Religion Quest Church: Good for Women, Bad for Gays
posted by June 28 at 8:33 AMon
Eugene Cho, the lead pastor of Quest Church, sent me a nice note a few weeks ago after reading my review of Quest in our “Month of Sundays” feature package.
Unlike Mars Hill, which his church resembles, Quest embraces women in positions of leadership—a female pastor opened the service on the day I visited. About the only thing that bothered Questers about my piece, some other members told me, was seeing their church described as a “Mars Hill wannabe.” That stung, apparently, because little, loving Quest isn’t anything like Mark Driscoll’s huge, hateful Mars Hill.
When I was working on my piece I poked around Quest’s website, and read through the church’s brochures, in an effort to find discover Quest’s position on homosexuality. They embraced women, what about the gays? But there was no info posted on Quest’s website, up on Cho’s blog, or in any of Quest’s brochures. So I asked Cho directly: Quest is good on the female thing. Good for you. What about the gay thing?
I took it as a bad sign when I didn’t hear back from Cho right away—and my interpretation of his silence was correct. This email arrived this morning:
Sorry for the delayed response. Not that you were waiting by your inbox waiting for my reply…
Because we are theologically so different than Mars Hill, that’s why the “Mars Hill wannabe” definitely rubbed a few of our church folks that wrong way. As you might assume, MH and driscoll can be fairly polarizing so for those on the other spectrum, it’s not the best thing to be compared to him.
Regardless, to your question about our position on gays. No matter how I answer, I know it’s going to always hurt or offend one side or the other. I say this not to be trite but it’s been a difficult issue. Always is when you’re dealing not just with an issue but one that deals with people…human souls. Quest welcomes the gay community but does not affirm the gay lifestyle.
While I can’t speak on behalf of every single person at Quest, I believe I speak for many when I share that there’s much hypocrisy in the church especially when we isolate homosexuality out of the context of the larger conversation of sexuality that needs to be addressed. Heterosexuals have much to answer to. So, while I do not affirm the lifestyle, I also believe in human rights and the rights that the gay community deserve—the most important one being the freedom to be safe. I wrestle with how a gay person can feel safe in the church—even if they are “welcomed” when their lifestyle isn’t affirmed as God honoring…
Let me know your thoughts if you have the energy.
I sent this email to Eugene Cho:
Is the right to marry included on your list of rights to which we’re entitled?
Re: The gay lifestyle. What you mean is gay sex, right? My “lifestyle” is probably shockingly similar to your own: go to work, go home, eat, take care of my kid, pay the bills. It’s the sex I have with my partner that rubs you the wrong way, so to speak. There is no “gay lifestyle,” Eugene. Some straight people have no kids, never marry, and sleep around—which is what the phrase “gay lifestyle” invokes. My unmarried, 45 year-old heterosexual brother Billy lives a much gayer “lifestyle” than I do.
And, yes, straight people have their own sins to answer for—but your philosophy at least allows for straight people to have fully intimate lives, loving partners, and some sexual release. Your theology disallows that for me, so… I don’t see as how that amounts to equal treatment. Copping to hetero shortcomings (“Hey, look at the way we dress!”) while advising gay people to forgo all intimacy, a.k.a. “the gay lifestyle,” does not amount to the loving tending o’ the flock that you seem to believe it does. Telling people that God disapproves of their deepest needs for love and companionship, and that they must forgo that “sin” in order to be right with God, is an act of emotional and spiritual violence.
If there was a God, you would answer for it one day. But there isn’t and you won’t.
P.S. As I told one of your parishioners—and should have told you when it first came up—“Mars Hill wannabe” was more a reference to the aesthetics of the place. The warehouse, the dark colors, the art, rock and roll, etc. Now I see, however, that at least on the gay issue… well, there’s no daylight between you and Driscoll, is there?