I remember sitting with a high school student a few years ago, a Panera tabletop separating us, and fervently praying, “Lord, give me the right words to say, please.” Jen had initiated a conversation about homosexuality and very directly asked me to spell out what the Bible had to say on the topic. I was acutely nervous. 16 year-olds aren’t typically the most gracious humans, and I was hyper-aware that this student had some skin in this particular game. Her sister identified as a lesbian and everyone in her family was wildly approving.
We sat and talked. And talked and talked. She mostly asked questions and I did my very best to answer with biblical truth wrapped in compassion, empathy, and grace. When we wrapped up hours later, there was still a great chasm of disagreement between us.
I left that meeting encouraged. I left with deep confidence. I also left knowing that I had not convinced her of what I so strongly believe is God’s directive about homosexuality.
The purpose of this blog is not to bring up another highly political and volatile social issue. Rather, I’d like to challenge our understanding of the importance of agreement and disagreement within the church.
Two weeks ago, following the passing of the Reproductive Health Act in New York, Kyle wrote a timely and well-articulated blog about the interaction of cultural acceptance and promotion specifically as it relates to abortion. You can read it here. The piece is unapologetically pro-life and implicitly argues that anything other than a pro-life worldview is unbiblical and unethical. The blog was shared copiously online and received public affirmation from many of you. I wonder though - how many read it and disagreed?
I’m guessing that some of you have your hand raised in the air. GENESIS is a large community and statistically there’s no way we have an 100% pro-life constituency. For some, and maybe many of you, that blog does not represent your beliefs on the topic.
Did the blog make you mad? Sad? Frustrated? Do you feel left out or unheard? Are you wondering if you belong in the GENESIS community as a result? Worse yet, are you questioning whether you can be a Christian and also be pro-choice?
If that’s you today, I have some good news to share. There is no written application for salvation, and even if there was, God wouldn’t stamp approved or disapproved based on a correctly placed checkmark next to either “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Do you acknowledge that your sinfulness keeps you from reconciliation with a holy God? Do you believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man, sent from heaven to be the perfect human we could never be, died a death He didn’t deserve, accepted the punishment for all the sins we have and could ever commit, and totally defeated death once and for all? Do you accept His payment for your sins and surrender your life totally to Him? Great. You’re in. Totally known, totally forgiven, totally justified. You belong to Christ.
Salvation is not the issue here. Our issue is a fight about morality. (Please don’t hear me saying that morality is not important. It is. God says it is. My point is that it’s not a basis for salvation.)
I believe that so much of the disagreement among Christians about moral issues stems from either overlooking or disregarding what God has said and is currently saying about them. How many of you, when faced with a moral quandary, go first to the Bible for instruction? Who of you, when confused by various well-intentioned and yet opposing opinions of people you respect, puts aside the online magazine articles, exits out of Google, puts down the critically-acclaimed bestseller book on the topic and instead prays? There is enough noise in the world to keep you guessing for your whole lifetime on what is right and what is wrong and what is in-between. We can oscillate forever about what we agree with and disagree with, but ultimately, agreement and disagreement are based wholly on opinion. What do you do when you need the truth?
God has cornered the truth market. There isn’t room for anyone else to have that place of authority. Not our pastors, teachers, theologians, or worship leaders. Not the world’s most respected scientists, philosophers, sociologists, or celebrities. Not Kyle Asmus. Not Michael Davis. Not John Piper. Not even Oprah.
My recommendation to you today is to do the same thing Jen did years ago in Panera. She reached out to someone older, someone she trusted to know Scripture. She initiated a conversation and was open to listening even though she knew it would likely chafe against her convictions.
My encouragement to her that day and to all of you now is this: Let’s go to God for answers. Let’s read Scripture often and expectantly. Let’s pray for understanding through revelation of the Spirit even if it makes us uncomfortable. Let’s all commit to trust what God says even when it doesn’t line up with what’s most popular. Do you trust Him to show you His heart? Get with the people you know are wholly devoted to Scripture and dive in deep together.
Believe it or not, God cares about these moral issues infinitely more than we do. He will be faithful to truth. Will we be faithful to Him?