The ‘Imago Dei’ campaign has another face
A very good read and alternative perspective on Rev. Samuel Rodriguez’ Imago Dei campaign. The religious PR effort was launched to widespread fanfare, but all is not what it seems according to Dr. Robert Gagnon, a top Christian theologian. Rodriguez said his intent was only to end the “rhetorical bullying” and facilitate “redemptive and reconciliatory” interactions — not to “condone any behavior” or “endorse anything that runs counter to a biblical worldview.”
Although he drops a new social buzzword, Rodriguez doesn’t provide any examples of “rhetorical bullying”. For instance is it “rhetorical bullying” to say publicly that homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Or is he referring to the Westboro Baptist Church?
The ID campaign’s ideology also includes a fair measure of diaprax. Diaprax is an emergent church concept which attempts to forge unity between believers and nonbelievers under a false banner.
Writing in the Christian Post, Gagnon acknowledges the campaign as “well meaning, but flawed”. In particular the ID tries to hard to diminish the severity of homosexuality by couching it as some benign social disparity like the homeless. The problem is that ID is more about —as a previous article stated— converting Christians on the issue of homosexuality than it is about converting homosexuals by the gospel of Christ.
The ID seems to be a religious version of the famous Rodney King line “Cant we all just get along?”
I appreciate the fact that this “campaign” apparently continues to view homosexual practice as sin (though in extremely muted tones) and that it wants to promote love for those who engage in it. However, its half-orbed message that “the image of God exists in all human beings: black and white; rich and poor; straight and gay; conservative and liberal; victim and perpetrator; citizen and undocumented; believer and unbeliever” is flawed.
It lumps together very different categories. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about ethnicity, social status, party affiliation, citizen status, or even the mere experience of sexual attractions to do what God forbids.
I have a suggestion: In order to make clearer the message that affirmation of one’s creation in the image of God does not lead to support for all behaviors, the organizers of the campaign should add something more explicit like: “serial pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and the people they victimize.
The framers of the document probably won’t be amending anything they wrote but in case they are interested in comprehensive critique, here it is:
(1) It appears to regard a strong expression of disapproval of homosexual practice as equally at fault with a strong expression of its approval.
(2) It fails to address the crucial point that homosexual activity, like egregious immorality generally, threatens to mar the image of God stamped on people, dishonoring and degrading what God created in his image by treating another’s gender as only half intact in relation to its own sex.
The theme of marring the image of God is clear enough from Genesis 1:27 where the proclamation of the Imago Dei is immediately followed by an implicit affirmation of a male-female requirement for sexual relations: “In the image of God he created [the human] / male and female he created them.” It is clear too from Romans 1:24-27 where Paul speaks of the “dishonoring” or “degrading” effect of males having sex with males and females with females, with Gen 1:27 echoed in the background.
(3) This “campaign” will do nothing to stifle the advance of coercive and abusive homosexualism in this country but may deceive many faithful Christians into silencing their own resistance to this advance as incompatible both with a positive proclamation of “a relationship with God … through Christ” and with “loving actions,” as mere “rhetorical bullying” and “polarizing rhetoric” toward the “marginalized” and the “oppressed.”
As Gagnon pointed out the false unity espoused by the ID is a sad reality of the contemporary church’s lust to hold hands with sinners in an attempt to make them comfortable and less resistant to the church’s “love is all we need” message. It is an epic failure. Offering sinners love and friendship while treating truth like a red-haired stepchild, is a grave disservice to their souls.
The Imago Dei hasn’t moved any mountains. Homosexuals and liberals have had a blase reaction to it. The only ones who seemed to be celebrating its release are Christians who desperately want the homosexual community to accept them. Like its predecessors, the Covenant of Civility , the Manhattan Declaration and the abominable Affirmation Declaration, the Imago Dei campaign will become another sad example of failed religion attempting to circumvent the Great Commission.