Rather than debate stupid and foolish arguments, Paul urges people to turn away from immaturity and sin and instead pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace so that they are qualified to teach.
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
We’re going through books of the Bible, and we were in 2 Timothy. Last week was Mother’s Day, so we skipped ahead a little bit ’cause – well, it was sane. We’ll do the second half of 2 Timothy tonight, so if you got a Bible, you can turn there, and I’ll pray for us. I’ll pray and we’ll do some time in Timothy.
Father God, thank you for a chance to study. Please inform us and instruct us and shape us. God, please cause us to be like our Lord Jesus Christ filled with grace and with truth. God, we live in a culture in a day in a city that doesn’t know much of either, quite frankly, and won’t unless your people experience it and then share it with others.
God, I pray that you would help control my attitude and my temperament and my tongue this evening that I would obey the Scriptures myself and not just teach them but embody them and obey them.
And God, I pray for us as a church as we labor here in the least church city in the country and we’re surrounded with people who don’t know you. We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate your love and your truthfulness. And God, we pray that through the studying of the Scriptures today that you’d help us to be most effective and most faithful to that end, and so we seek that in Jesus’ good name. Amen.
As we get into the Scripture tonight, I’m gonna say this. If you are a strong political advocate with a particular agenda, set it aside. If you are a moralist and have a real strong moral opinion on some particular social issues, just give me hour, hour and a half, two, three, four hours, whatever we’re gonna do here tonight, and just hear me out. Just let me give you some thoughts from Scripture.
And as you go through Scripture, you’re gonna find that the Bible is filled with principles that are universal for us to live our life together with God. And what we do then is we take those principles, and then we apply those to particular issues.
Now as I deal with the Scriptures tonight, I’m assuming that the vast majority of you will not have any problem with the principles. It’s going to be the application of the principles in the second half of the sermon that may trouble some of you. We’re gonna look at the principles on how to deal with debated and conflicting hot controversial issues that come into the church principally. You’ll like that. Then we’ll deal with how that applies to homosexual marriage, and you may or may not like that, depending upon how I do teaching and how you do listening.
So we’ll jump right in. Hear me out through the bitter end, and if you don’t like it at the end, send me an e-mail tomorrow, but don’t do it on your Blackberry tonight. Just hear me all the way through. Sometimes people send nasty e-mails during the sermon. Just wait awhile.
We’ll start. Here’s what Paul has to say to Timothy about debatable, controversial doctrines and issues that come up in the church. First he says we need to flee the evil desires of youth. That doesn’t mean that young people are evil, although a lot of them are. But it doesn’t just mean that only young people are prone to commit some sins, but some sins are more prevalent among those that are young. These are not just people that are young. These are people that act immaturely or youthfully, what we would call youthful indiscretion. But you don’t need to be young to be evil. You could be old too. It’s equal opportunity. Folly and sin is equal opportunity.
What he’s talking about here is acting in an immature or a youthful way when a controversial comes that you jump on the latest bandwagon, wave the flag without doing your homework. You make it personal. You become a kneejerk reactionary. You have a bumper sticker answer to every moral dilemma. You’re just prone to an immaturity.
We are a very young church, very young church, youngest church that I know of for quite a few miles. I remember reading an article about four years ago when I was still in my 20s back in the old days and said oh, well, the youngest pastor in the whole state is this guy who’s in his late 40s, and he has this really young church with people in their mid- to late 40s. I was like that’s our retirement ministry.
We’re young, you know. Our elders are younger, so those of you that feel old, don’t feel bad. I mean, if you’re over 13, you feel old in this church. We’re a very young church. And if you’re older, I’ll say this. Welcome, it’s good to have you. We’re glad to have people that have been Christians for more than one presidential term. We’re glad to have people that have been married longer than it took me to grow my beard. We’re glad to have people who have jobs and can read. You know, it’s – we like older people. If you have friends, bring them. Bring your older friends if you’re older. We’re glad to have you.
What he’s talking about here though is even though we’re young and we’re a young congregation and we’re younger people and I’m getting older as fast as I can, but what we need to be is not excusing immaturity because of our age. We can’t. We can’t say well, we’re young so we act immaturely. We have to say well, we’re Christians, so we act Christlike. And whether or not we’re young, we need to flee from the evil desires of youth toward dealing with things in a wrong way.
And where he’s gonna go with this is that oftentimes issues will come into the church, oftentimes from the culture, and that people have an opportunity to do the right thing in the right way or to do the right thing in the wrong way. What he’s saying is that some people have a propensity to argue for the right cause in the wrong way because they’re youthful and they give into evil desires that young people are prone to.
So instead we should flee evil desires of youth, and instead we should pursue righteousness, which is rightness, obedience to God, faith, which is trust in God, love. God is love. Gold loves us. We should love God, love one another, and peace, peace with God and peace with people. It takes a real maturity to navigate through controversial and debatable issues and end up at a place of love and peace.
“Along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” This is a churchwide issue, not just Mars Hill. It does refer to us as a church but us as part of the greater Christian church, nationally, globally. Even so far as it concerns the churches in our city, we want to be like minded and of one accord on debated and controversial matters, and we wanna be together with our brothers and sisters who call on the Lord with a pure heart.
Obviously, the inference here is that not everyone calls out to the Lord with a pure heart. Some people claim to be Christians who aren’t. Some people will use the name of Christianity or such things because it’s politically advantageous, gets them a voter block, because it’s financially advantageous. There’s money to be made. There’s lots of reasons why some people would claim that they call on the name of the Lord, but they wouldn’t do so out of a pure heart.
When an issue comes or a debatable matter arises in the church, some people have a pure heart and are trying to do the right thing. Other people are just on the bandwagon trying to forward whatever agenda or whatever opinion that the may have. So he says we need to be unified with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart, thereby also being cautious against people who may claim the name of the Lord but don’t do so out of pure heart, pure intentions, out of love for God and just doing the right thing.
He says don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments. This happens in two ways. Some things are just dumb, and we don’t need to talk about them very much. Other things are very important, but we don’t need to talk about them in a stupid and foolish way.
Okay, the first thing is like Christians are notorious for spending time arguing over things that don’t matter. It’s like our specialty. We’re so good at that. That’s our contribution to the world. We can fight over nothing. Just bodies everywhere over tongues or the rapture, right, and so it’s foolish and stupid arguments. Just do we need to shed blood? Do we need to argue over this? Is it that big of a deal?
You know, for example, the second coming of Jesus. I know Jesus is coming. I have no idea when. Some of you think you do. Hence, the difficulty. You say I know, I know, Pastor. We’ll have a meeting. I have this chart, and on this chart it says when Jesus is coming back. Like Jesus is in Heaven going, “I wasn’t gonna come back then, but they have a chart on some paper. It looks official. That guy’s got a PhD and a chart. Man, I’m jacked. I gotta do this, you know.”
We could debate that. We could debate that. We could disagree on that, but it’s kind of foolish and stupid to argue over things that haven’t happened as to how they will happen. There’s certain things that we could just get into stupid and foolish arguments about, and we don’t need to. We just don’t need to.
The other things is there are some issues that are worth fighting for, quite frankly, some things that are very important and we need to argue for those things, but we need to as Christians be very careful that we don’t act like imbeciles.
Foolish and stupid arguments are some people oftentimes have the right cause, and they argue for it in a stupid way because Christians have this propensity to think well, I read the Bible, so I know what God says. Everybody else is an idiot, and I’ll just go out and load the gun and shoot them in Jesus’ name and blow them up and praise the Lord. And if they disagree, I’ll say things like blessed am I who is persecuted for righteousness, and you’re gonna burn in Hell like a sausage on a grill. There you go.
Well, you know, that’s not the best argument. Christians need not just worry about their cause but about the winsome nature of is that a good argument? Do we have a good argument or is it just foolish and stupid? Christians are notorious for arguing the right thing in the wrong way, and that’s what he’s talking about being foolish and stupid.
If you’re dealing with a non-Christian, you have to think how you’re gonna argue for that which is right and true and good in a way that is understandable to that individual. Foolish and stupid arguments. What this means is that not every argument is good. Not every argument should be aired. Not every position should be defended.
But what happens is sometimes some people will purport a position that is sort of foolish and stupid argument even if it’s a good cause, but because they say they’re Christians, then there is a pressure upon those of us who are Christians to maybe support or align with them because they’re arguing for the right thing and they are brothers and sisters in Christ. But it’s so hard when they’ve argued for it in the wrong way. We’ll get to that a little bit later for those of you that are still here.
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels.” Stupid and foolish arguments just end up in a fight. They end up in an argument. Now here’s the problem. I like that. Okay, as your pastor, my fear is that the church could take on the posture of the pastor. Like that? A little hip hop for you tonight. That’s close as I get.
I am a guy who likes to quarrel. I like to argue and fight. I find that most people are poorly read, not that bright and unable to articulate themselves particularly when you get them emotional. It’s wonderful sport. The Mariners aren’t doing well. This is like my second favorite form of entertainment, and this is – I love this. I’m Irish. We are a quarrelsome people. We sit around and drink and argue. I mean, that’s what we do. It is our gift to humanity, you know. We do.
I was in high school. I had never joined a debate team, never studied philosophy or argumentation, rhetoric, or debate ’cause it was a public school. And then I went to a class, and they said hey, we’re gonna have a big statewide debate. You show up. You do an impromptu speech. You debate. You defend a cause. They said you wanna come? I said well, I’m not on the debate team. I’ve never argued. I’ve never been in the formal thing, whatever, whatever. They said you get to miss two days of school. Well, of course, I wanna go.
So I went to this thing and I won. I’m like drinking Coke, walk in. They’re like okay, we’re gonna debate helmet laws for motorcycle riders. I’m like I never had a motorcycle or a helmet, but I know I could smoke that kid ‘cause his knees are knocking. He’s got a twitch. I know I can win. So he’s all scared. They’re all studying, drilling, statistics, facts. I won a college scholarship that day. They put a crown on my head literally. I won this huge statewide competition.
It was like so how’d you do it? You should meet my family. I mean, that’s – we’re specialists at this. You wanna argue, we can do that. We can do that. Get you in an emotional frenzy, make fun of you. Make some argument, watch you spin like a top and then dance a jig ’cause I won. I mean, I love that.
But then this next verse, “the Lord’s servant must not quarrel.” Doh! I read that this week, and I’m like golly, that’s not what I would’ve wrote ’cause I – so that means I’m sinful. And that means as your pastor, you may have the propensity of being like me, which means we could be exciting and wicked at the same time altogether.
So we can’t quarrel. You say well, what do we do? There’s a debatable issue. We feel like somebody’s wrong or they’re arguing for the right thing in the wrong way. Do we just point out that they’re foolish and stupid? No ’cause that’ll just lead to a quarrel. Or do we just not worry about our argument and just argue for the right thing regardless of how we argue for it? No ’cause that’s a stupid and foolish argument, and we know that it just leads to quarrels, just fighting and debate and just back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Just no productivity so what do we do? Well, we don’t quarrel.
Shucks, I got a lot of free time now ’cause I just freed up a huge portion of my schedule. We’re not supposed to quarrel, so we don’t quarrel. Okay so what do we do? Do we say well, if it’s a debatable issue, a cultural matter, homosexual marriage, abortion, you know, whatever it is, what we do then? Do we just not say anything? No, we say something, but we don’t argue like stupid fools. We be kind to whom? Everyone.
That’s one of the reasons I know the Bible is inspired. It says things that I don’t like. No one would make that up. Be kind to everyone. If I wrote the Bible, it would say be kind to everyone who is like you ‘cause they’re brilliant and intelligent and winsome and attractive, and that’s why we need cloning is we need more of them. That’s what we need. Photocopy me and the other guy like me, and we’ll just take over, you know? Be nice to everyone like me. Okay, good. Praise the Lord. Why not? Look at them. Brilliant, insightful, necessary people like me. Yeah, be kind to them.
No, it says be kind to whom? Everyone. Those people, those people. Do I have to ? are you quarreling? Doh! Really got me here, you know.
There are certain people you and I don’t like, and we think we have good reasons, and some of you do. Do I have to be kind to them? Yup. Even my enemies? Yup. Even the people I don’t like? Yup. Even my husband’s ex-girlfriend? Yup. She’s evil. Yup. What about those people that are arguing for the wrong thing? The Christians that are pro-abortion, pro-divorce, pro-gay, the ones that don’t read the Bible or say that they do but miss all the parts that pertain to what they’re saying? Yeah. Well, can’t we just go kill them? No. No, we can’t. No verses on that.
You gotta be nice to them. I don’t wanna be nice to them. Gotta be nice to them. Now, don’t think this is easy for me. I like to fight. I like to win. I’m highly competitive, but I’m not supposed to quarrel.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t be passionate people. This doesn’t mean we can’t take strong opinions on controversial matters, but we can’t do so with a stupid and foolish argument, and we can’t do it with a mean-spirited disposition. Be kind.
Many people reject Christianity because they don’t like the temperament of Christians, so instead we should be able to teach. This means first of all that we’ve fully researched our position on any particular issue. We’ve done our homework. Don’t just watch one show or download on article, load the gun and go find somebody. Do your homework. Reason. Think it through. Don’t come up with a stupid and foolish argument, and don’t just jump on the faddish Christian bandwagon sloganeering for that issue of the day. Do your homework so that you can teach others.
A lot of people haven’t thought the issues through very clearly because kneejerk juvenile emotionalism kicks in, and everybody just gets all inflamed, and they’re not thinking it through, and they haven’t really reasoned out their argument. You need not only have the right position. We need to reason for it in a good way with the right attitude. So it’s right cause, good argument, good attitude. All three are important. That’s why Peter tells us to “give an answer for the reason that lies within us to everyone who asks with gentleness and respect.”
The right thing argued in the right way by the person with the right attitude. Gentle, respectfulness. That’s what he’s saying here too. Able to teach. There’s a lot of people who just simply don’t know. They don’t know about Jesus. They don’t know about the Bible. They don’t know about a lot of things that we as a church do hold very, very dear. But simply by being mean-spirited or argumentative or quarrelsome with them, they’re not going to learn. They’re just going to become emblazoned to defend their position. It’ll reduce itself into a very personal debate, and they’re still not gonna walk away knowing who Jesus is or what the Bible says or why they should care, so we need to be able to teach kindly.
And then not resentful because some people, you will love them. You’ll be kind to them. You’ll be nice to them. You’ll answer their questions. You’ll articulate your position graciously saying well, I disagree with you. I wanna be kind about this, but will you please hear me out. Let me explain this to you, where I’m coming from. And at the end they may say, “I totally disagree, and I think you’re an idiot, and I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that point, you can’t get resentful.
Some of you have had friends or family like this. You’ve talked to them about Jesus, and then they have completely opposed you, and then you get resentful. Don’t. don’t get resentful. Resentfulness is where you’ve allowed it to become personal. You and I deliver the mail. We don’t write the mail. God writes the Scriptures, hands them to us. We go out, say okay, Lord, I want a gentle, kind, gracious attitude. I wanna love this person, and I do ’cause you love them. Everyone, not just the people that I like and are like me. I’m gonna kindly seek to inform them of what the Bible says and who you are. If they oppose that, I’m not gonna get resentful thinking that they’ve rejected me. They’ve rejected you. I just deliver the mail. I don’t write the letters.
Can’t become personal. Can’t become kneejerk reactionary. Don’t get resentful. Don’t get resentful. When you get resentful, you start getting bitter. You start getting mad at people. You start taking it personally. You start severing relationships with people that aren’t Christians or people that don’t agree with you. Try not to do that. Try to be kind to everyone, honest with everyone. Clearly, lovingly articulate your beliefs, and then if they disagree, continue to be kind, not resentful.
Here’s why. Those who oppose him. People will oppose you. People oppose me. People oppose anyone who think anything about anything. If you have an opinion, someone will oppose it. Those who do oppose you – you will be opposed – you and I need to gently instruct. Gently instruct, gently instruct.
Honestly, that is not my forte. Instruct I can do pretty good. Gently? What I consider gentle is still war. You know, it’s like so we need to work on gentleness. That’s kindness. That’s love. That’s patience. That’s mercy. Those are some of the attributes of the God that we worship. Gently, gently instruct.
Here’s the reason. “In the hope that God will grant people repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” Do you want people to become Christians? Do you? I do. I do. I want people to meet Jesus. More than anything this church has one goal. We want people to turn from sin – that’s repentance – come to a knowledge of the truth – that’s Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. More than anything, that’s what we care about.
What we don’t wanna do is come into the least church city in the country with stupid and foolish arguments with an opportunity to just pick fights and be a quarrelsome people. We don’t wanna become resentful and just turn our back on the city and isolate ourselves in some little enclave throwing the occasional moral hand grenade over the wall. We wanna kindly, lovingly instruct people because we really want them to repent of sin and come to a knowledge of the truth.
But if we get in the way, they will reject Jesus because they perceive him as being with us, and they will just see us bringing Jesus to them. And if we do not do this in the right way, they will reject us and in so doing reject Jesus because they feel like if you work for Jesus, I don’t want anything to do with it. You’re a jerk. You’re mean. You’re an idiot. You haven’t done your homework. That’s a foolish argument. That’s a stupid argument. You’re resentful. You’re taking this personal. You’re acting like a little kid.
This is not a great sales pitch.
I would love to see Seattle come to a knowledge of the truth. I just long for that day with all my heart. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. I weep over Seattle. I just can’t wait to see more and more and more people granted by God repentance, coming to a knowledge of the truth.
But to do that I need to grow in my maturity, in my attitude. We need to grow in our attitude and in our maturity. And we can’t say and I can’t say well, we’re young. Paul says to flee the evil desires of youth that just wanna be full of zeal and fighting and arguing and quarreling and winning because the point that he’s making is God doesn’t want us to just win arguments. He wants us to win people, and it is possible to win an argument and lose a person. And God loves those people. God loves all people.
Here’s why else we wanna be doing a good job with this, Mars Hill. We want people to come to their senses. It’s a senseless day, people doing senseless things, arguing for them in senseless ways. It’s just nonsensical would be a good way to describe the day that live in. Want people to come to their senses, wake up and go what are you doing? Who are you worshipping? Where are you going? What are you thinking? Where are you coming from? You need to come to your senses.
“And escape from the trap of the Devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” This is incredibly important.
I’ve really seen repentance that leads to a knowledge of the truth and enables people to escape the trap the Devil’s set for them by bringing them to their senses.
Here’s what I found. We have an enemy. Don’t know if you guys are aware of this. His name’s Satan. He was an angel, declared war on God. He recruited a third of the angels, the heavenly host, into his service. They were cast down into the earth, and since they’ve gotten here, the enemy has been doing something really nefarious. He’s been taking people captive to do his will. Did you know that? Did you know that? I didn’t know that for the longest time.
I just thought these were stupid people that if we yell at they’ll stop doing what they’re doing. Probably did a lot of damage, quite frankly. Probably did a lot of damage
The enemy has taken people captive. What that means is people that are in habitual sin, people that are in cults, people that are in the wrong religion, people that are worshipping the wrong God, people that are doing the wrong thing, they’ve been taken captive by our enemy. We just have this big debate in our culture how you’re supposed to treat a captive. Guys been following that?
It’s interesting Paul would use that word in light of what’s going on in our newspapers lately. The big debate that we’re having is how do you treat a captive? We would say well, you treat a captive with dignity and honor and love and respect. If someone’s been taken captive by their enemy, they need to be treated well.
How would you like it if American forces went in to liberate an American that had been taken captive and just shot him and killed him? You go no, you don’t do that. You liberate captives. You don’t kill them.
What you need to understand is that Satan takes people captive. And one of the traps that he sets is he wants us to come in and shoot them so that we kill our own. We do have an enemy. We are at a war. It is not with people. Our enemy is Satan. We’re gonna get to this in a little bit. People are our goal.
The Devil sets a trap, bringing people in captive to do his will. They think they’re on the right team. They think they’re doing the right thing. They think their life is good and upstanding or moral or pleasurable or whatever it is that they value and esteem, but the enemy has set a trap for them. They’ve walked right into it. In so doing, he’s just ensnared then. He’s taken them into captivity. Now they belong to him. He’s brainwashed them into thinking that they’re right and true and good, and so they go out and they do his will.
We’re Christians. We look at him and we say, man, that person is doing the will of the enemy. Kkkkk, kkkkk, boom. No, wait a second. That was a captive that got brainwashed. Don’t kill him. Convert him.
What we do with captives is we seek their deliverance, their liberation, their freedom. We want them to be able to get out of captivity and be free. What he’s saying is this. People that are held captive, they don’t need to be killed. They don’t need to be defeated. They don’t need to be run down. They don’t need to be argued against. What they need is they need Jesus. They need to be liberated from their folly and their enemy so that they can be free. They have repentance and a knowledge of the truth and come to their senses and say what in the world was I thinking?
Christians have a proclivity to see people who are doing the enemy’s will as their enemy. That’s a trap. That’s a trap. The truth is the war is against Satan who’s our enemy. That’s through prayer and faith and evangelism and truth. Ephesians 6 goes on to talk about the weapons for this war.
Those are all the principles for conflict. Those are the principles for debated matters in our culture. Very, very, very insightful. Very, very, very convicting. I’m gonna take those, apply those to gay marriage, not just because I wanna hit a hot topic but because tonight at 12:01 East Coast time, which is what? 9:00 here, which is what? About three hours from now gay marriage will be legalized for the first time in the United States of America, and homosexuals will be married barring some unforeseen legal interference. Couple hours. About 3 hours and 15 minutes or so.
Christians are furious. Part of the problem comes down to legalities. Our country does not have a national definition of marriage, which seems weird ’cause a lot of people get married. Sort of like we overlooked the big E on the eye chart. We didn’t define marriage. We just had them. Part of it was that there wasn’t a huge debate, so everybody just sort of knew what the definition was, a man and a woman.
Some states do have a definition of marriage. Washington State is one of those states. Some states like Massachusetts don’t, and so the gay couples there who wanna be married go to the state and basically say you cannot discriminate against us saying that we’re not fit for marriage because you don’t even have a definition of marriage. Legally, apparently, they’re right, and so tonight they’re gonna get married.
So there’s a huge debate, and there’s a marriage amendment that is being forwarded in particular states and nationally trying to define marriage. The problem is the one in Massachusetts will not be brought up until the legislative session for voting and decision until 2006, the great rapid pace of American government. That means from today for the next, let’s say, perhaps 18 months homosexual couples will get married in Massachusetts, and then we’ll see if it’s right. The courts will determine whether or not it is indeed constitutional.
Here’s where it’s gonna get real interesting. I promise you this. As soon as law offices open on Monday, couples that are married tonight in Massachusetts will start filing in other states arguing that if they were legally married in one state, that marriage should be legally recognized in other states, right?
I married my wife in Seattle, but if we moved to L.A. and the state divorced us, we would argue that they have no right to do so, that we have a legally binding marriage. Thereby there is no way that the state can come in and forcibly deny the legal marriage. That’s what the gays are going to argue.
So as soon as couples leave Massachusetts, come to places like Seattle, we’re gonna have a huge legal rat’s nest over marriage and whether or not those marriages need to be recognized in the states that don’t recognize gay marriage. Huge mess.
What this had led to on both sides is a big debate. This has already happened in Canada and in Europe. Canada, Europe, a lot of places have legalized gay marriage. In Europe some countries have decided that marriage is not possible to have a lifelong commitment, so they have reduced marriage to three four-year terms like a presidency. You get married, but it’s only for three or four years, and then it dissolves or you can re-up. It’s like a lease-to-own deal. So it’s like for better and for worse, to have and to hold, richer or poorer, sickness and health, for three years, so help me God, you know. And then we’ll talk.
So that’s what Europe has done. Europe has said people aren’t gonna stay married for their lifetime, so let’s just do it in a couple year increments. Huge debate over what marriage is, how long it should last, what the legal implications are, what the state’s involvement is. So Christians and homosexuals are fighting it out. What is marriage? What is marriage? What is marriage? What is marriage?
I’ll start by saying this. Guys, I am heterosexual, flamboyantly heterosexual. If you think I’m pro-gay, I’m not. My dad is a union drywaller. My brother is a sheet metal worker. I drive a 1978 Chevy pickup with a bacon air freshener, okay. I am flamboyantly heterosexual. I don’t even drink light beer. I am not pro-gay. Don’t think that I am. I read the Bible, and I take the parts literally, all of it, including the be kind and this is a sin. I take it all literally. So don’t hear me saying that I’m pro-gay. I’m not. I’m not.
What I’m saying is this, and we’ll get into some of the arguments. What I am saying is this, that as the church we have to recognize jurisdiction. United States of America is not a church. Thank God ’cause what a church that would be.
Now, in Mars Hill, the Scriptures, the Word of God, the 66 books of the Bible, is this our highest and final authority, our court of arbitration? Are we willing to submit ourselves to what God has to say in his Word. Is that true?
Yes, absolutely. That’s Mars Hill. If you come here, this is your church, that’s where it’s at. But our jurisdiction doesn’t extend beyond this church. For example, if you go over to Nick’s Auto Wrecking across the street and Hank’s over there pulling a starter off a Ford Fairlane ‘cause he’s got one at home and his starter went out, and you walk by Hank’s truck and Hank’s got a Playboy on the front seat. You walk in to the junkyard and you say, “Hank, I looked in the front seat. You’ve broken the law. I was reading Leviticus. You’re not allowed to have Playboy.” Hank’s gonna go, “I’m sorry. Mars Hill’s on the other side of the street. That’s where all the fundamentalists are. I’m a pervert looking for a starter. Leave me alone. You don’t have jurisdiction over Nick’s Auto Wrecking. I didn’t sign up for Mars Hill.”
In the same way if somebody came to your house, knocked on the door. “I was reading the Koran, and you’re breaking some rules.” You’d go pffft. “I don’t care about the Koran. I don’t go to that place. I’m not on that team. Leave me alone.”
Likewise, if you were driving home tonight and you drove over the speed limit and a Canadian Mountie pulled you over on a horse. Canadian Mountie on a horse pulls you over, says you were going over the speed limit, writes you a ticket, will you pay?
No, you’ll send in Monopoly money to mock that guy, but you’re not paying. You’ll say “You have no jurisdiction, eh? You have no jurisdiction. I’m not Canadian.”
In the same way in the church we have jurisdiction. Scriptures rule. Outside of the church, people aren’t Christians, we don’t have jurisdiction. That’s why we have a separation of church and state, and quite frankly, I’m really glad we do. I’m glad that the state doesn’t get to decide our theology. Imagine what that would look like. Now a legislative session on the virgin birth. Oh, gosh, you’re kidding. I mean, no, we don’t want the government to be setting our theological agenda. We don’t. We wanna be free to gather as the people of God according to our convictions and study the Bible and submit ourselves to the Scriptures and Jesus together.
We don’t wanna enforce that on anyone else through rule of law. We don’t want anyone else to enforce their world religion on us ’cause we live in a day where there’s a lot of different religions and views and philosophies. Look at your money. It says “In God We Trust.” Lot of people say, “See, we’re a Christian nation.” You know what? We’re not ’cause if you go to the mall and say hey, I was reading our money. It says “In God We Trust.” Do you guys know who God is? Nobody knows. If you find two people who agree, it’s ’cause they’re together. No one else at the mall will give the same definition. Which God?
In addition people will say we were founded as Christian nation. Maybe we were. Some were deists. Many were Christians, but that was 200 years ago. It’s been awhile. This was a hardware store 20 years ago. I’m sure some traditionalists will walk in and cuss me out ’cause he can’t find the drills. And I will tell him things have changed. It’s been 200 years since we were founded as a nation. It’s been 20 years since this was a hardware store. We don’t have drills. We worship Jesus. We have a Bible. You want a Bible? No. Got no drill. Things have changed.
That’s how our culture views our heritage. Plus you gotta realize most people don’t even know our heritage. I mean, most people don’t know much. The Founding Fathers, who were they? Most people just don’t know a ton, so what do we do? What do we do?
As the church, we can debate what the Bible says about things such as homosexuality, providing we do so not just arguing the right cause, arguing it with a good argument, arguing it with a right attitude.
What frustrates me is in Seattle a lot of the churches are pro-gay that claim to be Christian churches, and there was a big debate in the Seattle Times in the last week where pastors are arguing over a certain number of scriptures and what they mean. Some of the biggest churches in our city are pro-gay. We are one of the largest churches that is not pro-gay in the city of Seattle, so we’re getting – the media’s calling. Oh, what’s your perspective? What’s your opinion? You know, would you come to this meeting? The gay pastors would like to talk. And I’m driving around in my truck trying to be left alone.
It’s a weird day where all of the sudden because we’re in this city and it’s this issue and this place – you need to know too – Seattle is a funky place. I was just down in the great nation of Dallas, Texas. It is a great nation. I mean, they fly the state flag at the same height as the American flag in Texas. Little pretention. It’s the only place you can do that, literally, in the country.
I’m driving down the road on the George W. Bush Turnpike. We’ll have better odds of getting a Fidel Castro Turnpike in Seattle than a George W. Bush Turnpike. And I’m driving by these huge Baptist churches that look like Safeco Field. I’m thinking this is not my hometown. You know, it’s just red meat and Chevy versus Ford and Baptists and Republicans as far as the eye could see. I mean, I felt like I met my long-lost relatives really.
But it’s not the city I live in. I live in Seattle, which I love like a drunk uncle. I love it here, but it’s just a little weird. So you gotta know that we’re in Seattle. This debate’s swirling. We gotta figure out what we’re gonna about. It’s being debated in the paper.
The thing that frustrates me most is churches and pastors who claim to be Christians making foolish and stupid arguments for and against homosexual marriage, okay? So we’ll deal with both of them, and I’ll try and watch my tone ’cause I got a nap today, and I’m feeling perky.
So some churches will argue for homosexual marriage with foolish and stupid arguments. Just go what? What kind of ballpeen hammer did you take to your frontal lobe? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s a foolish and stupid argument. First thing is that it was debated in the paper this week. Certain gay pastors are saying the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. You go what, what, what?
Well, in Genesis it talks about Sodom and Gomorrah and how they were – guys having sex with guys and so God smoked the whole city. They say well, that wasn’t for homosexuality. Well, Jude 1:7 says “In a similar way Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave them up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example to those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” That’s not very pro-gay.
God killed everyone. Why? They were perverts. Why? Guys were having sex with guys, and those people went to Hell. If you think that’s pro-gay, I mean, I know the public school system isn’t delivering the best outcome, but man, you really gotta leap to make that to be pro-gay.
And it keeps going. Leviticus, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable.” Okay, Leviticus 20:13, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death. Their blood will be on their own heads.” Well, okay, don’t know how you get around that unless you just wanna keep doing what you’re doing, and so you just read it fast or ignore it or…
But as Christians, you go well, I thought if we’re Christians, we’re supposed to obey the Bible. You know, we do have jurisdiction over Christians. Goes on. Romans 1, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lust.” If you just wanna sin, sin, sin, sin, sin, it’s like a dog pulling on a leash. God ___________ going through this. Well, have at it. Just go. Just hand you over if that’s what you want.
“Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” You know that? The Bible’s like and we knew it was wicked because the women were as perverted as the men. We call that equality. “Men are all perverts. That’s not fair. We could be perverts too. Let’s catch up, progress. We caught up. We’re as perverted as the men.” Progress.
Bible’s like you know it’s really bad when the women are buying pornos, when the women are involved in bisexuality or lesbianism or when the women can’t control – you know you’ve come to the end of the tether when the women are bad.
“In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” It’s not pro-gay.
Guys are saying the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuals. Well, it does. It keeps going. 1 Corinthians 6, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Not everybody’s going to Heaven. “Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral” – that’s you guys who download porno from the Internet, you guys that are making out with your girlfriend when you shouldn’t be, you guys that are flirting with your secretary, all that counts, sexual immorality, big junk drawer for whatever thing you com up with. Does it include this? Yeah.
“Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.” What he’s saying is this. If you are a habitual sinner, you don’t go to Heaven.
I thought Jesus loves me. He does. I thought Jesus forgives me. He does, but his love is transforming. It changes you. It changes you. You can’t meet Jesus and not change. Some of you say well, I did. Guess what? If you didn’t change, you didn’t meet Jesus. When you meet Jesus, you change. That doesn’t mean you become perfect, but you change. You get a new heart and new desires. You get new appetite. Your life goes different. That’s what he says. “And that is what some of you” – past tense – “were.”
Some of you were lesbians and homosexuals. Some of you were perverts. Some of you were drunks. Some of you were drug addicts. Some of you were thieves. Some of you were crooks. And that’s what you were. Now you’re Christians. Now you’re Christians. God’s changed your heart. He’s given you new life, okay.
This is who I am apart from Jesus. Apart from Jesus I’m not faithful to my wife. I’m a pervert. I’m the guy in the strip club. I’m the guy downloading porno from the Internet. I’m that guy too. We’re all sick people who work out our fallen condition in one way or another unless we are “washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.” That’s what he’s saying. Apart from Jesus we’re all a total wreck. We just do it in different ways.
But homosexuality is included among those indicators of people who practice that thing habitually of people who have never met Jesus. And the last one is in 1 Timothy, the book we looked at a few months ago. “We also know that the law’s made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers, rebels, the ungodly, sinful, unholy, irreligious, for those who kill their mom and dad, murderers, adulterers and perverts.” Some of the translations will say sodomites or homosexuals. “For slave traders, liars, perjurers and whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.”
Those who say the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Well, it does. Old Testament, New Testament repeatedly clear, clear, clear, clear, clear. The only reason that somebody wouldn’t see that is ’cause they wanna be doing something that the Bible tells them not to do.
People don’t have an academic problem with the Bible. They have a moral problem with the Bible. It’s not that they don’t understand it. It’s that they don’t like it. Pastors in this city are notorious for that with the gay issue. Just explain it all away, ignore it, change the topic.
Second stupid and foolish argument for homosexual marriage that some churches are making. The Bible is not against homosexual marriage. Genesis 2:24, the pattern is that “God made them male and female.” Important to note that. God said that “it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. God created the woman. God brought the woman to the man. God created the institution of marriage. God officiated the first marriage ceremony. God said what the process of marriage is. “Man will leave his father and mother.” Go get a job and grow up, be united to his wife, get married, “and the two shall consummate their relationship and become one flesh.” That’s the process.
Seattle, we don’t know that. Our cohabitation rate’s 250 percent higher than national average. We skip the grow up and move out and just go with the take your pants off part. That’s Seattle. We just – we act married, but we don’t act married. That’s what it is.
When they come to Jesus on a debate of divorce and remarriage in his day, he quotes this verse. Paul repeatedly quotes this verse. Old Testament, New Testament, Paul, Jesus, Moses. I mean, you want the three big guns. Moses, Jesus, Paul, those are the big guns in your Bible. The law, the gospels, the epistles. They all quote Genesis and say, “God made them male and female.” Marriage is between a man and woman. The Bible only recognizes marriage as that between a man and woman, period. There’s no debate.
Homosexuality is never spoken of positively in the Bible. Homosexual marriage is never referred to positively in the Bible. The only thing it recognizes is heterosexual marriage.
Third argument. Jesus never said anything about homosexual marriage. Jesus also didn’t say anything about eating your lawnmower, you know. He didn’t say anything about – he didn’t say you can’t take a roofing hammer to your head, but it doesn’t mean he’s for it.
An argument from silence, this is where stupid arguments can be. An argument from silence proves nothing. It doesn’t prove anything. Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t rape a child.” Doesn’t mean he’s for it. Jesus is a rabbi who teaches the Old Testament. He believes in the Old Testament. He teaches on the Old Testament. He is in complete agreement with the Old Testament. He says, “I came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” “Not a jot, not a tittle, not a dotting of the I, crossing of the T will pass away.” “I’m here to fulfill all of the Bible.” You go, well, obviously, then he just assumes that everything in the Old Testament is also true.
But he does talk about marriage. Haven’t you read – he goes back to Genesis. Don’t you guys read your Bible? He replied that “at the beginning the Creator made them male and female.” There’s gender differences and said – quotes Genesis 2:24 – “for this reason a man will leave his mother and father, be united to his wife. Two will become one flesh.” That’s marriage for Jesus. Jesus does define marriage. Man, woman, married, consummation. That is marriage. Jesus does talk about it.
Those who claim to be Christians but argue stupid and foolish arguments that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality, the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual marriage and that Jesus didn’t say anything about it, they’re wrong. They just are. There is no way you can be a Bible-believing Christian and support homosexuality as a lifestyle that is pleasing to God, period.
At the same time, Christians wanna argue against that. They say that’s wrong. We need to argue against that. Okay but we have some foolish and stupid arguments that we lobby as well. They’ve been making the paper and making the news. We’ll look at ours.
First, we’re in a culture war against sinners. Are we? Are we at war with sinners? I’m not. I don’t hate gays, and I’m not at war with them.
This is a trap that our enemy has set. Ephesians 6 says that “our war is not against flesh and blood.” Homosexuals, abortion doctors, racists, people who pedal pornography, are they wrong? Yup. Are we at war with them? Nope. The enemy’s taken them captive to do his will. We are at war and our warfare, he says, “is not against flesh and blood but powers, principalities, spirits, the authorities of the dark world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” It’s an intensely spiritual battle. You don’t just win this with voting and arguing. You win this, as he says elsewhere in Ephesians 6, with prayer, evangelism, truth, love.
We don’t fight like non-Christians fight. We fight with love and grace and compassion and forgiveness and a call to repentance and prayer and an opportunity for salvation. Make no mistake. We are at war, but people are not our enemy. Satan is our enemy. People are our goal. And if the enemy has taken them captive to do his will, then we need to be careful that we don’t declare war on captives but we declare war on their oppressor who has enslaved them.
This is what happened in Egypt. The Pharaoh had taken captive God’s people in Egypt. God did not sent Moses into Egypt to kill all the Israelites but to take those captives and set them free so that they could worship.
It is not good for us to enter into a war and say well, everyone who’s over there with the enemy is our enemy and we shoot them. It’s good for us to say we need to kill the enemy and liberate these people who he has made captive. We do that through the preaching of the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ. That they are dead to their trespasses and sins, that they are blind to the truth of the gospel, that he has taken the captive. They are doing his will, but the only hope is not to just defeat them but to convert them. Very, very important.
Second stupid and foolish argument that Christians are prone to make on this issue. Homosexual marriage will destroy the sanctity of marriage. Come on. Britney Spears made it for what, 58 hours? Come on, guys. Should marriage be sacred? Yup. Is it here at Mars Hill? Sure is. You wanna get married? We’re gonna make sure that you go through intense premarital process. You’re gonna get counseling, mentoring. You’re gonna be taught the Bible. You’re not gonna be encouraged to marry unless we believe you’re a good fit. Then a pastor will officiate your ceremony, and we’re gonna hold you accountable for the rest of your life to your wedding vows.
We do not believe that Christians should be getting divorced. We do not believe that Christians should be splitting up, that they should be together as long as they live, and they’re not allowed to kill each other, okay. That’s what we believe. We hold marriage very, very sacred. Very, very sacred.
But does our culture nationally hold marriage to be a sacred thing? No way. Divorce rates 50 percent. Among Christians is divorce rate higher or lower than non-Christians?
Higher. Jesus talked about this whole plank speck thing where you walk up to a guy. You go, “I see sawdust in your eye.” He says, “I see a 2 × 4 in yours.” Yeah, but that’s sawdust. Yeah, but that’s a lumberyard, and you’re a hypocrite.
We just stink like hypocrites on this. People who claim to be Christians get divorced more than people who aren’t Christians, and we’re arguing the sanctity of marriage. God made marriage. Marriage is to endure. Marriage is to remain. Marriage is to abide. Why’d you divorce her? She drove me nuts. I thought Jesus forgives sin and sinners and reconciles. He does, but you don’t know her. She’s crazy.
If marriage has been devalued, if anything, it’s us. I’m not saying that there is no cause for Christians to get divorced. We believe as a church that there are few, and they are extreme. There are legitimate reasons for divorce, but obviously when Christians can’t work things out as well as non-Christians, not every divorce is with cause, and the institution of marriage is not highly honored among God’s people. We have to own that.
You’re gonna ruin it. Ruin what? Ruin the 50 percent divorce rate? That’s where it’s just foolish and stupid arguments. It’s not that we – heterosexuals should be married. Is it okay if we vote for that? Yeah, if it comes up to a vote, I will. Is it okay if we get involved in politics? Yeah, we should. Is it okay if we work for policy and legislation that fits our biblical convictions? Absolutely. But when we enter into the public arena and debate and we’re no longer just in the church, we need to do so with a good argument, and this just isn’t one.
The third foolish and stupid argument that is often made, and this is what it comes down to. Not you should obey the Word of God. I’m not a Christian because I don’t wanna obey the Word of God. So guess what? No. Me and my Christian friends decided you guys should obey God. Well, la di dah. Me and my non-Christian, which outnumber yours ten to one, and voted and we don’t have to. That’s what it comes down to.
Christians say the Bible says this. Non-Christians say so? We should obey the Bible. Here’s why that’s dumb. 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The man without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the spirit of God.” That’s the non-Christian. The problem with the non-Christian, the Old Testament says, is their heart is like a huge rock. It cannot receive truth. It cannot receive the things of God. It can’t.
You can get a BB gun filled up with Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Ruth, Esther, you can go to Revelation. You can go to Colossians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philemon. You know what? That BB gun is not making any progress on the rock. It’s just not.
“They who do not know God do not accept the things that come from God.” They don’t. Their heart is as hard as a rock. That’s why the Bible says God needs to take out the heart of stone, give them a heart of flesh. Then the Scripture penetrates and makes sense. Some of you experienced that. Before you were Christian, you didn’t receive anything from the Bible. And then you became a Christian, you’re like oh, man. That’s what it’s talking about.
Before that, he says, they’re foolishness to you. People are talking. You’re like what are you talking about? A bush talked to a guy 4,000 years ago in the desert, and I’m supposed to stop smoking? Like what in the world are you talking about?
It just sounds – I mean, I can remember as a non-Christian, people would quote me verses all the time trying to convert me, and it was just like the teacher from Peanuts, man. It was like wocka, wocka, wocka, wocka, wocka, wocka, wocka, wocka, It was like yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s just sounds crazy to me. I can’t even understand it. That’s what happens when you don’t know God. It just doesn’t make any sense.
From the outside in and the inside out, the Bible is completely different. When you’re looking in, you go I don’t know what it’s talking about. When you’re in and you meet God and he sends the same spirit into your heart that has inspired his word, the Word of God just penetrates into your new heart, gives you life and conviction and redemption, and it does its work and it’s beautiful to you, and you can’t understand why other people don’t experience that. Well, it’s ’cause they don’t know God. They just think it’s foolishness.
Goes on to say, “He cannot understand them.” Well, what if we yell at him? Can’t understand. What if we vote? Can’t understand. What if we have huge meetings and make the news and hold up banners? He can’t understand. Cannot understand. Ephesians says he’s spiritually dead. Spiritually dead people are dead. Dead people don’t understand.
Blind people don’t see. The Bible says that people don’t know God are blind. Shouldn’t argue with a blind guy. This is red. This is blue. Which one do you want? He’s like, “I can’t see.” I can’t. I can’t. I do not have the capacity to understand or embrace the things of God apart from being made a child of God. We don’t. We don’t because they are spiritually discerned. It takes God. It takes God.
I’m glad we live in a society that has a separation of church of state. Hypothetically, those of you who are here today and disagree with me – and you’re welcome to – and the Bible says I need to be kind to whom? Everyone. So you got me. You got me. We’ll be nice. I’m not gonna fight with you. Little tired. You might even be able to take me. If you wanna give it a shot, today’s your day. I need to be kind. I’m not mad. I don’t hate homosexuals. I don’t hate anybody.
Hypothetically, though, those of who want the Bible to be the law of the land, hypothetically, you get your way. Call this reductio ad absurdum. It’s a Latin term that means reduced to the absurd. It’s a great way of arguing. It’s not a foolish and stupid argument. It’s brilliant.
Okay, you’re right. Let’s pretend. Say you’re right. First thing that I worry about. Whose interpretation? Oh. The Bible rules. Who’s interpretation. In Seattle if all the churches got together and voted, do you think they would even agree that Jesus is God? The big E on the eye chart? Possibly not. Whose interpretation? That’s why it’s good for us to have freedom to worship according to our convictions.
Hypothetically, as well, what you want is that the Bible rules, and we agree on whose interpretation. Is that an interpretation that you want to live under? I don’t. We just fought a war trying to liberate people from Islamic fundamentalism because people put a sacred book over other people and then brutalized them to obey it. At the same time in our country some people are arguing for the same thing, just with a different book, but it’s fundamentalism nonetheless.
I would be very unhappy to live in a culture where people said we live under the Word of God, and we decided there will be no alcohol. There will be no rock music. There will be no piercings. There will be no tattoos. There will be no literature that is not Christian. There will be no freedom of speech because that is a form of idolatry. I would be very loathe to live in that society because I couldn’t worship God freely. I would be made a captive of a different kind.
Hypothetically, you’re true and you get your way. Hypothetically, your interpretation does rule, and your team does win. Hypothetically, you get all that done. Hypothetically, how do you enforce it?
The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament have 611 laws. They came to the good Lord Jesus and they asked him, Lord Jesus, which law most important? He said?
Response: Love the Lord.
Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love God with all you got. How you gonna enforce that? Can you? Do you walk around? Do you love the Lord? It’s gonna cost you. It’s like the monorail tax, right? Here you go. Here you go. Send in your check. Do you love the Lord? Oh, gonna cost you too. How do we enforce that?
The whole point of the law, according to Jesus, is to love God. How do we enforce the law with people who don’t love God? How do we make people love God? You see the problem? You need to love the Lord. The legislature voted. Well, I don’t love the Lord. Now you’re breaking the law, so we’ll take all the people that don’t love the Lord and put them in jail, which would free up the real estate market, but still not convert anybody.
Then people would be encouraged to act as if they are Christians – that’s what happens in supposedly quasi-Christian nations – and have a very weak faith that is just sort of part of being a citizen, and it’s not a real love for Jesus.
I believe we need to be so careful in how we argue and we don’t argue in a foolish way because I believe there are at least four traps that the Devil’s set, and I’ll share those with you. He talks about the Devil’s traps.
First thing Satan, he wants you and I, Mars Hill, to not simultaneously love our Christian brothers and sisters and our non-Christian neighbors. Bible tells us to love God, love neighbors, love brothers and sisters.
Over here, are brothers and sisters in Christ who say, “We do not support homosexual marriage. It is not acceptable in God’s sight. It is not accordance with the Bible. And we say you’re right. We agree.
At the same time, are non-Christian homosexuals that wanna get married saying, “You need to love me and be kind to me if you claim to be a Christian.” And they are?
Right. Now what happens is as these two sides duke out this issue, you and I are the middle. Where are we most prone to go? Toward this team or this team? Toward this team ’cause these are Christians with verses, verses we agree with. But we also have other verses that say we need to be kind to whom?
Everyone. Including those gay guys? Yeah because see, when the Bible says everyone, we need to be as literal with that verse as we are with the homosexuality’s not acceptable before God. We need to take both verses very literally and very seriously, which means, Mars Hill, we will stand here in the middle and perhaps get shot by both sides because this is – they’ve decided this is a culture war. We’ve decided we wanna love people.
The enemy would love if we said well, then, no Bible-believing Christians will love the homosexuals. They’ll need to go to the pro-gay churches that don’t teach the Bible so they don’t come to repentance and a knowledge of truth that leads them to come to their senses and experience eternal life. They could just go have their own church that doesn’t have anything to do with the truth. The enemy would love that.
The enemy would also love it if we just ran over here, and all of the sudden we were the great urban poster child for the Gay Rights Movement as a bunch of quasi fundamentalists.
We’re gonna stick in the middle and say we love you. We love you. You’re wrong. We really want you guys to work on your attitude and duck ’cause it’s gonna fly. And don’t think that I’m pro-gay. I’m not. But I’m pro loving gays, okay.
Second thing, Devil’s trap. Satan wants the numerous non-Christian heterosexuals to hate us and Jesus. Small percentage of Seattle is Christian. Small percentage is homosexual. The vast majority is the nefarious muddled middle, and they’re sitting there in the middle watching sort of the bombs get launched, and this culture war going, “Hmm, I wonder which side I’m gonna be on?”
If we pick up the Bible and just start hammering, hammering, hammering, hammering. You need to obey. You need to obey God. You need to obey God. You need to obey God. You need to obey God. That majority in the middle, which way do you think they’re gonna move? Do you think they’re gonna move toward giving us a hearing and coming to church and learning about Jesus or do you think they’re gonna run like crazy, say well, I’m not pro-gay, but those people over there scare me. They’re pretty mean and nasty and self-righteous and violent, and I’m gonna come over here ’cause at least these people are arguing for the freedom to do what they wanna do.
Vast majority of the city is not on either team. They’re still undecided. We want to conduct ourselves in a loving and gracious way so that we don’t automatically for the sake of defeating this small group of people with our small group of people turn off the majority of people.
Guys, I love this city, and I love the people in this city. I want them to meet Jesus. To do that, we need to be the kind of people that they will at least give a hearing to. Whether they convert or not, we’re not gonna get resentful. We’re not gonna take that personally, but we need to at least earn the right to get a hearing. All Peter talks about is gentleness and respect.
Third thing. Satan wants Christians to elevate some sins worse than others. We’re great at this. Abortion and homosexuality. Gluttony and coveting? Well, I mean, nobody’s perfect. I’m big boned. I mean … There is a propensity amongst Christians to take sins that we find deplorable and elevate those are really bad and then take other sins that we struggle with and say well, you know, nobody’s perfect.
You know what angers me more than two gay guys is a pastor who commits adultery. We’ve had many instances in this city of pastors that committed adultery. I know about a lot of them because I’m a pastor. It never makes the headlines. Nobody tells anything, just sort of sweep, sweep, sweep. Well, you know, he’s under a lot of stress. Brother got attacked. The enemy set him up, you know. Now, those gay guys, they’re ruining the world.
Guys, we gotta be careful not to elevate some sins that we don’t struggle with as real bad and the ones we do struggle with as real acceptable. All sin is sin. I didn’t know there were good sins. That’s a bad sin. Is that a good one? There’s bad sins and bad sins and bad sins and bad sins and bad sins. We’re all sinners. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All are wicked and all are evil, and there’s this attempt for us to play black hat, white hat. I’m the good guy. You’re the bad guy. No, you’re the bad guy. I’m the good guy. Jesus comes and says, “You’re all bad guys. I get the white hat.”
And so the only way that we really then understand how to relate to humbly, kindly, nicely as sinners is to be repentant of our own sins. Say, look, I know you’re stuck in sin. I’ve been stuck in sin. I’m stuck in my own sin. We both need Jesus. I’m not here to cuss you out or be mean or arrogant or tell you that I’m better than you, and you need to be like me. I’m telling you we both need to be like Jesus, and that starts with repentance.
The fourth trap that the enemy has set. This is the one that I think is the most troublesome for me personally. Satan wants the church to exchange the gospel for morality. I believe that is the Devil’s trap.
Our mission is to love Jesus and love people in hopes that they love Jesus. That’s it.
Our goal is not to make moral people. That’s not my goal, not at all. If you’re here today, I want you to know this. God’s goal is not to make you moral. It’s not his goal. God’s goal is not morality. It’s redemption. It’s not that you’ll be a good person. It’s so you’ll be a new person. It’s not that you’ll be good. It’s that you’ll be saved.
We can use all of our time and energy to argue for heterosexual, lifelong marriage. Are we for that?
You betcha. That’s the drum I beat. But can you be heterosexual, married, never divorced, die and go to Hell if you don’t love Jesus? Absolutely. So there’s something more important than morality. That’s redemption.
Some of you asked recently, said what do you do for homosexuals? Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. What do you do for street people? Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. What do you do for rich, old, Black, White, young, poor, heterosexual perverts, homosexual perverts, alcoholics, drug addicts, self-righteous people, liars, thieves, crooks? What do you have for them? Jesus.
You guys are gonna see a theme at Mars Hill. If you wanna get over drugs, the answer is Jesus. You wanna get over being a pervert? The answer is Jesus. Guys, the answer to the question is always Jesus. It’s never morality.
At the very, very worst, if we promulgate intense morality, if people do obey our commands and become moral, we’re making the same people that killed Jesus because they thought could be good without him. We don’t wanna fall into the same trap of creating the same people who murdered God. That’s the wrong mission.
When we argue for morality, what happens then is that Jews and Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses come along and they grab the flag and they’re like “we’re on your team.” No, you’re not. Our flag says Jesus. If we have a flag that says anything other than Jesus, lots of people who don’t love him will wave that flag, so we’re gonna wave that flag. Jesus. We’re for Jesus.
Jesus will make you a new creation. He will give you new heart. He will give you new desires. Out of that will come heterosexuality. Out of that will come morality. Out of that will come obedience to God’s Word. Out of that will come love for God’s word. Out of that will come kindness towards people who don’t like you. Out of that will come repentance.
But to argue for the effects and not the causes is a trap that the enemy would set and love for us to just get off of Jesus and get off on something else ’cause he doesn’t care if they’re homosexual or heterosexual. He just wants them to go to hell.
We need to stay on our mission. We love Jesus. We love people in hopes that people love Jesus, and if they do, will they change? You’re right. They will. Have you? This is what we’re about.
As this thing rages and debates, it will be the first thing in the paper tomorrow morning. Love your brothers. Love your neighbors. Love your Lord. Encourage your neighbors and your brothers to love your Lord, period. Anything short of that will accomplish nothing but quarreling.
I want the same thing as really strong conservative people. I just go about it through the preaching of the gospel, not through arguing and quarreling. We’re gonna work on our tone and attitude as a church, and we’re gonna be real careful with our arguments that they’re not foolish and stupid, okay?
Love you guys. Appreciate you hearing me through. It’s been a long one, okay. We’re gonna call you to prayer, repentance, to Jesus. We want you to thank Jesus for what he’s done in your life. If you don’t know him, we want you to come and give yourself to Jesus, to turn from sin and trust in him. He died for your sin. He rose. He’s alive and well. He’s God. He is the truth. He will forgive you. There is no enduring life change apart from him.
We’re gonna sing and celebrate ’cause guess what. We’re not captives anymore. The whole point in the exodus is that captives are liberated so that they can worship God freely. We’re no longer captives. We’ve been liberated by the Lord Jesus. We’ve come to our senses. We don’t need to do the enemy’s will anymore. We belong to God, and so now we’re free, free for the purpose of worshipping Jesus Christ who has liberated us from Satan, sin and death through his death, burial, resurrection.
We’re gonna give of our tithes and offerings. If you’re not a Christian, don’t give. We love you. It’s good to have you. We don’t want your money. That’s an act for Christians, and we don’t wanna take your money from you. I’ll pray and we’ll move on.
Father God, we do love you. God, I thank you for my Christian brothers and sisters who do love the Scriptures, who do believe the Scriptures, who do take them very seriously, God. May there be more of them, more of us.
God, I also thank you for the homosexual community, not that I endorse what they do, but I thank you that they are an opportunity that you have given us to grow in holiness and love and christlikeness, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to be kind to everyone. God, may we be that way. May we find favor with people who do not agree with what we believe but know that we love them and we have their best intentions at heart.
God, in our city that is so unchurched and so confused, I pray that you would grant many people repentance and a knowledge of the truth, enabling them to come to their senses. May it begin with us, Lord Jesus. May we never stray from just waving the flag that Jesus Christ is Lord. May we never raise up a flag of morality or politics or anything other than the flag of the Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, we certainly love you. You are a great God and King. I thank you for the work that you’ve done in my life. I’d probably be doing much worse things than I’m even speaking of tonight if it weren’t for you. You changed my heart. You’ve given me a heart of flesh. You’ve taken out my heart of stone. You’ve given me your Word. You’ve enabled me to understand it, to love it, to be transformed by it. I thank you for all that.
We pray for that for everyone in our city. We entrust them to your care and your hands. We hope and pray for the best, and we know that whatever happens, you are still God. You are still good, and we still need to be kind to everyone in Jesus’ name. Amen.