About a month ago, a man who purports to be a brother in the faith wrote this on my mother’s facebook wall:
In his blog, your son says he is a homosexual and says his primary attraction is to men. He does not say that he has struggled with temptations to such sins…he calls himself a full fledged homosexual.
I have no idea about his state of repentance but I’m sure you would agree…..that it is totally inappropriate for one who calls himself a homosexual to be teaching in church or leading worship. This is exacerbated by a purposeful hiding of this lifestyle so that he can participate in church leadership roles that would never be knowingly allowed by our elders.
I was really stunned that such comments would be left on my wall. Let me caution everyone: this is not a mud-slinging attempt on my part. This is an opportunity to walk others through this painful accusation which was made in a very public forum.
First, this man no doubt thinks he’s defending biblical truth. He thinks that to call a spade a spade (or a sin by its rightful name) is somehow to say that one is not fighting temptations thereunto. Pastors, you have to exhort your people to wrestle in temptation and to show that they themselves have temptations with which they wrestle, day to day.
Many Christians in the circles in which I’ve traveled really don’t have any idea that they actually battle sin on a daily basis. Perhaps they don’t…perhaps they see their wrestling with sin having been accomplished and won when they became a Christian. This is faulty and needs to be addressed in a Gospel-centered, cross-focused way. Teaching people that calling things by their right names is to be enslaved to them is a lie. Our sin should be confessed (do I even need a citation here?) and in confession, naturally, we will name our sin(s). Thus, a person who tells me that I’m somehow wallowing in sin because I use the label “gay” needs to check that idea against Scripture, where it will be discovered to be wanting.
Second, this man obviously thinks that someone in authority must not be susceptible to gross sin. This is a view that, unfortunately, has been perpetuated in much of evangelicalism. We have a very triumphalistic view of sin and redemption, one in which the duality of the two natures (see Romans 7) exists in tension. It’s an unbiblical view and needs to be addressed, in the pulpit, as such.
Third, this man thinks that because my sin is homosexuality that I must’ve hidden that fact from leadership at my previous church. They would never have allowed me to serve if they knew I liked men. This of course is not true. Two of the pastors on staff (one of which was/is an elder) and one (now former) elder in addition to that officially knew of my temptations prior to my being asked to teach Sunday School. Upon my admission of being tempted in the area of homosexuality, never at any time was it suggested that I should step down from leading worship.
As a Christian, I confronted this “brother” with his false statements. I even invited him to coffee. I hope some day he’ll reconsider my offer and take me up on it…but for now, he has slammed the door in my face and told me never to talk to him again.
See, pastors…and please hear me. This sort of behavior from the sheep does not endear us (Christians) to those who wrestle with their attractions, their sin and has actually served to push many people who very well may be God’s elect out of fellowship with other believers who very well may actually mean well and think themselves to be speaking “hard truth.”
The public nature of these comments is unsettling, but not half as unsettling as the fact that even as I’ve tried to extend grace to this man he has pushed it back in my face and shut me down on several occasions.
I’m a man who begins his seminary education in earnest on Thursday. I’m not going to be pushed out of the church by one sinner who attacks me. But don’t be fooled: there are many people, some in your own church, who have been pushed out exactly this way. I’m not proposing an initiative or a “gay awareness Sunday.” No, I’m asking for something even more radical:
Preach the Gospel. Every Sunday, show how the text points to our sin and Christ’s righteousness.
First, that’s the message we’re given to proclaim (Luke 24:47). Second, that’s the way we can effectively combat nonsense like what I quoted above…and brothers (and sisters), it is indeed pure nonsense of the most odious variety.
The Gospel shows us all to be recipients of God’s grace once we’ve been humbled by the Law and its threats. This is the true antidote to such hurtful words. Consider preaching the Gospel to everyone, believer and non-believer, in your church this Sunday.
Come, Lord Jesus.