Remember Jars of Clay? One of a handful of "cool" 90's kind-of Christian bands? The group's lead singer Dan Haseltine has caused a mini firestorm among his evangelical base of supporters this week by issuing a series of tweets in support of same-sex marriage.
His move comes just weeks after World Vision, a major Christian charity, had to walk back its brief decision to not discriminate against perspective employees who were LGBT. Like World Vision, Haseltine quickly had to reckon with a pretty strong backlash in the wake of his public engagement with the subject. And while the singer has since apologized for his "poor choice of words" on the role of scripture in his thinking, he has yet to walk back his questions on same-sex marriage itself. If nothing else, the episode is a telling example of just how tough it is even in 2014 for many evangelical Christians to move away from a traditional stance on the issue.
Here's the beginning of his days-long series of tweets on the subject, which were prompted in part because of a film he viewed on a plane trip — 12 Years a Slave :
The treatment of people as less than human based on the color of skin is crazy... Or gender, or sexual orientation for that matter.— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
Not meaning to stir things up BUT... Is there a non-speculative or non "slippery slope" reason why gays shouldn't marry? I don't hear one.— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
I'm trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But It doesn't hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women's suffrage.— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
I just don't see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. ?? Anyone?— Dan Haseltine (@scribblepotemus) April 21, 2014
That tweet produced quite a few replies, as one might expect, and Haseltine went back and forth with his followers on the subject. Some were very respectful: "I don't think there would be immediate harm to our nation. We have free will. Then again, what about Sodom and Gomorrah?...also, this is just a thought. The more gay unions, the less natural procreation," one follower tweeted at the musician. He replied, "why? I don't follow the logic in that." Other exchanges were less polite. Eventually, some members of the Christian press picked up his take on the subject — one that has become more and more a source of generational divide among Christians. Charisma News sounded a bit panicked in a piece called "the Shattering of Jars of Clay:"
Dan, you wrote, “Never liked the phrase: ‘Scripture clearly says...(blank) about... Because most people read and interpret scripture wrong.”
Perhaps this is the root of your problem? Is the Bible not clear about anything? Sin? Salvation? Forgiveness? Jesus being the only Savior and Lord? Adultery being bad? Fidelity being good? Shall I list 100 more items that are abundantly clear in Scripture?
The Christian Post's Crossmap blog chided Haseltine with this response: "Scripture also addresses homosexual behavior in both the Old and New Testaments, warning that immoral sexual activity will lead to death and eternal damnation."