Sexual preference LHBTI

Is the evangelical church willing to practice the biblical teachings about church discipline? Most would say no. I spoke to one pastor who said they allow people into their membership wherever they are at in their spiritual journey; unmarried couples who are living together, a homosexual couple with children, etc., are allowed to become members despite the church’s opposition to these lifestyles. But that church has concluded that those who become members must join in order to grow in their faith rather than saying, “Membership is not for you.” In short, this church was reluctant to raise the bar of church membership beyond vague generalities. There is another reason why churches are reluctant to administer church discipline. They know the power of being shamed, despised, and targeted. They don’t want to be accused of being hateful rather than loving. They don’t want to be vilified in the evening news.Same-Sex

Marriage and church discipline
We applaud Reverend Byron Brazier, pastor of Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God for his courage, his fidelity to the Scriptures, and his willingness to do what is right and pay the price. On Sunday, July 30, 2017, he explained to his congregation that a woman had her membership removed after they learned that she married her same-sex partner. Brazier had spoken to the woman personally and explained the church’s position. She understood and apparently accepted the church’s verdict. But when word got out, others became upset at the church for shaming this woman (though her name was not publicly released) and rejecting her for who she was. “Love” should always win. About fifty people showed up outside the church to protest what one spokesperson called the “public shaming … [of] LGBTQ congregational members.” Predictably, the demonstrators called Brazier hateful and chanted, “Hey, hey ho! Hate has to go!” The demonstrators began their meeting with the reading of Scripture, prayer, and the singing of a hymn. These protesters were from a progressive church that welcomed same-sex couples under the banner of “love and inclusion” not “hate and exclusion.” One speaker addressed the issue of religious freedom. She said that the LGBTQ community never expected churches to give up their religious freedom. In her words, “Communities of faith do not have to discriminate in order to survive … religious freedom requires the liberation of LGBTQ people.” Reread that statement again if you need to. Religious freedom turns out to be agreeing with what the progressives believe about sexuality and religious practice. In effect, “Religious freedom should be limited by my lifestyle and beliefs.” Another speaker said, “If we can challenge what the writers of Scripture have to say about women … about slavery, then surely we can challenge the writers of Scripture as to what they say about homosexuality.” The demonstrators ended their meeting outside the church by singing, “O how I love Jesus.” Conclusion: the biblical teaching about homosexuality can be set aside. Homosexual relationships are not a sin but an alternate expression of one’s humanity. Jesus was all about love, not hate; to follow Him is to take the path of helping people, not hurting and shaming. When Brazier was asked to defend what he had done in light of the fact that our churches are filled with other sinners who are guilty of a host of various sins, he agreed that, yes, there were other sinners and no one is perfect, “But what we must realize is that we cannot institutionalize that which the Lord has already condemned.” In other words, yes, we are all sinners, but to condone a deliberate act that attacks God’s establishment of the family is to cross a clear line.

Truth and love
Earlier I spoke about millennials who are caught between two worlds; they hear echoes of the past but also are tuned to the much louder voices of our present culture. They have gay friends who are caring and thoughtful, so when asked to choose between the Bible and culture, they side with culture and take the next step and feel compelled to endorse same-sex marriage. But we must distinguish between homosexual inclinations and acting on them. We must also distinguish between respect for all people and agreeing with their behavior. We must also counter the widespread notion that those who accept the LGBT lifestyle agenda have taken the moral high road; they, after all, are all about “inclusion” and not “exclusion.” They represent “love,” not “hate.” We as evangelicals must show that these basic premises are wrong, very wrong. You cannot attack natural law without ongoing negative consequences. God is not a neutral bystander in this discussion. Caleb Kaltenbach, who grew up immersed in the LGBT community and is now the lead pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California, says there is a “tension that arises in engaging with LGBT people … between acceptance and approval, and how to challenge people well. There is a tension between grace and truth. We need to own the fact that it isn’t our job to change somebody’s sexual orientation. It is our job to speak truth into people’s lives.” Agreed. In September of 2017, a document was released to the press called the “Nashville Statement” (so called because those who met to draft it did so in Nashville). It was an expression of fourteen affirmations and denials and set forth the biblical teaching about sexuality. The bottom line is that marriage is between one man and one woman and that homosexual relationships are sinful. The negative reaction, even by those who claim to be evangelicals, was severe and immediate. Evangelicals who embrace same-sex relationships quickly appealed to love and compassion. One so-called evangelical blogger wrote that “the demagoguery on display is nauseating” and those who signed it were modern-day Pharisees. Thus, the Nashville Statement was condemned as unloving and judgmental. Be warned: we are living at a time when words such as unity, love, acceptance, and inclusion are being defined in ways that defy Scripture. We are forgetting that God is a jealous God who often exercises intolerant love. We need to get over the idea that God agrees with us about everything. Under cultural pressure, evangelicals are susceptible to jettison biblical teaching and fall in line with our culture’s expectations. And it could get far worse. An attempt will be made for biblically based Christian colleges to close unless they drop their insistence that natural marriage is the only kind that God sanctions. And churches will have to choose between biblical convictions, or the heavy “boot” of the state bent on squelching every bit of religious freedom about matters of sexuality. The LGBT community has already proven that their convictions trump religious freedom and, clearly, they have veto power over laws they do not favor. The day might come when child protection services will be called in to monitor children who are homeschooled and, if necessary, remove them from the care of parents who have been diagnosed with acute “intolerant personality disorder.” For Christians who object to such actions, they’ll be vilified as siding with hopelessly entrenched, bigoted cultists. They might be declared mentally incompetent. My fellow brothers and sisters, we need to get over our fear of being called bigots, intolerant, or racists, and make it perfectly clear to both church and society that no Christian can truly follow Christ and endorse self-harm (as in gender reassignment surgery) and same-sex relationships. We cannot show a godly love for our neighbor if our silence is interpreted as submission to Satan’s objective of destroying God’s temple. Let me repeat, it is better to be accused of being harsh than it is to tell lies with hushed tones of compassion, love, care, and thoughtfulness. Let us hear again the words of Jesus, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22–23). The Evangelical Divide “Was he against it, before he was for it? Is he really against it now?” That is the opening question that Al Mohler asked about the strange story of Eugene Peterson. Peterson, retired since 1991, was asked if he would perform a same-sex wedding if he was still pastoring today. He answered, “Yes.” After the ensuing firestorm and the threat of having his books pulled from Christian book markets, he changed his mind and now says he believes that marriage should just be between a man and a woman. What he really believes, we may never know. This is the watershed issue of evangelicalism. As Mohler says, “Those who have fled for security to the house of evasion must know that the structure has crumbled. It always does.” There is no place to hide. To all those pastors who fear that a loving but firm stand against same-sex relationships would brand your church as a hate group, and thus do damage to the gospel, put yourself in the shoes of the apostle Paul: just reread Romans 1:18–32, and remember he was writing to a church within a culture that was rife with defiling sexual sins of every sort. Yet he wrote candidly about God’s view of homosexual relationships, knowing his letter would be read publicly to the congregation. He knew that truth hurts, but it also heals (1 Cor. 6:9–11). After Martin Niemöller came out courageously in opposing Hitler’s agenda, his fellow pastors strongly condemned him, saying that they thought that sensitive political matters could be handled more diplomatically. He replied, “What does it matter how we look in Germany compared with how we look in heaven?” A good question. So, how does the church of Jesus Christ look in heaven? “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4).