Eats with Sinners…

Apparently Joel Osteen appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight and did his familiar soft shoe shuffle on hardball questions, including a question on same sex attraction. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary and man who only wears army boots, weighed in quickly. He gave Osteen a grade of “Epic Fail.”  You can read all about it Over at Ourofur.com  I’ve pasted my response below and then followed up with some further thoughts for this blog.  My response:  

I suppose it depends on if you equate going to same-sex ceremony to ‘eating with tax collectors and sinners.’ Didn’t Jesus spend a large amount of his time with people who’s actions he didn’t endorse? That’s what got him into trouble with the pharisees – not that he loved sinners, but that he liked them. Oh boy.

Following Jesus involves not just his teaching, but going to the places He goes. I understand that I’m presuming Jesus would go, but I think he would. I think he’d be the life of the party and I think a whole lot of people at that ceremony would rethink who God is because of Jesus. 

I’m nothing like Jesus and my presence isn’t electric like his, but I’m trying to follow Jesus.

Oh, and not for nothing, I’m thrilled Jesus chose to eat with sinners, otherwise I likely would never have ended up following Him if he hadn’t first reached out to me. For the record, my sin is of the hidden variety. I sin like a pharisee, not like a prostitute. My sin can even get me promoted in churches. But because Jesus invited me to eat with him, I joined his team. Best. Decision. Ever. Now I don’t have to think I’m better than anyone else. My identity is in Christ, not in self.

I’d probably go.

And some follow up thoughts for this blog:  Gay marriage, homosexuality, same sex attraction.  It is the new litmus test for churches.  Out of all the questions I answer about Discovery for people, the most common question revolves around same-sex attraction.  The tone and content of our answer determines for people if we are a Christ centered church or not.  People want to know if we are welcoming and Biblical.  And yes, we believe (and have experienced) that you can be both.

On its own, this would not be a difficult question to answer, but we’ve inherited the damage caused by an entire generation of public Christians with their radio shows and mass mailers who attempted to win “the culture wars” never realizing that Jesus did not call us to win a war, but to love.  So after 25 years or so of public Christians denouncing specific sins and giving a pass to others, the question around homosexuality is hyper charged with tension.

How would you answer the question?  Would you go to the ceremony?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

7 thoughts on “Eats with Sinners…

  1. I’m torn as to whether I would attend or not. I did not attended the wedding of two friends (one of whom was a very close friend) because I felt the marriage was wrong on many levels and I couldn’t support it (unfortunately, it turned out I was right and they were divorced 8 months later). I’ve friends who are a gay couple (not married) who we always visit and spend time with when we are in their area and they with us. However, I don’t think I could attend their wedding if they chose to marry. I guess I don’t feel that I am supporting, encouraging or condoning their homosexul relationship by having dinner with them, whereas attending their wedding is a celebration of their relationship.
    An imperfect analogy (all analogies break down at some point): I would have dinner with friends who I knew were going to have a beer or glass of wine, however, I would not go out and get drunk with them.

    I guess it depends on how you define marriage and the importance of the marriage ceremony – is it the biblical man and woman becoming one flesh or simply a legalized living arrangement.

  2. Hi Gray,

    that’s a great perspective -thanks for taking the time to share it. I’d not thought to delineate between hosting a meal/being hosted verses attending/endorsing a wedding – its a valid discussion point for sure.

    The whole endorsement approach to this conversation is a worthy one. Clearly Mohler draws an endorsement line, but its hard for me to picture Jesus thinking in those same terms. Its also easier for me to draw a line between officiating and attending, which may be a false line in my head, but for me, that’s the endorsement line. Of course, I may well be guilty of making Jesus in my image (one of my hobbies!) but it seems to me that he didn’t attend parties to endorse, but to seek and save. I may well be wrong. Thanks for sharing and making us think.

    • I think God wants us to struggle with these issues – it clarifies our beliefs.
      Homosexuality is so tough because it’s not just behavior, it’s emotional and sexual relationships. It is who individuals are at their core and it strikes against being human, being created (male and female) in the image of God.

  3. This is a tricky one. I like to think that I would have gone to a dear friend’s wedding if I’d had the chance but it was too far away. My thinking: my love for her means that I want to stand with her through all seasons of life. Could I go without condoning gay marriage? I think so. I am her friend no matter what choices she makes.

    Having said that, when it comes to what Jesus would have done I think we need to look at what effect Jesus had on people. It seemed that (with a few exceptions) all people who came in contact with Jesus either wanted to kill Him or to repent of their sins and be on good terms with Him. His unconditional love, the holiness of HIs presence and HIs straight talking left people in no doubt of their standing with God and their need for redemption. Some wanted it, others wanted their own ways more. Whenever Jesus hung out with “sinners”, His message was always “Go and sin no more”. So in hanging out with a gay couple, I think Jesus’ love and HIs very presence would convict them of the need for their repentance. So there probably wouldn’t have been a wedding to attend, if you see what I mean. If there had I doubt Jesus would have gone because the wedding itself would be an indication of the couple’s rejection of God’s laws.

    I guess another possible scenario would be that there is a wedding in Canaan between 2 women (suspending disbelief for a moment as the 2 women would have been stoned in those days) and Jesus turns up to show the Establishment that loving people and confronting their sin in a way that frees them is more important than legalism. Had He done that, the wedding may well not have gone ahead as the holiness of His presence penetrated the women’s spirits.

    Trying to figure out what WE should do in this culture is another thing. Unfortunately our very presence rarely convicts someone of their sin (speaking for myself) and when we talk to them about it, often it’s quite a long slow process before they accept the Lordship of Jesus, if they do at all. So in that process is it appropriate to attend a gay marriage? Possibly, possibly not. As I started off this comment, I probably would for a very close friend, probably not otherwise. Whether this is a position God approves of or not, I don’t know but as I seek daily to do what does please Him hopefully He’ll reveal that to me if the situation ever arises.

  4. My wife and struggled with this too. I have a niece that was engaged for a time to another young woman and we had to think about how we would handle the wedding. It’s a struggle to love someone while simultaneously mourning their choices. We decided we would go to the wedding, but leave our young kids at home.

    Thanks for the post, Steve. I read them all (usually twice) and always feel myself growing as a result.

    Justin

  5. As a Christian, with same-sex attraction, I can relate with this issue. Recently, my gay nephew invited me to his upcoming wedding, to a United Church minister. I’m torn, for obvious reasons. My gut feeling is that I shouldn’t go, because I think I would really feel uncomfortable attending the ceremony. I can’t find any scripture that condones gay marriage, which is the main reason for me not wanting to attend.

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