I don’t know Fitch’s whole body of work, but I have found the exchange pretty thought-provoking. This section, though, seems to encapsulate the heart of Fitch’s critique of conservative Christians:
These statements, to me, are a sign that Craig has become a thoroughly Christendom thinker, a shocking development given his excellent early work on Yoder in his academic career. He assumes that public statements a.) communicate what we believe about sexuality, b.) and somehow witness the gospel. Instead, I argue, in a post Christendom world, amidst multiple sexualities of various cultures and communities, we really communicate NOTHING about who we are and what we believe God is doing among us redemptively in sexuality by making public statements that we are against “such and such.” We instead just distance ourselves over against anyone who does not already agree with us. Putting a sign out, protesting, and identifying ourselves as anti-gay, or pro gay for that matter does the very thing Craig accuses me of. It makes us into a place that attracts only the ones who agree already. It sets us up as a market niche pro-or anti gay church. It separates us from missional engagement with any number of sexual issues. And it does not communicate what cannot be communicated to those who don’t get what our sexual commitments are really about. Of course, internal to the community’s development, understanding who we are and why, and the thick languages of Christian sexuality, is all part of being a community of integrity. Within the community, we articulate these commitments, yet we hold these commitments incarnationally, we live them, and we witness to them, and invite people in who are seeking. This is part of being a minority post Christendom world. For those in Christendom, I say go ahead, put up a sign, protest and attract a crowd of people who believe the exact same things you do already. But don’t expect much mission.
There’s several issues at play in the conversation, but I’ll mention just two.
First, on the question of the church’s public witness to the gay community, Fitch contends that Christians shouldn’t make public statements but wants to keep the commitments “within the community” where we have the “thick language of Christian sexuality” to guide us. Fitch doesn’t think that homosexuality is morally permissible. But it’s hard to see where the line regarding public statements gets drawn. Is the sermon a “public statement” or not? And if so, then is the language of sin with respect to homosexuality impermissible? After all, for the neo-anabaptists, worship–including the thick language of Christian spirituality which is conveyed in the sermon–seems to be a public (i.e. political) act.
But we could push the ambiguity in the other direction, too. Why privilege the gay community regarding the church’s public judgments about what is, or is not, sin? Presumably, there are all sorts of behaviors and events that the church finds morally wrong, like unjust wars or poverty. If the church is not free to make public pronouncements on one popular activity for fear of deepening the divide with said social group, then should it remain silent about all social groups that commit unjust deeds?
The second issue at stake is the way in which evangelicals have approached moral formation with respect to sexuality. On that, I’ll have much more to say in the future, but for now let me simply affirm that I think there are real problems within evangelicalism on the teaching of sex, but that they aren’t generally where most people think.