The New York Times has printed a provocative piece today titled “Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance.” Like me, I’m sure you read that headline and can see that the oxymoron in the title betrays the bias of the author. Properly defined, there is no such thing as a “gay evangelical,” if one means by that moniker that someone can embrace homosexuality and Jesus Christ alone as Savior and Lord. Yet it appears that this is precisely what this article is suggesting:
Gay evangelicals seem to have few paths carved out for them: they can leave religion behind; they can turn to theologically liberal congregations that often differ from the tradition they grew up in; or they can enter programs to try to change their behavior, even their orientation, through prayer and support.
But as gay men and lesbians grapple with their sexuality and an evangelical upbringing they cherish, some have come to accept both. And like other Christians who are trying to broaden the definition of evangelical to include other, though less charged, concerns like the environment and AIDS, gay evangelicals are trying to expand the understanding of evangelical to include them, too.
Is it really true that a converted person can embrace the very sin that Jesus died to deliver them from? The answer to that question is “no” if you are an evangelical. The heart of evangelical conversion is repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (e.g., Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 26:20). Apart from that kind of a conversion, one does not become an evangelical, much less a Christian. Thus “gay evangelical” is about as non-sensical as “round square.” It’s a contradiction in terms.
But one thing that really concerns me about this piece is that two of the “gay evangelicals” interviewed for the article are Southern Baptists, people from my own denomination. We are a denomination that professes to believe the Bible, yet still this kind of confusion exists in our pews. How does a Southern Baptist come to the conviction that a lifestyle of homosexuality can coexist with obedience to the Lord Jesus?
I am not surprised that there are Southern Baptists who don’t understand what obedience to the Christian gospel means. This kind of misunderstanding is not just a problem of the Southern Baptist pew, but is endemic to large portions of an American evangelical culture that is forgetting what the evangel is. No one should be surprised that evangelicalism-lite has now given birth to evangelicalism-gay. This kind of thing always happens when clear biblical exposition gives way to fads and entertainment.
There is a message here for Southern Baptists and for everyone else who claims to be followers of the Christian gospel. Our churches should be places in which the biblical gospel is taught and preached with clarity and conviction. Sadly this kind of preaching is scarce in congregations across our land. But concerned pastors, leaders, and laymen should be rising up to insist upon a reformation that returns evangelicals to the biblical revelation as the norming norm.
Evangelicals and Southern Baptists need to be reminded of the message that Jude gave to a compromised congregation in his day:
I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).
May the Lord grant us such a reformation, and may He grant that the so-called “gay evangelicals” might come to a repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.