It's Not Okay to Be Gay?

Last week I wrote a post which said, "if the Bible says something directly and you can't, you have a problem." As hard as that is, I absolutely believe that.  If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, all of what it says is important... not just the pretty parts. 


On November 9th, Dr. Robert Jeffress preached a sermon at First Baptist Church Dallas entitled "Why Gay is Not Okay." The sermon title was publicized enough beforehand that FBC Dallas ended up with about 100 picketers on their front steps. 

And rightly so. 

Now let me be absolutely clear about three things. First of all, the Bible clearly indicates that homosexual behavior is behavior that is out of line with what God intended from creation. Second of all, I respect Dr. Jeffress for much of what he does - and for his courage in shooting straight from the Bible despite cultural opposition. Thirdly, this was a colossal error in judgment. 

Who exactly was Dr. Jeffress hoping to convince? The people sitting inside First Baptist Church on November 9th were mostly the already convinced. People who disagreed with Dr. Jeffress were standing on the steps with signs. What is that supposed to accomplish? 

As a result of his message (which may or may not have been biblically accurate), there are 100 people picketing, and hoards of others who read about it in the newspaper that are absolutely convinced that homosexuality is the issue to Christians, and it's not. 

We can be so direct in saying what the Bible says that we miss what the Bible says.    

It is absolutely true that homosexual behavior is something that can separate us from God. It's also true that eating too much at a pizza buffet could separate us from God, or that gossipping about our cube mate can separate us from God. And we need to be clear about that from the pulpit. But never, ever, ever just for the sake of pointing out that "Gay is not okay." 

Truth has to be balanced with love, and when you start from the platform of "Gay is Not Okay," you end up with 100 people who think that you're inside saying Jesus didn't die for them. What a tragedy. 


Kara said...

what a great post! Thank you for putting this into words that make sense!

R. M. Sivulka said...

Myopic post. A pastor has a responsibility to preach the full word of God and to reprove and rebuke with all patience as 2 Tim. 4:2-5 says. Jeffress talks about all the issues, and this gay issue is completely relevant. Further, there are a lot of stupid Christians that need to know why they should believe and not believe certain things. They need to be equipped. It's your feminized outlook that doesn't want to "rock the boat" which has made the Christian Church as anemic as it is today. Jeffress would be crucified and cause riots, and as such, he looks a lot more in line with the prophets, Christ, and His apostles than you do.

Chris Freeland said...

Mr. Sivulka,

Thanks for your response. From the tone of your response, I'm guessing you don't have much interest in thinking through this, which saddens me. However, I want to be clear: I have nothing against rocking the boat. But I am strongly against rocking the boat simply to cause waves.

Please don't forget: The Pharisees loved rocking the boat. They prided themselves in reproving and rebuking. And they missed Jesus.

If the purpose of rocking the boat is not to point directly to Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we're rocking for the wrong reasons.

My contention is that Dr. Jeffress missed a golden opportunity to point at least 100 people to the Gospel because he was rocking the boat with the already convinced.

lisa said...

brilliantly handled, as usual.

especially those last two paragraphs.

R. M. Sivulka said...

You really question whether Jeffress simply wants to rock the boat just to rock the boat? You really think his motives could be that sinister? Simply because one doesn't bring up the gospel in every situation doesn't entail that his motives are sinister. One may do everything for God's glory even when that includes speaking what's true in a particular situation. For example, if I'm at a PTA meeting, and I present a case why I think an abstinence program may be appropriate, I'm not simply rocking the boat just to rock the boat if I don't give a gospel presentation and point people directly to Christ.

Chris Freeland said...

Mr. Sivulka,

I don't in any way believe Dr. Jeffress' motives were sinister. I believe his motives were/are pure - his approach in this specific case left some to be desired.

I have nothing against speaking truth in a particular situation. I do have a problem preaching a sermon just to poke people in the eye who aren't even in the room.

Your PTA illustration is comparing apples to oranges. In that illustration, you're making your plea to the people who need to hear your message. Jeffress alienated the people who needed to hear his message before they ever entered the room. He was proclaiming abstinence-only to a group of people who bought chastity belts for their kids...

R. M. Sivulka said...

Again, you think Jeffress wanted "just to poke people in the eye who aren't even in the room"? So you are saying that people in the church do not need to hear and learn why homosexuality is wrong?

I really don't understand your problem here. Does Jeffress on your view try to poke people in the eye (a sinister motive) or not? If so, is it just to poke them in the eye or does he have other intentions in mind? I for one would give my brother the benefit of the doubt and hold the latter. It seems to me that a pastor has the responsibility to deal with issues as they come up and not stick his head in the clouds and thereby not fight the devil where he's attacking. So it's really beyond me if you find that problematic and doubt that's what Jeffress is up to.

The PTA example had a particular reference to your idea of pointing people to Christ. It simply dismisses your claim that "If the purpose of rocking the boat is not to point directly to Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we're rocking for the wrong reasons."

Chris Freeland said...

Regardless of whether or not it was Dr. Jeffress' established intention prior to the message (I don't think it was), that's exactly what he did. He published a sermon title and called the news to let everyone know he would be telling us why "it's not okay to be gay."

Do you honestly think the people who showed up to hear Dr. Jeffress talk are people struggling with their sexuality who wonder what the Bible says on the topic?

The point is: The people sitting in the pew that evening knew that homosexuality was wrong. The people on the steps outside didn't need to know that homosexuality was wrong... they needed to know that Jesus is Savior. Most of the gay people I know know that homosexuality is wrong...

R. M. Sivulka said...

The guys outside do need to know Jesus as savior, but as Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3). The culture, influenced by liberals and radical homosexuals, has been brain-washed to think that homosexuality is OK and that even the Bible can't be used to preach against it. A man of God needs to stand in the gap, and say to the world, "It's not OK to be gay!" If you don't see this, then I'm afraid you've been too influenced by our culture to *not* call things what they are. You appear to be a feminized pacifist. So if I read Mt. 23, and I ask myself, "Who appears more like Jesus here--you or Jeffress?" What do you think most people are going to say? "Act like men, be strong" (1 Cor. 16:13).

Chris Freeland said...

Mr. Sivulka,

My point exactly. Unfortunately, Dr. Jeffress wasn't talking to the people who needed to repent. He was talking to the already convinced while those who needed to repent were standing outside the auditorium.

Dr. Jeffress was preaching to pharisees while the woman caught in adultery picketed him outside.

If it helps you sleep at night to call others who stand for nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified "feminized pacifists," so be it. But it's an unfair, unaccurate, and unprofessional thing for you to say.

I don't disagree in the least that homosexual behavior is a sin before the Almighty God. But I'd rather explain that to a homosexual than a Pharisee. Maybe that's just me.

R. M. Sivulka said...

I don't know why a sign on a church doesn't speak to those who need to repent and causes curiosity to come in and hear what is being said. So Jeffress trains those already in the church, and he gives a message to everyone on the outside and invites them to come hear his message. This is what a pastor is supposed to do. I think he probably does other things besides this, but there is certainly nothing wrong with this, and it's quite in keeping with what the Bible commands.

Now you're accusing his congregation of being Pharisees and assuming that those picketing are just as humble and broken as the woman caught in adultery.

I recognize that you hold homosexuality is sin. That's not the issue. The issue is, as I see it, you've been brain-washed by the culture to only give your views out so as to not offend anyone by them. You think your methods of getting your position out is much better than Jeffress. I find that to be a joke, and not in keeping with the Bible.

Chris Freeland said...

Mr. Sivulka,

Obviously, my brainwashing doesn't go as far as you think. I'm not afraid of stating my views in such a way that they offend you.

Then again, I'm not sure why it's important to poke people in the eye in order to convince them they need a Savior.

Again - I have no problem preaching against homosexuality. But I'm arguing that preaching a sermon titled "Why Gay is Not Okay" completely misses the point of the gospel. A gay guy can go straight as an arrow and remain far from God.

Dr. Jeffress missed a chance to share Christ with a bunch of people standing outside his church. Instead, he preached about what was wrong with those people to a group of heterosexual people who were already convinced.

It is more "courageous" to get involved in the lives of messy people and point them toward the Savior than it is to sit behind a pulpit and rant about sinners to the already convinced.

R. M. Sivulka said...

Do you think an unrepentant homosexual can be saved? If you think as I do that one can't be (Lk. 13:3 w/ 1 Cor. 6:9-10), then the most loving thing to do is to warn and rebuke. I grant it is also a good thing to "get involved in the lives of messy people and point them toward the Savior" as you say. The problem is that you make this a false disjunction. Viz., you either preach behind a pulpit of others' errors (which you don't like) or you get involved in their messy lives (which you do like). I see both/and as biblical, but you denounce one to uphold the other and I find that unbiblical.

Chris Freeland said...

Mr. Sivulka,

Unfortunately I fear you are deciding what my argument is before you read my post. One more time: homosexuals need to repent of their behavior. But Dr. Jeffress wasn't talking to homosexuals. The way he approached the sermon ensured they were outside the building.

R. M. Sivulka said...

OK, so you're simply strategizing the best way to get homos into the building to hear his message, right? If so, why should that have been J's primary concern? If you say in order to minister to them, then aren't you assuming there's no other way that he or the other soldiers he's training can do that? And are you also assuming that J should not do more good for the household of faith?

Chris Freeland said...

Mr. Sivulka,

The fact that you call them "homos" betrays where your heart is at on this issue. This will be my last response to you on this matter, which saddens me. Your lack of desire to have a gracious conversation with an individual struggling with homosexual behavior, resorting instead to speaking of them using pejorative terms, reflects a prideful, legalistic, sinful spirit that I can only pray you will examine.

One more time: The best way to "train soldiers" to help homosexuals see their need for a Savior is not to teach them why homosexuality is bad. Everyone in that room agreed that homosexual behavior is evil. If he really wanted to "train soldiers," he would have modeled good "battle" technique which does not include lobbing grenades inside a closed structure.

Dr. Jeffress could have been much more effective - if that was his goal - helping the people inside his church understand that homosexual people are created in the image of God just like you and I, and deserve to be loved, cared for, and pointed toward the Savior. The issue is not their homosexuality; it's their lack of faith in the only begotten Son of God. They need to know that, and they aren't going to hear that message if they are picketing the service outside.

God is just as concerned with your pride issue as He is with a homosexual's behavior. But the good news is: in Jesus Christ, He offers forgiveness for both.


R. M. Sivulka said...

"Homos" is short for "homosexuals" just as "J" is short for "Jeffress." Your being too sensitive to think straight.

And I suppose you don't think we need to train our young people on why extra-marital sex of any sort is wrong either? You devalue the role that "reasons for faith" (Acts 17 & 1 Pet. 3:15) have in spiritual growth. Reasons are valuable for others who need something more than this is simply what God doesn't want you to engage in (e.g., God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.) That just doesn't work, since people intuitively want to *know* that their faith matches up with reality. That encourages the household of faith to live as God wants them to, and also encourages them to share truth with others who desperately need it.

So are you assuming that we can't do this and also love homos as image-bearers who desparately need God's grace? I find you to beg the question against J and 1st Baptist Dallas in this matter. Ya, like they all are a bunch of haters. This bears false witness against your brothers and sisters. You despise them and rather want to kiss up to the homos who have no interest in our God.

Again, the issue is homos' homosexuality, because that's what they love more than God. It's their identity, it's their god, and they'd rather go to hell than repent of it and let the true God change them from the inside through faith. They are idolaters of a sexual sort. Again, if they don't repent (i.e., change their minds), our Lord Jesus said they will perish (Lk. 13:3).

I have friends of mine who are Christians who still struggle with homo. They go to my church. That's not their identity. Their identity is a follower of Christ, and they have mentally laid down their sin for the sake of the cross. If you minimize the cross, then you do your homo friends a total disservice, and you'll find them in hell someday. Be a man, and not just provide for people's material and emotional needs, but provide their spiritual needs by, among other things, telling them the truth that it's not OK to be gay.