In the wake of Memorial day Weekend in Pensacola, I have been reflecting on the approach of the church to our city’s celebration of the LGBT lifestyle. By no means am I claiming to have the definitive answer on how the church SHOULD respond to these events in our city, but as I have considered it, I think it is worthy of our conversation. It takes courage to address an issue, considering it in light of the Scriptures until we have come to a place of biblical clarity. To facilitate the discussion, let me state a few assumptions.
- Biblically speaking, homosexuality is wrong. It is sin. It is no more sin than other sins and it is no less sin than other sins. It is simply sin.
- The church cannot embrace and/or adopt sin or modify God’s Word as it relates to sin. Whether I like it or don’t like it, lying is a sin, killing is sin, homosexuality is sin, etc.
- The church is accountable to God for how we represent God’s position toward sin and those who sin.
- The church is accountable to the culture at large for how we represent God’s position on sin and those who sin. IOW…we cannot say to the culture something that is untrue about God. If God has spoken on an issue, we become a stumbling block to the culture if we do not act truthfully toward them on behalf of God.
With these assumptions in place, I am concerned about the fine line we walk between loving those who sin and celebrating sin itself. As a guy who thinks (unapologetically) like a missionary and who wants all people to accept Christ Jesus as Lord by faith, I am concerned that if we are not careful as the church, we can step over the line from demonstrating love and acceptance toward those who (like us) commit sin…and start to ignore the sin…or worse…we actually celebrate it as normal.
A couple of examples may illuminate the issue:
- If a gay person comes into the church, it seems appropriate to love him as another person created in the image of God. He should be embraced as a person who is of great value to our King. At the same time, we could not accept him into membership while he still holds an acceptance or affinity with his sin. Until he sees sin the way God sees sin, he cannot come to repentance, thus he cannot be redeemed.
- If the same gay person came in with his partner to fellowship and sing and “pal around” with church members as they sought to act as a couple…the church may blur the lines to allow unrepentant sinners to persist in the assembly unless we challenge the sin and are seeking a receptivity in the heart fo the gay couple.
- Finally, if a church sets out to open a hospitality booth at a LGBT parade (or our current Memorial Day festivities at Pensacola Beach) and distribute water bottles, sunscreen, or other items…is it crossing a line and beginning to celebrate the sin itself? If not, why not? Now I understand how this effort might be evangelistic if there is a message of God’s love conveyed (verbally, in writing, etc). My concern is not so much with that as it is with simply being a “presence” in the midst of these activities…as if to communicate love and ACCEPTANCE of the sin and inadvertently communicating that God is “ok” with the sinner’s choice to sin.
While I don’t have all of the answers, I know that there is a message communicated by the church’s actions…so I am curious where you might think the “line” is in our activity. Love to hear your thoughts.