Does the Bible consider homosexuality a sin or not? It seems like a simple question for a pastor to answer. Yet, Pastor Andy Stanley has so far refused to make his answer clear for all the world to know it.
Stanley’s viewpoint is at the center of controversy currently after Al Mohler Jr. brought up one of Stanley’s sermon illustrations in a column for Christian Post entitled: “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?” For the record, I think the answer is yes and that Mohler’s column was right on.
The sermon illustration put Stanley’s views of homosexuality on trial because he took issue with a homosexual couple volunteering in one of his church campuses, not because of their homosexuality. But because one of the individuals was not yet divorced from his wife. Stanley identified the offending sin as adultery. If you’d like to hear the sermon Stanley was giving in context you can listen to the audio and a discussion of it in this Fighting for the Faith podcast.
The matter has generated quite a few stories and radio discussions because the Bible is very clear on the subject, in contrast to Stanley. While the viewpoint in unpopular, homosexuality is one of the many behaviors listed in Scripture as sins. So Pastor Stanley either accepts what the Word of God states plainly, or he doesn’t. And his parishioners and the body of Christ as a whole deserve to know which it is.
The Christian Post had a follow up story today (May 6) that still hasn’t cleared things up. That article by Anugrah Kumar called “Pastor Andy Stanley Alludes to How Christians Should Treat Gays” mentioned that when asked for his views, “Stanley had pointed The Christian Post to his message series when asked Wednesday for clarification on his views on homosexuality, and added that he might issue a statement to CP in the near future about the topic.”
That’s not an answer, that is a non-refusal refusal to answer (kind of like the non-apology apologies you see in politics all the time).
In his most recent sermon (of that 8-part series), Stanley instead turned the issue on its head saying Christians have a “branding problem” (because people call Christians homophobic), putting down theology (from CP: “Regrettably, he added, many a times we find that those who have hurt us are the ones who are right in their theology.”) and saying: “Jesus’ movement was all about ‘how you love,’ but overtime it became ‘what you believe,’ he said. ‘If we would simply do what Jesus did… instead of arguing about what he said, ‘the world would change, the reputation of Christ’s followers would change, the influence of the church would change. This is easy. This requires nothing… just a brand new worldview’.”
I’m not sure where to begin. Okay, on the “branding” point. What the world thinks of Christians does not matter. Jesus told his disciples they would be hated for his sake. I absolutely agree that the truth should always be spoken in love and that Christians should not get hung up on one particular sin as if it is a worse sin than any other. But refusing to tell the truth is NOT love. Each and every sin and lifestyle of sin is soul-endangering.
Second, on the point of theology. I am wary of any pastor who puts down doctrine or theology. His statement that often the people who hurt us are doctrinally correct is an overgeneralization and a red herring.
Third, this business about a Jesus movement gets under my skin. What Jesus did wasn’t a “movement.” It wasn’t like the sexual revolution, or women’s suffrage, or prohibition for crying out loud. That language plays into the hands of every person who wants to reduce Christ to his being a good man who was an inspirational example for us to follow.
Jesus was God in flesh revealing himself and the incredible good news! That he was going to make a way for hopeless sinners to be reconciled with God through his death and resurrection. He came to bring a new covenant yes, that would change our relationship to the Mosaic Law. But that didn’t change that the Law was right. It was meant to open our eyes! The Law was given so that we would know we were sinners who could never, ever be good enough in our striving to be acceptable to God. Jesus came and lived a perfect life, one that we COULD NEVER LIVE, so that he could take on the punishment we deserve and become our substitution.
We CANNOT do what Jesus did. We will never even come close. Should we love others? Absolutely! But it can only come from Jesus through us. As believers the more we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the more we can be transformed by him, and the more we will resemble him in behavior.
Jesus was all about “What you believe.” In fact, just this afternoon I was reading John 6 and was pondering this verse: John 6:28 “They said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God? ” The multitude wanted to know how they could do what Jesus had done (he had just fed the 5,000).
But Christ’s answer was not “model my behavior” or “have enough faith and you’ll be able to work these miracles too.” No. His answer was believe in me. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
The last paragraph in the CP article was also troubling. “People around Christians, the pastor suggested, should not feel condemned, and that would give leverage to us which we have lost. Change cannot be brought about by preaching and legislation, he emphasized. Change comes when people see something; “it’s so attractive, almost irresistible.”
People should not feel condemned? I agree that bruising feelings unnecessarily is wrong, but to be concerned merely with a person’s feelings rather than their soul is heartless and cruel.
All people who have not believed the gospel of Jesus Christ are living, condemned by their sins, and damned to hell. That’s the problem!
I’m truly saddened that Stanley thinks “change cannot be brought about by preaching.” Since that is the very command we’ve been given. Christians are commanded to preach the Gospel. A quick search of “preach” in the Bible yields a great many verses (these are just a few of them) that prove a huge part of Jesus’ own ministry was preaching and his followers were to do the same, verses Stanley needs to reexamine I think.
Matthew 4:17 From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mark 3:14 And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach …
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
Jesus speaking in Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 10:42 And he charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is he who is ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
Romans 10:13-17 for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness…