“There’s a storm out on the ocean, and it’s moving this a-way. If your soul’s not anchored in Jesus, you will surely drift away.” So goes the truthful but ironic gospel song. There are many devastating storms approaching the contemporary church, but one in particular seems to be representative of the trend to “drift away” from sound teaching about moral issues.
Of all the social issues affecting the church, the acceptance or rejection of homosexuality generates the most controversy. Oftentimes when confronted on the issue, pastors are adopting neutral positions. One recent case involves Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston and a spiritual adviser to President Bush.
After he announced his endorsement of presidential hopeful Barack Obama, Caldwell was criticized by homosexual activists for having an overcoming ministry listed on his church’s Web site. When asked about Metanoia Ministry, Caldwell told gay activists he didn’t know his church operated such an outreach.
He later told a political Web site: “[Metanoia is] not a ministry of the church. It is not supported financially by the church. It is not located at the church. That is pretty much where I am with it.” Today the site has been scrubbed of Metanoia Ministry.
What’s so offensive about a church helping homosexuals who want out of that lifestyle?
Caldwell is free to do what he wants with his church, but his actions resemble those of some pastors who are willing to compromise biblical truth when they encounter gay activism. Preachers we previously thought to be lions have become wet kittens. Instead of boldly proclaiming the gospel, too many pastors are soft-pedaling the truth in exchange for a favorable public perception.
We saw this play out over and over last summer when Soulforce, a gay Christian group, went to several megachurches to pressure leaders into a dialogue about homosexuality. Rather than rebuking them (see 1 Cor. 5:9-13), most of the pastors met with the Soulforce participants. Bishop Eddie Long even presented them with gifts.
Equally alarming is the way black churches have opened their pulpits to Obama despite his embrace of homosexuality. Although Obama’s ascent has been due in part to African-American support, not once have I heard a prominent black pastor challenge his views on this issue.
While delivering a speech at a church event honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Obama chided the black community for not embracing homosexuals. He later called Romans 1 an “obscure passage” that had no bearing on Christian beliefs concerning same-sex relationships.
Granted, Obama is at the center of an unprecedented moment in U.S. history. But do we as black Christians put our beliefs on the back burner just to get an African-American in the Oval Office?
In the last several years we’ve seen the advance of gay rights lead to the suppression of religious liberty. Increasingly, believing that homosexuality is a sin is being equated with bigotry.
Do we reject God to get the king that we want, as the ancient Israelites rejected God’s leadership for Saul’s? Or maybe what we’re seeing is a foreshadowing of how the world will respond to Jesus during the reign of the Antichrist.
I’m not endorsing any candidate, and I have no desire to tell Christians how to vote. But pastors, especially African-Americans ministers who have helped Obama reach this historic place, must ask the hard questions and take a decisive stand now—not just after Election Day. If the church can’t depend on its leaders to uphold God’s Word, we are headed for a shipwreck.
D.L. Foster is the founder and director of Witness Freedom Ministries, an Atlanta-based outreach to people who struggle with homosexuality. He is the author of Touching a Dead Man: One Man’s Explosive Story of Deliverance from Homosexuality. For more information go to witnessfortheworld.org.