Whoops...I never posted the second half.
Finally, let me explain part of why I am so concerned about the typical evangelical response to this issue (though this criticism is not aimed at you).
You alluded to 2 Timothy 3, from which I shall now quote,
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” You quoted some commentator who glossed “avoid such people” as “have no fellowship with them, depart from their communion, withdraw from them, and come out from among them: this passage sufficiently justifies the reformed churches in their separation from the church of Rome.” If this is so, then surely we are of all men most to be pitied! For who is not a lover of self, or a lover of money? Who is not proud, or ungrateful? Who does not love pleasure rather than God? Obviously, we cannot avoid every sinner, so presumably this applies to those who obstinately cling to their sin and spurn calls to repentance. What we see with homosexuality is a serious ethical confusion--an acceptance of activities which, though our culture tolerates them, are clearly immoral. But is homosexuality the only phenomenon where we see this in the church today? No, and abortion is not the only other one. At least since World War II, a great number of conservative Christians have embraced the world’s approach to war, an unrestricted, utilitarian, “you gotta do what you gotta do” approach. Christians have even endorsed nuclear weapons, carpet bombing, and more. If this isn’t a great ethical confusion, what is? Conservative Christians have also happily endorsed economic practices and uses of money that earlier generations would have considered terrible examples of greed, luxury, and exploitation. American Christianity is rife with this kind of mammonolatry, as Doug Jones has pointed out over the past couple years; and indeed, as he has also pointed out, economic sins are more harshly condemned in Scripture than are sexual sins (e.g., notice that the chief criticism of Sodom in the Bible--Ezek. 16:48-50--is not for her sodomy, but for luxury and neglect of the poor).
If we are going to take a hard line on homosexuality--refuse to associate with them, excommunicate them, call down judgment upon them--what are we going to say about these ethical confusions of ours? “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Mt. 7:2) If we’re really serious about righteousness in the Church, we need to be just as hard on our own sins as others, and that means that we need to be careful about using serious sin as a reason to divide a church, because there’s enough serious sin around to keep the Church dividing until judgment day.
Conservative Christians rarely seem to notice that after Paul’s harsh condemnation of homosexuality and idolatry in Romans 1, he turns to us and says, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man--you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself--that you will escape the judgment of God?” (2:1-4)
Yikes. Clearly Paul does not mean that the Jews he is addressing practiced exactly the same sorts of things, but theat they were guilty of sins just as serious. Are we evangelicals guilty of sins as serious as confusion about homosexuality? Maybe, maybe not. After seeing American conservative Christianity through the eyes that our brothers in Britain can see us, I really do wonder whether we’re not worse sometimes. And yet conservative condemnation of homosexuality and abortion has given us a convenient way to hide our guilt. We focus so obsessively on the sins of liberal Christianity, filling ourselves to the gills with righteous indignation, that we manage to avoid ever turning the sword of the Word on ourselves, to divide our own flesh and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Until we can learn to be just as honest about the seriousness of our failures to understand and apply Jesus’s standard of godliness as we are about those of brothers in more liberal churches, we had better tone down the rhetoric of judgment and division, of shunning and schism, lest God judge us with the measure by which we judge, and come and strike the land with a curse. Here is the beginning of my post.