More and more mainline denominations are splitting over the issue of same-sex “marriage” as parts of the church have started teaching the unbiblical message that homosexual behavior is not a sin. And now, it looks like the United Methodist Church (though that doesn’t include every church or pastor in the denomination—our CCO spoke to a distressed UMC pastor in Ohio earlier today about the controversy) is joining those ranks. (I’ve blogged about the fundamental shift happening in the UMC before.) You see, a United Methodist Church committee recently reinstated a pastor who officiated his son’s “marriage” to his same-sex partner.
The pastor, Frank Shaefer, said in one report, “I was wrongfully punished for standing with those who are discriminated against. . . . Today’s decision is a sign that the church is starting to listen.” Now, Shaefer (and I presume many of the UMC leaders) misses the point here. The church is called to stand for the authority of God’s Word and stand against sin—including the sin of homosexual behavior:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
Bible-believing Christians who oppose same-sex marriage are not discriminating against homosexual people—they are taking a stand on the authority of God’s Word. They are applying God’s holy standards—as recorded in the Bible—to correctly identify sin as sin. Homosexual behavior is sin. All sin is evil. People need to understand what sin is, and not justify it and dress it up as something good and acceptable. “Woe to those who call evil good” (Isaiah 5:20)! Sin is corrupting and addictive; it destroys us and enslaves us; Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). Jesus Christ offered Himself as the solution to every person’s sin guilt and sin problem (John 3:16–18; Romans 5:8–11).
When Christians speak against homosexual behavior, based on God’s Word, it is not a personal attack on people. On the contrary, Christians are giving people a very important message.
When people understand that all of us have a sinful nature—owing to the rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12–19)—and become convicted that they are personally guilty of sin (Romans 3:23), whether it be homosexual behavior or other sin, then they can understand that they need to be saved. They can understand their need for a Savior. They can see they need to repent and believe the gospel.
But when sin—such as homosexual behavior—is falsely identified as something acceptable, unsaved sinners are far more likely to continue in their rebellion against God and reject the salvation He offers, fooling themselves into thinking they are “good enough” without Jesus Christ and, because of their rejection of Jesus Christ and refusal to repent, remain unsaved. The consequences are eternal and devastating.
Homosexual people need the truth. And those who justify homosexual behavior as acceptable in the sight of God are doing homosexuals a terrible disservice—something they will have to give an account of to the God who created marriage when He created the first man and woman.
According to the Religion News Service, it looks like the entire United Methodist denomination is headed for a split as a result of the debate about same-sex marriage in the church:
More than 80 pastors recently signed a statement saying the United Methodists have irreconcilable differences on the issue of homosexuality and a split is imminent. More than 2,500 United Methodist leaders have signed “A Way Forward,” a proposal calling for local decisions on gay clergy and same-sex marriage.
I believe we’re going to see more of these kinds of splits among mainline denominations as homosexual behavior becomes more widely accepted in our Western culture. In reality, this increasing acceptance of sin by people in the church is a reminder of the devastating attack on biblical authority that has occurred over the years. Really, church leaders who condone homosexual behavior are no different than the compromising shepherds in the days of the Old Testament prophets. Many of them adopted pagan beliefs from the cultures (like the Canaanites), and they compromised and distorted the Word of God.
I encourage you to read our special banner article this week called, Are There Really “Gay Christians”? so that you’ll know how to respond to people firmly but lovingly on this important issue.
I also urge you to pray that the UMC leadership would repent and return to the authority of God’s Word—and that the congregations that may be led astray by their teachings would see these errors for what they are.
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1)
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,