Saturday, 8 July 2017

More on John Stevens' capitulation

Following on from

I came across John Stevens' opposition to "gay marriage", just 5 years ago at There are also some quotes at

The gay community is a tiny percentage of the population as a whole, but they exercise inordinate power through their vociferous lobbying.
In the post, he calls the proposals for "gay marriage": "Wrong", "Unnecessary", "Dishonourable", "Arrogant", "Opportunistic", "Unpopular", "Insidious", "Dangerous".

Yet now, just five years later, he opposes "those that have consistently stood against the grant of any civic rights and freedoms to the LBGT community", and distances himself from them, as if they were third parties. He continues "It is hardly surprising that the gay community is suspicious of the political objectives of evangelical Christians. Christians need to adopt a political philosophy that is appropriate for a genuinely plural society that encompasses both believers and unbelievers." Yet, who are these third parties that Stevens critiques? Himself! Does he really think that what he calls "the gay community" (or to use a more Biblical perspective: a mob of those bent on serious evil) are going to read him calling their agenda "Wrong", "Unnecessary", "Dishonourable", "Arrogant", "Opportunistic", "Unpopular", "Insidious", "Dangerous", and then not be suspicious of his "political agenda"? Really?

We should never repent of following Biblical teaching. Stevens has shifted his position, but under the guise of criticising other, unnamed evangelical Christians who have held to that Biblical teaching. In 2012, he correctly called the campaign for rebranding and promoting gross sexual immorality as "marriage" accurately, according to what it is - wrong, unnecessary, dishonourable, arrogant, opportunistic, unpopular, insidious, dangerous. In 2017, he says that people who speak like this are a danger to the Christian church, and that it is "urgent" (his word) to "advocate for a truly plural society in which they value the rights and freedoms of other communities as well as their own."

Is there not something deeply "dishonourable" about doing a 180 on your position, under the guise of criticising third parties who continue to say precisely what the Christian church has always said, what you said until a short time ago, and neglecting to explain that the position that you are criticising was your own position? Yes, there is. Is it not wrong for a shepherd to say that the sheep were wrong to do what he encouraged them to do, without openly explaining that that's what you're doing? Yes, it is. And, as I said yesterday, the rot and compromise on the homosexual issue has now apparently reached into the heart of FIEC, the UK's foremost organisation for independent evangelical churches.

A few short years ago, we had the revolting spectacle of seeing Conservative MPs, who as a majority voted against "gay marriage", then doing a swift 180-degree turn, explaining that they were now for it (because their careers now depended on it), and that their positions had changed. We sigh, we lament, and understand that politicians are politicians. When those with a Christian profession did it (e.g. Nicky Morgan, Tim Farron), we sighed and groaned and cried out to God for mercy. But at least we contented ourselves that conservative evangelical leaders were holding the line. But instead, the leader of the FIEC is advocating that we support the homosexual agenda in society, whilst retreating into the quietness of our churches and hoping that the world will leave us alone there. His goal is that the "gay rights" movement will not be suspicious of his political agenda, and leave him in peace. This goal only developed once he realised that they had the upper hand ... in 2012, when there was still a chance, he spoke very differently. Apparently, his principles depend on the political mood, not on unchanging truths. Sad, sad, so sad. May God have mercy!


Henry said...

Thanks for bringing this to attention.

John said...

Thanks for your comment David. I hadn't been aware of your post before but want to make clear that you have misrepresented my position entirely. (As indeed did Joe Boot but that is for another day). I have never supported the introduction of gay marriage and have consistently argued that it is a violation of the very language of marriage to extend this to same-sex couples. Neither my position nor that of the FIEC has at any point changed. The FIEC position on same-sex marriage is absolutely clear and held by all our pastors and churches. This is not the same as saying that gay members of society should be denied other civic rights, as for example the right not to be discriminated against in the provision of goods and services, except in very limited circumstances where this would offend against another's conscience. There are clearly some organisations that support the recriminalisation of homosexuality, whereas this is certainly not the majority view of UK evangelicals. I hope that you will retract what are inaccurate assertions about my position, which is clear from my breadth of my writing on these issues on my blog. I have certainly not performed a 180 degree turn on gay marriage as you claim,

David Anderson said...

Hi John,

Thank you for commenting. My apologies for taking so long to publish the comment and respond to it.

I am glad to hear that you still hold to an orthodox view on "homosexual marriage". However, I do think that you need to go back and re-read your own post, because, if you have not changed your position on anything at all, then your post really makes very little sense, if that's what you intended to say. I'd go as far as to say that, if I've misrepresented your position, then it's apparently because you did it first!

The first comment that was added on your post - before you apparently deleted all the comments (there were at least three or four there), was by someone *agreeing* with you... or at least, agreeing with what you now say is not your position. I quoted them in my other blog post; they said "A really helpful article. Thanks. It helped me think afresh on what it means to be a pluralist society, and challenged my opinion of some evangelical organisations who advocate and lobby parliament to uphold traditional Christian practices." That's the take-away, from your article, of someone who was sympathetic to what you were saying. But they've also apparently entirely misunderstood you. May I suggest that the trumpet has given a very uncertain sound? The three of us (myself, the sympathetic commentator, and Joe Boot), all read you the same way. Why is that? No matter how many times I re-read your article, I can only find one conclusion: it's because it's what you said, but, apparently don't mean. Or do you?!?

You seem, given your clarification, to have said everything and nothing; to have agreed with everybody and nobody. You present your position as new, and yet also old. You present your position as once that will cause homosexual activists to believe that evangelicals are no longer opposed to them; and you're, at the same time, opposed to the main things they've been campaigning for in recent years. You advocate that we celebrate a plural society with no legal restrictions on homosexual practice; yet also hold that we do not celebrate homosexual practice. We offer no resistance in the public sphere to the homosexual agenda; and yet, at the same time, we teach in our churches that it is a mortal insult against the living God which nobody in the churches should be found to agree with, on pain of church discipline. May I again respectfully suggest that your position, at the very best, is incoherent, and that the sheep need something much better than this from their shepherds?