How far will our churches go in order to preserve so-called “Biblical” values?
I have said it before – that in the future, churches will have a very real choice to make about how they treat a growing population of young people that identify as gay.
That day has come.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched the commentaries and predictions trickle out about how churches will react to the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow gay youth members (the alternative has been to retroactively and horrifyingly strip boys of their awards after coming out). The consensus among prominent evangelical leaders such as Dr. Richard Land seems to be that among the Baptists, the Assemblies of God, and other conservative wings of the church, there will be a “mass exodus.” Churches will stop sponsoring scouting units in protest of the new policy.
On the surface, I can see how an average evangelical might think this is justified. Homosexuality is supposedly not “Biblical,” after all. Being “Biblical” and thinking “Biblically” and having a “Biblical” worldview is always the great monolithic justification for churches acting this way.
But what it looks like to me? It looks like thousands of churches are finally going to announce – once and for all – that their priority is being Biblical churches, not Gospel churches.
I Double Dog Dare You
In the letter to the Galatians, Paul chastises some false teachers who are insisting that Gentile converts become circumcised, become Jewish, before they can be real Christians.
Paul’s retort? That if they are going to insist on cherry-picking one part of the law, then they have to follow the entire law, because they are no longer under the gospel of grace.
Then, in one of my favorite Bible verses ever, Paul dares them to take their logic to its natural conclusion, and just go ahead and cut their balls off. (My NIV uses the far less colorful euphemism “emasculate.”) After all, if a little bit is holy, then a lot must be really holy.
What does this have to do with churches and gay scouts?
Cherry Picking From the Rule Book
The way I see it, churches can have any opinion they want about homosexual behavior. (If churches think the gay lifestyle is wrong, it makes their actions all the more ironic.)
The problem is, they have cherry-picked that one thing to give it special priority.
If a church is going to make sure that no gays ever come into their building, then they had better be able to follow their logic to its natural conclusion, like the Galatians. They’d better have an usher at the door making sure:
That no one is obese. (That rules out half of us right there.)
That no one has ever been divorced. (At least 25% of us)
That all the teenagers are virgins (Not likely)
That no one is an alcoholic. (Please)
That no one looks at porn. (Ahem.)
And that no one engages in any other “lifestyles” that are contrary to their church’s teaching.
Sinner, Save Thyself
To make matters worse, what Paul is disputing is the idea that people have to do something (get circumcised) before they can get to Jesus, get saved, be a part of the church, be a real Christian. They are just concerned with looking good, with behavioral modification, not the heart.
And that is exactly what churches are telling these young people.
That they have to clean themselves up, get their act together, fix themselves…
And then, and only then will they be good enough to get Jesus and be saved.
Of course, what is most reprehensible is that the people that are being hemmed out of the church are children. Churches are preemptively telling young people “don’t even think you are welcome here.” Many boys in scouting have no other church in their lives, other than the church that sponsors their scouting unit.
And churches want to alienate them as quickly as possible?
Does Being “Biblical” Takes Priority Over the Gospel?
Can I ask us as churches, as brothers and sisters a few questions?
Are we really willing to keep people out of our churches for the sake of preserving our “Biblical” values?
If so, do we have the guts to follow our convictions to their logical conclusion? Are we willing to “emasculate” ourselves for “Biblicism?”
Are we really saying that people have to fix themselves before they can get saved? How “fixed” is fixed enough?
Are we really, truly willing to tell children that Jesus doesn’t love them?
Please tell me the answer is “no.”
You’re my friends, so let me hear it. Am I on target, or way off? Give me your predictions – will there be a mass exodus? Or will churches get a justifiable backlash?