Your heart probably sank like mine did when leaders of the Episcopal Church decided in July to approve the appointment of an openly homosexual bishop. With their vote the Episcopalians pulled the plug, and a denomination that was already on life-support breathed its last. How tragic that the church of revivalist John Wesley has wandered so far from biblical truth that its leaders would presume to put God's blessing on sexual perversion.
Yes, it is outrageous that a man who has a gay lover is allowed to serve Holy Communion every Sunday and call himself a bishop. But before we get too snooty in our self-righteous denunciation of the Episcopalians, I think we need to stand by the casket of their 214-year-old church and listen to the funeral music. God may have some lessons for us to learn.
First of all, this tragedy should teach us that we cannot play with God's standards. The gay bishop in question, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, told reporters that his election represents a "move of the Holy Spirit" that will redefine church traditions--as if God woke up one day after watching Boy Meets Boy and decided to throw out all revealed moral law.
In charismatic and Pentecostal circles, thankfully, we are not debating whether practicing homosexuals can be pastors. But are we not guilty of a similar offense when we refuse to bring discipline to ministers who divorce their wives and remarry in the same year? Are we not rewriting moral standards when adultery is tolerated in the pulpit in order to "protect the ministry"? Or do we presume that God is more tolerant of immorality as long as it is of the heterosexual variety?
Second, we should be aware that the so-called gay Christian movement that invaded the Episcopal Church a long time ago is working elsewhere. Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians are the next target. This bizarre notion that followers of Christ can practice "faithful, monogamous gay sex" is spreading in some charismatic circles. (And in case you didn't know, the founder of the nation's first gay denomination was raised in a Pentecostal church!)
Those who are spreading this false teaching prefer to use buzzwords such as "grace," "mercy" and "love." They also call their churches "welcoming congregations"--because they embrace gay people without telling them that God can heal their sinful condition.
Third, while we must oppose the gay Christian heresy, we must also change our attitude toward homosexuals. This is not the time for hateful rhetoric. If you harbor bigotry toward gay people, ask the Lord to perform heart surgery on you as soon as possible.
I know Christians who don't want to face this sensitive issue. But ignoring homosexuality won't make it go away. It has gone mainstream. We now have gay TV shows, Gay Days at Disney World and even gay clubs in our high schools.
Before too long, gay marriage could be legalized in the United States--and a gay couple may move next door to you. Will you show them Christ's love or just pretend they don't exist?
The media tells us that the only proper response to gay people is to let them live the way they want to. Jesus has a better idea. He accepts them, offers forgiveness and points them to the cross, where they can trade their sin for the power to live a holy life.