Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley recently preached a sermon on the tension between grace and truth, in which he shared the story of a gay couple who attends his church. Stanley neither condemned nor condoned their homosexuality; he simply told their story.
That same week, a video of another pastor, Sean Harris, went viral. He could be heard telling parishioners to punch their effeminate sons and break their limp wrists.
Andy Stanley’s decision to mention homosexuality without clearly condemning it prompted a backlash among some evangelical leaders like Al Mohler. A leading Christian website ran a front page story about the dust-up. It was suggested that Stanley was guilty of “total capitulation to the spirit of the age” (to use the words of one of Stanley’s critics) for not expressing his opposition to homosexuality.
On that same evangelical website, there was not one mention of the now famous sermon by Sean Harris.
To be fair, Harris is not a megachurch pastor. Nor is Charles Worley. Or Curtis Knapp. These individuals represent a small, fringe corner of the church. They don’t speak for everyone. They don’t speak for most Christians who oppose homosexuality.
Their following may be mercifully small; however, thanks to the wonders of social media, their platform is anything but.
- Nearly 400,000 people have watched a video of Sean Harris advising parents to punch effeminate sons and break their limp wrists.
- Over 500,000 have seen a small child delight his congregation by singing, “Ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.”
- More than a million people have watched Charles Worley tell his church that gays and lesbians should be put in a giant concentration camp.*
- And then there was Curtis Knapp, who suggested the government should start killing gays. His sermon is currently the number-one downloaded MP3 on SermonAudio.com.
In recent weeks, these individuals have become the face of the church to our gay and lesbian neighbors. Which is what makes the silence of evangelical leaders so unfortunate.
This is where we could use a little of Al Mohler’s indignation. Surely this is more deserving of a front-page story on a leading evangelical website than what some megachurch pastor didn’t say about homosexuality.
Even if you believe homosexual practice is at odds with the Bible, you probably understand there’s something else incompatible with the way of Jesus: hate.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10, NIV)
As Christians, we have a debt of love to our gay and lesbian neighbors. This debt obligates us to speak against the violence and hatred of men like Sean Harris, Charles Worley, and Curtis Knapp. Silence is not an option.
* BTW, someone by the name of Adolf already tried this. During World War II, Hitler sent thousands of gays to concentration camps, along with Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the mentally disabled, and other “undesirables.” You know, in case you were wondering where Charles Worley gets his inspiration. For more, see “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals” on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website.
Related post: They Can’t Take Your Baby Jesus at Homebrewed Theology