When your first album dropped, my household jumped on it. In fact, every album you've put out since that time, we've bought it within the first week of it being out if I remember correctly. Songs like "Jesus Take the Wheel" and later on, "Change," were filled with such inspiration and spirituality that your faith was undeniable. I became an even bigger fan as I continued listening to your music and hearing you speak about the Lord in your interviews.
I believe it was two years ago that my wife and I actually went and saw you in concert in Columbia, SC. We had went to Charleston, SC for a getaway and drove up to Columbia before coming home to see you. Let me say that the concert was absolutely fantastic. You were beautiful as always and your ability to sing on pitch and so high was amazing. Many times artists sound entirely different live than they do on their albums. It was extremely refreshing to hear you hitting those high notes without the voice overs and machines. When you broke into "How Great Thou Art" towards the end of the show, I could have swore I was in a church service. What an awesome night! We are already planning on attending your concert for your new album, "Blown Away," (which by the way I love!) later this year.
All that being said, I just read an article the other day where you stated you were for "marriage equality" and that you attended a "gay friendly church." You seem to have arrived to this conclusion based on your understanding of love and the teachings of Christ. And to this, I'm completely opposed and I hope that maybe you (if somehow you were to find this measly page among the throngs of stuff addressed and pointed towards you) and others who read this will understand the flip side of the aisle and maybe some clarity can be brought to the reasons why many are against what you now claim you support.
First, I think I can applaud your church if it's "gay friendly." I don't really know what you mean by that and so I'll tell you my definition that I can applaud and if that represents your church, then great. If not, then I can't support it. I think every church should be "gay friendly" in the way that every church should be "sinner friendly." Jesus was clear that it's not the healthy who need doctors, but the sick. When our churches are simply houses for "holy" people to get together and discuss their varying degrees of holiness, then the church has become a glorified social club. Church should always be looked at as the outreached hands of Christ in a community and everyone should be welcome in the church, sinners and saints alike. The problem in today's Christian culture is that we have ascribed various levels and degrees of severity upon certain sins. In reality, whether a person is a drunkard or a liar, the same judgment awaits them outside of the grace of God. Having said all that, if your church is a church that doesn't discourage gay people from coming and shows them love and acceptance as the church should do any and all sinners and visitors, then I applaud it. If however your church is "gay friendly" because it preaches that homosexuality is accepted by God and does not violate the Word of God, then not only can I not applaud your church, but I'm not even sure that your church is part of the Biblical church.
The reasons you gave for supporting "marriage equality" are not new. They've been recited over and over and over ad nauseam. It tends to almost always be about love. So I'll cite some of these scriptures for reference. These are the words of Jesus:
- Matthew 5:43-44 - Love your enemies and pray for those who use you
- Matthew 6:24 - A person cannot love two masters. He'll love the one and hate the other.
- Matthew 10:37 - He that loves his family more than me, is not worthy of me.
- Matthew 22:37-39 - Love the Lord God with all your heart . . . Love your neighbor as yourself
- Mark 12:30-31 - The Great Commandment repeated
- Luke 10:27 - The Great Commandment repeated
- John 3:16 - The Great Verse
- John 13:34 - A variation of the Great Commandment
- John 13:35 - All men will know you are my disciples by that you love one another
- John 14:15 - If you love me, keep my commandments
- John 15:9-12 - Christ's commands are kept by abiding in love
These are just a few of the verses compiled where Jesus speaks of love, yet the list alone is profound. We are to love our enemies and those who use us. We must love God first and foremost above anyone or anything else, including family members and our own lives. We are to love others as we love ourselves, giving them the same grace we desire and the same patience which we need. Jesus repeated this or some variation of it in all four Gospels. Jesus would go on to say that the greatest way people would know we belong to Him is how we love each other and if we love Him, we will definitely keep His commands.
I'll admit, if we stop here and condense the Bible down to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it seems everything is about love and love only. And those that want to err on the side of "Christian homosexuality" tend to do this. Here's the problem with that ideology. 2 Timothy 3:16, says that "all" scripture is divinely inspired and is used for teaching, rebuking, and instruction in righteousness. According to John 1:1, Christ is the Word of God and as such the Bible becomes the testimony and narrative of Christ's promise, Christ's coming, Christ's death, Christ's resurrection, and Christ's soon coming to catch the church away. So we cannot reduce the whole of Christian doctrine and living down to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It was the rest of the Bible Jesus came to fulfill and instill. What we can do however, is view the whole Bible through the lens and example of Christ.
As to the idea of "Christian homosexuality," the first scriptures many want to point out are those of Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Both of these scriptures are very straight forward: homosexuality is a sin and an abomination of the natural order God created. God created male and female for one another in Genesis 2. God recognized it wasn't good for man to be alone, so He created a woman, not another man. His command was for them to be fruitful and multiply, thus He gave them, shall we call it "equipment," to accomplish this great and wonderful task. He formed the male and female body to completely compliment one another. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians, the woman was made for man to complete him. In Paul's talk of marriage in 1 Corinthians, he is very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, leaving no room for homosexual marriage in his discourse in a day where homosexuality was very common and accepted in the Greek world. So understanding the reasons male and female were created and then seeing the subsequent law against homosexuality, that should settle it right? Not necessarily for some. The argument usually becomes tilted towards discrimination and hypocrisy due to the holding up of the Levitical standard against homosexuality, but not holding up the other Levitical standards such as not wearing tunics with mixed fabrics.
That mindset however reveals an ignorance to the Bible in general. On the outside looking in, it would appear that we pick and choose what we want to believe from the Old Testament, (follow the Ten Commandments but not the crazy tunic law), however we have to take the whole Bible in context. It doesn't contradict itself, and again according to 2 Timothy 3:16, it's all from God and is good for teaching. That being said, why do we keep the Ten Commandments, but not the other laws of the Old Testament and Leviticus in particular? Simply because Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 that He didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. In fact, He said the law would never be voided until it was completely fulfilled.
When we understand the laws of God in the Old Testament, we break them up in three categories: the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the sacrificial law. Jesus "fulfilled" the sacrificial law by dying on the cross for our sins. Millions of animals were killed for the sins of the people, but the death of Christ on the cross wrought for us a victory that an animal's blood could never give us. He set us free! This is why we don't sacrifice animals anymore (and all the lambs and turtledoves said, "AMEN!"). Christ fulfilled the sacrificial law. The ceremonial law has also been fulfilled. The ceremonial law would include certain distinctions such as the "tunic law" and the notion of running all the lepers and sick people out of the camp until they got better. Festivals and feasts were involved as well. The dietary law of not eating pork and so forth could be included as well. All of this was fulfilled by Christ as the Pharisees were constantly getting angry with Him for speaking at the wrong time, disrupting their temple traditions, picking grain on the Sabbath day, healing on the Sabbath day, and so forth. In Acts 10, God's vision to Peter to get up and eat the very animals that the Old Testament claimed were unclean is an example of the law no longer being in effect. We see the purpose of the ceremonial laws were to make the Jews a separate, holy, and sanctified people. We no longer need to wear certain things or eat certain things for the world to know we belong to Christ. As mentioned earlier, Jesus was clear that the world would know to whom we belonged by the way we loved each other and followed His commands.
The last categorical law left would be that of the moral law. This has not been fulfilled. In fact, according to the Great Commandment I listed in all four Gospels earlier (Love God with all your heart . . . love your neighbor as yourself), Jesus actually said that the whole crux of the law hung on this commandment. In other words, if you want to follow the remaining law left to follow (the moral law - Ten Commandments and such), love God and love people and it will be easy. If I love you, I won't steal from you. If you love me, you won't falsely accuse me. Here are the Ten Commandments in action. We can still hold to the Ten Commandments today because it deals with the morals of living holy and acceptable lives before God. So then where does Leviticus 18 and 20 fall? Without a doubt, the command against homosexuality is a moral law. Because God doesn't recognize it as natural (nowhere in the Bible does He approve it), homosexual relations are no different than heterosexual relations before marriage; it's fornication and adultery plain and simple and these are most certainly sins. Moral laws are put in place for the purpose of knowing how to treat ourselves, one another, and most importantly, God Almighty, thus the first commandment in the "Big Ten!"
Now that's a lot of discourse, and you may be bored of reading it. You may like others disregard everything I just said as hogwash and choose not to subscribe to the whole "Old Testament Law thing" and consider it archaic. You may even disregard my exegesis. After all, if we all love each other, it all works out right? That might would be somewhat possible or even plausible if the New Testament were silent on the matter, but it's not.
Jesus said in Matthew 19:1-6 in dealing with the Pharisees over the idea of divorce, that God made male and female and that for "this reason" would man leave his family and cleave to his wife. In other words, God's divine order and creation of humanity necessitated and perfectly established marriage. Jesus went on to say that what God has joined together, let no man separate or in the King James vernacular, "put asunder." In other words, Jesus is clear, his Father made male and female for one another. Because they were made for one another, they will be married as the man leaves his family and "cleaves" or makes his wife the center of his new family. And no man should attempt to tear this union apart. Is not the legalizing of homosexual marriage the tearing apart of God's plan for humanity and marriage? In this scripture we can understand that not only should we not try to split apart married couples (absent special circumstances like rape, abuse, infidelity), but we shouldn't try to tear apart or "put asunder" God's plan and identity for marriage.
In Romans 1:18-32, Paul deals with homosexuality and calls it a sin. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, he lists homosexuality in the litany of sins in which he states some in the church used to be involved in but were now saved and set free from. In Galatians 5, Paul not only lists the "Fruit of the Spirit," but also the "Fruit of the Flesh" of which homosexuality would certainly fall as fornication and adultery among other things. In the book of Jude verses 4 and 7, the writer deals with immorality and the new thinking that came into the church teaching new doctrines of the allowances of certain immoralities. Though verse 4 doesn't specifically list them, verse 7 makes these immoralities being spoken of akin to those present in Sodom and Gomorrah which were cities famously destroyed for their wickedness, sexual perversions, and homosexuality in the book of Genesis and even referenced by Jesus. In maybe one of the most clearest examples of what's taking place in our churches today, Jude spells out that accepting the unnatural and sinful notion of God approved homosexuality and God allowed immorality in our churches would be completely 100% wrong.
So how do we proceed? The issue is not an issue of love, but of acceptance. We MUST love all mankind, drunkards, drug users, liars, thieves, murderers, gossipers, and homosexuals. The church must be condemned for our attitude of hate and disgust at the sinner instead of the sin. Some churches seem to even enjoy preaching about how these people and others will go to hell as if it's a joyous thing. In this vein, I'm reminded of Luke 18 where Jesus tells the story of a Pharisee who approaches the altar and prays aloud that he's proud he's not a rank sinner like the tax collector and so forth. Then Jesus says there was a tax collector who was so ashamed of his sins that he wouldn't even approach the altar, but from the back of the temple, beat his chest and cried out for mercy and forgiveness. Jesus made it known whose prayer was acceptable and heard: the tax collector's. So, yes, the church needs to purify itself from the hatred and dislike of the sinner man of which many in the church are themselves. But love, doesn't necessitate acceptance.
To the church: let's stop hating the sinner and patronizing our communities with words of love, but actions of exclusion. To the homosexual: I don't hate you at all. I'll be happy to be your friend and have lunch with you, but I won't accept your behavior or lifestyle as Christian. It's not because I hate you or don't love you. It's because the Bible clearly states that it's wrong. I will take responsibility for the way in which I communicate that fact however. To the gay marriage supporter: If you're going to use the words of Christ to back up your claim, please read ALL of His Words in the Gospels and throughout the rest of the Bible. The command to love people never included loving and accepting what the Bible states is wrong. Our love for Christ pulls us out of the world. It does not cause us to dilute the truth. Stop supporting the tearing apart of what God put together and please stop contradicting your motivation of love by calling me and others who oppose gay marriage bigots, racists, and fanatical wackos. When either side results to name calling and insulting one another's intelligence, all hope for civility and understanding flies out the door.
Thanks for reading this long expose' in letter form. God bless.
In Christ Alone,