What gives the debate over same-gender relationships such compelling power in the church?

Why does this argument dominate current discourse for so many Christians? What is it about this disagreement that continues to generate so much energy in the pew and in the pulpit?

The fight over the status of people in same-sex relationships has spanned my entire life as an ordained person working in the church. It has gone on for at least the last 35 years. Even as the world outside the church seems to have settled in a place of complete acceptance of same-gender sexuality, the church continues to thrash around on this issue as if the sky will fall if we get the answer wrong.

Do we keep fighting this battle because, when we discuss homosexuality, we are talking about sex and everyone has strong feelings around human sexuality?

Do we argue with such vehemence over this issue because, if we get the wrong answer on this one moral question, we fear the whole house of cards that is our worldview and our theology will come tumbling down?

Are we are driven to pursue this question by our passion for social justice and the equality of all people?

Or, could it be, is it possible that the thing that gives this debate such staying-power in the church might have something to do with money?

American Christian Reformed Evangelical theologian, author, and Presbyterian pastor Kevin DeYoung entered the same-sex debate on 1 July 2015 with an exhaustive – some might saying exhausting – list of “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags.” The questions are clearly intended to be a slam-dunk aimed at stumping any Christian who has joined the hordes of rainbow flag-waving supporters of the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

The thing that interests me more than Mr. DeYoung’s “40 Questions” is their presentation on his blog at: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/07/01/40-questions-for-christians-now-waving-rainbow-flags/

If you follow this link, you will find, prominently displayed in a sidebar on the right, a list of 11 books authored by Mr. DeYoung each conveniently linked to Amazon.com for easy purchase.

Mr. DeYoung’s list of questions has been masterfully answered by Ben Irwin at: http://benirwin.me/2015/07/02/40-answers-kevin-deyoung-gay-marriage/. Mr. Irwin is a little less prolific than DeYoung. But you will notice on Irwin’s blog he too has prominently displayed an advertisement for a book he is trying to sell.

[Zach Schneider has also made thoughtful responses to Mr DeYoung’s 40 Questions at: https://schneid.io/blog/40-answers-from-a-christian-waving-rainbow-flags.html. But Schneider does not appear to be selling anything.]

Even in my own tiny little corner of the blog world, raising “the gay issue” is a sure-fire way to increase my views. The average views per day on this blog is generally around 250. On Friday 3 July, after posting “Why Is God Against Same-Sex Marriage?” I had 430 views. So far today the views on IASP have reached 990.

[nb: in case you might be tempted to think that 990 was some strange anomaly on Saturday 4 July, views for Sunday 5 July soared to 2,020]

Now I am not trying to sell anything. But, if I was hawking a book on this blog, going from roughly 250 views a day to over 900 views in one day would be a tantalizing incentive to add my voice to this endless conversation.

When, ten years ago, the parish I serve refused to exclude people in faithful, monogamous, life-long same-sex relationships from exercising leadership in the church, we lost one third of our families. There is no doubt it would have been economically advantageous to have categorically affirmed the traditional conservative view on homosexuality.

Certainly World Vision back in 2014 suffered dire financial consequences when they dared to get the “wrong answer” on the gay debate: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/world-vision-reversal/

Churches that have defined themselves by their stance on a particular issue of sexual morality are going to suffer if they suddenly shift their position. It is safe and economically beneficial for such communities to stand their ground even as the ground crumbles under their feet.