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Andy Stanley’s Controversial Decision
I’m a big fan of Andy Stanley. I listen to his podcast weekly, read his books and often view sermons on his church’s website. He is an excellent communicator and has an amazing ability of considering the people Jesus specifically spoke to while focusing in on the context of the situation, which leads to getting the most out Jesus’s words. I admire that skill greatly. Recently however, one of Andy’s illustrations has caused quite the stir in churches and fired off (what Albert Mohler calls) a “shot heard round the world”.
While teaching a lesson called When Gracie Met Truthie, Andy speaks about the tension between truth and grace. As Christians we need to be able to fully accept, call and label sin for what it is (truth), but at the same time embrace the saving nature of Jesus Christ (grace). We are to completely accept both sides of that tension and we cannot forget either side of it. It’s an awesome message actually; check it out when you get a chance.
The main point behind the message isn’t the root of the controversy, it’s an illustration Andy used which lead many Christians (myself included) to whisper out loud or in their head a collective “huh?” Through a short anecdote, Andy revealed how he dealt with an openly gay couple serving at one of his churches (this situation was not the main point of the story, just a small detail in it). Andy informed the couple that they cannot serve as a “host team” because a man in the couple was still married, therefore committing what Andy called “good old fashioned adultery”. I’m sure most church-goers would agree with that decision. Here’s where a lot of people get confused/offended however, from the way Andy tells the story, he seemingly had no problem with the couple engaging within a homosexual relationship and doesn’t cite that as his reason for telling them they can’t serve; his problem is with the adultery taking place. He never takes the time to label homosexuality as a sin.
I’m not here to bash Andy Stanley. I’ve read quite a few reactions to his sermon, and can see this issue from both sides. It would be unfair to make assumptions about Stanley’s stance on homosexuality based off of the story. The debate and controversy this story has created clearly highlights a greater issue within the body of Christ in 2012.
The church has yet to find an effective way to minister to the gay community.
There are many situations in which the church has done a great job of meeting many people in the midst of struggles the same way Jesus did. When an alcoholic or drug addict walks in, we find a recovery bible study for them. Many college ministries do a great job of welcoming young twenty somethings who are in the midst of enjoying everything the world has to offer, and getting them plugged into a small group. When a openly gay man or woman has an honest heart that desires to know more about God, and wants to become part of the church, how should the church respond? Is the church really creating a place for them? Can they become members? Can they serve on leadership teams? Where do we draw the line? Do we have the right to draw a line? It’s a tough situation. Ironically, this tension all comes back to Andy Stanley’s sermon; it’s a struggle between truth and grace.
I’m not saying I know the right answer, but I can be sure of the first step, and that’s to simply love them. Most of the gay community is completely aware of what the bible teaches about their lifestyle, but remain unaware of what it says about love, and a lot of that has to do with the way they have been treated by people who call themselves Christians. Imagine how a gay couple would feel if they walked into a church and were greeted with love? How a lesbian at her job would feel about Christianity if a straight, bible believing Christian woman took the time to be her friend and listen to her? The first step is to open their mind to Christianity, and that can be accomplished through love. Then the gospel can be shared. Then maybe they pick up the bible and read the good news. Who knows what God can do from there? When we love people we move them closer to the heart of Jesus then when we condemn them.
Did Andy Stanley take grace too far by allowing a gay couple to serve at his church? Have you ever had an experience ministering to a gay person? Positive or negative, share your experience in the comments section.
About Jonathan RamoutarJonathan Ramoutar is a follower of Christ who is passionate about the church’s role in culture and male leadership. He is also an avid fan of the NFL (Tampa Bay Bucs) and NBA (Miami Heat).
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Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)