Jim Swilley, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch, recently revealed to his congregation that he is gay. The 52-year-old father of four said that his wife, to whom he was married for more than 20 years, encouraged him to come out years ago, but at the time, he told her: “These words will never come out of my mouth.” However, the recent spate of teen suicides, particularly that of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, prompted him to change his mind. “For some reason his situation was kind of the tipping point with me,” Swilley told CNN’s Don Lemon this weekend. “There comes a point in your life where you say ‘How much time do we have left in our lives? Are we going to be authentic or not?'”
I’m glad he opposes the heartless and vindictive, cruel and sub-christian bullying of gays (and anyone else for that matter), but I’m sad that yet another high profile mega-egomaniac has shown the world the underbelly of Christian hypocrisy. He was gay. He was the Pastor of a large Church. He had an obligation to be honest (indeed, all do). But, to spare his job he lied. That’s mega-hypocrisy.
Jim Swilley — a twice-married father of four, a man who comes from a long line of evangelical preachers — revealed a secret he’d been holding onto most of his life: He’s gay. Swilley tells NPR’s Guy Raz that it was his ex-wife Debye who encouraged him to come clean. Though they’re recently divorced after 21 years of marriage, she still works and preaches alongside Swilley at Church in the Now. The pastor says he told her he was gay before they married, thinking it would be the end of their relationship. “But she said no, let’s get married, we’ll work it out. And to a degree, we did.”
Ugh. I suppose ‘husband of one wife’ should now be adjusted, for the sake of our cultural perspective, to ‘the husband of two or more wives and as many men as he wants’ (and isn’t it funny that the people who complain about conservative adherence to cultural norms are the very people who want to impose cultural norms on others- i.e., as long as they are postmodern and counter-cultural / anti-traditional. I find that more than a little ironic).
I’m sure he will be embraced and lauded and applauded for his ‘courage’ and his ‘honesty’ except it isn’t courageous to behave immorally and it isn’t honesty to pretend you’re one thing for your entire life while behind the scenes and under the sheets you were something else completely.
If his church doesn’t require his departure it illustrates the victory of theological accommodationism and anti-biblical cultural mores over biblical ethics.