Thursday, June 26, 2014

John MacArthur, Gay Christians, and the Hypocrisy of the New Christianity

Recently, John MacArthur was asked a question about how a Christian parent should respond to learning that their child is gay. John gave two basic courses of action based on two very different scenarios. First of all, if your child is a not a professing Christian, you essentially do nothing other than love and continue to give them the gospel. However, it is the second scenario that has Ben Corey over a Patheos seeing red these days. According to MacArthur, if a Christian parent has a child that is professing to know Christ while at the same time embracing the gay lifestyle, that is a very different animal.

In the case of gay children who profess Christ, we must take a very difficult path. Confessing that Christ reigns in your heart is the single most serious and solemn confession any human could ever make. It is not to be done lightly. Those who are aware of the presence of sin must confront any Christian that professes Christ and that has sin in their life. Our children are not excluded from this treatment simply on the ground that they are our children. MacArthur follows the text faithfully even if it is painful. And for that, he should be respected and applauded. Our spiritual family takes precedence over our temporal family. Our love for God trumps our love for our children. These false professions must be dealt with seriously, up to and including excommunication if they refuse to repent of their sin or admit that they do not know Christ. There can be no middle ground.

Well, according to Ben Corey, John MacArthur has it all wrong. On his blog Corey writes,
What troubles me about MacArthur’s advice, and so many who think like him, is the horrible inconsistency that often is used when it comes to shunning. One of the key passages folks use to support shunning comes from 1 Corinthians 5– the unfortunate truth, however, is that Paul lists several sins he thought were shun-worthy. Folks like MacArthur have lifted sexual immorality out of that passage while completely ignoring the rest of what Paul taught.

First of all, at best Corey demonstrates that he does not know John MacArthur or Grace Community Church very well. People are not removed from the community only for sexual immorality and to imply that is ridiculous. I mean, how would Corey know? And if he doesn’t know, is such a statement slanderous of John MacArthur. Surely it is. Second, are we really to believe that Corey believes in the practice of Church discipline for all these sins? I have communicated with Corey personally and I can tell you that he does everything he can to give homosexual sex a pass. I could not even get him to admit that homosexuals should have to abstain from sex until marriage even if such a thing were truly possible. No, there is more to Corey’s objection here than meets the eye and the hypocrisy only comes into more focus as he continues with his objection.

Corey then wonders if MacArthur would excommunicate someone making $200,000 as an annual salary if they did not tithe or give to charity. Clearly, this demonstrates that not only does Corey not know MacArthur’s views on these subjects he doesn’t seem to understand what Scripture teaches about them either. Tithing was a Jewish practice never carried into the Church and it never involved money. In addition, the amount of money Christians contribute to the Church giving is a matter of individual conscience and if between that person and God. The Church is not to police a person’s giving. It is something that each person should do as their own heart directs and as they have ability. This is Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians in 2 Cor. 8-9.

The more pressing issue is twofold: excommunicating family members and Jesus teaching on family relationships within the context of the kingdom. In Matthew 18:15-18 Christians are commanded by Christ to go to any brother they see committing a sin. There is no caveat. Jesus did not give us permission to treat blood relatives differently. In the kingdom, we are all family. If that brother does not repent of his sin, we are to take witnesses. If that brother does not repent after hearing the witnesses, we are to take it to the church. If they do not repent after hearing it from the church, they are to be excommunicated and treated like unbelievers because of their obstinate disposition. Corey attempts to bring in a variant reading in the text to personalize the sin but the variant has little to commend it.

Paul dealt with this in real life but in a more urgent way in 1 Cor. 5. First, Paul acknowledged that there was immorality among the Corinthians and that the immorality was of a very serious nature. Apparently a man had taken his stepmother as his wife. This was forbidden not only in the Jewish religion but in Roman culture as well. The punishment was severe. It does not matter if the son was having an unfair (unlikely) as Corey thinks this might make the situation worse, or that he had married his father’s wife. Moreover, it does not matter even if the man’s father had died. The act was still considered reprehensible. Paul’s action was swift and decisive, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” 1 Cor. 5:13. Not only this, Paul told the Corinthians that in such cases, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Cor. 5:11) Not only were Christians not to allow people in this community that were living immoral lives, but they were not to eat with immoral people if they were also professing to be Christians. According to Paul, we may eat with immoral people so long as they do not profess to be Christian.

Paul gave the very same instructions to the church at Thessalonica: If anyone does not obey our instruction ain this letter, take special note of that person band do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. (2 Thess. 3:14) John said the same thing in 2 John 10-11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

I now want to turn your attention to Jesus to see what Jesus actually said about Him impact on families as opposed to what men like Ben Corey claim Jesus said His impact would be on families. Jesus said in Matt. 10:35-37, “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Jesus knew that devotion to Him, to His life, to His teachings would cost even intimate families their intimacy and their loyalty and even their bond.

Jesus also said that brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers would hate their Christian blood relatives so much that in some cases they would have them killed: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. This is a far cry from the one-sided picture that Ben Corey paints of the Jesus we have all heard about but apparently not all of us accept Him for who He is. And He is precisely Who Scripture reveals Him to be.

The problem with Ben Corey, the emergent church, and the young know-it-alls who are out to redefine everything that has already been defined is that they have an idea already in mind. They already know, before reading a single text about Jesus, about God, about Christianity what they want them and it to be. They want a very specific kind of Jesus, God, and Christianity. And nothing is going to get in their way of having it; not even divine truth.

You do not love people by allowing them to remain ignorant and lost in their sin. It used to be that these people thought that we could win them with our love and acceptance. They thought that if we just lived a certain way around unbelievers that unbelievers would be attracted to our Christianity and give up their wicked behavior and join the group. Now they don’t even care if the wicked give up their behavior. In fact, they argue that the wicked should be able to continue in their wicked behavior. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. These people are not fellow believers within the Christian community with minor differences from historic orthodox Christianity. They are wolves seeking to subvert the truth of the gospel top to bottom.

I mentioned hypocrites in my title. While Ben Corey and the emergent like to refer to conservatives like MacArthur and reformed Christianity as modern day Pharisees because of our ethic, what they fail to see is that they are the ones that resemble the Pharisees. You see, the Pharisees ignored God’s word and set up their own standards and then judged everyone, not based on God revealed truth, but based on their own traditions and rules that had gone far beyond anything Scripture taught. When one of these former fundies criticizes a pastor because he drives a car of a certain value or a Christian because they earn a certain income, they are guilty of doing exactly what the Pharisees did. They have established an ethic of their own and imposed it on others. Moreover, that ethic is the result of twisting the Scripture. In fact, I have even had conversations with professing Christians at Patheos who were SHOCKED that heterosexual sex outside of marriage was a sin as well. Now, unless this person was a brand new Christian, they were entirely ignorant of the teachings of Christianity. How can someone claim to love Jesus and be so disinterested in His teachings, His ethics, and His values?

When Ben Corey says the Church must accept homosexuals as they are and challenges the view that homosexual sex is a sin, and demand that we receive them as regenerated believers, he is setting up his own standard and judging everyone else according to it. You see, the Pharisees were not wrong because they were conservative. They were not wrong because they had a particular ethic. They were wrong because their views subverted God’s word. They were not wrong because they were not accepting of others. They were wrong because they rejected what God accepted. It is not ipso facto wrong to reject someone. There is a place for that. It is wrong to reject what God accepts and to accept what God rejects. Ben Corey and the emerging church is guilty of resembling the Pharisees because they are accepting homosexual sex when God rejects it. I am reminded of the prophet that said woe to them that call evil good, and good evil.  

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