They do not know nor do they understand; They walk around in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken- Psalm 82:5 NASB
We live in an age of crumbling foundations (Psalm 11:3-4).
Beliefs and doctrinal views once thought to be foundational to Christianity and one-hundred-percent settled in evangelical circles are now “up for debate”. Once trusted sources of truth are leading the way in questioning previously settled issues of the faith. Thanks to these blind guides many Christians are asking themselves the question: “did God really say that?” about a myriad of different topics (Matthew 15:14).
Andy Stanley, the lead Pastor at Northpoint Community Church in suburban Atlanta is an evangelical leader who bills himself as a conservative while actively attacking foundational truths of the faith. In past statements, interviews, books and sermons he has poked at the foundation of biblical inerrancy. In my opinion he has displayed a lack of respect for the Bible, even recommending Christians minimize the use of Scripture in witnessing and church services in the name of making Christianity “more accessible” to non-Christians.
As a general rule, I make a point of criticizing ideas rather than people. It is not my intention to pile on anyone. My aim here is to report the news and clear up any misconceptions about what the Bible has to say concerning issues. You the reader get to decide what you think about said issues.
So here goes:
Andy Stanley’s church is sponsoring a conference billed as the premier event for Christian parents with LGBTQ children. The marketing material for the conference encourages Christians to “stop taking sides” and find a quieter “middle space” on the issues of homosexuality and gender identity. The speakers chosen for the event include two men who are married to other men and a “theologian” who has “deconstructed” his views on homosexuality and come out the other side convinced the Bible is A-Okay with homosexuality as long as the relationships are “committed and loving”.
Here’s the thing:
There is no such thing as a “middle space” when it comes to homosexuality and the Bible. Nor is there an honest middle space or a path to neutrality concerning gender identity. The Bible is unequivocal about a number of different topics: homosexuality and gender are two of them (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:26, 1st Corinthians 6:9, 1st Timothy 1:9-10).
In recent years it has become popular to insist: a) the Bible does not really say what it appears to say about homosexuality. b) The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with homosexuality. c) The Biblical text was changed by overzealous scholars sometime around 1800 to make it more condemning of homosexuality. d) Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. Therefore, it is okay under the New Covenant as long as the relationships are consensual, loving and committed.
None of those views hold up to scrutiny.
The sin of Sodom was a combination of sexual sin (homosexuality) coupled with a general disregard for the well-being of people (Genesis 19). Leviticus has always been condemning of all sorts of sexual behavior including homosexuality. No one has rewritten the New Testament or misinterpreted any of the Greek words. The Bible says what it says when it comes to sexual sin (not just homosexuality). It is true, Jesus is silent on the issue of homosexuality. However, to Jews homosexuality was a settled issue. Homosexuality was forbidden and the Jews universally agreed it was a sin. There was little point in discussing a settled issue the Jewish people had right. Jesus did tackle divorce, remarriage, the sabbath and myriad of other issues the Jewish people had gotten wrong. Paul was not silent on homosexuality. This makes sense, he was the apostle to the gentiles. Many gentiles routinely practiced homosexuality. Homosexuality was far from a settled issue in Rome, Greece or Asia Minor. For more information on these topics I highly recommend The Gay Gospel? By Joe Dallas and What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung. Both authors treat the subject biblically while showing compassion for strugglers.
All that being said:
I have no idea what the unpardonable sin is. However, I do know it’s NOT homosexuality (Isaiah 1:18, 1stCorinthians 6:9-11, 2nd Corinthians 5:17, 1st John 3:2-4). God does not classify sinners. As far as He is concerned an unsaved person is an unsaved person and a repentant sinner is a repentant sinner. Christians should not treat homosexuality differently than they treat any other sin. All sinners looking for a relationship with Jesus and seeking a lifestyle of repentance should be welcomed into the family of God and loved as if they were Jesus Himself (Mark 9:41, Matthew 25:31-45).
All that being said:
The church should never embrace an activity God forbids just because its socially expedient to do so. That just might be the working definition of giving the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).
There are few people in the church today who feel more isolated or who are more in need of love and support more than Christian parents of LGBTQ kids. I know this because I volunteer a good chunk of my time with two different organizations who offer support groups for parents with LGBTQ kids. If you are a parent with an LGBTQ child or know someone who is. I suggest you skip Andy Stanley’s conference and look up Portland Fellowship instead (www.portlandfellowship.com). Portland Fellowship offers excellent in-person and on-line Bible-based support for parents. All support is designed to help parents love their children well without affirming ungodly choices because that is the path Christians are called to.