“Evangelicals Open Door to Debate on Gay Rights.” Just the kind of headline I never enjoy, but it ran June 8 in The New York Times over a story about “influential evangelicals” meeting with homosexual activist Matthew Vines at Biola University last month, complete with a Times reporter and photographer on hand.
Vines, you may recall, is author of 2014’s controversial “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships,” which manipulates biblical terminology in an unconvincing attempt to argue against the sinfulness of homosexuality.
Worse, the book was published by Crown Publishing Group’s Convergent imprint, which shared staff and operations with and was a sister imprint of evangelical Christian publisher WaterBrook Multnomah. Among other repercussions for printing such unbiblical garbage, WaterBrook Multnomah resigned its membership from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). (Crown later separated the two imprints.)
Vines also runs an apostate group called The Reformation Project, which claims to exist “to train Christians to support and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Through building a deep grassroots movement, we strive to create an environment in which Christian leaders will have the freedom to take the next steps toward affirming and including LGBT people in all aspects of church life.”
And apparently, Vines has been a very busy man in his continued quest to rewrite what the Bible actually says and basically ask bigoted homophobes – I’m sorry, I meant conservative Christians — “Did God really say …?”
According to the Times, “Vines says he has held about three dozen meetings all over the country in the last year with evangelical leaders who oppose his ideas … but most of his meetings have been private. He has talked with small groups of pastors in Phoenix and Nashville and shared his story over coffee or lunch, often one on one, in places like Atlanta; Chicago; Orlando, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; and Greenville, S.,C. He also visited the campus of Focus on the Family …”
Most recently, Vines made the stop at Biola University at a gathering organized by the Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach, lead pastor at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, “who is part of a younger generation of evangelical leaders and pastors pushing the church to de-escalate the fight over homosexuality. ‘Not everything has to be a culture war,’ he said.” This gathering also included Biola professor Sean McDowell and Christian radio host Frank Sontag.
Now note this: “They all agreed that, in the Bible, God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of sodomy.” (Jude 7 notwithstanding? “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”)
That’s the report: Conservative Christians, agreeing with homosexual activist Matthew Vines that “God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of sodomy.”
Aside from more Bible study, the group would do well to read this article by Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the scholar who is considered to be today’s foremost biblical expert on the subject of the Bible and homosexuality: Why We Know That the Story of Sodom Indicts Homosexual Practice Per Se
Then, they should invest in copies of Gagnon’s magnum opus on this whole subject, “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics,” and read it, in addition to many other helpful and biblically sound hermeneutical resources on this subject that are unaffected by ruthless modern-day homosexual activism and textual distortion. I say this because if “conservative Christians” are now hopping on board with this claptrap, it’s clear a number within the church are allowing the homosexual-activist contingent to play the role of their Bible expositors. Which is exactly what Vines and his ilk want.
I have to wonder: Did any Christian in that room tell Matthew Vines that he is in open rebellion to God and His Word and call upon him, with genuine love and concern for him, to repent and embrace the true gospel of Jesus Christ?
If it happened, the Times didn’t note it — and, one would think, the Times would’ve made a huge deal about it if it had. But the newspaper did note this: “During the closing prayer, Mr. Sontag laid his hand on Mr. Vines’s back. Mr. Kaltenbach called Mr. Vines ‘a brother in Christ.’”
I see. Now this brings up an honest question. Is Rev. Kaltenbach next planning to dialogue with “brothers in Christ” who are pro-adultery and twist the Scriptures to say that adultery isn’t a sin? How about “brothers in Christ” who are pro-polyamory and claim the Bible is pro-polyamory? What about pro-bestiality “brothers in Christ” who believe humans and animals should be in “loving, monogamous, committed relationships?” Pro-incest “brothers in Christ,” perhaps? Should they get a nice, nuanced, friendly hearing, too? I mean, come on. Not everything has to be a culture war, folks!
Perhaps these sound like crazy analogies, because there’s no way evangelical Christian leaders would dialogue with a “brother in Christ” who advocates for sexual sin and wants others to embrace it as biblical! Right?
Uh, they would — and they are. That’s my point!
And might I ask: What exactly is in any of this “dialogue” for Bible-believing Christians? The story states that this group ultimately disagrees with Vines on homosexuality, but look at the headline! “Evangelicals Open Door to Debate on Gay Rights.” That, my friends, is how the world interprets this so-called “dialogue.” The New York Times knows, and Vines knows, exactly what’s going on here. Why don’t we?
Are these gatherings put together because evangelicals think they need a better understanding of homosexuality and the homosexual movement? Fine: Consult your Bibles and any of the vast array of biblically sound books and resources out there on the subject.
Do they think this is just another way of showing homosexuals how much they love them, even while they reject the sinful behavior? OK, let me just school you here: We are to love sinners, but if you think homosexual activists will heartily applaud your delineation between sinner and sin, forget it. If you dare to tell the truth about what the Bible actually says about homosexuality to the leaders in this movement, no matter how softly or gently you say it, you will be hated. There’s no way to “nuance” that.
Vines and those like him have a clear agenda: They reject the teachings of Scripture on homosexuality, and you will be made to feel like a bigoted homophobe until you do, too. For his part, Vines isn’t “dialoguing” with you so you can convince him he needs to repent. He’s “dialoguing” in order to bring you over to his side of the aisle. And with more than 30 such meetings under his belt so far, he’s probably going to have a lot of success in the end.
So what should Christians do about people who twist Scripture? The Bible warns the church in 2 Peter 3 about a very similar situation, in which the Apostle Paul’s letters to the church were “distorted” by “ignorant and unstable people … as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” And what did Peter warn Christians to do? “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.”(v. 16-17)
The Apostle Peter fully recognized the dangers of “dialoguing” – the true danger is that Christians “will fall from their secure (i.e., biblical) position!”
2 Timothy 4: 3-4 also reminds us, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
It’s critical, too, to soberly consider God’s Word in Isaiah 30: 9-13. Here, Isaiah notes the preaching of those prophets who were not speaking by the Holy Spirit, but conforming their messages to what the people wanted to hear:
“For they are a rebellious people,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the LORD;
who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
“Because you despise this word
and trust in oppression and perverseness
and rely on them,
therefore this iniquity shall be to you
like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse ..”
This is, in a sense, where the American church of Jesus Christ is today. We are surrounded by what many of us refer to as Big Gay, Inc. And within this movement are a certain number of individual, church-focused “LGBT prophets” whose goal is to undermine the inerrant and infallible Word of God by getting conservative evangelicals to buy into the “gay Christian” and “homosexuality isn’t really a sin” lies. And with the inch-deep understanding of the Bible that most Christians have today, this movement has already deceived and will continue to deceive many.
That’s why this useless and ultimately subversive “dialoguing” nonsense has to stop. We must not allow ourselves to be their useful idiots.
We are to have no fellowship with darkness. We can’t “dialogue” with any professing Christian who’s in open rebellion against the Word of God. We can’t “dialogue” with anybody who is deceiving and misleading the Body of Christ on any sin while claiming to be a Christian! (also see I Corinthians 5)
We are to speak to those who disagree with us, certainly, and we are commanded to love them. But Christians must never be passive, weak-kneed participants in LGBT-led “dialogues.” Difficult though it may be, we must tell the LGBT apologists the truth about what the Bible actually says, without reservation and without apology and without “nuance.”
And though they would deny that this is loving behavior, I Corinthians 13 says it plainly: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth!” Love means warning sinners that their continued sin and rebellion against a holy God has both temporal and eternal consequences. And loving our neighbors requires that we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to them – the good news that any sinner who turns from his sin and puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – will be saved! But when you agree, or are tempted to agree, to wipe out “some” of the bad news by jettisoning or redefining sin, you’re ultimately left with no gospel at all.
In the coming days, I have no doubt the church will continue to hear the whispers from the pit: “Did God really say …?”
But like Jesus in the wilderness, our goal is not to engage in “dialogue.” Our only response must begin as our Lord’s did: “IT IS WRITTEN.”