Brendan Eich, co-founder and CEO of open source company Mozilla, was forced to resign this week after it came to light that he made a $1000 personal donation to the 2008 campaign seeking to ban same-sex marriage in California. Eich’s resignation was prompted after OkCupid, an online dating service, encouraged thousands of its customers to boycott Mozilla’s Firefox web browser.
A spokesperson for the gay-rights activist company wrote,
We are pleased that OkCupid’s boycott has brought tremendous awareness to the critical matter of equal rights for all individuals and partnerships: today’s decision reaffirms Mozilla’s commitment to that cause.”
J. O’Dell, a gay San Francisco journalist, had a different perspective. Just before Eich resigned, O’Dell interviewed the Mozilla CEO; he described their interaction like this:
It would be difficult to find two people more ideologically dissimilar, but no tension hangs in the air. I was happy that such an unconventional executive choice had been made (by Mozilla). Eich is the opposite of the stuffy, intimidating, self-aggrandizing tech CEOs I’ve known. He’s a thoughtful, nerdy, humble guy – the kind of guy you want to corner at a party and talk about web technologies with for an hour.”
At one point in the interview, Eich commented,
How I’ve conducted myself in my 16 years at Mozilla. I’ve always kept my personal beliefs out of it. We won’t succeed in the mission if people can’t leave irrelevant, exclusionary stuff at the door.”
Hardly the hateful homophobe OkCupid and ABC News purported him to be.
I don’t know Brendan Eich’s religious perspectives. But it seems clear from this turn of events that a social tsunami is nearing our shore: the conservative position on same-sex marriage is intolerable.
In light of this news, I’m re-posting a blog from April 2013 entitled “Out of Season.”
Though the future is hard to predict, many social trends in the United States tend to follow Europe’s lead, with perhaps a 15 to 20 year delay. Same-sex marriage has been the law of the land in numerous European countries, in some cases for more than a decade.
What does this portend for the future in America?
Christian colleagues who live in Europe today are often asked, “What do you think of homosexuality?” If their response is anything other than total acceptance of the gay lifestyle, they are likely branded as bigots. This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing two cases involving homosexual marriage. If current polls reported in the media are accurate, then the evolution of public opinion in America is following the pattern in Europe. Those who do not support the homosexual “civil rights” agenda will be vilified.
Many western Christian leaders are being bullied into silence by the homosexual lobby. Oppose them and you’re lumped with George Wallace, David Duke, and the homophobes who killed Matthew Shepard. Voddie Baucham, a pastor and author of Gay is Not the New Black, wrote, “We have spent so much energy trying to prove we’re not hate-filled murderers that we fail to recognize that the Emperor has no clothes.”
How, then, do Christ-centered leaders navigate the shifting tides of public opinion with the compass of biblical teaching?
Here are a few thoughts:
- Keep the main thing, the main thing. Jesus came to reconcile everyone to the Father. All are precious to Him. No behavior is beyond forgiveness. No one is beyond His grace. No one. Many of us have family members and friends who are gay. Our primary role is to love them and to be “ambassadors” of Christ’s reconciling work for all people.
- When questioned on the topic, speak with clarity. Homosexual behavior is a choice, and the Bible repeatedly refers to it as sin throughout time and across cultures. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being judgmental on one hand, yet He drew lines and called for holiness on the other. Indeed the church has struggled before with these issues in centuries past, but the verdict of Scripture is quite clear: we can’t be like Jesus, nor can we demonstrate genuine love, if we affirm every lifestyle choice and embrace every behavior. Compassion and tolerance are not the same.
- Avoid condemning people with whom you disagree. We should debate robustly to advocate cherished virtues, but we are not responsible to judge those who engage in homosexual behavior. David Cashin, professor of Intercultural Studies at Columbia International University, summed it up well: “We don’t demonize, nor do we stereotype, but we tell the truth.”
- When entering the public square, use civil logic to make your case. Paul’s example in Acts 17 is instructive. Among the Jews in the synagogue, he “reasoned with them from (their) Scriptures.” But among idol worshippers in Athens, he referred instead to “The Unknown God.” Likewise, our biblical perspective is irrelevant for many 21st century Americans, and biblical arguments alone will not win much sympathy for our convictions. There are significant legal, rational, and historical reasons that can also be utilized to support marriage only between one man and one woman.1
- Trust the faithfulness of God. We are not in control of our culture. We never were, and we never will be. If the precedents in Europe are predictive, then we face greater challenges ahead. But God has always accomplished His purposes through His called-out ones in the midst of corrupt and dying generations.
Paul counseled a younger leader with these words: “. . . be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Poignant advice for Christ-centered leaders serving in a post-Christian world.
1For examples of civil logic, see the following articles:
Ryan Anderson, Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/03/marriage-what-it-is-why-it-matters-and-the-consequences-of-redefining-it).
Voddie Baucham, Gay is Not the New Black (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/07/19/gay-is-not-the-new-black/