Gagnon | Love or Contempt?

Dr. Robert Gagnon

This past weekend, I attended the Restored Hope Network Conference (RHN)  in Sacramento, California.  They are the new spin-off from Exodus International. When Exodus became more gracious and honest about orientation change, RHN formed in response. I will be writing a three part series with my insights over the next few days. But, first . . .

The day after the conference, I was reading observations and background information on various people and sorting through my  twenty-six pages of notes. I checked the Facebook wall of Dr. Robert Gagnon who had taught and was newly elected to the inaugural Board of the Restored Hope Network. He was the “darling” of the conference, the Bible rockstar.

Gagnon was on both the forming committee for RHN and has been elected to their first Board. He  is also the  perhaps the most aggressive Christian theologian in holding a hard line between grace and law on the issue of  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Christians.

This was publicly posted on his Facebook wall:

First, there is the screaming irony. At the conference, Gagnon taught on how to counter the “innate desire to do what God forbids”. Of course, he is alluding to “homosexual sin.” He did not however apply that teaching to his own innate desires to by-pass and tread on Christian love to scoff at  the LGBT community.

We know from the Apostle James that what comes out of the mouth (or typing fingers), exists in the heart.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3: 9-11

Undoubtedly, Gagnon is a Biblical scholar, but that does not mean he is a man that reflects the heart of God or acts like Jesus would have His followers behave towards the LGBT community. The protestors, the people in San Francisco, the entire LGBT community are his fellow humans, made in the image of God. Unfortunately, Gagnon’s words of superiority often hold the LGBT community in contempt, rather than in care and compassion.

What is in a person’s inner life and  heart will come out as words and deeds. Maturity in God is not measured by the reference books and tomes surrounding a person, but it can be measured by the submission of the tongue (and typing fingers) to the Spirit of God. Can we differ on theology? Sure. But if it is not spoken in a loving way, it is a strong indication of inner issues.

Gagnon has a solid record of disregard towards those that disagree with him and, in particular towards LGBT people to whom he now expects to formally serve in a new ministry. Yowza!

And, just as a point of complete contrast, while Mr. Gagnon was typing his derisive statement, my friends at Freedom in Christ Evangelical Church (FIC) lead by my dear friend, Pastor Maria Caruana, were in San Francisco at the Folsom Street Fair, the “leather” event to which Gagnon referred. FIC is a fellowship of LGBT Christians who have been selfless in their love and service. For the past seven years, they have manned a water and soda booth wearing “Christian + Gay = OK” ® tee shirts and handing out pins and stickers with the same.

They  go to Folsom Street and SF Pride  to evangelize and tell people that Jesus loves them. They invite people to church and back to church. They try to repair the damage done by Law-touting Christians who demand change before God can or will love them. In the words of my lesbian Christian friend, Connie, the people at Freedom in Christ:

tell them  (the festival-goers at Folsom Street) that there is an evangelical church that won’t lie to them, lie about them, abuse them, work against their rights, or require them to change who they love -or lie and get into disfunctional you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me “marriages” – as a condition of receiving the love of Christ, and Christian fellowship.

I worked with my FIC family at the Folsom Street Fair last year. And, it is not a “homosexual debauchery event.” I would assess it to be about 40% heterosexual and, the only sex acts I witnessed taking place in public were heterosexual sex. I spent the day walking around in my “Christian+Gay=OK”® shirt speaking with people and listening to their stories about who they were and why certain kinks drew them in. This is relationship.

Sitting in an ivory tower of reference books, avoiding relationships with gay Christians (yes, there really are gay Christians) is not relationship. Further, the folks outside protesting the event numbered twelve, not seven. What they all had in common was years invested in ministries that told them they needed to change to be acceptable to God, churches, families and society.

Ellen Pontac & Shelley Bailes

Did Gagnon know that two of the “silent protestors” were pioneers for civil right in the State?  Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac were the first legally married couple in Yolo County. They have been in  committed relationship for over three decades and raised a family together in Davis. The list of their many wonderful and selfless deeds speaks volumes about who they are as women, servants and partners. These were just two of the twelve protesters standing for the right to be treated with dignity and equality.

The greatest example of Jesus-in-the-flesh in modern time is Mother Theresa. I am friends with the man who wrote the only authorized biography of her life. I asked him if she were a great Bible scholar and student of Greek and Hebrew. “No”, he told me, “She was a very simple woman who just served, loved and had great compassion on people.”  And she changed lives and affected millions.

I am not impressed by verse quotation, long and boring lectures, epistles written as to why people are wrong and in sin and heretics. I am impressed by those that reflect Jesus, by those that love like Him, by those that know compassion and are willing to suffer alongside their fellow humans made in the image of God.

If the contempt and distance shown by  Gagnon’s post is what we can expect to see coming out of the ministry of Restored Hope Network, oh my God, my God, please, please, save us from your followers.
[Thank you Connie for lighting a fire under me.]

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John Smid says:

Kathy,
Very well written, calm and respectful, yet…. poignant, challenging, and needed.

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Christelle says:

THANK YOU for shining a BIG bright light on this man and his words.

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Jeremy Marks says:

Very well said Kathy. I do love your posts. Always so encouraging.

God bless

Jeremy Marks (Courage UK)

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Kathy | Canyonwalker says:

Thank you, I do know this. I have watched him for years and been victim to the responses as well. He will have to recall me as the delightful smiling woman that he sat next to much of the weekend. It just “happened” that way. God is in the details. Yeah, that cheerful woman taking all the notes while he built his PowerPoint was ME!

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Rick Danielson says:

Kathy, this is a great piece. I don’t know if Robert Gagnon will have access to what you’ve written, but, if so, be prepared for a very lengthy, highly pitched, screeching protest to be published on his site. He is the master of rabid self-defense, and he will undoubtedly have much to say about your observations. They are dead-on, by the way, and well-stated.

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