The “yeah right” came after I read a column in Ministry Today by Exodus leader Jeff Buchanan. Their title asked if church was a safe place for all? By “all”, Im assuming they meant homosexuals since, that’s what Buchanan wrote about, not “all”.
That kind of perturbed me as I read the commentary. Maybe it was because the title asked a question that the article didn’t address or maybe it was because the article didn’t address critical aspects of the question. Or maybe I am just sick of making church “safe” for homosexuals (all) when we are in the midst of a significant battle with apostasy at the hands of false teachers and leaders. Not to mention biblical illiteracy is at an all time high.
So help me sort this out.
If we’re honest, the issue of homosexuality intimidates most church leaders. It makes us feel helpless. When someone pulls us aside and confides in us that he or she struggles with same-sex attractions, we diligently put on our “leader face” while we shrivel on the inside, feeling absolutely incompetent to address the situation.
Nothing could be further from the truth. If you believe God’s Word to be true, then you automatically have the needed tools for effective ministry, since all Scripture is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NIV). Therefore, we are equipped as the church to minister to anyone who walks through our doors—homosexual or not.
Unfortunately, intimidation and partiality often attempts to rob us of the opportunity to minister and experience the full gospel. A healthy church already has what the same-sex struggler needs; we just have to realize what those things are:
And then he lists them and talks about them. Compassionate truth, discipleship, community. And for the record Im for all that. But there are quite a few levels of educational dissonance going on here.
First, if a pastor conducts outreach to homosexuals (and lets assume these are lost people) how can the pastor provide them with compassionate truth, discipleship and community when there is still such confusion about homosexuality in the church? I remember when I was a member of one church I was very, very hesitant to invite homosexuals to the church because I wasn’t sure what they might hear on any given Sunday. Its like, why bring someone into a place where they could be potentially insulted and called names? That would really destroy my work of getting them to church.
It seems the priority is to really get “the house” in order before we bring in souls that could be damaged even further by someone’s spiritual ignorance.
The other problem is the gay christian movement. Although it appears they are currently on the fringe, people like Tonex and other mid level apostates continue advancing the errant idea that one can reconcile homosexuality and Christian living. And though some balk at it, if enough people keep repeating this lie (thanks for the help Lexi) soon it will become commonplace. That’s how false doctrine seats itself in our midst. We dont cast out and reject those who are spreading it. Instead we say just “love them and pray for them”. Right sentiment, wrong practice.
John MacArthur said Paul himself started the process of eliminating false teachers. In 1 Timothy 1:20 he mentions Hymenaeus and Alexander, perhaps two of the leading false teachers in Ephesus, whom he “delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
The Apostle Paul told Titus to shut down false teachers (like Tonex) who are spreading evil words.
“For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:10.11
Which brings me back to the first point. How can you invite homosexuals into the church to be changed when there is a visible faction of people in the church which teach that there’s no need for them to change? Frankly, Im sick of the “just love them” mantra. That doesn’t solve anything and it really looks like a easy way to detach oneself from the seriousness of what’s happening right before our eyes.
A wise preacher once said to me, “God could save and deliver every homosexual in America tomorrow, but if he does, will the church be ready to receive them?” The answer is no. And that only complicates our mandate to reach every person.
Everyone wants to include homosexuals because they have been positioned as the face of the contemporary outcast. Its almost fashionable to have a streak of tolerance towards homosexuals partly because some are afraid of the vicious invective if you don’t. And some partly because secretly believe that in time unrepentant homosexuals will be fully accepted into the church just like blacks and women.
That’s why the Buchanan article left me with a tinge of whatever. Not saying anything about all of the complications embedded into this “outreach to homosexuals” isnt helping the church to be truly prepared.
Is the church a safe place for homosexuals? If we’re honest, we cant answer that question yet.