(Photo: Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship)
NEW YORK — Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship church and president of The Urban Alternative, recently shared his perspective on why the issue of homosexuality is unavoidable in today's cultural climate, and explained why he believes Christians cannot afford to remain silent or compromise on "God's standard about sexuality and the family."
Pastor Evans, known for his popular books and teachings on how a "kingdom agenda" impacts men, women, families, and society, founded the 10,000-member OCBF in 1976 with wife and ministry partner, Dr. Lois Evans.
Read the transcript of CP's interview with the Dallas, Texas, pastor and bestselling author, or watch the discussion in the video player below.
CP: The issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage seems unavoidable nowadays. Why do you think that is?
Evans: "I think this issue has taken a dominant position in the Church and in the culture because it does infringe on the re-definition of the family. With that redefinition, it's weighted heavier in terms of its implications both for, not only the family, but then how the Church functions in light of it, and how the Church interacts with the culture in light of it. It seems to have a much greater potential impact than other sins, and that's why it gets the dominant attention it's receiving.
CP: What's your response to critics who say Christians that harp on homosexuality are being hypocritical by appearing cold on other issues, like divorce and adultery?
Evans: I would say to a degree that they are correct. The Bible is clear that sex outside of marriage is sin no matter what the context is, other than the male-female marital relationship. So to skip that and just harp on this one sin, they're absolutely correct. But, they're incorrect when they make the repercussions equal. Because the repercussions, or consequences of homosexual sin that leads to homosexual marriage and thus the redefinition of the family, that consequence is greater. While all are sin that's outside of marriage, all don't necessarily carry the same consequence, and making that distinction I think helps to deal with the issue a little more pragmatically.
CP: When you speak of "consequences," are you speaking in terms of everyday life and how we are affected in society and culture, or in terms of how God judges those sins?
Evans: It can be how God judges the sin. For example, there are illnesses and diseases that are more poignantly connected to homosexuality than typically heterosexual relationships, although there can be consequences there, too. We have to leave that with God, because God determines the consequences, we don't. At the same time, we have to recognize that there are consequences and from our pulpits, proclaim that and proclaim that consistently, not just with this sin but with any sin that violates God's standard, with the goal of bringing that person out of the sin and into a proper standing with God.
CP: How do you speak to Christians who are dealing with unwanted same-sex attractions?
Evans: I would speak to them the same way I would speak to a heterosexual person that has illegitimate feelings toward females or males — It's a sin, no matter how you feel about it or what your orientation is. I've talked to men who feel like they're overly sexual, and therefore are attracted to any female who walks down the street. I will not excuse his activity with every female just because he feels driven in that direction. We've got to bring that passion under the lordship of Jesus Christ, like we have to bring any passion under the lordship of Jesus Christ, and that includes same-sex attraction.
CP: It is not uncommon for critics to question the Christian confession of believers who affirm LGBT relationships. Is it OK to question their faith, or is it possible to be a Christian who maybe believes wrongly on certain issues?
Evans: Christians historically have believed wrong on issues. Take slavery, they believed wrong on that issue for generations and it had just repercussions that were staggeringly negative for our culture and my community. So it is possible to be Christian and to believe wrongly and practice wrongly.
Now that gets to what is the Gospel, and of course the Gospel is faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin. But at the same time, everybody who's a Christian does not necessarily inherit all the benefits of being a Christian, nor are they always consistent with their Christian beliefs. If people are taught wrong, raised wrong or haven't taken the Bible seriously enough, then they can go into academic error, emotional error, psychological error. I mean they can show up in a lot of different ways.
CP: Do you think pressure will increase for Christians in America in terms of freedom to speak out on some of these issues?
Evans: The pressure is already increasing, because it's such a dominant issue in the culture. It's become not only a moral issue, but a legal issue, an ecclesiastical issue and a political issue. It's all over, so we feel the pressure. A lot of money is being spent to support this issue, so that expands the pressure. But Christians throughout history have had pressure. Our goal is not to yield to the pressure. Our goal is to take our stand with Scripture and let the chips fall where they may, but that stand needs to still be taken in love.
CP: There's the longstanding reputation that the Black Church has in America of being silent on the issue of homosexuality, of perhaps having a policy of "don't ask, don't tell." What are your thoughts on that?
Evans: I do think we've been far too silent on the issue. When you have the unraveling of a culture like we're experiencing — 70 percent of your children being born out of wedlock, the absenteeism of fathers and husbands. When you're dealing with this ... we must speak to the moral issues and we must speak to the family issues that affect us so personally and so deeply.
We need more pulpits, many more pulpits holding to God's standard about sexuality and the family and not reducing that standard for political or social or convenience reasons. We've got to take that stand. If not, we will be contributing to the disintegration of the community and culture that we have been sworn to protect spiritually.
Watch the "CP Newsroom" discussion with Dr. Evans in the video player below: