An unusual evangelical service is being held in one of Argentina’s most famous avenues, av. Corrientes in Buenos Aires. The service takes place inside a night club with neon signs and posters featuring naked women advertisements.
The service is entitled “Preaching Amidst Feather and Strass,” and looks more a talent show for evangelicals. It is conducted by Mabel Gebel. According to Brazilian publication Jornal do Brasil, the program begins with worship conducted by Gebel’s daughter followed by a humorous presentation.
Before the preaching begins, audiences are surprised by an introduction where transvestites appear for a Caribbean presentation along with two dancers wearing shorts and no shirts. At the end of the show, the transvestites are eventually half-naked.
Gebel, the pastor and preacher, wears a black dress with a sparkly cape while opening the service at 10 p.m.
“God loves everyone without distinction,” she says in criticism of many conservative evangelicals who hold traditional beliefs on homosexuality. Gebel claims that they discriminate against gays.
The night ends with an attendant dressed as Evita Perón, the second wife of President of Argentina Juan Perón, with a long wig and long dress, singing “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”
A Brazilian theologian Augustus Nicodemus Lopes has commented on the service to The Christian Post, saying that the extreme approach towards people could compromise the integrity of the message of the Bible if it is not conducted with wisdom.
Nicodemus justifies that, in the first place, the church shouldn’t have an “exclusive client,” with a focus only on a certain group of people, such as homosexuals, or any other minorities.
“It goes against the teaching of the New Testament. The Church in the Old Testament period was focused on a particular group. With the coming of Christ, it is now open to everyone, man and woman, old and young, well-educated and ignorant, rich and poor.”
According to the theologian, in Christ, all distinctions have ended and the Church must be the place where all people are "welcomed, and hear the Gospel and are called to repentance."
Secondly, he warned that in the process of contextualizing the Christian message in modern culture, the Church must be careful not to diminish the requirements of the Gospel nor erase the line that separates the Church from the world.
"Jesus said we must be the salt of the earth and light of the world. He was emphasizing the radical nature of the church and for the salt to work it has to be distinguished from food," he told CP.
He added: "The Church is most effective when it is clearly distinct from the world. This approach may compromise the integrity of the Gospel."
Thirdly, Nicodemus said that the Church must pass "the message of repentance."
"Repentance means a change of life, of attitude,” he added.
Nicodemus, however, does not believe that Gebel’s service preaches the need for repentance and change.
With regards to the claims that evangelicals “discriminate” against homosexuals, he explains that these claims partly come about “because there are people who offend and disrespect homosexuals.”
However, he adds that “on the other hand there are those that expose homosexuality as a sin without using disrespectful language or being offensive.”
“On one hand, we cannot discriminate against homosexuals, and on the other, homosexuality goes against what the Bible teaches and that has to be said. But we can say that with a loving and respectful way without offending people. And this is not only about homosexuality but about everything that is against biblical principles."
In conclusion, the Brazilian theologian urges evangelical leaders and pastors to remember that homosexuality is a sin like any other, and calls for repentance.
He concludes: "The Bible says that homosexuality is a great sin and announces that not only do homosexuals needs redemption, repentance, forgiveness and a change of lifestyle, but also unbelievers, moralists, religious people, all need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved."