Corrections appended An evangelical leader was invited to speak at Wheaton College Tuesday evening about his new book on Christian engagement in society, but instead drew criticisms from a group that accused the speaker of supporting the homosexual agenda.
Jim Wallis, founder of the progressive social justice group Sojourners and Call to Renewal, was the featured speaker at Wheaton College's Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE). He was invited to campus as part of a series of speakers on the general theme of Christian moral engagement in society, and in particular, in politics and the upcoming presidential election.
Wallis, who was visiting the highly-respected evangelical institution as part of his book tour, was criticized by the founder of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality for legitimizing legal recognition of homosexual relationships as a "justice issue" in his new book, The Great Awakening.
"We find it hard to believe that somebody who believes in the Bible – and the Bible teaches that homosexuality is an abomination – could call support for so-called 'civil rights' based on egregiously sinful behavior," said Peter LaBarbera, to OneNewsNow. "How you can call that 'a justice issue'?"
Dr. Michael Brown, director of Charlotte-based Coalition of Conscience, also found fault with Wallis' logic for supporting gay unions, as well as with the popular argument that points to Jesus' compassion for marginalized people to justify the lifestyle.
"Wallis and others seem to have lost sight of the fact that homosexual practice is always wrong, representing a fundamental violation of God's order, and they appear to have forgotten that God's ways (which, from creation, have included male-female unions only) are always best," Brown argued.
He acknowledged that Jesus "rebukes a lot of our stiff religiosity, a religiosity that is afraid to get its hands dirty." But said the Gospel shows "Jesus did not simply accept the outcasts, He changed them."
"Yes, He touched the leper, but that touch healed him. Yes, He ate with the prostitutes and tax-collectors (who were notoriously dishonest), but He didn't encourage them to be better prostitutes and more proficient tax-collectors, He transformed their lives and brought them to repentance," Brown pointed out.
Brown called on Christians to not just accept, but to practice "transformational inclusion" and heal people.
LaBarbera, although differing with Wallis over gay unions, agrees with him that Christians can be too narrow-minded in what issues they care about. He believes Christians should be more concerned about caring for the poor. However, LaBarbera argues that when it comes to homosexuality, there is no issue of being too narrow-minded and that homosexuality is clearly an immoral choice.
Correction: Thursday, February 21, 2008:
An article on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008, about an anti-homosexual group criticizing Wheaton College guest speaker Jim Wallis for his support of gay rights incorrectly reported that Peter LaBarbera, the founder of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, had requested to Wheaton College that another voice be presented alongside Wallis. The Christian Post confirmed with Wheaton College on Thursday that the request was made on LaBarbera's blog and not directly to the school.
The article also unclearly reported the purpose of Jim Wallis' appearance at the Wheaton College event and gave the impression he was invited to promote the moral acceptance of homosexual conduct. The Christian Post confirmed with the college that Wallis was there to speak on the relationship between the Christian faith and engagement in social and political issues.
Wheaton College confirmed that its moral stance is "clear" in accordance with Scripture that homosexual conduct is immoral, although it does not have an official stance on specific public policy issues.