University of America because of hisrnopen disagreement with Roman Catho-rnHc teachings on sexuaht}’, now teaches atrnSMU. He urged “freedom” on “doubtful”rnissues that are “peripheral” to thernfaith, such as homosexuality.rn”What we have today is an understandingrnof the homosexual orientation thatrnwe did not have before,” Curran said. “Irndon’t see how you can demand celibacyrnof people with a homosexual orientation.”rnHe argued that a truly catholic andrnuniversal Church tries to embrace vastlyrndifferent Christian perspectives.rnJoerg Rieger, who teaches systematicrntheology at Perkins, sounded a similarrntheme. “The presence of gays and lesbiansrnin the Church might provide usrnwith a unique opportunity to thinkrnthrough the question of what really mattersrnin the Church and in theolog}’ today,”rnhe said. “We need to rethink also what itrnmeans to live in committed partnerships.rnAnd we will find that we need to rethinkrnnot only our attitude towards homosexualrnrelationships, but our attitude towards heterosexualrnrelationships as well.”rnAsbury Theological Seminary presidentrnMaxie Drmnam argued that it is notrnsimply homosexuality but the understandingrnof scriptural authority that isrndividing the Church. Asbury, an evangelicalrnWesleyan school near Lexington,rnKentucky, trains ministers in thernMethodist, Nazarene, and SalvationrnArmy denominations.rn”Is it any wonder tiiat our Church is inrnturmoil when men and women preparingrnfor the ministry are being mentoredrnin the faith by persons who disregardrnour founding and primary source documentsrnso as to diminish the Bible asrnGod’s Word?” Dunnam asked. Dunnamrnclaimed that those who have representedrnthis “revisionist stance” have not beenrn”direct and honesf’ about their disagreementsrnwith the Church’s historic beliefs.rn”We are deeply divided over what has becomerna fundamental fault line: the authorit}’rnof Scripture and the person andrnwork of Jesus Christ.”rnDunnam focused on the dangers ofrndoctrinal pluralism, which claims that “allrnroads lead to Cod,” contradicting bothrnScripture and the “central understandingrnof the church” for 2,000 years. “Doctrinalrnpluralism is an untenable principle tornguide us. It will divide or render impotentrnthe Church as a saving force.”rnMuch of mainline Protestantism hasrnindeed been rendered impotent, culturallyrnand spiritiially. The debate over homosexualityrnis just one example of therntheological turmoil. But not every kneernhas bent toward Baal. The battie is farrnfrom over, and those who resist modernrnsexual fashion within the churches mayrnnot only prevail; their witness for classicalrnChristian beliefs regarding sexual moralityrnmay reinvigorate appreciation for allrnof Christian orthodoxy.rnMark Tooley is a research associate at thernInstitute on ReUgion and Democracy inrnWashington, D.C.rnLiberal Slanderrnby David MillsrnAt events such as tlie Episcopal Church’srnGeneral Convention, held last Julyrnin Denver, traditional believers get slanderedrnin all sorts of ways, most of them indirectrnbut effective. (And the most energeticrnapostles of inclusivit}’, dialogue, andrnopenness never, ever call the slanderersrnto account.)rnIssues, a daily one-page sheet of commentary,rnprovided several examples. Itrnwas put out by a group called the “Coalition,”rnwhich included the homosexualistrnlobby Integrit)’, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship,rnthe Episcopal Women’s Caucus,rnthe Union of Black Episcopalians,rnthe Episcopal Environmental Network,rnand five similar groups.rnAlthough there is no logical connectionrnbetween pacifism and homosexualitv,rnto be a member of the EpiscopalrnPeace Fellowship seems to entail supportingrnIntegrit)’, and to join the Unionrnof Black Episcopalians —black Episcopaliansrnhave traditionally been a ratherrnconservative group—is to endorse the extremernfeminism of tlie Episcopal Women’srnCaucus. I suppose the connection is thatrnthe Coalition represents the different interestsrnof the political left, rather than anyrncoherent theology.rnSometimes, the insults are deliveredrnindirectly. As religion columnist TerryrnMattingly reported, when one conservativerngroup launched a campaign with thernheadline “God’s love changed me,” givingrnthe testimonies of people who hadrnbeen healed of all sorts of problems (includingrnactive homosexuality), liberal activistsrntook to wearing shirts saying “Opposernhate language, no matter how it isrndisguised.” As Mattingly put it: “Write itrndown—healing equals hate.”rnIt might be worth exploring why homosexualrnactivists demand public approvalrn—not just a “don’t ask, don’t tell”rnsort of tolerance, but active, public, officialrnapproval. I wonder, listening to thernintensity and anger with which they demandrnthat the Church bless their unions,rnif they are not trying desperately to suppressrnan inner voice telling them thatrnwhat they do is wrong.rnThe more direct insults are deliveredrnin several forms, some more obvious thanrnothers. First, and most indirect, is therntiresome misinterpretation of conservativernmotives and arguments. This implies,rnwithout explicitly charging, that conservativesrnare either stupid or dishonest.rnIn one day’s Issues, the president of Integrity,rn”openly gay priest” (their words)rnMichael Hopkins, was quoted as sayingrnthat “We are tired of being told that thernEpiscopal Church does not ordain gaysrnand lesbians.” By the passive “beingrntold,” he meant being told by moral conservatives;rnby “are tired,” that conservativesrntell this lie over and over again.rnI don’t know of anyone who has everrnclaimed that, as a matter of fact, the EpiscopalrnChurch does not ordain homosexuals.rnEven when we didn’t know whornwas in the closet, everyone knew thatrnthere was a closet, and some had the depressingrnknowledge that it was a ratherrnlarge closet.rnThis claim —one of the more popularrnof the homosexualist arguments —is anrnattempt to confuse the matter of whetherrnthe Church ought to ordain such peoplernby making the practice seem normal andrneven normative. If the Church has alwaysrnordained homosexual people, somernwill think, publicly admitting the fact byrnofficially approving the practice will notrnmake much difference.rnThe second form of indirect insult isrnthe display of liberal sensitivity and godliness,rnwhich has as a corollary the insensitivityrnand ungodliness of conservatives.rnThe possibility that conservatives mightrnsimply have a different understanding ofrnright, wrong, and the human good cannotrnbe acknowledged.rnDuring the Convention’s long debatesrnon homosexuality, speakers would say,rnusually with puzzlement in their voices,rn”Wliat is the danger of saying ‘yes’ to thernlove of one person for another?” (ThernConvention gave its approval to “couplesrnin the Body of Christ who are livingrnin other life-long committed relationships”rn—not only homosexual marriagesrnbut other irregular sexual liaisons.)rn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn