Waves of dismay and perhaps indignation swept through the evangelical community yesterday. Eugene Peterson, a Presbyterian pastor and author of “The Message”, came out in support of gay marriage.
Coincidentally, I was just reading up on Jen Hatmaker and the fallout after she “came out” with similar views.
I really want to handle the subject with compassion. It isn’t just a matter of theology or lifestyle choices. This is incredibly important but potentially polarizing.
First, a little about my background- I’m a minnesotan girl so I grew up in the land of Lutheran churches and potlucks in church basements (you betcha!). My parents also would occasionally bring us to conferences in “the cities” where we were exposed to a weird, amped up form of charismatic Christianity (I remember seeing people rolling around and barking).
As a young adult coming into my own faith I was very drawn towards a toned down version of charismatic evangelicalism. I identified as a Pentecostal and my husband and I have attended various Assembly of God congregations over the years. I personally like strong, biblical teaching with an emphasis on allowing the Holy Spirit to move and direct the service.
I view the Bible as the absolute authority. It’s the plumb line of truth. I believe the Word is living and active and that it holds the very essence of God himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is inextricably connected to Jesus, who in himself contains the fullness of deity (Col. 2:9). All scripture is divinely inspired, “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 2:16).
You can not separate Biblical Christianity from the Word of God; the Bible.
“But Sierra, there are different interpretations…” Yes, there are. Some verses and passages are difficult to understand. But there are other topics that are incredibly clear. One being Gods stance on sexual sin.
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men….” 1 Cor. 6:9
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1
I do believe we are living in the last days. Popular, mainstream Bible teachers are beginning to turn away from the plain truth of scripture and embrace the Worlds stance. Mr. Peterson even adapted the Bible for modern ears, conveniently rewording passages and dropping mentions of the sinfulness of a gay lifestyle.
Do I claim to understand everything in the Word of God? Of course not. There are things I don’t understand. Things I’m still wrestling through. But if I disagree, if I am offended by the Word- I’m the one in error. The Word is eternal. The Word will endure when everything else turns to dust.
Heaven help me if I use my (admittedly, much smaller) platform to teach contrary to the Word of God.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
I’m not hardened to the plight of those who want to follow God who also feel same-sex attraction. All I can say is that we are called to be living sacrifices as we follow Christ. Our whole beings, including our sexuality- is to be consecrated to God. Each believer has to work that out, between themselves and their Creator.
I think the church should be welcoming to those from the LGBT community without losing ahold of the truth of God. We can be compassionate but, like Jesus, full of grace and truth.
Otherwise, if we are start discarding scripture that doesn’t fit with our world view… where will we end up? And who are we to argue with God? Who are we to say that our vision of human sexuality is better, more evolved, than his? “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? Isaiah 29:6
We need to tell people the truth, or we could be “compassionately” losing hold of the Gospel, the very power of God unto salvation… in our effort to make the faith more palatable to a lost and dying world. A gospel that doesn’t save isn’t the gospel at all.
The power of the Gospel drives life change. The presence of God demands holiness. “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 We are either embracing the work of God, submitting to the death of our own sin nature, or we are not. We can’t get to the resurrection without going through the cross.
Are people born gay? I have no idea. What I do know is that we are all afflicted in various ways because of the curse. Romans 8 describes how all creation was subjected to this curse. We all carry this death in our beings. We are all warped and hopelessly broken. We all wait for the children of God to be revealed, when everything that is currently wrong will be made right. In the mean time we have to rise above because- “we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:12
How that looks for each of us is going to be different. My temptations and struggles are unique to me. There are things I’m working out with God. Parts of my flesh that don’t need to be rehabbed, they need to be crucified. Just like every single person that would accept the message and chose to carry their cross.
In closing I want to specify that we can all do this thing because “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Hebrew 4:15 Jesus is compassionate to the struggles we face. He does not judge the sin of homosexual acts harsher than any other sin. He loves the LGBT crowd just as much as the potluck crowd. There is hope for the gossip, healing for the addict, courage for the coward.
The transformative power of the Gospel is for all. “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37
As the Church, we need to be kind, loving, compassionate while holding onto the truth revealed in the Word of God. We also need to be aware that the climate of culture is becoming such that we need to be willing to be firm in the face of being labeled as homophobic, bigoted, hateful, etc., in fact we should expect that. We need to know where we stand, even if that means enduring persecution.