In light of Justin Hoke being removed as pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church for posting the following: "Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still sin. The culture may change; the Bible does not," I thought it was appropriate and timely to re-release this article:
With pastors stepping down, best-selling Christian authors remaining silent and popular worship leaders showing support for gay marriage, many are left baffled and confused. These points may help us better understand the great divide:
1. The definition of love is misunderstood. To truly "love" others, we must first love God and His truth; that's the foundation (see Matt. 22:36-40). Does loving someone mean we approve of their lifestyle? Or does it mean we love them enough to share the truth? If a person is more worried about being liked than being truthful, do they really love those caught in sin more than those who are willing to speak the truth in love? The answer is obvious: Authentic Christians love the truth and others to the degree that they are willing to risk the consequences of confrontation in order to help others. This is genuine love, not hatred. The greatest gift parents can give to their children is love and truth rather than reinforcing a destructive lifestyle.
How can one person review Bible verses dealing with this topic and come to the conclusion that gay marriage is biblical while others come to the opposite conclusion? It's very simple: The first group looks through the lens of opinion; the second group through the lens of genuine love and absolute truth. Listen to my one- hour interview on Fox News that will better illustrate the differences: youtu.be/tUH1aL33Dz8.
Dr. Michael Brown recently remarked, "One reason people support gay marriage is because their gay friends are really nice and some seem to be committed Christians. They say their spiritual lives came alive when they realized they could be gay and Christian at the same time."
I believe that they came alive because someone validated their lifestyle. This is no different than people who say they feel alive and renewed even though they are caught in adultery. Sin feels good for a season—that's the deception. But these seasons of sexual fulfillment are often short-lived—"Be not deceived: God it not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). True freedom comes from true repentance.
2. Is the Bible clear or vague? Recent polls show that less than 50 percent of believers even read their Bible, let alone practice it. And, as we know, to read truth without practicing it leads to deception. No wonder there's confusion. Additionally, many of the proponents are embracing the views of liberal authors. They value the words of Matthew Vines more than the Gospel of Matthew.
When Christians believe God has given them the authority to change truth in order to keep it relevant, they are departing from God. Although disheartening, this trend is not surprising. The apostle Paul warned centuries ago: "The time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine [God's Word], but ... in accordance with their own desires ... they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). If this isn't what we see today, I don't know what is.
The Bible encourages us to be peacemakers but not religious negotiators. In our zeal to reach others, we often compromise the message because we want to be liked rather than truthful. Surprisingly, it was "Christians" who came against my article regarding what the Bible says about gay marriage and homosexuality. It can be viewed here: westsidechristianfellowship.
3. "Don't judge" apparently means "don't say anything negative." When we look at the context and the true meaning of "judge," we clearly see that there is no contradiction. This misrepresentation of "judging" is an attempt to conform Scripture to support opinions. In John 7:24, Christians are to judge or "call into question" those things that clearly contradict God's principles. In 1 Corinthians 2:15, the apostle Paul said that those who are spiritual should judge and discern all things. We are to examine our own lives first, and then we are to be moved primarily by love for God and others before critiquing.
4. Who's influencing your decision: Hollywood or the Holy Spirit? Our beliefs should reflect God's heart rather than the world's influence. The world will know we are Christians by our love for one another and by our obedience, not by how well we imitate the world around us. Oswald Chambers once noted that a sinner, who is now saved by grace, "proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of who he was."
Carnal Christians give God "His due," a few hours on Sunday. The things of the world are exciting, and the things of God are dull. The love of this world and the praise of men have drawn a large section of Christendom away from God, hence the divide. A carnal Christian does not pray and seek the heart of God. A deep prayer life exposes facades and crushes hypocrisy. Carnality also destroys spiritual power and hinders the infilling of the Spirit. In short, everything God calls us to be is compromised, including a skewed view of sexual purity.
Sadly, many who embrace views outside of the Bible are not saved. Genuine faith is reflected in a love for God and His Word, sincere humility, true repentance and a disconnect from the world. Does your life reflect these characteristics? We all sin and fall short, but the important question to ask concerns the condition of your heart. Have you truly repented and believed in Christ as your Lord and Savior, or are you trusting in false assurance? Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to, "Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified."
5. There is hope: At this point you may think, "Why try? This is hopeless! I've drifted too far." Let me reassure you: God doesn't let our relationship with Him hinge on measuring up or on following rules. He wants us to come as we are, recognize our need for a Savior and commit our life completely to Him. Whether you're promoting gay marriage or struggling with homosexuality, recognize that we've all made mistakes. Simply repent and strive for holiness and purity, and you will experience "times of refreshing ... from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). Change is God's job, but obedience is ours.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California. More can be found at ShaneIdleman.com, and free downloads of his books are available at WCFAV.org. Visit him on Facebook and subscribe to his new podcast.
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