I came across a post by Kevin DeYoung over at The Gospel Coalition entitled Common Fault Lines In The Evangelical Approach To Homosexuality. The content of his post is self-explanatory; he discusses four arguments used to counter the conservative evangelical view of homosexuality. (Full disclosure: I am strongly in favor of gay rights and a reading of scripture that affirms both gay marriage and homosexuality).
I was most intrigued by his second argument, entitled “We Are Hypocrites Because We Aren’t As Passionate About Divorce.”
His response is as follows:
Wehner contends that we “employ something of a double standard” because we do not show the same fierce opposition to divorce, even though it has been far more devastating to society. I’ve written about this before: comparing evangelical attitudes to homosexuality with evangelical attitudes to divorce is comparing apples and oranges..But the analogy with divorce is ultimately misleading.
Furthermore, many evangelical churches are just as staunch in their opposition to unbiblical divorce. I know we take it very seriously at our church. The reason we are not fired up on the blogs about it is because there are no denominational groups I’m aware of rallied around the central tenet that divorce is a blessing from God. The legality of anti-divorce legislation was not recently put before the Supreme Court. There are no Facebook campaigns in favor of unbiblical divorce. Homosexuality is the issue right now, so it’s natural that evangelicals, like everyone else, would be passionate about it.”
I edited his response for the sake of brevity, but feel free to read the whole thing. DeYoung underestimates how much heat the topic of homosexuality has drawn over time. Homosexuality has been the issue for evangelicals for decades. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s I used to skim the messageboards at various Christian sites like Christianity.com, The “Homosexuality” subfolder on these sites dwarfed other topics. It was also the only category on Christianity.com that came with restrictions. You could only participate in discussions about homosexuality if you were against it. Anyone who made a statement in favor of homosexuality or provided a scientific or Biblical argument in favor of homosexuality would get banned from the site and their post deleted. So even with the pro-gay side muted, the topic still dominated the forum.
I understand that The Gospel Coalition is passionate about their views on homosexuality. But what has struck me has been the disproportionate amount of time spent on it, as well as the repetitiveness of the articles it posts about the topic. Not only are there numerous posts arguing against gay marriage or homosexuality itself, but the same arguments are repeated point-for-point ad nauseum.
So I decided to do a little unscientific research. I wanted to know how often the site posted articles about homosexuality and/or gay marriage. And I wanted to compare those numbers to the volume of articles about three other topics: divorce, poverty, and evangelism.
My methodology was as follows: I only counted articles that were specifically about homosexuality, evangelism, etc. I did not count any articles that mentioned these issues as a subtopic. I also did not count any articles that were news items. So the posts announcing the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage were not counted. The posts that analyzed the ruling from a religious context were counted. Since the site has archives that go all the way back to 1996, I simplified my search for sanity’s sake. So I decided to only count results that date back to January 2012.
One of the nice things about The Gospel Coalition’s search engine is that it brings up multiple forms of a given word, so searching “homosexual” brings up articles that include the words homosexuality, homosexuals, etc. This made my research easier.
So for articles about homosexuality, I searched the terms “homosexual” and “gay.”
For divorce, I searched the term “divorce.”
For articles about serving/helping the poor, I searched “poor” and “social justice.”
For articles about evangelism, I searched “evangelism,” evangelize,” and “Great Commission.”
In each example, I cross-checked my results to make sure I wasn’t double-counting, so if an article used the words “homosexuality”, and “gay,” I only counted it once. My results were as follows:
24 articles about the theological case against homosexuality and/or gay marriage.
11 articles about evangelism. Almost half of them were written by Trevin Wax.
5 articles about caring for the poor and/or the Social Justice movement.
4 articles about divorce.
A few additional notes: there were a very small number of articles that mentioned divorce within its text. There were fewer articles that mentioned terms related to the poor. Dozens of articles mentioned evangelism, and the number of articles that mentioned homosexuality totaled 1,100+.
Since a large number of the articles on the site are advice-oriented (i.e. how the church should handle divorce or treat divorcees), one would hope for more input on divorce. So DeYoung’s apples and orange defense falls flat.
And given how hot the discussion over Social Justice and the Christian Left has been recently, there’s no excuse for that topic’s sparse showing, even if they wanted to dissuade people from pursuing Social Justice ideology.
And given the importance of the Great Commission and the constant opportunity for newsworthy items about church outreach and missionaries, the showing for evangelism is embarrassing.
Granted, I know that it’s just one site, but TGC is a major force online, and it reflects the priorities of its churches and readers. Whatever Christians think about homosexuality, the evidence shows that it’s more than just a hot topic. It’s an obsession.