Higgins says ‘bridge-building’ must not come at the expense of Biblical Truth
This is a wonderful essay by my friend Laurie Higgins, who recently joined the staff of Illinois Family Institute. Laurie is right: in today’s evangelical church we are witnessing “obfuscation” in the name of Gospel outreach, timidity and compromise in the name of “bridge-building,” and outright treachery (e.g., Peggy Campolo’s embrace of sodomy-based “marriage”) in the name of being “Christ-like.” Young Christians, especially, do not treat homosexuality like God does in the Bible; they are far too cavalier toward this sin because they grew up in a pro-”gay” popular and media culture.
Laurie’s piece below is an antidote to those Christians who may feel tempted to water down God’s Word — or to stop proclaiming it — in the name of extending love to those caught up in homosexual practice. True love — or what the world often calls “tough love” — does not run from God’s Truth but rather embraces it. Read this article, then read it again, and then pass it on to your network of family and friends. — Peter LaBarbera, www.aftah.org
Do Christian Spin Doctors Heal the “LGBTQ” Community?
9/19/2008 8:17:00 AM
Despite the fact that I am neither a theologian nor a pastor, I’m going to make what I hope are not presumptuous observations about the way some individuals, church leaders, and non-profit organizations attempt to build bridges with the homosexual community. Many Christian “bridge-builders” are pursuing this noble effort by either concealing from their GLBTQ friends the true nature of their orthodox theological positions, or conversely by concealing from their orthodox Christian friends their non-traditional theological positions.
The goals of building bridges, cultivating community, and fostering relationships between the orthodox Christian community and the GLBTQ community, and spreading the Good News of Christ’s work of redemption within that community are not only noble but critical goals. And certainly different people are called to approach these goals in different ways. But the methods or strategies employed must never sacrifice, obscure, or compromise truth.
Some of these bridge builders justify their obfuscation by claiming that it is not the role of the Christian community to “convict or judge.” They argue, rightly in my view, that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts the heart of man, and God who judges. But the way they are using this correct theology muddies the waters by implying that if we state clearly that God defines homosexual behavior as sin, we are guilty of convicting and judging others. That is false. To answer direct questions with direct, clear answers on God’s view of homosexuality does not constitute either convicting or judging. And it can lead to the very redemption bridge-builders profess to desire for the GLBTQ community.
There are several important clarifications that need to be made. First, conviction is a work of the Holy Spirit on our hearts. Second, our plain, unequivocal, unambiguous statements about what the Bible teaches about homosexuality are not the convicting work of the Holy Spirit on our hearts. And third, speaking plain truths often plays a part in the Holy Spirit’s work of convicting us of sin. We can and should respond to direct questions with direct responses with no fear that we have engaged in a presumptuous acts of convicting.
The idea of “judgment” is similarly misused. We as fallen humans cannot presume to judge who is saved and who is not, but we are obligated to teach and preach about what God’s Word teaches about sin. Articulating clearly what the Bible teaches on homosexuality does not constitute unbiblical, illegitimate judging. God manifestly does not prohibit believers from sharing what He reveals in his Word as right or wrong conduct. What kind of a world would we live in if every Christian ceased articulating moral principles derived from Scripture?
If asked directly, orthodox believers should answer winsomely and lovingly, but plainly and truthfully. If we strain to find ways to avoid speaking the truth that God proscribes homosexual practices, we do a disservice both to those experiencing same-sex attractions and to our relationship with Christ. Our equivocations, evasions, or ambiguity will either appear as untruthful and manipulative, or they will deceive people into thinking we believe something we do not. We should instead do as we are commanded and speak the truth in love.
Of course, sharing biblical truths about sin may make people uncomfortable and even angry, but sharing what the Word of God teaches about homosexuality, if done in a spirit of humility and in a gracious manner, does not and indeed cannot, inhibit the work of the Holy Spirit. To imply that because speaking biblical truth hurts or angers those who self-identify as homosexual, it undermines the capacity of the Holy Spirit to bring them to salvation is unbiblical.
Those who self-identify as homosexual are no different from those who are selfish, greedy, envious, prideful, fornicators, gossips, or gluttons. All of us come to the cross as sinners, and none will be fully sanctified until Christ’s return, but retreat from or obfuscation of what the Bible teaches about selfishness, greed, envy, pride, fornication, gossip, gluttony, homosexuality, or any other of the myriad manifestations of sin is simply not scriptural–and therefore not good.
If a fornicator comes to us and asks if God approves of fornication, we must with love, humility, and empathy, tell him no, God does not approve of fornication. Similarly, if someone asks us directly how God views homosexuality, we must answer that God disapproves of it. We do not reject him or her because of their questions, their feelings, or their actions. And we ought to take this opportunity to share the Gospel message of hope and redemption. But we must answer truthfully. His or her anger does not mean we have done something wrong, and it tells us precisely nothing about the ultimate effect of our words. If we speak God’s truth in a gracious, humble manner, we glorify God. The ultimate consequence is in God’s hands. All our strategizing about what will work best to draw people into the Kingdom reveals our lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty.
Martin Luther wrote:
Similarly Martin Luther’s namesake, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this about the church’s resistance to confronting boldly, directly, and unambiguously the sin of racism:
The building of bridges, cultivating of community, and fostering of relationships must always be subordinate to teaching the entirety of Scripture. That is not to say that Scripture passages on homosexuality are the totality of the message. They’re not. But it does mean that Scripture has something explicit to say about homosexuality, and if we are asked what the Bible says, we are obligated, if we love Christ and love our neighbors as ourselves, to share that hard truth. That we must address this issue so often arises not from any obsession on the part of Christians but rather from the relentless, pervasive cultural assault on biblical truth.
John Wesley articulates eloquently the reasons and necessity for a clear exposition of God’s universal, eternal, and immutable ordinances for human conduct:
This article was posted on Sunday, September 21st, 2008 at 12:21 am and is filed under A - What does the Bible say about homosexuality?, B - Ex-Homosexual Testimonies, Bible, Biblical Truth, D - GLBTQ Pressure Within Churches, Evangelicals, Gay and Christian?, Gospel evangelism, News, The Bible, Churches, & Homosexuality. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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