NOTE: Dean Inserra will be one of the speakers at the ERLC National Conference: “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” The conference is designed to equip Christians to apply the gospel on these issues with convictional kindness in their communities, their families and their churches. This event will be held at the iconic Opryland Hotel on October 27-29, 2014. To learn more go here.
I believe there are four types of churches when it comes to preaching on or addressing homosexuality. As culture continues to move toward a “post-gender” mindset, those who wish to expound a biblical worldview that points to the work of Christ will need to be clearer than ever. Unfortunately, those churches are the minority.
Here are four types of churches who take different approaches to addressing this massive cultural shift:
1. The Macklemore Church
The Macklemore Church just simply thinks the Bible is outdated, or just plain wrong on homosexuality. This church has been on the fringe left end of the spectrum, but recently exists in some traditional mainline circles. The Macklemore Church believes as long as one truly loves, then his or her sexual preference is a personal decision, and God is okay with that. Anything spoken against that is judgmental, and unlike Jesus who would think it is all the “same love.” Those who oppose this approach are also outdated and need to evolve with the times.
The issue, however, with the Macklemore Church is not sexuality. The issue is the Bible. There is zero confidence in the authority of the Bible, as inerrancy is mocked. As Macklemore raps in “Same Love” about those who have confidence in the authority of the Bible, “…we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago.”
The beliefs about sexuality held by the Macklemore Church are the least of their problems.
2. The “Wrecking Ball” Church
This is the “America is going to hell in a hand basket,” crowd. The pastor does not shy away from preaching on sexuality, but comes in like a wrecking ball, dropping bombs and mentioning homosexuality every single Sunday. There is zero controversy because all 87 people in the church agree 100%, with their Christian voter guide in hand, saying “amen preacher” after every sentence. The context seems to always be “America” rather than the gospel when discussing any issue of sexuality. This church could also easily be called the “Preaching to the Choir Church.” Good folks and faithful brothers, but fighting a culture war they don’t even realize they actually aren’t a part of, because nobody is listening.
3. The MC Hammer Church.
This Church is growing, innovative, has an amazing band, A-list “communicator,” is young, sexy and when it comes to the issue of homosexuality…
Can’t touch this.
After all, we have gay friends. Why is it that the only sin we can’t talk about with our friends if they are engaged in the sin, is homosexuality? This church usually affirms everything the Bible says about marriage, gender and sex, but outside of a “how to” marriage series every three months, they just aren’t going to touch anything about homosexuality. The fear of offending or upsetting the young base that makes up the majority of the attendance drives the bus.
Eventually one will have to understand that you can’t stay neutral on this issue. The idea that we want to “focus on Jesus” or whichever lines people use to excuse their silence will lead to perceived acceptance of homosexuality. They will also at some point, have to deal with the issue when a practicing homosexual wants to be in leadership, have the pastor perform a wedding ceremony, or embrace the lifestyle all together.
I believe the MC Hammers are the largest group of churches today.
4. The “Ring of Fire” Church.
I do not mean hell, fire and brimstone, but rather entering the most heated areas of discussion in today’s culture, based on biblical convictions that lead one to engage with kindness. There is a deep desire in the Ring of Fire Church to speak with clarity, out of being compelled by the love of Christ and to speak to areas where God has certainly not been silent. Gospel centrality is the key and driving force of these churches. When the lens through which one preaches homosexuality is the gospel, the emphasis goes from a moralistic divide, to an understanding of God’s purposes. Failing to communicate this is a big miss on an opportunity to make the riches of the gospel known, by neglecting visible portrait God painted for us and by the one flesh union between a husband and a wife. That visible portrait points us to the invisible reality of our union with Christ, in the relationship between Christ and his bride, which was purchased by his blood.
These churches seek clarity and speak with strong conviction, but are very careful of their approach and tone, out of awareness of their own personal failures with sexual sin, and out of love for those currently living in it. The gospel centrality also leads these churches to not believe the key issue is sex, but rather the changing of one’s heart toward Christ, that will then lead to repentance. There is not a crusade to win with the Ring of Fire Church, but hearts to be won, and a gospel to be proclaimed.
Ring of Fires also believe that the greatest human flourishing happens when we do things the way God created them to be, and therefore seek this common good in strengthening marriages by God’s design. They speak to cultural issues on sex because God has not been silent, and in those discussions is where the souls of men and women lie.
At City Church we decided we were going to be willing to step into the conversations in our city and beyond that are hot. May we continue to have these discussions, out of a convictional kindness, as God allows, while refusing to pretend God has not spoken clearly on sex. Let us continue to take his everlasting truth, to our ever-changing culture. The witness of the gospel is at stake.