Why it still matters to engage sad, silly men like Tony Jones

It would be easy to just let Tony Jones fade away into the sunset of ever degenerating evangelicalism. Tony has proved time and again to be nothing more than a less intelligent incarnation of 19th century theological liberalism. There really is nothing substantively new in Tony Jones, Doug Pagget, Brian Maclaren, etc. They have come and will go like any fad. Unfortunately, however, because the heart of man is an idol factory, the tired liberalism of Jones and company will be resurrected in some other virulent messengers.

I still engage Tony Jones' writing and teaching because however silly he may be (and he is considerably silly), he nevertheless has influence. The fact that he does have influence tells us much about the current state of evangelicalism. Within the "big tent" of evangelicalism we no longer agree on such things as the nature of God, salvation, the cross, discipleship, and sexual ethics. The once promising movement called evangelicalism is defunct. The emperor has no clothes. The watchers on the wall fell asleep long ago.

In a recent post, Tony Jones sums up some of his thoughts on Christians and sexuality. You can read it here but I warn you: Jones traverses the heights of silliness only to arrive at the slough of the truly disgusting.

Interacting with the opinions of homosexual blogger Dan Savage, Jones writes:

Savage would never endorse pedophilia. He would, instead, say that pedophilia is the result that of a sexually repressed culture, one that lacks honesty. The ethic of honesty is what Savage calls for in his column, week after week telling his readers that if they’ve got a kink or a fetish, they should tell their partner about it. And, if you’ve picked smartly, your partner should be GGG: good, giving, and game.

Savage’s sexual ethic is primarily one of realism: human beings are animals who, until very recently, procreated like animals. It is evolutionarily dishonest to demand monogamy of a species predisposed against it. It’s not impossible to be monogamous, he says, but it is super difficult, and you’ll be more likely to succeed if your partner is GGG.

I don’t know if Savage’s ethic jibes with a biblical, Christian view of sexuality. But I do know a few things: 1) he’s a helluva lot more realistic about sex than most Christians I’ve talked to about sex; 2) based on my experience on this blog and at the Wild Goose Festival, a lot of Christians really want to talk about sexuality; and 3) many Christians are ready for our conversations about sexuality to expand beyond “what to do with the gays,” and instead have a more fully-orbed dialogue about sexuality and human identity. I also know that, for the first time in my life I’ve met Christians who are in “open” marriages or are practicing polyamory — and I’m committed that my theological/ethical response to them be both Christian and pragmatic/realistic.
Ah, yes, "honesty." Tony wants us to be honest about sexuality. It has taken Tony Jones to finally introduce honesty into the church's conversations on sexuality. Apparently a few days in the woods of North Caronlina can produce keen insights the likes of which the church has never known. I suppose believing, teaching, and struggling to be faithful to the Scriptures very clear teachings on human sexuality is not being "honest." Honesty is is more like, oh, I don't know, calling yourself a Christian and living in an "open marriage." How novel.

I suppose if one is an unrepentant adulterer, the idea that "open marriages," and "polyamory" are within the bounds of Christian realism and honesty could provide comfort and a salve for the conscience. But it is tragic when the house theologian of an influential emergent church advances the notion that sexual perversion is well within the bounds of a "biblical, Christian view of sexuality."

Mike Witmer and Denny Burk have both commented on Tony's latest post.