A little common sense?
Last month, Alistair Begg, pastor of the non-denominational Parkside Church near Cleveland, stirred up some controversy on his "Truth for Life" radio program. A grandmother called in to ask if she should attend her grandson's wedding to a transgender spouse. Begg asked the caller if she felt her grandson knew that she would not be affirming his choice in any way be attending the wedding. She answered that she was sure her grandson understood her beliefs and feeling on the matter. Begg then advised her to attend the wedding and not re-enforce the opinion that believers are judgmental. Soon after that, the AFR radio network canceled Beggs's program.
I'm not even sure where to begin with this. I get that these are complicated issues. If I'm honest, I would definitely have reservations about attending a wedding like that myself. I'm certain though that I would have given this grandmother the same advice. Is it more likely this grandson and his spouse will experience the love of Jesus Christ with a godly grandmother involved in their lives or from one who is alienated from them? Isn't that the most important thing? I don't think it's unfair to label this kind of exclusivist thinking as pharisaical. Just read the gospels. Every time Jesus got near a sinner or did anything on the sabbath, or said anything they disagreed with, they were there ready to pounce and condemn. Does canceling a pastor who has shared solid teaching from God's Word for decades help anyone? So now a handful of grandmothers won't need to worry about affirming a trans wedding, but tens of thousands of people will no longer receive good teaching. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense! The problem is that the pharisees where not so much interested in upholding God's truth as they were protecting their positions of power and prominence. Jesus and his followers threatened that corrupt system. When you think of yourself as the most important person in the room, it's hard to love others better than yourself or get down and wash some one's feet, I guess. In Luke 5:32, Jesus said "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Thank goodness he did. I wonder if God has a list of the sins of these pharisees alongside a list of the sins of the trans couple. They are probably both very long lists, as is mine. Thank God he sent his son to restore us all and make all things new. Shouldn't we do all we can to share and show love and forgiveness to those who have yet to really experience it? Is it too far-fetched to say if Jesus went out of his way to eat dinner with the sinners and tax collectors, then we should probably do the same? If we can't forgive as we've been forgiven or give love and kindness in the same way that we have received them, then we have no part in God's kingdom. John said if you say you love God, but hate your brother, you're a liar. Is that the same as saying you are not being honest with yourself if you claim to love others, but are unwilling to demonstrate love and kindness to them just to make a point?
Enough ranting, I guess. This kind of response from the Christian community upsets me deeply. These are difficult issues, but we must be open minded and engage in honest conversations. We must be willing to change and hold loosely to our doctrinal positions and beliefs. We need to learn how to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. I'm afraid many church communities have forgotten about that. What would this world look like if we gave up our need to be right all the time? What if we were just empty vessel coming to Jesus to be filled and believing that out of our lives would then flow rivers of living water? I think that would be a better world.