As you know, for Christians, embedded in the quest for civil and sacramental rights for LGBT people is the quest to reclaim Christianity from those who have perverted it into something that is frequently diametrically opposed to the only Gospel to be found in Christianity: The Gospel of grace (God's unmerited favor to us), faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances), love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness. Those who have twisted, perverted, the Gospel, the Good News, into a legalistic, perfectionistic, exclusionary, and censorious construction of their own twisted mind-sets, have, unfortunately, been given the credibility by the media and by many of their followers, to define Christianity for others; they have made an an indellibly destructive impact upon Christianity that may never truly be avoided or transcended for the foreseeable future.
These perverters of the Gospel have turned away countless intelligent, sensitive, decent people from Christianity; have given Christianity a bad name because what they espouse has not only absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, but is frequently diametrically opposed to Christianity as seen in the words, life, and ministry of Jesus Himself! Indeed, the situation has gotten so bad, that even some committed Christians have sought to avoid the term, "Christian," or have actually renounced that term, in favor of some other designation, as they don't, understandably, want to be associated with the perverters of the Gospel. However, I refuse to abdicate and relinquish the name "Christian," as I also refuse to renounce the term "evangelical," and allow them to be handed over to those whose exclusionary rhetoric and actions spit in the face of Christianity and of Jesus Himself!
The following is a comment I made on the weblog of the Emergent Village, a site devoted to moving quite beyond what passes for Christianity in most of the organized Church. My comment was directed to the question posed as to why more Christians don't respond to "high profile" critics of, for want of a better term, what has been called by many, "progressive Christianity." (I dislike using the term "progressive" in this context, as there is only one Christianity, albeit it certainly has the ability to accommodate varying theological perspectives; yet, these perspectives must, by definition, embody the Gospel, and not some freakish mind-set that promulgates legalism and exclusion!) The following is the comment I made that I thought you might like to read:
"I agree that such terms as “liberal,” “conservative,” “modern,” “post modern,” etc. are useless in trying to come to terms regarding where we feel the Church should be going in following Jesus, rather than in following “traditions that make void the Word of God.” (Matthew 15:3) However, most of the Church as it now stands is on a different wavelength than those of us who have a commitment to what we usually define as the “emergent Church.” We seek to get back to the roots of Jesus and His ministry, rather than adopt the hierarchical, patriarchical, and exclusionary rhetoric and practices of most of the organized Church. We seek to take risks; fight for justice for all people; seek to inject love in the midst of contention; don’t fear contention in order to express love and the need for justice; give of ourselves at the expense of self-exaltation, popularity, and career advancement. In much of these endeavors, we, at this point, don’t seem to share much common ground with those who practice a false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion. We seek to preach and practice the Gospel of grace, God’s unmerited favor to all those who have an abiding trust in Him; ancient cultural and biblical practices have no necessary place in contemporary society and, therefore, it’s inappropriate to seek to impose them on anyone. At this point, I’m afraid, there really is no meeting of the minds between those who are wedded to the status quo and those who are part of the emergent Church. That doesn’t mean that we write anyone off, or that we don’t seek dialogue or common ground. It means that we can’t be optimistic that such common ground will be reached any time soon, nor should it be, if it means compromising on basic tenets of the Gospel that manifest love in the quest for justice for all people; the acquisition of civil and sacramental rights for all people as well, something most of the organized Church is currently loathe to grant."