What About Abortion and the Gays?

September 8, 2015 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

I was minding my own business and someone that I didn’t know started walking up to me.  I could tell that she wanted to talk to me.  (Experience tells me that there is about a 90% chance that this is going to be OK)

She comes up to me and says in a fairly curt way, “So, you’re a pastor or something right?” (Now there is a 25% chance)

“Yes ma’am.” (I was raised in the South)

“What’s the name of the church?’

“The Grove Church”

“Grove Church? I guess that’s non-denominational, huh?’ (10%)

“Yes ma’am”

“I guess you do contemporary music then?” (5%)

“Yes ma’am”

“Aaargh! Why do you do that? Contemporary music!” (<1%)

I tried to explain, that we as a church were trying to reach people that right now are not connecting well at church, namely people 40 and under.  We want to have an approach that has a greater chance of appealing to younger people.

She begins to explain her disdain for contemporary music.  Same stuff I’ve heard for 20+ years.  It’s repetitious, loud, not worshipful for her etc.

“So, these young people.  Are they getting saved?” (<.01%)


“Are people getting saved?”

“Yes ma’am. People are getting baptized and…”

“I don’t care about that.  Are they really getting saved?”

I explain to her my/our understanding of Jesus Christ as God’s Son and how sin destroys our relationship with God and how everyone needs God’s forgiveness through Jesus.  This seems to satisfy her (she even commends (?) me by saying, “So you don’t water it down then”), and I am briefly optimistic that this conversation is winding down.  That’s when it happens.

“What about abortion and the gays?” (0%)

….. (Awkward silence)

My brain is in overdrive at this point.  How am I going to respond to this? Why is she asking me this?  Why did she ask it like this? Please believe me.  That is exactly what she said.  She said it in a fairly harsh dismissive tone as well.  My brain typically works pretty quickly but I was stuck.  My wife accurately predicted my first response.

“What about them?”

“Well you know!” (Do I?)

This has been a while ago.  It still echoes in my head.  That whole conversation bothered me.  It bothered me for a lot of different reasons.  All my various thoughts on this exchange could end up being a blog series or a book.

We will start with this.  Is this really who we as Christians want to be know as? Does this represent us? And do we want it to?  Is this really what we have become? Let’s take her 3 questions in order.

1) Do you do contemporary music?  Interpreted: Do you do music that I like?  Is this the most important question to ask when evaluating a church? Does music style still divide us?  I feel like I could rant on this but I feel like I would be partying like it’s 1999 (Boom! Dated reference!)  How about is your worship passionate and sincere? Is your time of worship an opportunity for people to connect their hearts with the heart of God.

2) Are they getting saved? Interpreted: Are you telling them the hard truths that they need to hear?  Perhaps she is simply meaning to ask if we are church that values the gospel or if we believe that the Bible is the final authority on faith and life.  To give the benefit of the doubt, she could just have been awkwardly asking if we are compromising truth to be attractive.  However, what she asked was about compromising truth that other people need to hear.  She didn’t ask if I was going to challenge her with God’s word.  She wanted to know that they were going to be challenged.

3) What about abortion and the gays? Interpreted: Do you agree with me on my hot-button issues?  Are these the issues that determine whether or not a church honors God and believes the Bible? Why not what about poverty and the orphans? What do we communicate with the people who are far from God that these are the issues that determine whether or not someone is authentically Christian?  I’ll tell you in part what it communicates.  It says that you are not welcome until you agree with our politics.  “Charlie it is not a political issue.  It is a moral and Biblical issue!” What you mean to say is that it is not simply a political issue.  But it is one, and in a culture that chooses to tolerate a bitter, confrontational political climate, you should take care in making hot-button political wedge issues, the primary issues in your church.

This is the point in which I am accused of being soft or compromising truth.  This is humorous to me considering most of my life I have been accused of being close-minded and judgmental.  How about this, can we be uncompromising with truth and uncompromising in our love toward people?  There is so much more to the issues of the sanctity of life and sexuality than the sound bite that this lady wanted.  I do not want to have my thoughts on controversial subjects whittled down to a sound bite to pass someone else’s litmus test.

Would it be too far for me to say that if I had to choose I would rather have some Christians question my orthodoxy on some issues than to have any non-Christians question me or my church’s commitment to loving them?  I want everyone to know that forgiveness and life is available to them through Jesus Christ.  But we are too busy trying to figure out who can be the most “right” on these issues that we have forgotten that there are broken, hurting people out there that need to know that God is right there with his hand out offering hope, love, peace and forgiveness. “But they need to know that what they are doing is sin and we need to tell them…”  Serious question. Do you really believe that evangelical Christians have under-communicated that abortion and homosexuality are sinful?  I would find that hard to believe.

Jesus told us that we are the light of the world.  What kind of light are we?  Are we lighthouses pointing to safety or police spotlights bringing judgment? Are we a campfire providing warmth and light or are we torches to go with our pitchforks?

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But what about abortion and the gays?  You never really answered the question.”

Fine here you go:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17

There is obviously so much more to say, but I’ll stop there and just let this be a conversation starter.  What do you think?  Am I too soft? Am I being too hard on us?  How would you have handled that conversation?


4 Responses to “What About Abortion and the Gays?”
  1. Greg Foster says:

    If you want my opinion on these topics, you must pass MY litmus test: 1) are you a believer? If not, you can agree with my views, but still be estranged from God; 2) are we sharing life? If not, why do you care what I think?; 3) are you looking to me for help in hearing God’s voice on the subject? If not, I’m not about to serve up a carcass for you to dissect. If you answer yes to all 3, I’ll be happy to share and listen to you so that I can come closer to God’s mind on the matter.

  2. cloften says:

    Well said, Greg. We certainly have lost any sense of what it means to have meaningful conversation on difficult topics. It’s a shame. I would love to be able to do this, but what tends to happen is that people are trying to trap you or pigeonhole you. I don’t want any part of that. Though in my 20’s, I thought arguing like that was pretty fun. Definitely matured and grown in that.

  3. Steve Manatt says:

    I think it is high time that Christians make a fundamental stand to hate sin, first in their own lives and then in those they love, while at the same time absolutely love the person through the expression of grace.

    Grace does not equate permissiveness, but allows us to achieve what I’ve just asked of us – turn away from sin and toward the person.

    Then we must have enough faith in His plan for their lives that we resist the urge to play Him in their lives. It is not our job to save people – we have no power over the hearts and wills of another.

    The metric for spiritual success is looking more like Christ today than we did yesterday/last month/last year. The job of the church (or a small group leader or a mom/dad or a ____) is to create an environment in which that transformation can take place – free from distraction and full of nurturing encouragement.

    You’re where you need to be Charlie – keep up the good work!

  4. Carolyn Loften says:

    I find the older I get, both in age and in the Christian faith, we must learn to accentuate the positive. Jesus loves me this I know. And, because I know share this wonderful knowledge with hurting people that they would discover that Jesus loves them as well and cleanses their hearts and soul with forgiveness.

    But unlike my son, I still get a kick out of a little controversy with others that like it as well.

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