Julie Rodgers, Tyler Huckabee and Their Mistake about Jesus

By Owen Strachan Published on July 16, 2015

In the last couple of weeks, Tyler Huckabee, a former editor of Relevant magazine, and Julie Rodgers, until very recently a counselor at the Wheaton College chaplain’s office, both publicly endorsed same-sex relationships. Both Huckabee and Rodgers are witty, winsome and resolute. They are also mistaken.

Huckabee shrugged his shoulders at the whole thing. “I’m not trying to be liberal here. I’m not trying to be cool, or falling in with faddish theology.” Points for millennial self-awareness. So too for the slacker leadership style: “I am simply thinking of the LGBTQ men and women of the world and trying to find a good reason for God to condemn them to a life without love. I am hard pressed to find them.”

A 30-year-old graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Huckabee chided the apostle Paul for his low view of sex: “This is a rather dim view of sex, which isn’t all that surprising, considering Paul. He seemed hugely unbothered by anything that wasn’t strictly spiritual.” Perhaps this is my overweening traditionalism speaking, but my ears always perk when I see a millennial who writes about Marvel comics publicly tweak an apostle whose ministry for Christ led to his beheading.

Rodgers described her newfound views as part of an evolving narrative: “Though I’ve been slow to admit it to myself, I’ve quietly supported same-sex relationships for a while now. When friends have chosen to lay their lives down for their partners, I’ve celebrated their commitment to one another and supported them as they’ve lost so many Christian friends they loved.”

She noted that most of her peers didn’t despise her, but were simply misled: “I don’t think this happens because anyone hates gay people. Most of the Christians I know love gay people.”

Later, her tone shifted: “The fire I’ve come under (publicly and privately) as I’ve sought to live into the traditional ethic causes me to question whether this is about genuinely held beliefs or straight up homophobia. I say this with nothing but sadness: the kind of discrimination my friends and I have experienced as celibate gays makes me lean toward the latter.” In Rodgers’s view, homophobia, not genuinely held beliefs, has caused discrimination. It is hatred of gay people that drives them into the shadows.

Jesus the Example

Huckabee and Rodgers make the same argument: it is unloving to require people who experience same-sex attraction (SSA) to remain celibate. (They don’t take as a practical option marrying someone of the opposite sex.) To do that is to consign them to life without joy, without companionship, without happiness. In opposing their wish to enter a same-sex relationship per the clear witness of texts like Romans 1:26-27, we drive them into despair and the arms of the LGBT community.

It is surely true that celibacy is a difficult road. We should empathize with all who yearn for union but cannot find it. If we hear the testimony of individuals who experience only same-sex attraction and just correct their views, we disobey Christ’s call to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). The ground for compassion is the incarnate Christ, who entered into our sorrows and wept at a fallen world (John 11:35).

But Christ does not only minister to us poor sinners. He sets an example for us. The argument that biblically faithful Christians deny people with SSA the opportunity to be loved neglects much, including Christ’s own model. Jesus did not marry. Jesus did not father children. Jesus lay by himself at night, with no one to warm him. In terms of a spouse, he had no inside jokes to share, no walks to take, no hand to hold, no anniversary to remember. If ever a single person feels strange for being unmarried, they may know that Jesus lived that same life.

The life of Christ was not easy, but he was the happiest man who ever lived. He drew disciples to himself. He poured out his life for the needy and desperate. He had close friends. By his blood, he created a family, a church, ensuring that all who came to him for salvation would never walk alone, but enter into a community that stretches over every boundary of the earth. The tired, the rejected, the prodigal, the baby choking on its blood in the wilderness — all these have a home, a name, and a future in Christ (Ezek. 16).

This is the truth: a single man crucified for loving sinners has not only welcomed them as friends, but has joined them in marital covenant (Eph. 5:22-33). He is the head, the husband, and we follow him, the bride. All believers who are unmarried in this life will not remain so. Every day their feet hit the floor, they are one step closer to eternity, to full union with their Savior, to the furious unleashing of love that cannot be stopped and will never end. If Jesus, the son of God, could live all his days as a single person, we know that such a life must indeed be enchanted.

The Counterfeit Version and the Real Christ

Among the numerous points made by Huckabee and Rodgers that are worth engaging, their theology of love gets my attention. Love is not complete, it seems, unless one is married or in a relationship. While I empathize with this struggle, I fear that these writers — and the many folks who are liking their posts — have lost sight of Christ, both his earthly example and his heavenly union.

The culture tells those pulled toward homosexuality that it has great things to offer them: affirmation and friendship and a community. Traditional Christianity, it says, offers them only judgment and loneliness. This can seem persuasive, but it’s a counterfeit version of human flourishing. See what the Church, the true community, holds before us all: Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Christ, who bore our sins on the tree. Christ, a single man who never tousled his child’s hair, who shared no marital intimacy, who knew none of the joys and struggles of earthly marriage.

Christ, who tasted the greatest love there is, the love of the Father, and who offers that same love to orphans, and widows, and people just like you and me, sinners all.

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  • Dean Bruckner

    Just so; thank you!

  • Owen,

    Let me say right up front that I know nothing about you, and therefore am not writing, here, about you (mostly, or knowingly). I will also concede that I do not know how many singles will agree with me and how many will vilify me. It doesn’t really matter. On the point of this one question, alone, when it comes to married people, I give very little weight to their opinions on how to live the single life; they are not single and do not know what it is like. They go home to their spouse, have union with them, and then wonder why we find it so hard to live without that. In their efforts to uplift and encourage and exhort, I have been belittled by even close friends, who simply do not understand.

    What is worse still is those congregations that insist on having their “singles” group led by a married person, who will inevitably try to wax expositational on the blessings and joy of the very life they fled, given the chance to marry. Like it or not, one of the first things that God said was, “it is not good for the man to be alone,” and the context of that is in His divine presence, so that part of your article falls a little short and, to this life-long single man, comes off a little hollow.

    Oddly enough, I do not like having people set me up with others, because those others, inevitably, are people THEY approve of, rather than being someone that would fit me, and then they get all upset when I don’t turn cartwheels at their efforts. If they want to keep an eye on me, that’s fine—from a distance. If God wants someone to be my mate He is perfectly capable of getting that one into my life without their help—or interference. I also find that He is remarkably talented at removing those He does not intend for me—again, without outside help or interference.

    You are right that Jesus Christ can lead us through our life, and that is why I strive to stay as closely under His wing as is possible for me to be—and why I trust Him rather than them.

    And lest people think that I hold myself too highly, allow me to close with this (that might still have a slight chance of appearing on video someday soon):

    Thy Sweet Heart

    Why would I receive a gift so fine
    A treasure beyond worth?
    Why would such a wretch as I have been
    Be treasured upon the earth?
    Am I only imagining,
    Or am I hearing clear,
    That the Creator of all would give
    To me a gift so dear?

    I have ever been so targeted
    By demon spawn of earth
    That I still shrink down within myself
    From one of priceless worth.
    And I have waited oh so long
    In hope beyond my reach
    That I still do fear imaginings
    When Thou would gift to me!

    Lord, how many times have I passed by
    The gift of Thy sweet heart
    By the fear that has so reigned within
    I miss how great Thou art?
    And, oh, would you make it clear to me
    And undeniable
    That my blinded heart should see again
    This gift from Thy sweet heart?

    Oh, Lord, take away my blindness, Sir,
    And let me see again!
    Oh, Lord, let me know that precious gift
    That comes from Thy sweet heart!
    And leave me not in agony
    To suffer all alone
    But, Sir, lead me to that precious gift
    That comes from Thou alone!

    For Thy Savior Lamb did die for me
    Upon Thy cov’nant tree!
    When Thy precious Jesus Thou would give,
    What wouldst Thou hold from me?
    Lord, make it ever clear to me,
    Should this be from Thy hand,
    That the Savior Christ would give to me
    This gift from Thine own hand!

    ©2015 William F. Maddock,
    Published here by permission of the author

  • billdamon

    So… gay people should not be able to pursue their love because Jesus was happy and single? I’m not sure how this has any relevance to the argument at all. With all my heart I believe that Jesus loved everyone. The people that wrote and interpreted the Bible clearly did not. I will will side with Jesus’ love on this one.

    • me, myself & I r all here

      so….. you become the authority for the interpretation of Scripture, 2000 yrs of history & the inspired authors…. What a bunch of papal bull

      • billdamon

        Thanks! I appreciate the feedback. Do you think Jesus didn’t love everyone?

        And there’s many, many authors and scholars that agree with my sentiment.

        • zk1019

          Loved everyone? Yes. But that doesn’t mean He loved everyone in the same way, or that there is any such division between Jesus Himself and the inspired authors.

          As for what Jesus being happy and single has to do with the argument, it shows that a sexual relationship is not necessary to experience a life of love and happiness, and that is true regardless of one’s orientation.

          But to be more specific, when it came to marriage, Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 strongly imply that for Him, there are only 2 avenues for human sexuality that are God-endorsed and God-honoring – 1) Monogamous, heterosexual marriage or 2) celibacy. There is really no other valid conclusion from Jesus’ words there, and remember, that’s Jesus talking. You’re certainly free to disagree with Him and reject His argument, but please don’t act like Jesus was ok with our “anything goes so long as consent is present” sexual ethic or drive a mythical wedge between Him and the Biblical authors.

  • Roy Fuller

    “he (Jesus) was the happiest man who ever lived” – where exactly is the biblical support for this claim? I might want to think Jesus was happy, but what is the point of this claim?

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