I sure don't see any.
When Benjamin Corey, a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary and the author of the "Formerly Fundie" blog at Patheos, found out about this, he hit the ceiling. In a rebuttal, Corey pointed out how inconsistent fundies are about shunning.
One of the key passages folks use to support shunning comes from 1 Corinthians 5– the unfortunate truth, however, is that Paul lists several sins he thought were shun-worthy. Folks like MacArthur have lifted sexual immorality out of that passage while completely ignoring the rest of what Paul taught.
Because it would be horribly inconvenient to actually practice this verse. In it, Paul teaches that we are to have nothing to do with Christians who are… greedy.
Which in America, is a whole lot of us. I wonder if MacArthur would also suggest you shun an adult child who makes $200,000 a year but doesn’t tithe or give any of their money to charity? Somehow, I doubt it.
Corey then ticks off a laundry list of people who should be shunned if we were to really practice that verse. Probably explains why it's applied so selectively. To his mind, the only appropriate response to someone who comes out as gay is to "walk across the room, give them a big hug, and tell them that you’re always going to love them." Couldn't agree more.