When an “evangelical” church receives practicing homosexuals into membership and appoints them into leadership, what should we think?
With decades of cultural accommodation and a lack of biblical teaching in many evangelical churches, this is expected. I predict more and more defections in the months and years to come. “They went out, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” (1 John 2:19).
Cultural norms of sexuality have changed, and Christian sexual ethics are now labelled a throwback to a more narrow-minded time. Without steady exposure to the Word of God, no one can stand this type of pressure. When a church’s main objective is to attract the masses it will soon look like the masses. Only with a humble reliance upon God’s Word will we resist cultural pressures to compromise.
A compromise here is a denial of the Gospel. No matter how you slice it, receiving unrepentant homosexuals into church membership and appointing them into church leadership is an affirmation of that lifestyle. When a church affirms homosexual behaviour, that church ceases to be a Christian church. No honest reading of the Bible will ever lead someone to affirm homosexual behaviour. They may draw on emotions, psychology, or twist Scripture like a yoga pose, but Scripture is no ally to those wanting to affirm homosexual behaviour. In the Garden of Eden God made the woman to be Adam’s wife. That vision for marriage and sexuality is upheld in every book of the Bible. Jesus upheld it in the gospels and so did Paul in his epistles. Ultimately marriage points to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, itself being a marriage between a groom, Jesus, and His bride, the Church. Any attempt to redefine marriage is an attempt to redefine the Gospel. And that is a denial of biblical Christianity.
Typically the churches who do affirm homosexual behaviour do so to be relevant culturally. They fear being left behind as the times progress. A hundred years ago liberal churches stopped believing in the miracles of the Bible because they feared they couldn’t rationalized them in a modern age. They wanted the morality of Jesus without the miracles of Jesus. They ended up with no Gospel and empty churches. In the same way today many want the miracles of Jesus without His morality. As His miracles did in a previous generation so now His morality appears foolish. God still uses our foolishness to shame the wise. To the world our beliefs are still weird.
Christians have always believed “weird” things. For millennia we’ve believed in a God-man who was born of a virgin, crucified, resurrected from the dead three days later, and will one day return to judge the world. To most people, that’s weird. If they think our Saviour is weird, we shouldn’t be surprised that they think His teachings are weird also.
Weirdness brings isolation. The Bible’s teachings may increasingly isolate us from the culture’s mainstream, but that is the way it’s usually been. Christians in the first centuries sat on the margins of Roman society, and many were killed for their beliefs. The same happened in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and to some degree goes on today in China, Iran, and Egypt. It may also be so in Canada. The Church has been here before. Our citizenship is in heaven, and with that comes suffering as we live as foreigners in a strange land. But for those who suffer now, the reward of glory awaits.
Compromise is often couched in the language of love. It reasons, “Love will celebrate eroticism between two people no matter their gender.” God doesn’t celebrate or endorse sin so we can’t either. Sin is sin. To affirm sin is to oppose our holy God. An ungodly love is no love at all. Affirmation is not always love, and love does not require affirmation. Many equate disagreement with hate, and love with agreement. Tommyrot and blatherskite. We can disagree with people without hating them, and we can love them without agreeing with them. Faithful believers have been doing this since the beginning. Our Saviour served people compassionately without compromising, and so will we.
True love offers forgiveness for sin not an affirmation of it. Love points all sinners to the cross of Jesus to be washed in His blood. The most relevant churches are not those who receive the culture’s sexual ethic, but they are the churches who receive repentant sinners who’ve been disillusioned and dirtied by the culture’s empty promises. As the culture moves away from Christianity so will many churches. But the true church will move in truth towards the broken with a loving call to “Repent and believe the Gospel.”
Friends, in this present darkness, Jesus Christ will build His Church. His Church will triumph. Time began with the marriage of Adam and his bride, and so it will finish with the marriage of Jesus and His bride, the Church. To God be the glory. No we won’t back down, and yes love will win.