The watchdogs of Redeemer Church in NYC have noted Tim Keller’s response to questions in a public forum about homosexuality and gay marriage. The exchange came at the end of the interview and according to the Bayly’s transcribing powers went like this:
Lauren Green (interviewer): As a church, how should we as Christians and how should the church view gay rights and gay marriage?
Tim Keller: The Minister of the Word: Ha! I would definitely say this is time to come to a conclusion! (Laughter).
I would definitely say… a thoughtful Christian Biblical response doesn’t fit into any of the existing categories out there. It’s not a simple matter of saying there should be no moral differentiation between any kind of sexual activity. Christians can’t go there–they can’t say, “no it doesn’t matter.”
It’s also true however, that this is a country where we’re supposed to love our neighbor. This is a country where a Christian is supposed to care about a just society for ALL our neighbors whether they believe like we do or not. And that’s gotta mean our gay neighbor.
And I would say people in the more conservative movement don’t really want to talk too much about that because they’re very upset because they feel like the gay agenda is too anti-Christian and too anti-religious.
So I would say–the reason it’s good to end on this question is–it’s not something, the way forward, I don’t see spelled out anywhere in public. I don’t see anybody in public taking all the Biblical concerns about justice and mercy in that area and speaking about them. But I’m certainly not going to get started.
Just to let you know I don’t really think the current options out there–about what we should do–are really the best ones from a Christian standpoint.
The Baylys have tagged this post as “two kingdom, spirituality of the church,” which is interesting because if Keller were truly a two-kingdom fellow he would not have has a hard a time answering this question as this interview suggests. What follows, then, are a few pointers to both the Baylys and to Keller on how a 2k pastor – in New York City, no less — might answer questions about the Ten Commandments:
Reporter: What does your church think about the first commandment?
Pastor 2k: We do not tolerate the worship of Allah in our church, but in a free society many members of our church would support religious liberty for peoples of all faiths and as a session we do not believe that his conflicts with their profession of faith.
Reporter: What does your church teach about the second commandment?
Pastor 2k: Well, we forbid images of God – including Jesus – at our church, but many in our congregation are supporters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which has many depictions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and again our session does not believe it is a sin to go to museums and see such art.
Reporter: What is your church’s policy on the third commandment?
Pastor 2k: We exhort our members not to use God’s name flippantly, or as an expletive, but many of our members go to movies where Christ’s name is taken in vain and no one on the session is forcing them to repent. Some of them also listen to Rush Limbaugh whom I gather sometimes uses the words “damn” and “hell.” While we wish Mr. Limbaugh would not use such words, our session does not forbid members from listening to conservative talk radio.
Reporter: How does your church implement the fourth commandment?
Pastor 2k: We teach that all our members should avoid all forms of work on Sundays, unless they are in vocations such as the law enforcement, medicine, or public utilities. But we are not looking for the implementation of Blue Laws, again owing to the diversity of faiths and peoples who populate the United States and New York City.
Reporter: What does your church consider to be the obligations of the fifth commandment?
Pastor 2k: We do teach our members to submit to Mayor Bloomberg even if they prefer Rudy Guliani’s administration, but we are not about to endorse any party or set of candidates for the government of New York City.
Reporter: What does your church think about the sixth commandment?
Pastor 2k: We teach that murder is a sin, and that even hate is a violation of the sixth commandment – a spiritual hate crime if you will – but we are not about to go out to Citibank Stadium and tell the Mets fans to give a brotherly kiss to the Phillies fans who come up to see their team play. Please get real.
Reporter: What does your church teach about the seventh commandment?
Pastor 2k: We believe that homosexuality is a sin – as is pornography, adultery, and any form of sexual activity outside marriage. But again we recognize that the state cannot legislate Christian morality, even if some of our members are very concerned about the public policy implications of our currently licentious society. We try to make sure that our own members are living lives that conform to the teachings of Scripture. How the rest of Americans live their lives is not our church’s responsibility even though we proclaim all of God’s word weekly and publicly and call upon all New Yorkers to repent and believe.
Reporter: What is your church’s practice on the eighth commandment?
Pastor 2k: We believe that stealing is wrong but we are not convinced as a session that high tax rates are a form of robbery.
Reporter: How does your church handle the ninth commandment?
Pastor 2k: We do require our members to defend the honor of fellow members and their neighbors. But we also believe that if we name sins, address all people as sinners, and call them to repentance, we are not dishonoring their good names or reputations.
Reporter: What does your church do with the tenth commandment?
Pastor 2k: We teach our members and visitors to be content with their station in life and not envy the prosperity of others. This did not lead us to warn our members away from watching the royal wedding.
2k is complicated, but it doesn’t tie its pastors in knots.