It seems that an issue extremely difficult for the church of the Jesus Christ is the LGBT movement.
Lesbians, gays, bigenders and transgenders seemed never to be an issue in times past. The church, the so-called evangelical church, viewed all such sexual expressions and lifestyles as wrong, in Biblical terms sin, and LGBT outward was morally condemned and even in some areas of the United States criminally prosecuted. No more.
In fact, LGBT legal seems now to be fully constitutional. Gay marriage, of which many disapprove, has now been ruled a constitutional right. But the moral, the Biblical battles go on.
The battle seems to be fought in the Constitution’s First Amendment terms. Although gay marriage is now a Constitutional right, so says the court, the church of Jesus Christ claims the freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment to speak out against what it terms the immorality of LGBT. The church also claims freedom of religion, also protected by the First Amendment, to worship and practice its religious life without recognizing, endorsing or celebrating in the sexual expressions of LGBT. That battle, the clashing of those rights can go on for decades. The biblical church claims that it must be SALT AND LIGHT and as result thereof, “confront darkness.” That darkness, homosexuality, the unnatural ways of men and women is condemned by the Old Testament, the Torah, and by many Pauline passages in the New Testament. It is, says the evangelical church, the scriptural duty of the real church to stand firm, “stand up for God’s word!” We can, says the church, separate the sin and the sinner, loathing the sin and loving the sinner. Many think that is much easier said than done.
Such a one was lead pastor Gerald Sharon. Sharon, a former member of the Saddleback Church staff under Pastor Rick Warren, had become the lead pastor of California’s Southwest Church. As reported by Family Research Council (Washington Update), Sharon “surprised” Southwest’s leadership by insisting the church should SOFTEN its stance on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Sharon asked the elders and the leadership of Southwest Church to engage in dialogue regarding the LGBT issues.
But this internal discussion soon ended when it was clear that Sharon wanted to depart from solid Biblical teaching. The elders of California Southwest Church then gave Pastor Gerald Sharon the opportunity to reconsider his viewed but the Reverend Sharon refused.
In his resignation letter to the church, Sharon wrote that he would not join with the elders of the church in their public and transparent stance against homosexuality and gay marriage and Sharon himself publicly stated:
“I believe they will limit the church’s ability to love people where they are.”
The leaders and elders of Southwest Church then unanimously signed a letter affirming the church’s stance on sexuality and issued the following statement:
“Southwest believes that all sexual expressions are based on personal choices, some right and some wrong in the eyes of God. While Southwest does not believe that being active in same-sex attraction is right in the eyes of God, we welcome anyone to our church. We strongly stand against those who have used the Scriptures as the means to do harm or cause bias towards members in the LGBT community. We believe we can disagree while not being disagreeable. We believe in civility and healthy dialogue.”
Sharon, again believing that this statement of policy and church conduct as a result would “limit the church’s ability to love people where they are,” resigned and moved on.
This spiritual struggle, which Southwest calls the sexuality struggle presents one of the most difficult church challenges:
CAN REAL CHRISTIANITY SHUN AND DENOUNCE THE BIBLICAL SIN OF HOMOSEXUALITY ON THE ONE HAND BUT ON THE OTHER, LOVE AND WELCOME THE PRACTIONER, THE SO-CALLED SINNER FROM THE LGBT WORLD?
If so, how in fact is that done? Can the church condemn gay marriage while at the same time welcome gay married couples into the life of the church, witnessing, ministering, teaching all the while practicing the LGBT lifestyle? How does the church, many ask, in actual practice separate the sin from the sinner? Is it really possible to do that?
Southwest Church, for one, claims that same-sex attraction (marriage-lifestyle?) is not right in the eyes of God. But that public statement does not define what exactly is not right and how this church will deal with that.
Southwest Church, as quoted by FRC Washington Update then states that it welcomes anyone to our church. Obviously, that open door policy is Biblically consistent. The church then indicates that it strongly stands against those who use Scripture as a means to do harm or cause bias towards members in the LGBT community. Perhaps this is the church’s attempt to separate the individuals, the members in the community from the lifestyle, the sexual expression which it believes is wrong in the eyes of God. I wonder if the church succeeded or if it will be able to follow through in some real and practical way. What do you think?
California’s Southwest Church, obviously strong in the WORD then goes on to say the following:
“We believe we can disagree while not be disagreeable. We believe in civility and healthy dialogue.”
Dialogue and disagreement. Both good things, don’t you think? Healthy dialogue. But I wonder exactly what they mean by that. Would the church engage in dialogue which would cause the leadership thereof, like Sharon, to soften or change its Biblical positions on sexual expression and gay marriage? If not, then what would be the purpose of the dialogue? The dialogue would be more in the form of evangelizing, winning over, persuading LGBT members to change rather than to be willing to change its very own points of view. It is of course quite possible to disagree, and to engage in healthy (robust?) dialogue without being disagreeable. That is indeed difficult but possible. It would be instructive indeed to hear such dialogue which, done right, could provide a practical lesson for other churches and Christian individuals in standing up for God’s Word on the one hand while on the other listening, truly listening to the positions and argumentation of the LGBT community. Terms like right and wrong when used often limit or destroy dialogue. If one position is right, then by definition the other is wrong and therefore, dialogue of any kind is unprofitable. The church it would seem while welcoming LGBT individuals and loving them no matter would invite them to the church for the purposes of witness and change. It seems quite likely that few LGBT members would be interested in change.
The Washington Update of Family Research Council (Tony Perkins) agrees that they (LGBT members), should indeed be welcomed by the churches and HELP in those churches. In short, FRC seems to be saying that witness and evangelizing is the duty of the church and not dialogue. Washington Update says the following:
“If someone is struggling with unhealthy attractions of any kind, they should be welcomed and helped in our churches.”
One, it seems, the welcoming, must be followed by the second, the HELPING (behavior changes) as they enter the life of the church.
And, as the witness goes forth, should such LGBT members not have any desire to change their lifestyle:
“The church has an obligation to deal with that person.”
But there are no suggestions as to how the church should deal with that person. Nor is there any clarification with respect to how much time must pass before the church would be required to act. It seems as though the really difficult questions are not answered.
The FRC admonition then goes further:
“Theirs (the leaders) must have an uncompromising stand for truth, rooted in real love that cares more about the person’s temporal and eternal well-being than society’s approval.”
It would seem that such an uncompromising stand for (Biblical) truth would again not allow for real dialogue but for preaching (standing), teaching, and witnessing for Biblical truth which proclaims LGBT sexual lifestyle and expressions as WRONG. What do you think?
Then, referring obviously to Pastor Gerald Sharon, Washington Update says the following:
“A man who turns his back on the clear teachings of Scripture not only creates division but compromises the church’s ability to impact the world for Christ.”
So, again, a very clear and definitive statement that there can be no compromise with respect to the gay agenda, to LGBT lifestyles and sexual expressions, and of course to gay marriage. No exceptions, no compromising, no straying from the clear teachings of the Bible including the Torah and Pauline passages. None whatsoever. Right or wrong and nothing in between! Otherwise, how, they ask, can true Christianity, the real church be:
SALT AND LIGHT?
Pastor Gerald Sharon disagrees for again in his words:
“I believe they (the strong right and wrong stance of Southwest Church) will limit the church’s ability to love people where they are.”
What do you think? Do you “stand up for God’s Word” like Family Research Council, Washington Update and Southwest Church or do you have your own or other opinions about all things LGBT? Or have you been able to find your own way in loving the so-called sinner while at the same time condemning the sin, that is what is wrong in the eyes of God? Perhaps every individual in every church will come to different conclusions, some compromising and others not compromising. In the case of California’s Southwest Church, Washington Update believes strongly that the church did the right thing by:
STANDING UP FOR GOD’S WORD!
After all, they asked, how can Christians be SALT AND LIGHT to the world if we can’t be that in our very own church?
A weighty question indeed, don’t you think?
There comes, always, the matter of prayer, asking for divine guidance, and courage, and rightly dividing (interpreting) the Scriptures so that Christian men and women can rightly ascertain right from wrong and move forward in the:
Southwest Church knows where it stands.
Do you know where you stand?