White conservative evangelicals in the U.S. are very quick to distance themselves from any individual, organization, or company that is willing to break from the "traditional" U.S. evangelical belief that being gay is a sin.
A couple of months ago, World Vision's U.S. branch announced its policy, already in place for several months, to hire gay Christians who are legally married. The reaction from white conservative evangelicals was swift, and World Vision reportedly lost 10,000 child sponsorships in two days. The organization quickly reversed itself to stop the bleeding.
Last month, Matthew Vines published a book through Convergent Books, titled God and the Gay Christian. According to its Chief Publishing Executive, "Convergent Books is a relatively new imprint that is one of the Crown Publishing Group’s religious publishing lines. WaterBrook Press and Multnomah Books are sister imprints of Convergent Books, within the Crown Group, as is Image Books, a Catholic-interest imprint, all four of which" are overseen by the same Chief Publishing Executive. Predictably, white conservative evangelicals were not happy with the release of the book.
Last week, Christianity Today reported that Multnomah resigned its membership in the National Religious Broadcasters because Multnomah shares employees with Convergent. Multnomah itself did not publish Vines' book. Ruth Graham shared her thoughts on Twitter:
So, this is a clear message from at least one pocket of evangelicalism: Absolutely no room for disagreement on the issue of homosexuality.— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) May 16, 2014
I've interviewed @VinesMatthew 2x & he's thoroughly respectful of evangelicalism. He told me he calls himself a theological conservative!— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) May 16, 2014
So it's remarkable to see such a forceful rejection of him by other theological conservatives. No room at the inn.— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) May 16, 2014
This phenomenon is not limited to the U.S. Last year, British evangelical Steve Chalke revealed in Christianity Magazine that he does not believe that the Bible condemns same-sex relationships. Chalke is a major evangelical is the U.K. The Evangelical Alliance, which is the umbrella organization for evangelicals in the U.K., removed Chalke's ministry from its membership because of Chalke's views.
The evangelical gatekeepers have made it clear: even if you can check the right theological boxes, you will not be welcome in their tribe if you do not toe the line on LGBTQ issues. Gatekeepers will swiftly ensure that their tribe is opposed to same-sex marriage, or any other break from the belief that being gay is a sin.
However, with regard to the recent sexual abuse lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries ("SGM"), many white conservative evangelicals are quick to claim that no one should be guilty by association. There is no radical break like we see with people and companies that make a move, no matter how small, toward accepting our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. While I do not agree with the swift boundary-policing exhibited by the U.S. and U.K.'s white evangelicals, it is telling that those same groups fail to quickly distance themselves from SGM, who covered up horrendous abuse.
A conservation on Twitter yesterday, led by Emily Maynard, is a great example of this double standard. Maynard grew up Reformed and is very familiar with SGM. She shared her disgust after a youth group leader at an SGM-affiliated church was convicted of sexually abusing young boys:
All of the leaders & pastors I grew up with disgust me now. Keller, Piper, Mahaney, Gregg/Josh Harris talk holy until kids are abused.— Emily Maynard (@emelina) May 18, 2014
Maynard was criticized for "lumping together" these pastors. She responded:
@stephenedwardc Keller's in the same circles. They are ALL connected. Through books, speaking gigs, conferences, supporting ministries etc.— Emily Maynard (@emelina) May 18, 2014
The Gospel Coalition has been silent on the SGM lawsuit, because, in their own words, "[w]e are not in a place to adjudicate all the charges leveled against Sovereign Grace Ministries or the specific individuals named in the lawsuit."
It's interesting that many evangelical groups are quick to break ties with anyone who does not believe that being gay is a sin, yet are cautious and claim that it's not their right to "adjudicate" when it comes to sexual abuse of children. Evangelical gatekeepers have made another thing clear: sexual abuse and the subsequent cover-up is acceptable within their tribe.