McLaren’s son, Trevor, 28, joined with his homosexual partner Owen Ryan at the Audobon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, Maryland for the event on Saturday. Trevor McLaren is a software salesman, and Owen Ryan works for the Foundation for AIDS Research in Washington, D.C., and is a graduate of The Catholic University of America.
The two attended a “wedding” ceremony earlier in the day, which was officiated by Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a Universal Life “pastor.” The event was held at McLaren and Ryan’s apartment, and was followed by the commitment ceremony officiated by Brian McLaren.
McLaren, who formerly led Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland, is most known for his emergent books and writings, such as A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, Naked Spirituality and The Girl with the Dove Tattoo.
In a video explaining his book Everything Must Change, he stated, “Evangelicals are becoming increasingly dissatisfied, especially younger ones, with the Babylonian captivity of evangelicalism to conservative, economic and political ideologies — a kind of captivity to the religious right. More and more mainline Protestants are dissatisfied with seeing the Church as a tradition-bound and highly-conflicted institution that’s part of a fading way of life and not part of a transformative way of life.”
In 2008, McLaren participated in a television commercial in support of the candidacy of Barack Obama, produced by the Matthew 25 Network, a group of professing Christians that sought to elect the presidential candidate. McLaren was featured in both the lead-in and ending of the advertisement.
“As a pastor, I know you can learn a lot about a man’s character based on how he treats his family,” he stated. “And as president, he’ll stand by yours.”
In an interview with Christianity Today in 2006, McLaren outlined that he was struggling with his position on homosexuality, as he was uncertain on where he stood on the issue.
“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us,'” he said. “That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think.”
“Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do,” McLaren continued. “If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the Biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.”
Recently, McLaren told NPR, however, that by the time his son announced to him that he was in a homosexual relationship, he had already come to the belief that homosexuality was not sinful.
“So I went through that shift in my own thinking,” he said. “Couple of years after that, when I really in some ways come out myself as a person who no longer supported the traditional view and one of my sons came out to me, I just remember I cried and cried because my thought is, ‘Oh no, if my son has been going through the same kind of pain so many other people did and I didn’t know it, I just couldn’t live with that.'”
McLaren also opined on his website in response to a question about homosexuality that many who speak out against same-sex relationships cause division in the Church, and that he believes homosexuals should be treated with more kindness.
“Some use this issue as a tool of political division. They want to split churches and denominations so they can drive some people out and have other people more to their liking in power,” he stated. “In other words, I believe that for many people, it’s not about homosexuality at all, or even about pleasing God, but it’s about a conscious or subconscious desire for power.”
Matt Slick of CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) says that he has serious concerns about McLaren’s teachings.
“In my opinion, McLaren is far too concerned with political correctness and is not concerned enough with Biblical fidelity. He is right in that we need to treat gay and lesbian people with dignity and respect. They are, after all, made in God’s image. But, the practice of homosexuality is a sin against the law of God … McLaren should state so,” he said. “Of course, this does not mean that we are to be offensive to homosexuals needlessly. We are to love them and be patient with them, but we also need to tell them the truth…”
“McLaren has no business teaching Christian theology,” Slick added. “It is a sad thing that his books are as popular as they are among Christians. It is not surprising that in a world of relativism and feel-good theology, his writings flourish. But they – along with other unBiblical teachings – will face their demise when Jesus Christ returns as the righteous king who will separate the sheep from the goats.”