A 74-year-old school administrator was recently suspended for questioning Pride Month at her school and the addition of LGBT books to the school library. Additionally, a Christian teacher was fired for refusing to use a transgender student's preferred masculine pronoun. A Missouri pastor's Bible-based sermon on transgenderism has sparked vocal opposition from the local LGBT community and several local businesses. And the most heart-wrenching of them all, a news article reads, "Texas Court Forces Dad to Let 7-Year-Old Son Transition Into a Girl."
Sometimes I wonder if I'm caught in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Are we actually suggesting that a person can change their gender? They cannot. Do we really believe that homosexuality is simply an alternative lifestyle that God embraces? God forbid. Are we indeed going to penalize those who hold to solid biblical truth? It appears so.
Many school administrators have voiced concerns in my area of California as well. "It's not about tolerance," they say. "It's about embracing a lifestyle that is wrong, and unless you bow to the politically correct cultural norms, you will be dealt with accordingly." It's painfully obvious that those crying "tolerance" are not very tolerant of Christians. The reason is simple: Their agenda only survives as long as it's not scrutinized. Their goal is to silence the voice of conviction.
As I've said numerous times, I have nothing but compassion for those trapped in sexual sin. People who strongly believe in the Bible and God's will regarding sexual behavior also strongly believe in unconditional love and forgiveness. To say that authentic Christians hate or fear those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the Christian faith. To "confront in love" simply comes from a desire to honor God and to truly love and care for others. The ability to relate to people on their level, show genuine concern and love them regardless of their lifestyle is the mark of true Christianity.
I support the wording of the Education Code that states that we should not discriminate, harass, intimidate or bully anyone because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and so on. But speaking the truth in love is not discrimination, bullying or harassment. The Bible is crystal clear on sexual sin, including homosexuality; even nature bears this out. Jesus was "a friend of sinners," but He never approved of their lifestyle.
School districts, don't let the politically correct police intimidate you. Do what is right and what is best for the students. The irony is that we are running from the very thing we need: repentance and forgiveness. Sadly, many would rather deny God's Word than lose their job.
Let Me Go Off-Topic for a Minute
As a pastor, the primary issues I deal with when talking to those who embrace homosexuality are depression and suicidal thoughts, but why are people even having these problems if the culture—everyone from Hollywood to Washington—truly supports that lifestyle? The reason is simple: conviction. God's Spirit is still actively drawing these people to Himself. As I said to a man I recently prayed with, "Could it be that your depression and suicidal thoughts are being caused by your homosexual lifestyle?" He agreed that it was possible, yet he still chose to embrace it. And according to Romans 1, God won't wait on us forever if we keep ignoring His promptings to repent. Eventually, He will let us wallow in it and suffer the consequences of our actions.
Granted, repenting and trusting in Christ don't necessarily lead to instant freedom from every temptation. Often, sometimes daily, there will be battles, but you can have hope in the midst of those battles instead of depression, fear and anxiety if you turn to Him. (Watch this short sermon clip for encouragement in this area.)
Praise God if a besetting sin vanishes once you surrender to God, but sometimes it's not that easy. Why God completely takes away temptation in some but allows it to remain in others is a mystery to me. The words of a fellow believer to me many years ago demonstrated the confusion many have in this area: "When I was saved, God completely removed that desire. He will remove that desire from anyone if they are truly saved." I can assure you, that's not always true. Change is possible, and you are not beyond God's reach, but it can be a struggle. Resistance tests our faith, draws us closer to God and leads to spiritual maturity. I would rather fight sin while leaning on God than indulge in sin and reject Him. How about you?
Obviously, I'm not saying that churches shouldn't be welcoming, accepting, friendly, warm, hospitable places of worship. They should. But please don't misunderstand—they should also challenge, contend, exhort, reprove and admonish, which the world will hate. For those who doubt this, read the writings of Paul, Peter and James. These men incited tremendous controversy, upset the entire religious system and offended the world, so much so that it cost them their lives. The key, again, is to balance truth with love, mercy with repentance, grace with holiness and humility with purity.
Although dealing with sin is critical because of its destructive nature, we also need to encourage, love and support. When we forget about grace, we become legalistic and arrogant. Conversely, when we compromise the gospel, we quench and grieve the Spirit of God. Our culture is looking for authenticity; even it understands that a compromised life sends a compromised message. A.W. Tozer rightly noted, "Where does Christianity destroy itself in a given generation? It destroys itself by not living in the light—by professing a truth it does not obey."
Like the Old Testament prophet Elijah, who spoke on God's behalf, the same plea goes out today: How long will you waver between two opinions? If God is God, follow Him! (1 Kings 18:21). Will you bow to the politically correct culture or defend the truth?
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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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