Last week, Boy Scouts voted to open its ranks to openly gay boys for the first time. The vote was conducted by secret ballot during the National Council’s annual meeting in Dallas. The vote passed by a percentage of 61 percent and goes into effect Jan 1, 2014.
Several denominations and individual churches have already made statements which have been nationalized. A certain pastor at a southern baptist Alabama church said: “We don’t hate anybody. We’re not doing it out of hatred. The teachings of the scripture are very clear on this. We’re doing it because it violates the clear teaching of scripture.”
Bethel Baptist Church does not currently sponsor or host a Boy Scout troop. If we did, I would push for us to continue that partnership. (cue the flame war)
Since when does being a church, a christian, or a pastor allow us the right of taking a moral stand on an issue that distances us from the very people we are trying to reach?
In response to that pastor’s quote, I violate the clear teaching of scripture often, and I have to beg forgiveness for it as often as I transgress. We all do. It’s part of life.
So are we really willing to pay this price tag in order to be “right?” Are we even considering the cost?
If I had 2 choices (as follows) :
1. Ban the possibility of homosexuals from attending church meetings on our ground,
2. Do not ban them,
I will choose 2 every time. Why?
Because I believe churches that are banning boy scouts from their building are sending the wrong message to the demographic that is most impressionable to receiving those wrong messages.
It is like we are saying – “Hey you can struggle with anything – pornography, drug use, anger, whatever – but if your struggle is with the gender you are attracted to, and you DARE be open and give in to this struggle at any time, then we don’t even want you on our campus.”
It isn’t about whether our church is supporting or opposing the 61 percent that voted in the secret ballot of the boy scouts.
It is that our churches are supposed to be a safe haven for anyone who struggles with anything, period. I struggle with sin. You too, dear reader. But God help you if you struggle with homosexuality. Because then, our right to take a moral high ground in our statements evidently trumps our mandate to love you and reach you as Christ would have.
I am not willing to sacrifice the message of the Gospel to anyone at anytime. We are all sinners, and can only be rescued because Jesus Christ took our place on the cross, paying our penalty, rescuing us from our hopeless predicament. Ephesians 2:8 – 9 – it was nothing we did, it was only Him. And the Gospel’s Focus never changes – Hebrews 11.
But I am willing to sacrifice just about everything else, including my “right to be right,” even if it means only one person is reached. We should be willing to be unpopular, to stand up or to sit down, to be controversial, to not do things “the ways they have always been done,” etc etc – if the end result is that one person, just one person comes to know Jesus, then the whole thing has been worth it.
Seeing one person reached is of greater, eternal worth and worthy of eternal celebration more than anything else we can accomplish here on earth.
“But Pastor Harvey, we’re not banning them from attending church! Only from the boy scout meetings!” Sure, but consider the implications. Those boys, their friends, their family, and their sympathizers are reading one thing into this – rejection. R-e-j-e-c-t-i-o-n. Plain as the nose on my face. The churches may be making political statements, or standing on their moral ground – but what is really important here is what young, impressionable boys are going to hear and walk away with. And they are going to walk away with the idea that the church has rejected them because they dared to have homosexual tendencies and admitted it.
And 10 or 20 years from now when these boys, their friends, families, and sympathizers are members of society, they are going to be that much harder to reach. As the church has rejected them today, they will in all likelihood reject the church in turn, with the church’s rejection of years past ringing in their ears when confronted with the Gospel later on.
And the church is going to look around and find that not only are we the only ones occupying the moral high ground, but that we do not care and are totally oblivious about anyone not already there with us (see the painting below). And we will be irrelevant to those we are trying to reach, and unable to cross the chasm we’ve created when we do decide to reach them.
I’m not the most theologically trained pastor, nor the smartest or the wisest. I’m not the holiest or most righteous person within spitting distance of my body at pretty much any time. But I do know that we as Christians are called to reach everyone that Christ died for. And I want to do anything and everything possible to reach them, and I want to go to any lengths to not make them harder to reach for someone else.
I am sorry for the minute percentage of boys who struggle with this issue, and to them it appears as if the church is spurning them. I do not believe Jesus Christ would spurn them. We are going to reap exactly what we are sowing when we try to reach these people, unless the Holy Spirit intercedes. What the church will face is rejection, in the same measure that it rejected those who needed her most today. To us it was a simple political moral statement maybe – but to an impressionable 10 or 12 year old – I can hear the questions they are asking as clearly as if they were in my office asking them to me in person. “Why doesn’t the church want us anymore?”
This is not to even mention all those boy scout groups that will suffer who don’t even have members who are gay. They too will be rejected, political and moral collateral damage just so we could avoid the chance that a gay person walk on or campus. God help us – we are so concerned about being associated with the gay movement and concerned about not accidentally showing up for gay pride day at Disney, that we are running away at a sprint from those who we are supposed to be loving more than we love ourselves (our neighbor).
GOD HELP US. We are rejecting the very ones we were mandated to reach.