have been entranced with the situation which is taking place in Houston, TX…and in case you live in outer space or have absolutely no contact with social media…here’s an excerpt from The Texas Tribune:
A legal battle between the city of Houston and religious leaders has erupted into a national debate this week about religious liberty and freedom of speech, even as Mayor Annise Parker argued the controversy was based on a misunderstanding.
Conservative lawmakers and activists expressed outrage upon learning that lawyers acting on behalf of the city had sent subpoenas this month to pastors who had vocally supported a failed petition drive aimed at repealing Houston’s equal rights ordinance.
The ordinance, better known by its acronym, HERO, expanded the city’s ban on discrimination to include sexual orientation. It applies to businesses that serve the public, as well as city contractors and municipal workers. The City Council approved it in May after an intense public debate.
In August, city officials announced that an effort by conservative activists and pastors to put the ordinance’s repeal to voters failed to draw enough signatures. Opponents of the ordinance have since taken the issue to the courts, alleging in a lawsuit that the city inappropriately disqualified some of the signatures.
The subpoenas, sent to some outspoken pastors and religious leaders who had opposed the ordinance, had asked for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”
It seems the kick back has caused Mayor Parker to disavow her association with the request…but that’s not what made me want to write this blog. At the same time this issue was being debated in Texas and now Nation wide…The Minister of Hillsong was paraded all over Facebook and Social Media about his stance…those who presented his stance did him no favors, because they took much of what he said out of context. Ironically his name is Brian Houston. Listen to his comments:
Brian Houston, pastor of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, has issued a statement re-affirming his traditional position on same-sex marriage.
Houston’s reaction follows his appearance Thursday at a news conference in New York City that gave rise to media reports suggesting Houston had a “shift in tone on gay marriage.”
The mega-church pastor was in New York for a Hillsong conference at Madison Square Garden.
“I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference. Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage,” Houston said in a statement published by the Christian Post.
“I challenge people to read what I actually said rather than what was reported that I said,” he continued. “My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”
Hillsong Church operates 12 campuses around the world, including facilities in Los Angeles and New York City, where gay marriage is legal.
“I was asked a question on how the Church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality — no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ,” Houston said.
“I made the point that public statements condemning people will place a barrier between the Church and the world (and I note that Jesus came to save and not to condemn), which is why at Hillsong we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite.”
“This — like many other issues, is a conversation the Church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world,” he concluded.
As I sit here at my desk thinking about people…people in the Church, people outside of the church a question came to my mind concerning this issue. That question is: “HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN STAND FOR WHAT HE BELIEVES WITHOUT ALIENATING HIMSELF FROM HIS MISSION AND PURPOSE?”
First of all let me share with you what I believe is to be the mission and purpose of every single Christian. It’s to share Christ Jesus and His truth with others in the hopes that the Holy Spirit will lead them to become disciples also. And when that happens, Christians are to share in relationship with those new disciples in a way that helps them grow…and want to do what has been done for them.”
Now with that being said, here’s the struggle for us as Christians…or at least those of us the world would consider evangelicals…Sin has to be dealt with in every single one of us…or we cannot be in a saving relationship with God. Because He is perfect in every aspect of His character…or at least we believe that, then He can’t just let some sin slide. So how do conservative Christian’s come up with their definition of what is sinful? Well, it’s everything I don’t do!!!! Just kidding. Although I think many of us do tend to judge other’s sin more harshly than we judge our own…Surgery is major when it’s on me and minor when it’s on you…but we view sin as the exact opposite…your sin’s major…mine’s minor. The issue of Homosexuality finds it’s difficulty between Christians and our culture because…either homosexuality is a sexual sin, clearly prohibited in scripture or as culture defines it presently, a lifestyle choice between individuals who had no choice or ability to change who they are. Not to oversimplify, but Christians would say, “I still look at life with a biblical world view. I use the basic truths of scripture to shape my daily life, and how I make decisions.” I would hope that individuals who live their lives allowing culture or society to determine what is right and wrong would at least try to see the struggle we Christians face. How do we honestly believe in a God who died for the forgiveness of all sin…and not say that sin matters…especially if we have some view that until sin is dealt with in Christ…there is an eternal punishment. I believe those are the horns of the cultural/spiritual dilemma Brian Houston from Hillsong was trying to address…(Although I have no right to speak for him or anyone else).
Let me clearly say that most conservative Christian’s believe that scripture teaches that Homosexuality is a sexual sin…It’s one of the issues that Paul addresses in Romans 1 and 2, as well as the Corinthian’s in First Corinthians chapter six verses nine through eleven. By the way, it’s not put into another category of sin…different in how major it is from other sin…just sin that needs to be washed, cleansed and forgiven…In fact Paul says to the Corinthians…”Such were some of you.” What’s my answer to the evangelical verses sensitivity issue? Well, I come from the starting place that there is no sin…NONE that cannot be forgiven through the blood of Christ. No sin has that much power…so I believe homosexuality is a sexual sin that can be forgiven..and needs to be…(this statement might get my blog subpoenaed …and my sermons, but I believe it because of scripture, nonetheless) And I also believe that there are individuals who have a tendency and strong sexual temptation to be with the same sex. Why? I cannot answer that question any better than I can answer the question, “Rick, why are you tempted to use medication or drugs to ease your life issues.” Being tempted to do something is not a sin, although Satan knows our weaknesses (or at least we conservative Christians believe that “He schemes” in that way) (EPH.6). One of the issues we Christians ought to be very aware of is that we are asking (for God we believe) for individuals who feel a strong attraction to create relationships with the same sex…for marriage, for intimacy to forgo that “strong attraction” for Christ. I can share with you three friends who I greatly respect in the Christian community who are sacrificially facing that struggle everyday to honor the commitment they’ve made to Christ. The world would say, “That’s not fair….that’s too much to ask…to choose to not act upon those desires.” And I would tell the Christian community…it is a lot to ask…it is something we should be compassionate and supportive of…instead of treating this temptation as the unforgivable sin. It isn’t!!! It isn’t anymore than lust, greed, covetousness, or gossip (slander) is!!!!
My goal, and I’ve got a long way to go, is to present Christ as the answer to all sin…mine and others. He is the one who can change lives and make them abundant…His truth can set us free…whether it’s the sin of Homosexuality, adultery, drugs, greed, or pride.
I just wanted to share my thoughts and ask that we in the church always present truth…but that truth would be presented humbly with love and grace…the same truth that changed us.
His servant and yours,