You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20)
Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs. (Proverbs 19:2)
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Several of my friends pointed me to an article written by J.D. Hall (hereafter JD) that raises concerns about Karen Swallow Prior (hereafter KSP).
The title of the article is “Gay-Affirming Research Fellow at ERLC, Shocking Liberalism.”
“Gay-affirming” is the label given to churches and sometimes individuals who do not consider homosexuality a sin.
KSP makes it quite clear that she considers homosexuality sin.
Her aforementioned position, and clarity, is unquestioned by her closest friends and “opponents.”
Thomas Road Baptist Church, which currently holds KSP’s membership, also considers homosexuality sin.
The title of JD’s post, then, is ill-informed. Misleading. An outright lie.
KSP is not “gay-affirming.”
This post is not a defense of KSP.
JD goes on to write of, “Swallow Prior, who chose to not take a side on the gay marriage issue in an article by New York Magazine.”
Let’s be very clear. The article in question was not written by KSP. She did not have final say on what was included or not included in the article. She was apparently asked questions regarding Liberty University’s response to the SCOTUS decision on same-sex “marriage” (hereafter SSM).
The bulk of quotes from KSP in the article are about the school, not her. In fact the only comment from KSP that references her own views on SSM is as follows.
Prior said she had nearly posted a status update on Facebook about the same-sex-marriage debate recently, but decided against it.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into whether or not I should post something and what it would be,” she said. “But social media isn’t a productive way to engage.”
KSP does not believe posting her response to the SCOTUS decision on FB would be productive.
She explains, “Trying to seriously engage any issue on social media is an always frustrating & mostly fruitless endeavor.”
I’m sorry, that wasn’t KSP.
That was Gene Clyatt, Editor at Pulpit & Pen.
Trying to seriously engage any issue on social media is an always frustrating & mostly fruitless endeavor.
— Gene Clyatt (@Shinar_Squirrel) July 14, 2015
The manner in which JD links to this particular article and attempts to describe its contents leads readers to believe KSP committed some great wrong in not explicitly condemning SSM in an article she did not even write. He implies she refused to provide her views on SSM. That she said something like, “No comment.” Not true.
Easy to see JD went great lengths to provide links to articles involving KSP.
Not as easy to see he knows how to read them.
But wait! There’s more.
JD writes, “The Atlantic ran an article entitled ‘Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University’ and alleged that Liberty University has backed away from vocal opposition to gay marriage. As he ‘came out,’ he lists Karen Swallow Prior (a professor at Liberty) as one who was sympathetic and supportive of his decision.”
The “he” refers back to The Atlantic in the previous sentence, which is not a “he” at all. Apparently JD meant to refer to the gay author of the article, Brandon Ambrosino.
Now, again, the reader likely believes, after having read what JD wrote, that KSP affirmed Brandon Ambrosino in his decision to be gay. But that is not at all what happened. Go read the article for yourself.
First, KSP called the student into her office because she apparently noticed a number of signs that her student was homosexual. Second, the student “came out” to her in the sense that he claimed he was “struggling” with homosexual temptation. Third, KSP wept with the young man, told him that she loved him, that it would be okay, and that he was okay. Fourth, she suggested the young man meet with a counselor.
How would JD have handled that differently?
Would he notice any signs that his congregation struggles with temptations to sin?
Would he avoid asking them into his study?
Would he weep at all with those who weep over their sins?
Would he ignore the opportunity to tell them he loves them?
To tell them that everything will work out for good?
To tell them they are no less human than anyone else?
And no more sinful?
Would he refuse to offer counseling?
Keep in mind KSP is in a university setting. Not a church.
KSP is not a pastor. JD is.
Should he be?
The next “paragraph” JD writes is perhaps the worst one in the whole piece.
In a guest post entitled “Finding Common Ground on Abortion” at Patheos (if the title doesn’t turn your stomach, just read its content) in March of 2015, Swallow Prior desires to drop labels like “pro-choice” and “pro-life” (in the context, this is an interview with Charles Camosy) and seeks to cooperate with Camosy to get a “fresh perspective on the abortion debate [to] help reframe the conversation around reproductive technology, and inspire more helpful responses that address concerns with prenatal life while also addressing the great pain that such technologies aim to alleviate…” Swallow Prior calls Camosy’s book, “refreshing and hopeful ” – and the book argues that “abortion is radically complex” and there is no “conservative position and liberal position.” Swallow Prior gives glowing accolades to the book whose author says that using the term “anti-life” to refer to abortion is a “rhetorical hatchet job.”
How many Southern Baptists would agree with those positions?
Again, let’s be clear. KSP did not write this article. Ellen Painter Dollar wrote the article. Since she wrote the article, she probably chose the title as well. You know…the title that turns JD’s stomach. You know…the title KSP in all likelihood did not write.
JD objects to the “common ground” language. However, finding “common ground” from which to discuss any topic is crucial. Christians disagree within their own ranks, and non-Christians certainly disagree with Christians, as to where this common ground is found. But we must find common ground in order to have any discussion. The alternative is discussing nothing at all. Kind of like they do at Pulp…never mind.
Does KSP desire to drop the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice”? Apparently not, since she begins her interview by using the labels. She says, “I am pro-life and my friend Ellen Painter Dollar, host of this blog, is pro-choice.” In her next question she uses one of the labels again, asking, “What do you think in your book will resonate most with pro-choice readers?” And again in her next set-up for a question, KSP says, “Even so, you remain a committed pro-life Catholic.” Seems fairly clear that KSP doesn’t actually desire to drop the labels since she…uh…uses them throughout the article.
Ah, but more confusion follows.
KSP says, “Of course, as you said above and address in your book, this line of discussion points to the outdatedness of the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ labels. Can you say something more about this?”
Note that KSP is not necessarily endorsing the view that these labels are “outdated.” She is addressing the topic from the perspective of the author to whom she is speaking.
But even if KSP agrees that the terms are outdated, what does it matter? The terms are extremely broad. Are AHA and the GOP both pro-life? Perhaps that question illustrates “the shortcomings of these labels for the abortion debate today”?
KSP’s final question in the interview is restated by JD as though KSP is somehow conspiring with the author she interviews to sucker people into thinking it’s cool to murder babies. Here is what KSP actually asks in that question.
How might a fresh perspective on the abortion debate also help reframe the conversation around reproductive technology, and inspire more helpful responses that address concerns with prenatal life while also addressing the great pain that such technologies aim to alleviate?
JD seems unaware that advances in technology can play a major role in ethical arguments. But much worse, he places words in KSP’s mouth, claiming that she called Charles Camosy’s book “refreshing and hopeful.” Go look at the article. Those words are in the section that begins, “Note from EPD:.” Who is EPD?
“KSP” and “EPD” don’t look anything alike.
I mean, I’m squinting and everything.
Just doesn’t work.
“EPD” stands for “Ellen Painter Dollar.” She is the author of the post. KSP does not give the book any “glowing accolades” in this interview. JD just thought that what EPD wrote was what KSP said. He didn’t follow who was saying what in the article.
And I am sitting on my hands.
Recall the title of JD’s post. We are looking for proof KSP is gay-affirming (despite her many, many claims to the contrary).
JD raises concerns about KSP’s article for Relevant Magazine regarding the “It Gets Better Project.” And yet, KSP never denies that homosexuality is sin in that article.
In fact, her focus is on bullying and suicide.
Even though I can—and do—disagree with Dan Savage’s recent attack on heterosexual monogamy as the gold standard of sexual behavior (despite the fact that too many of us fall far short of that ideal), I can—and do—support any campaign that fights death and gives hope.
She is encouraged that the videos from this project are “all sharing a pro-life message geared toward young people.”
The Church should be thrilled—but it isn’t.
Perhaps I should explain that by “pro-life,” I mean “anti-suicide.” And by “young people,” I mean “homosexual young people.” That just might explain the Church’s less-than-enthusiastic response.
She asks, “what if such a project—an anti-bullying, anti-suicide, pro-hope project—had been initiated by the Church?”
Where does she think such hope is found?
One of the lines in the video is this: “There are a ton of us out here in this world who love you without even knowing you.” That’s powerful.
But what’s even more powerful is that there is a God out there who does know each of us—even better than we know ourselves—and loves us anyway. That’s the hope the Church should be offering these hurting young people. And shame on us for leaving it up to others to offer any hope less than the hope that only Christ can bring.
JD might think all this talk of love and hope in Christ is just a load of emotional garbage.
Sadly, I actually have that concern about JD.
JD might reply that we should focus less on the love and hope found in Jesus Christ and more on the truth that “Jesus warned all of us that our sin will take us to hell for eternity. Jesus talked about hell more than any other topic. He is warning us that it is real…”
Those words were KSP’s, not JD’s.
They were spoken in the context of homosexuality.
So how can KSP be so, well, non-affirming there, and yet write the things she does about the It Gets Better Project?
Were you paying attention?
Her focus is on bullying and suicide.
Concerns about the project’s affirmation of homosexuality can be tempered by the fact that words of encouragement, not condemnation, are necessary in life-or-death situations. My own Baptist pastor agrees. “If you have a jumper on a ledge, you try to talk him down, calming his fears. That is not the time to lecture him on his lifestyle,” he argues. Besides, it’s a lot easier to share the Gospel with a live kid than a dead one.
Just so you know, KSP did not affirm homosexuality in that comment. She grants the concerns of those who complain that the project in question is affirming of homosexuality. But that is not what her article is about. That is not what she is pushing the Church toward. She is focusing on bullying and suicide and offering hope to those who desperately need it.
Still have problems with that? I do too. But the article is not gay-affirming, and that is what JD needs for it to be in order for his article to be an accurate representation of the truth.
KSP is not gay-affirming.
JD will dig some more.
JD’s strongest “argument” is in the form of…well…pictures. KSP is seen smiling between several gay men at an LGBT film festival. The pictures seem to convey that KSP was at the film festival, and that she is capable of smiling while being near and even touching(!) gay men.
And that is basically it.
So why was KSP there? For one thing, she’s an English professor, the type you would see at film festivals. More importantly, she was there because she was invited to speak. Even more importantly, she was invited to speak because she loves homosexuals, yet publically professes homosexuality is sin.
JD asks, “Oh, and guess where Swallow Prior’s membership is? Is it in a Southern Baptist Church? No. It’s in a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Church.” Well, actually, Thomas Road Baptist Church holds her membership. TRBC is Southern Baptist. Not CBF.
Will JD find some creative way to make TRBC out to be “gay-affirming” too?
In one last desperate attempt to get his readers to believe his drivel, JD writes, “All of the above being true and documented, how on Earth does this individual work in partnership with the SBC’s ERLC as a research fellow? This is simply unbelievable and shocking.”
Well, no, “all of the above” is most emphatically not true, nor is it documented. What is “simply unbelievable and shocking” is JD’s attempt to deceive God’s children into believing such an inaccurate attack on his sister in Christ. Tell me, what possesses a man to do that? It’s not knowledge, and it sure isn’t love.
JD could be a force for good, but he goes well out of his way to assign labels to people when they just don’t fit. His labels don’t fit, that is, unless you buy into his conspiracy-laden world where sophomoric Truther arguments wrapped in zeal suffice for Scriptural proof of wrong doing. Categorizing people as “gay-affirming” and “socially progressive” and “liberal” can, sometimes, be helpful. It can also shut off critical thinking. It is also a handy tool for poisoning the well or dismissing someone out of hand. JD’s complaints here are full of misquotes, inaccuracies, quotations ripped from their contexts, false accusations, guilt by association, and the like.
At the time I write this, JD has not retracted any of his comments even though they have been corrected by KSP herself, as well as many others. He continues to tout the line that people have offered no response to him other than to say he is being “mean.” (Not surprising that people say that.) Supposedly, people are responding with “emotions” rather than anything substantial. But that has not been the only response to his post.
JD went well out of his way to try and prove KSP is pro-SSM/abortion/CBF. He was wrong on all three counts. He should repent.
At the time I write this, Pulpit & Pen’s latest podcast is titled “Gay-Affirming ERLC,” which is a blatant and unsubstantiated lie, violating the Ninth Commandment that we should not bear false witness against our neighbors.
Pulpit & Pen tweeted at me in response to my concern.
I think ERLC head attending gay wedding celebrations affirms the gay agenda. Sorry you disagree. I think ERLC research fellow speaking at gay fundraisers affirms gay agenda. Sorry you disagree.
No, that is not what “gay-affirming” means. JD (or whoever was operating the Twitter account at that time) was attempting to change the definition of “gay-affirming.” He is using that phrase to spread misinformation for the shock factor. He is divisive. He is lying. He needs to repent.
Discernment bloggers are okay I guess. Kind of like watching NASCAR wrecks. Frankly though, most of them are not very smart, and they are usually not very good writers. They must have lots of time though.
Discernment bloggers dig and dig and dig and dig to find dirt on people. They wind up with lots of guilt by association and other fallacies. They strain at gnats.
It makes me question whether they notice the sin up close in their own lives. Their lack of grace toward other sinners would lead me to say no.
Their lack of tact is an indication of their immaturity, and a general lack of experience in dealing with other sinful people.
In the South discernment bloggers are called “blowhards.” They undermine their importance, credibility, and persuasiveness by being shrill.
With so much out there to write and warn people about, why do discernment bloggers pick the targets they do? That’s worth thinking about.
Witness, for example, JD’s Moore Derangement Syndrome.
It appears – and I am only calling it an appearance – to stem from jealousy, envy, or the need for attention. Sometimes self-righteousness.
Another serious flaw with discernment bloggers is their failure to persuade the people they so desperately despise.
Instead of doing the hard work of coming across as loving, gentle, and reverent (which they must first be), they come across as abrasive.
That turns people off rather than wins them over. Then the discernment bloggers complain (or boast) about how many people they have angry at them. (Especially if those angry people are celebrities.)
Hypocrisy, harshness, fallacies, presumption, jealousy, self-righteousness – these are a few of a busybody blogger’s favorite things.
Then they assume, if you point these problems out, that you don’t see any problems anywhere, that you’re evanjellyfish, and you must not have read the 1689.
No. I just see a lot of problems with the way many so-called “discernment bloggers” or “watch bloggers” seek to impact the Christians within their spheres of influence for the sake of Christ.
To say nothing of “the sky is falling” Dispensationalist brand of “discernment” blogging mixed as it is with pseudo-confessionalism and celebrity worship (the celebrities who rail against celebrities).
But I’m not supposed to say that.
People have blind spots. You have them too. I know you do not think you do. You cannot see them. That is why they are called blind spots.
That’s why I’m actually thankful for watch bloggers.
But who watches the watch bloggers?
They have blind spots too.
So do those who prop the discernment bloggers up on platforms, apparently not realizing they will soon be getting way too close to the edge for comfort.
There really will be people calling themselves Christians who are out to deceive or destroy other Christians.
Oh discerning blogger, just what does your righteousness rest in?
Look at the mess that happened with Ergun Caner. We should be wary of those who are known for everything they are against, but not what they are for. An apologist who is always warring but never resting is an apologist who does not believe what he is defending. We should be wary of those marked by narcissism, abusiveness, obsession, jealousy, manipulation, deceit, and anger. These are traits commonly found in pathological liars.
But I’m not really talking about Caner, am I?