(Photo: Saddleback Church/Vu Le)
For the first time publicly, evangelist Greg Laurie addressed the issue of gay activists calling for him to not pray as the honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer at events in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. The Southern California pastor's discussion on the topic came during a recent mid-week Bible study message on the prophet Elijah that was videotaped and shown at his Harvest churches in Riverside and Orange counties during worship services Sunday.
"When I was back in Washington, D.C., for the National Day of Prayer I didn't go back there to get into a fight with anybody," Laurie told his congregation. "I went back there to pray because I was asked to pray there at the meetings at the Cannon House office building and the Pentagon. It wasn't my choice to get into these engagements with these activists, homosexual groups that were calling me homophobic and all that."
Laurie explained that as a Christian, his beliefs are not any different from what is found in the Bible, however, much of society finds the biblical views offensive.
"The way I looked at it, [the protestation] could have been on a number of issues. I have a lot of controversial views," he continued. "I don't know if you know this, I also think it's a sin to commit adultery. I think it's a sin to have sex before marriage. I think it's a sin to lie. I think it's a sin to steal. By the way, I didn't come up with this stuff on my own – it's called the Ten Commandments – and to the point, we built our judicial system on these teachings from Scripture, but now-a-days when you dare say something is a sin because the Bible says it is, that is wrong in the minds of some.
"All we can do is to stand our ground. What a lot of people are looking for is not tolerance, they say they want tolerance, but what they really want is acceptance and approval," Laurie said.
During the controversy, the founder of the Harvest Crusades chose not to respond to gay activists who demanded that he be disinvited because he holds a biblical view that homosexuality is a sin. Instead, before the event on May 2, Laurie asked for prayer in a post to his blog. Laurie was able to lead both events in D.C. successfully.
"I think we would all agree that there is a battle going on in America right now and it is a battle for our very soul, a battle for right and wrong, a battle over the Bible, [and] a battle over the family," Laurie preached at the beginning of the Bible study. "Really it's a battle over worldviews and if you want to simplify it, here's the bottom line, it's a battle of the gods."
He continued, "In the Bible there is only one God. It's not multiple-choice. The Lord says, 'I the Lord am one God.' There is no other God. Effectively there is the true and living God, the God of Scripture, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God that loved us so much He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. Then there are all the other gods, and I might spell that with a small 'g.' Only one of these gods can be true. So, the battle rages today. The battle of the gods, the battle of the worldviews. Sometimes, as believers of the Bible, doesn't it feel like we are losing ground in our country?"
Laurie said he thinks Christians are really tolerant people.
"I might disagree with somebody, but I will not try to censor them or silence them. In fact, I will even say, we are Americans, we have freedom of speech, you can express your views, let's have a civil conversation about this. I would actually like to persuade you to believe what I believe, but if you choose not to believe what I believe you have that right," said Laurie during his message. "This is America. I will not try to stop you from having that view, but there are people out there who would say to us, 'You can't have that view, you cannot express that view, and not only that, we want to silence you and the only way we will be satisfied is when you come back to us and say, not only do we tolerate what you believe, but we accept it and we approve it, then we will be happy."
Laurie insisted, "Sorry I can't do that because to me that means to walk away from what the Scripture says. I am going to stand on the teachings of this book."
He said, "This fight is going to come to every doorstep, to every believer in some way, shape, or form. Are we going to stand on the word of God or on the shifting sands of culture? It's not my job to edit God's word, to try in my mind to improve upon it, or remove things that I might find offensive. It's my job to declare the whole counsel of God.
In his discussion of Elijah, Laurie said the prophet was no compromiser. "God is looking for men and women today who will stand up for what is truth. He walked with an awareness of God's presence, he was a man of prayer, and he faithfully delivered the message."
Laurie's message, "Battle of the Gods," is archived at Harvest.org.