You canâ€™t stand on the sidelines of the culture war
There are times in life when you can choose your own battles and times when your battles choose you. In 2007, my church was targeted by the homosexual community. A decision was made by our church leaders not to compromise our faith by allowing a memorial service, which would have emphasized and celebrated homosexuality, to be held in our sanctuary.
We did, however, reach out to the family with many acts of love, including paying for another venue to host the memorial service. In response, gay activists unleashed a barrage of attacks through email, blog sites and the mediaâ€”intending to shame us into silence. I soon came to learn the importance of pastors and churches standing together in a bold front for righteousness and biblical morality in our communities.
One of the most effective strategies used to silence and defeat those who would stand for morality is isolationâ€”making them feel as though they stand alone and public opinion is against them. I was amazed at how quickly the homosexual community was able to organize and mobilize its attack.
This strategy would not have been as effective if the body of Christ would have quickly shown its support and taken a stand with us for biblical morality. The silence of the church spoke volumes. The church should learn from those who oppose us. Itâ€™s time we get organized and be ready to mobilize when our values come under attack.
Why is the body of Christ so reluctant to stand? Here are some things I learned. People have a tendency to believe the mediaâ€™s distortions. The mainstream media has an agenda, and itâ€™s not to promote biblical morality. The church should first think the best of its own, and not be quick to believe the propaganda the media puts out.
The church doesnâ€™t want to be called â€śunloving.â€ť Being called a â€śhaterâ€ť is painful, and those who want to pervert morality know that. They use it as a weapon to dissuade the church from taking a stand. In todayâ€™s society, love has been redefined as â€śtolerance.â€ť It implies that if we love people, we will allow their sinful behavior to shape society. However, the Bible commands the believer to â€śspeak the truth in love.â€ť
Many pastors believe they are not â€ścalledâ€ť to take a stand. They leave that difficult work for those who are already in the fight, while enjoying their peaceful, non-confrontational ministry existence. Iâ€™m sorry, but this is my greatest frustration. I cannot find a single Scripture that allows for any â€śGod-called ministerâ€ť to give himself a pass when it comes to warning the wicked. The Bible says that God will judge ministers severely for their failure to warn the wicked of their sinful ways that lead to death (Ezek. 3:18-19).
Most pastors fear false accusations and slander. I can understand that fear, as I was gripped with it myself during these attacks. One night I was in the bathroom preparing for bed, when I heard my wife scream from the bedroom and saw her pointing to the TV. There I was on Keith Obermanâ€™s â€śWorst People in the Worldâ€ť segment. It was a pastorâ€™s worst nightmare. My reputation was being attacked on national television. After the initial shock and paranoia that pursued, thinking that the whole world hated me, I eventually realized that I would live to fight another day. Now nothing shakes me. We all need to be delivered from the people to be able to deliver the people.
I most likely would have never chosen to have suffered the persecution I endured. But it was worth it when several homosexuals came into our church in the weeks that followed, were touched by the great outpouring of love and received Jesus as Lord. Jesus said, â€śRejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before youâ€ť (Matt. 5: 12). No doubt my greatest reward was those precious souls, who were made ready for heaven.
Gary Simons is the pastor of High Point Church in Arlington, Texas. He is the founder of the International Association of Seven Pillars Churches, and is known as a pastor to pastors. His newest book is Church By Godâ€™s Design.