conservative christian

The Specter of 'Normalization'

Image via Rene Bach / Flickr / RNS

In the fight over gay rights, conservative Christians have a new enemy. No, it isn’t a politician or activist or organization. It isn’t a noun at all, but rather a verb: normalize.

In Albert Mohler’s forthcoming book, “We Cannot Be Silent : Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, & the Very Meaning of Right & Wrong,” the president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., discusses the normalization of same-sex relationships a whopping 39 times.

“The normalization of homosexual relationships and the legalization of same-sex marriage” is, in Mohler’s words, “the debate of greatest intensity of our time.”

Jennifer Knapp Makes a Case for Being Gay and Christian in Upcoming Book

Jennifer Knapp is as shocked as anyone with her newfound role. RNS photo courtesy Fairlight Hubbard for Eye Photography.

Four years ago, when musician Jennifer Knapp declared to the world that she was a lesbian, some of the conservative Christians who had purchased 1 million of her albums expressed outrage and disappointment.

At the time, Knapp had already been on a seven-year professional hiatus and declared she was not interested in being a poster girl for the gay Christian community. Neither did she feel equipped.

“I’m in no way capable of leading a charge for some kind of activist movement,” Knapp told Christianity Today in 2010.

But her sense of readiness has apparently changed. Simon & Schuster is preparing to release a book by Knapp in October titled “Facing the Music: Discovering Real Life, Real Love, and Real Faith.”

A New Way of Being Christian in the Public Square

Three decades ago, the evangelical faithful was galvanized by public debates over abortion, the size of the federal government, the future of the traditional family, and religious liberty. Many responded by following divisive leaders into the culture wars with the promise that voting for "moral" leadership would end abortion, protect traditional marriage and put our country on the right track.

How did that work? Not so well, it turns out.

Joyless Christians and The Lord of the Rings

My favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings are the Ents -- an ancient race of giant living, talking, breathing trees in J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional land, Middle Earth. I have a little confession to make: Whenever I hear a reading from Isaiah 55 where it says, "The mountains and hills before you shall burst into song and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands," I always picture the Giant Ents from The Lord of the Rings. And then I picture these clapping trees from Isaiah holding little Hobbits in their branch arms in what ends up a willful conflation of Middle Earth and Major Prophet.