Christianity is being rejected and deemed evil by many today because it opposes homosexual practice, say pastors from The Gospel Coalition.
The Gospel Coalition held a Council meeting several weeks ago to discuss current issues and the state of ministry among evangelicals. Among the topics discussed was homosexuality.
John Piper, pastor for Preaching & Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and a TGC Council member, summarized what the pastors concluded during the meeting in a blog post last week.
"All the participants of the panel on homosexuality at The Gospel Coalition Council meetings agreed that we have entered one of the most difficult challenges to a gospel-centered approach to evangelism," he wrote. "The reason is not that the center of the Christian gospel has changed, but the center of the cultural gospel has changed. That center for many is the freedom to be GLBT and to be approved."
Piper said the argument against Christianity today is "not epistemological but moral."
"Christianity is rejected not because it is badly argued, or untrue, but because it is evil. And it is evil because it opposes homosexual practice," he explained. "The panelists agreed that, at least in major metropolitan areas, the issue of homosexuality ranks near the top of the reasons people reject Christianity, along with the problem of suffering and the exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way of salvation."
A poll released by the Gallup Organization in May this year revealed that a majority of Americans (54 percent) believe homosexuality is morally acceptable while 42 percent say it's morally wrong. A decade ago in 2001, 53 percent had viewed homosexuality as morally wrong.
"[W]hether we want to make this a frontline issue or not, increasingly it is," Piper said of homosexuality. And pastors, he added, must address it.
But as one TGC Council member pointed out, "There is no demilitarized zone in the homosexual debate."
"It is almost impossible to express a compassionate disapproval of homosexual practice without being demonized," Piper observed.
But this is nothing new, he added. Jesus' disciples were also in the midst of a similar culture some 2,000 years ago and were "maligned" for their beliefs.
The future is unclear as the cultural battle over marriage continues and as churches may have to face a new set of cases – such as whether to counsel divorce if one person in a homosexual relationship chooses to give his or her life to Christ.
For now, the TGC panel concluded: "One of the most powerful things we can do is fold into our churches men and women who have same-sex attraction and surround them with a bigger vision of life and love and relationships that make it possible for them to flourish in families and friendships. These stories may be one of the most authenticating messages for the Christian gospel."
The Gospel Coalition is a "fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures." Council members include Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Matt Chandler of The Village Church, D.A. Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Erwin Lutzer of The Moody Church.