In late October, my ministry hosted an anti-violence summit with about 200 homosexual-rights advocates and 200 conservative Christians in attendance. The purpose of this assembly was to design a dual strategy, within both constituencies, calling for an end to the epidemic of violence in our nation. The Reverend Mel White, co-chair of Soulforce and my friend for more than 15 years, organized the assemblage of religious homosexuals, while I directed the conservative-Christian branch.
As most people know, my position on homosexuality is founded in the Bible. I believe the Bible--God's infallible Word--prohibits all sexual activity outside the traditional bonds of marriage between a man and woman. I Thessalonians 4:3 tells us to "abstain from fornication." I Peter 2:11 further teaches us to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
Romans 1:26-27 informs us of an earlier time when sexual immorality and self-worship brought great consequence to those involved. "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." Other similar verses abound.
With 200 homosexuals staring me in the face, I accentuated the biblical position that homosexuality is sin. I also cautioned everyone attending that meeting that my position would never falter. I will never presume to counter God's Law.
However, I believe that the Bible also calls me (and all Christians, for that matter) to be a minister of God's Truth. That means that I am to love all people--no matter how much I may disagree with them. The anti-violence forum was therefore designed to not only join forces with the homosexual community in reducing the strident rhetoric, on both sides of this debate, but to build a bridge of love and communication to the millions of gays and lesbians in our culture.
Can We Love God and Not Our Brother?
While Christians cannot condone homosexuality, there is no biblical mandate that we must viciously rebuke those who embrace that lifestyle. The Reverend Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, who protested our summit along with a handful of supporters, takes a radically different approach.
Matthew 5:44 instructs us to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." By loving those who oppose us, we stand on the high ground and gain an ability to clearly communicate the gospel of Christ. No one pays any heed to the message of Fred Phelps because it offers no hope of redemption--only retribution.
With 200 homosexuals staring
me in the face, I accentuated
the biblical position
that homosexuality is sin.
Carrying signs that reflect alarming messages such as "Fags Burn In Hell," strikingly contrasts the biblical command to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
That is one of the verses that prompted me to agree to host the anti-violence summit. My hope is that many more people will now openly listen to my message because I have clarified that my impetus for preaching the gospel of Christ is His perfect love. There is no hate motivating my message and I am going to be ever cautious to ensure that my position is always motivated in this regard.
'New Creatures' in Christ
One need look no further than the electrifying testimony of Michael Johnston to see how God is not limited in whom He can reach. Michael, who joined us in Lynchburg over the weekend, was consumed by the homosexual lifestyle for many years. As a tragic result, he now carries the AIDS virus.
But God is gloriously using Michael as he courageously shares Christ's love and redemptive power with many people that may otherwise never hear the gospel message. Of course, he is paying a price for this effort as the homosexual community bitterly attacks his labors. Michael's full reward will not come in this world; but in a greater world that lies ahead.
It is important to note that when Michael fully gave his life to Christ, he became a "new creature" in Him. God accepts us where we are, but He immediately draws us to Him and calls us to a life of transformation in Him. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). To disregard this verse is to be blinded by one's own desires.
Great Christian theologian A.W. Tozer described salvation as "the restoration of a right relation between man and his Creator." He continued by saying that "a satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner's whole nature."
There would be no value to my message if I ignored the transformation of the Christian that is mandated by Christ.
Opposition to the Summit
I realize that many will continue to stridently oppose my message. Bob Kunst, leader of the homosexual-rights group known as the Oral Majority, is one such person. Bob also protested our anti-violence summit, saying that I should stay out of homosexuals' business. He also believes that my insistence in calling homosexuality sin is, in itself, a precarious insult to homosexuals.
|Any Christian who lifts a hand against a homosexual does so without the approval of God.|
Nevertheless, I cannot turn a blind eye to Romans, Chapter 1, and several other biblical passages simply because Bob Kunst doesn't like the message that his actions are sinful and dangerous. My objective is not to challenge Bob's right to conduct his life as he pleases--within the bounds of law that we all must observe. My intent is rather to challenge the homosexual agenda, which, I believe, not only counters the Bible, but also contradicts the Judeo-Christian values set forth by our nation's Founding Fathers.
I not only have a right to challenge him, I believe I have a biblical mandate to confront the culture--as did the Apostle Paul--with the Truth of Christ.
Our Age of Violence
Will this summit thwart the death of a homosexual young person at the hand of a brutal attacker? Will this summit avert Christian young people from being slaughtered in their schools and churches by crazed gunmen? I can only hope that it will have a positive impact in saving lives or averting assaults.
All people in our nation deserve the right to pursue their lives in a safe environment. Any Christian who lifts a hand against a homosexual does so without the approval of God. While I will preach homosexuality as sin until the day I die, I will also condemn the bitter anger that occasionally rears its head by those claiming to be Christians. In addition, the homosexual community must stop their assaults on Christians.
I repeat that I am committed to upholding the biblical message of Christ's redemptive power. It is my sincere hope that, through this meeting, we will positively affect this violent culture in which we live. It is also my fervent hope that we can affect eternity. I pray that, through the high visibility of this summit, many individuals will soon come to know the peace "which passeth all understanding" that Paul described in Philippians 4:7.