alistair begg
Alistair Begg/YouTube

Pastor Alistair Begg said he’s “not ready to repent” after his advice to a grandmother last year to attend her grandchild’s LGBTQ wedding created an uproar in some Christian circles. Begg, the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio, addressed the backlash that led to one Christian network dropping his daily broadcast while giving a sermon to his congregation on the parable of the prodigal son.

He compared the proud attitude of the older brother in the story to the attitude some Christians display toward nonbelievers and argued they’re not living out Jesus’ command to “love your enemies.” That “is the context” for his conversation with the grandmother, he explained. Begg added that he was primarily concerned about the woman maintaining her relationship with her grandchild and would not necessarily give the same advice in another situation.

He explained, “If I was on the receiving end of another question about another situation from another person at another time, I might answer absolutely differently. But in that case, I answered in that way, and I would not answer in any other way no matter what anybody says on the internet as of the last ten days.” The pastor stood by his comments, saying that while “I repent daily” for things he shouldn’t say, this wasn’t one of them. “But the fact of the matter is, I’m not ready to repent over this. I don’t have to,” he continued.

Begg went on to say that Christians should neither stay silent nor rebuff people who identify as LGBTQ. He asked, “We can disagree about whether I gave that grandmother good advice or not… but at least let’s acknowledge the fact that what we’re doing is wrestling with Biblical principles. And when the principle, for, let’s say, the holiness of life, comes up against the principle of love for your enemy, how are you going to put that together?”

He continued, “What happens to homosexual people, in my ‘experience,’ is that they are either reviled or they are affirmed. The Christian has to say, ‘We will not treat you in either of those ways. We cannot revile you, but we cannot affirm you. And the reason that we can’t revile you is the same reason why we can’t affirm you, because of the Bible, because of God’s love, because of His grace, because of His goodness.’” The controversy stemmed from comments Begg made to a grandmother on his Bible teaching program, “Truth for Life,” last September.

He advised a grandmother to attend her grandson’s wedding to his transgender fiancé as long as the grandson knew already that she was not “affirming” his life choices. He relayed, “As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.”  The pastor explained his belief that attending a same-sex wedding was a matter of personal conviction. But by attending the wedding, the grandmother would be building a bridge to continue sharing the Gospel with her grandson, he argued.

Begg’s advice spurred backlash after the comments resurfaced on social media in recent weeks. The American Family Association announced last week that its radio ministry, American Family Radio, would no longer carry his daily program. The American Family Association defended the decision in a statement, saying, “American Family Radio has aired Pastor Alistair Begg’s Bible teaching for over a decade. Recently, it came to our attention that Pastor Begg made statements that were unbiblical and failed to line up with the decades of faithful adherence to Scripture that listeners have come to expect from him.”

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