Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘gay marriage’

Sexual Positions

Atlanta Pastor Andy Stanley ignited a firestorm a couple of weeks ago with a bizarre sermon illustration.  He apparently wanted to convey the complexity of the moral questions Christians must answer in 2012.  So he shared a true story about a couple who were not allowed to accept leadership roles at his church because one of the two men was not officially divorced.  By denying the man a role of leadership due to “good old fashioned adultery,” Pastor Stanley skated right past the problem that the men were carrying on a homosexual affair.  It left the impression that the Southern Baptist pastor was extending acceptance of gay sex.  Friends of Stanley argued that the charge is outrageous:  homosexuality was not the point of the sermon.   But who honestly knows what the mega-church pastor was thinking?

That’s the problem with the current rush from judgment that is underway in churches all across the land.  Research and personal experience tell us that young people are broadly accepting of gay and lesbian relationships.  Can we honestly hope to reach the next generation if we insist on rigid doctrines while they demand compassion and authenticity?  One could argue that the future of the American Church is not being written in black and white anymore.  Indeed, the ministry narrative of the future will be written with fat, colorful marker pens and the storyline will feature the teenager who is dropped off for Bible Study every Sunday by his lesbian Mom and his transgender Dad.  How do you help a kid like that?  Don’t worry about it: the Minister to Students can sort if all out, right?

That’s why the idea of ‘triangulation,’ once a political strategy, is fast becoming a doctrine of church growth.  Whenever you have two competing moral positions and one is popular while the other is biblical, what does a pastor do?  A faithful pastor upholds the biblical position.  But a ‘sensitive’ pastor hammers out a third position– an ambiguous one that is somewhere to the left of one and the right of the other.

  • If abortion is legal but the sanctity of life is biblical, give a quick nod to cute babies but preach on keeping the gospel positive.
  • If divorce is popular but lifetime marriage is biblical, concede that divorce is painful, but rail against hateful Christianity.
  • When Darwinism is rising even though Creationism is scriptural, ponder both sides while you denounce ignorant legalism.
  • If homosexuality is trending but heterosexual marriage is biblical, pivot to the hypocrisy of adultery in marriage.

As a pastor, I sympathize with the concerned voices who ask, “Can we ever reach them with the Gospel if they think we’re hateful, bigoted prudes and homophobes?”  It’s a great question!  But I identify more with Paul who asks in Romans 10:14, ” How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Whenever I share the Gospel with a man who uses excessive profanity or a couple who are shacking  up, it’s true I don’t call out their specific sins.  I share the Gospel and point them to Jesus.  And if they turn to Christ in faith, I ask them to read their Bible, pray and meet with me again in a few days.  And I am often amazed at how , in my absence, the Holy Spirit has brought conviction of sins I never pointed out.  But if the Spirit hasn’t spoken by the time we meet again, I gently explain all the things that repentance and faith will require of them.  It’s my job to disciple them.

So I would agree that it’s true- one sermon can’t possibly address every moral evil.  And even the most eloquent preacher cannot clarify every implication of a simple illustration in a 25 minute sermon.   But in an age when homosexuality is being widely celebrated as an alternate lifestyle, it’s dishonest and disingenuous to try and reach young people with ambiguous stories.  Paul would argue, “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”

We’ll be fighting this battle for a generation.  Let’s be certain the sound of the bugle is clear.

And lift up the Cross!


The Morality Police

Kirk Cameron appeared on the Piers Morgan Show last week, presumably to talk about his latest movie project.  He seemed a bit surprised when the host suddenly changed topic and asked, “Do you believe gay marriage is a sin?”  Not surprisingly, the actor shifted in discomfort.  He hadn’t booked the appearance to talk about social issues, and clearly wasn’t looking for a chance to “impose his morality” on a few million American viewers.  So he attempted to finesse the question, but Morgan persisted.  “I find these questions interesting,” Morgan added.

Over the course of three minutes, the ensuing conversation went something like this.  Cameron finally suggested that he believes that gay marriage is “unnatural.”  Marriage has been around as something between a man and a woman since the beginning, and we shouldn’t monkey around with it.  Morgan then asked what Kirk would do if his son pulled him aside to confess, “Bad news, Dad, I’m gay.”  Kirk replied, “I’d sit down and have a talk with him.  There are thousands of feelings out there, and you don’t have to act on every one of them. I’d talk with him about it, pretty much the same way you might talk with your son. ”

But I wouldn’t have a talk with my son,” the host responded.  “I’d simply say, ‘Great son. Do whatever is necessary to be happy with your life.” Having dragged his guest into the discussion, Morgan went on to hector him on how destructive it is to ask children to deny their natural feelings.

Ever the diplomat, Kirk Cameron actually wondered aloud why it was unacceptable for him to take a moral position about an issue, yet perfectly acceptable for Morgan to speak openly about a contrasting moral position.  And this is the crux of the position in which we Christians find ourselves today.  Freedom of speech has become extremely restricted in this country, and freedom of thought is utterly forbidden.

When the secular American Left takes a position, the debate is over and the issue is settled.  Whatever the term “consensus” used to mean, it now means that the Entertainment Industry has made a decision.  (Madonna has announced that she will use an August concert in Russia t0 denounce new laws there that discourage the promotion of homosexuality.  No one has called her a Nazi for imposing her moral standards on a foreign nation.) Piers Morgan mentioned twice that seven states have now voted to legalize gay marriage.  Seven!  “Doesn’t that mean something?” he wondered.  Maybe, but what does it mean that 43 states plus most of the people and most civilizations in the history of the world have agreed that same-sex marriage is unnatural and unthinkable?

Watch the interview on YouTube.  You’ll see Kirk Cameron behave diplomatically, choose his words carefully, and even admit that he considers his own sins to be greater than those of anyone else he knows.  He didn’t bring up the topic of gay marriage.  He concedes these were things “I believe.”  Within 24 hours he will be pummeled all across the media as some kind of idiotic, bigoted, moralistic Nazi trying to impose his morality on everyone else.

The Hollywood Morality Police have an APB out for anyone who refuses to swallow the New Morality and be happy about it.  If you speak the truth in love, they denounce you.  If you refuse to say anything, they win.  So be prepared to gently speak the truth in love and accept the blows with grace.  If you have the chance to choose between social issues and Jesus, just talk about Christ.  Consider it another occasion in which the saints must pick up the cross and follow Him.

Lift up the Cross!

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