A Fresher Perspective

One of the people I hold in high regard is Tony Campolo. Tony is one of those guys in the Christian world that everyone has an opinion on. Same favor him and others don’t. He is a lightening rod of sorts and he speaks to issues that others ignore within the church.

Tony, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern College in suburban Philadelphia, is one reason that I pursued Sociology as a second major in college. As a high school student, after reading one of his books, I sat down and wrote Tony a letter about how his book had impacted me. About a month later I received a hand written note from Tony, encouraging me in the pursuit of my young faith. He has always been accessible, honest, and never been afraid to speak his mind. I think if I could score an interview with Tony Campolo it would be the highlight of my SCP career (of course talking to NinjaNun and Jeff on the last podcast would be a close second).

Several years ago, while reading an article in the now defunct magazine “The Other Side” dealing with homosexuality and the church, I ran across a piece written by Tony’s wife, Peggy. It caused me to reconsider and begin to alter my views on the subject away from my deeply ingrained understandings. Her and Tony differ on their views of homosexuality, yet each of them offer such a fresh perspective on the issue that every person needs to hear, especially those that call themselves Christian believers.

Tony’s view of homosexual activity isn’t unlike that of many Biblical conservatives, stating that he believes that the Bible forbids all homosexual activity. Yet, he does not support attempts by the church to “change” gays into “going straight”, but he advises gay people to live celibate lives. He is also very discouraged with the way the church is handling this issue by choosing to often ignore it.

Peggy’s view is much different. She supports monogamous, same-sex relationships and thinks that the church should recognize marriages for gays and lesbians. Peggy is also discouraged and saddened by the church’s handling of this issue and calls for a different approach moving forward.

Tony and Peggy spoke at a meeting hosted by The Shepherd Initiative an organization encouraging the church to address this issue. It is highly informative, entertaining and enlightening with each one taking turns in speaking and sharing their viewpoints.

I broke it apart into two downloads to share with you. In my opinion, these two fine people are at the fore-front of this issue in the way the church should address it, regardless whose viewpoint you feel is the more “correct” one (or maybe you disagree with both). After listening, please feel free to comment, but I want you to limit your comments away from which viewpoint you think is right and why. Please feel free to share what you liked, what motivated you, what challenged you and what caused you to see things from a slightly different angle.

Tony and Peggy Campolo – Part One

Tony and Peggy Campolo – Part Two

16 thoughts on “A Fresher Perspective”

  1. I have seen Tony speak on many occassions, but I had felt that while he was Bill C’s political advisor he had become too much of a celeb and lost touch. There are times he is right on the money, but then other times he’ll come back and say something that is border line heresy. I think he’s brilliant,b ut I wish he were more consistent.

  2. JB,I’m funking certain that we ALL do sinful shit ALL of the time, so WTF is the rub my friend? If a gay person simply admits to God that they can’t change after:1) Having Pentecostals attempt to cast our their “foul demons of homosexuality”2) Having Fundy Baptists drag their ass to the alter and force repentance 15-quadbillion times3) Having erudite Presbyies with 5 PhD.s counsel them silly with no change in orientation4) Joining the Emergent Conversation and realizing that _some_ of the folk behind it are little more than a reconstituted amalgamation of 1)-3)… then maybe (like the rest of us) they just have to cast themsevles on Christ’s mercy and struggle with “messy spirituality” for the remainder of their earthly life. That’s what I’m doing and I’m not stuck with the gay stigma – only what is probably the “next worst” thing in the eyes of many fundies – being D&R.I’m mean dude, get real, the last time you wanked and thought for just a split second about your sexy neighbor, or that fine young thing you saw at the mall, you’re just as “busted” as the rest of us. Right? Christ said it, There ain’t no one good except God alone!

  3. Nonotone, I don’t understand. I don’t have a rub here. My comment to Dorsey was simply to state what you’ve said, in a way. We should treat people like people, even if we know they are sinning because WE SIN TOO, and we want to be treated like people.I don’t want to fight and argue about sin. I’m tired of it right now, and it’s pointless in regards to how we should treat one another. Since how we treat one another is really what everyone here is interested in (and not theology, etc.), then I will refrain here from that discussion.I’m really just enjoying hanging out. By the way, a good book for you to help sort things out right now might be <>revolution<> by George Barna.Peace.

  4. OK. I can agree with that and take it a step further. We should accept people as people even if we are certain what they’re doing is sinful. Love you Dorse!

  5. The first time I heard Tony speak, he said something that stuck with me: “You are as old as your cynicism and as young as your dreams.” I wrote him a letter telling him that he really encouraged me and he also sent me a letter back with a book encouraging me to keep the faith. He really has encouraged me and many others.

  6. RE: BisexualityMy wife had a good point about this comment…Bisexual means that you are attracted to both sexes, not that you are doing both at the same time. Just because you lean both ways does not mean that you have to be promiscuous (sp?) both ways. When you decide to commit to another person it could be a Steve or a Josh. (Which one is the woman again? ^_^) Single gender folks generally date around before they form their own monogamous relationships too.

  7. <>“…does that also mean there can never be certainty?”<>You mean about this issue? Possibly. The older I get, the more uncertain I become about many things. As soon as I think I have something all figured out, completely nailed down, someone or something comes along that obliterates the security of my position.The thing about which I’m most certain is my place in Christ, and even then,my certainty can be summed up in (get ready to drink) by Mark 9:24, <>“I do believe; help my unbelief.”<> Many Christians are so driven by their need to have everything figured out–every piece of the puzzle in place, that I think they often come to erroneous conclusions. That’s why there’s Calvinism.I don’t think uncertainty is something to be afraid of, especially in issues that should not divide us. Why can’t we accept people as people while we’re sorting it out? My guess is because we’re afraid we might like them, then we have to think of them as people, and that might color our judgement.

  8. What’s clear from all this ..is the best thing a church can do for gay people….is to teach us how to deal with Christians who are pissed off with the stance we’ve taken.If I side with Tony..I’m going to piss off Peggy. If I side with Peggy, I’m going to piss off Tony.If I side with Falwell…I’m going to piss of normal people.If I side with normal people..I’m going to piss off Falwell.Many gay people don’t know how to deal with the negative reactions they can inspire in pastors and fellow congregation members…And that’s not even beginning to think about the people in ‘the world’…like the guy on the train the other night who was repeatedly pointing out to everyone that there were ‘two homo’s’ on the train.So Christians can most be useful by standing with gay people…and showing them how to deal with the taunts, the condemnation, the ill-thought-through rhetoric hurled by dickheads.And the vast majority of stupid church people, including pastors, are VERY stupid about all this.But I think we give up on the idea of church people not being stupid about gay people…and start teaching gay people..how to handle the idiots.I sure could have used that kind of help in my teens and 20’s.But it’s impossible to have a gay orientation without pissing off SOMEBODY in the church.

  9. Many Christians are so driven by their need to have everything figured out–every piece of the puzzle in place, that I think they often come to erroneous conclusions…. That’s why there’s Calvinism. HeHe … and as a serious student of Reformed Theology (Calvinism) – I’ll give a hearty AMEN Dorsey. I don’t know enough (and I won’t in this life) to know if all the conclusions of Calvinism are correct or not. I mean who can really say that THEIR epistemology is flawlesss. There are aspects of Reformed Theology that I really dig and find a great deal of rest for my soul in, however the idea that a bunch of guys who morphed from the European Continent, through the blood spilt in Merrie ole England and the Isles and on to America in Big Pilgrim Hats, have the solid corner on Christian truth looks just a little bit too much like Christian Right Wing Republicans in the 80’s and 90’s in America.I think I need to “join the conversation” and spend some serious time checking out the Emergent Church, since I’ve already put in a couple of serious decades in Pentecostal/Charismatic and Baptistic Fundy circles and found that pretty wanting.Where IN the hell do I belong in all this Christian stuff? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself and taking on extraordinary measures to discover answers to in the past 30 years.

  10. I’ve heard Tony’s side of this before, but not Peggy’s. I haven’t finished listening, but already a couple things leap out. First, the idea that this should not be an issue that divides us. Second, and equally important, is this comment: <>“Parties on both sides must be ready to entertain the possibility, ‘We could be wrong.’ If you don’t do that, there can never be dialogue, there can only be haranguing”<> (examples readily available at my site)<> “… Each has to say, ‘There’s something to be learned from the other side. I have to listen here, because I don’t have the whole truth.'”<> If we would spend more time trying to understand, and less time being fearful that someone might change our mind, we’d make a lot more progress toward even a limited concensus.Thanks a million for putting this up, Steve.

  11. That’s cool JimmyBob, forgive me if what I wrote seemed like a personal attack. It was not meant to be that, just the point that we’re all in the same boat. I really enjoy just hanging out here as well. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve heard a lot about Barna. I’m about to start “Girl Meets God” and “Mudhouse Sabbath” by Lauren Winner. After that I’m gonna check out “Blue Like Jazz” and probably some Emergent Stuff.

  12. Learning to express “trying to understand” is a difficult task. I know it is for me. But, does that also mean there can never be certainty?

  13. I always love that Tony is willing to push the envelope. I think it is funny that in some circles Tony is now considered “old school” or conservative. I don’t think he would have ever thought to be accused of that.

  14. Just finished Part 1. Probably the most important thing that sticks with me is their common ground that homosexuality is not a chosen orientation and that you can’t be counseled out of it. He states that you simply can’t pinpoint how it starts. Actually, the counseling comment scares me. I wonder if Tony believes that God can change orientation. I have a friend who I met in Bible College. He had struggled with homosexuality since high school when a male teacher approached him. Well, he suppressed it and eventually ended up at Bible College. He would come to me and another student that he trusted and talk to us (seperately) about still having those feelings. We loved him, accepted him, and prayed with him. One day he met a girl that he fell in love with and they eventually got married and started a ministry to people with HIV and AIDS. After hearing Tony, I am fearful for them in a way.Tony’s explanation of Moral Code and Purity Law in the OT was very good. I liked the pigskin/superbowl joke! I identified with his analysis of how the church has historically treated the subject of homosexuality, but I still wonder why he claims his argument is weakening. He got claps for that statement because it seems the audience wants him to change his position. However, I found myself wishing he would expound on the writings of the church Fathers and what makes them ambiguous at times.I like what he said about love and justice. That justice is love in the form of social policy (Is that right?). That whole part of the discussion was eye opening for me in understanding some roots of the evangelical movement.From Mrs. Campolo I felt more emotion on the subject. My mind went back to Jr. High and High School. First, there was Aaron. Everyone called him a twinkie because his voice was like a girls and he was very neat. He never had a girlfriend. It seemed that no one was his friend even, except me. I would defend him when people picked on him. People would say he was gay, but I would say, “No he’s not! Leave him alone!” This continued all the way to graduation and then he came out of the closet. I always thought people messed him up.He had a cousin named Shannon. Ya, a guy named Shannon. His voice was saprano! Not kidding, you should have heard him sing in church (ashamedly, it was hard not to laugh, because if you closed your eyes, you really thought you were listening to a female sing). He had the same issues with no one liking him. My brother and I, and my family, treated him with respect. Then, a couple of years after graduation, he left the church and came out of the closet.I don’t know why I just shared those stories other than to say that as Christians, we do have an obligation toward love. That’s what I get most from Mrs. Campolo. We need to speak up.Finally, before I go on to Part 2, I’m not sure I agree with the notion that homosexuals should have all the same rights within the church as heterosexuals do. I am confused slightly by Tony’s position here. If he feels that according to Scripture and historical interpretation that homosexuality is a sin (although he never metions sin, I don’t think), then how can he expect churches to accept it? Also, is he alluding to gay marriage and leadership?Well, one more thing. They include bisexuals in the conversation. If they are only for monogamous relationships, how can they support bisexuality within the church? Maybe I’m missing something.

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