I read many words last week. Some were disturbing, some were infuriating, some were heartbreaking and some were uplifting. Check out this good stuff, in case you missed it.
This poem came out of my experience with leaving the evangelical church.
First, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention who is not a family therapist, who has (to my knowledge) no gay kids of his own, wrote a blog post about how parents should react to a gay son or daughter coming out to them. It was, as expected, unhelpful. But his post is nothing compared to John MacArthur’s video, in which he said that the Christ-like response to a child coming out is too shun them. To disown them. To, in John’s words, “turn them over to Satan.”
So, I thought I’d pen my own advice, from experience. This is for all the parents with closeted gay kids. These are words you need to hear.
I will never treat LGBTQ and the church as a gospel issue. It’s not. The gospel is that God has reconciled all things to himself in Jesus who died for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised to life for our justification. This is the gospel: reconciliation. Sexual orientation is not the gospel. I don’t want to be flippant about it or dismissive, but it’s not an issue of life and death of my child comes out as gay. It’s serious and weighty, but it is something we can figure out.
Because the only evangelicals challenging the messages of these voices are the progressive ones, a handful of liberal evangelical bloggers who have little influence on the likes of Franklin Graham, John MacArthur, and the SBC. If these people don’t speak for evangelicals, where are the non-progressive evangelicals who might challenge these messages? We need them to speak up, on behalf of the gospel, Jesus, and the evangelicals who really do love gay people.
Instead of trusting in God for our safety, we trust in guns. Why? Because we’re scared. Because the way of Jesus seems too illogical to actually be true, and that’s frightening. Because we’re afraid of giving up our rights, afraid of being vulnerable, and afraid that putting our faith and trust in God might actually cost us something.
My wife and I got into an argument last night over a dead man. His name was Joseph Robert Wilcox. He was 31 on Sunday, the day he tried to stop cop-killer Jerad Miller in a Las Vegas Walmart and was shot by Miller’s wife Amanda. Wilcox was a good guy with a gun. It cost him his life.
Let us be meek. Let us be peacemakers. Let us be followers of the way of Jesus, rather than the way of the gun.
If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, it’s time for us to hold the third and seventh Beatitudes as more precious than the Second Amendment.
God wants us to be family. That is how I understand the purpose of Jesus’ cross and resurrection and the Holy Spirit’s mission to make us holy. I don’t believe that God is allergic to sin. I don’t believe that God has a “glory” he is obligated to worry about which is somehow at odds with his desire to bring every human being as deeply into his arms as we will allow. God’s glory is his family. I don’t believe that we need to be saved from God’s perfectionism or God’s wrath. What we need to be saved from is our sin, and most specifically our tendency to justify sin, which imprisons us and warps our ability to perceive reality correctly. It is this self-justification which makes us hate God and experience his intimate love as the wrathful torture of hell. The great gift that forms the foundation of Christian life is the freedom to be wrong, which we gain through accepting the mercy of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Without that freedom, no matter what prayer we’ve prayed or how perfectly our actions conform to the teachings of scripture, we remain unsaved.
Finally, there was a huge backlash to an article posted at Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal by a former youth pastor who is currently serving his sentence for the statutory rape of one of the girls in his youth group. The ill-conceived article was updated with an addendum from the author and an editorial note, but eventually the editors could not ignore the uproar and finally removed it and apologized. Read these powerful voices:
Can you imagine the OUTRAGE if a Catholic Priest was allowed to publish an article describing his “relationship” with an “adoring” altar server? And that outrage would be absolutely JUSTIFIED.
Because a predator loses the right to tell his side of the story right about the time he decides to PREY on a CHILD.
A few days ago an essay was published titled “My Easy Trip from Youth Pastor to Felon.” The narrator relates his story of a “spiral into sin”, detailing how his sin destroyed his life and ministry. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that he noted that his “friend” with which he was having an “extramarital relationship” was in fact a student and that he was writing his cautionary tale from behind bars. Pointing out how the story is abuse apology and re-victimization, many readers are now asking the Leadership Journal / Christianity today to #TakeDownThatPost.
Tonight a friend messaged me and asked me if she could share her story here. This is what was left out of the youth pastor’s story. Are you listening? This is why it matters.
Your words reflected little remorse other than getting caught and being prosecuted for a crime. Where is your anguish for the victim? For your wife? For your children? For the youth group you pastored? You have not only marred their souls, but warped their view of a loving God. They will struggle with your violation the rest of their lives. They may view God as capricious, unprotective, or non-existent. You cannot undo that kind of soul damage, no matter how many words you write, even if they are cloaked in biblical language.
The concept of consent is Healthy Sexual Ethics 101. And if even our leaders in our churches, leading our kids, do not understand this, then no wonder sexual abuse is a rampant problem and no wonder people are leaving the pews. No one feels safe.
It took the Leadership Journal five days to remove the post, and there were some significant bumps along the way, but they did, ultimately do the right thing and removed it. And not only did they take it down—the absolute best I was hoping for—they apologized. And it wasn’t a non-apology of “we’re sorry you all were stupid enough to be offended.” It was a real, legitimate apology.
And finally++ a bonus World Cup Jesus Juke from Micah J. Murray:
“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” pic.twitter.com/ZiIVWZXqvG
— Micah J. Murray (@micahjmurray) June 15, 2014