Two Christians who each have a large platform in America today are columnist Kirsten Powers and Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong NYC. Both of them are reaching thousands of people with their ideas and their convictions. And both of them seem to be filled with tremendous compassion and a deep measure of Christ's love.
Kirsten and Carl have something else in common. They are both popular speakers in the "secular pulpits" of America.
Kirsten is a columnist for The Daily Beast and USA Today, as well as a Fox News political analyst. Those are three pretty significant secular pulpits. It is obviously not the goal of those organizations to advance the Christian message, but they do allow Christians at times to write and speak from their pulpits.
Like Powers, Lentz attracts much interest from secular pulpits. He recently was interviewed by CNN where he was pressed on his views concerning homosexuality. Lentz said he does not want "a media moment to dictate how we approach it." In other words, he didn't want to preach from the secular pulpit of CNN that homosexuality is a sin. In addition, he said he even refuses to address it publicly in his own church because Jesus "did not address the issue on the record in front of people."
I appreciate Carl's desire to show respect for people who experience same-sex attraction. Too many people over the years have "gone after" those who struggle with this particular temptation. Where is the compassion in that mean-spirited approach?
At the same time, Carl will surely now find himself in a catch-22. By refusing to address certain sins publicly, even when asked about them in an interview, he is bound to struggle with the inconsistent approach of publicly addressing some sins but not others. This will become an awkward road to travel, especially as he continues to get asked the question: "Is homosexual behavior sinful in God's eyes?"
For now, it appears Lentz is content to avoid answering that question in both his Christian pulpit as a pastor in New York City, as well as in the secular pulpits of media outlets such as CNN.
For her part, Kirsten Powers takes it a huge step further in her recent column in USA Today. She envisions a day when "conservative Christians....support life-long, monogamous gay relationships without undermining their commitment to biblical authority." In other words, don't only preach it in the secular pulpits, but preach it in the Christian pulpits as well. This obviously takes things much further than Lentz is willing to go with his silent approach on the issue.
My guess is that Lentz does indeed tell people the truth about this issue when he is speaking with them privately. I suspect he lovingly tells people that sex before marriage is sinful; adultery is sinful; homosexual behavior is sinful; and that God forgives those who turn from sin and trust Jesus to forgive them. My guess is that Kirsten Powers, on the other hand, does not currently view homosexual behavior as sinful.
That's the world we live in today. And the pulpits of America are presenting a wide variety of perspectives. But the truth has never changed, even though man has often tried to adjust the message to fit the culture around him.
Do you see how far down the field the secular pulpits have moved the ball in America? And so certain Christians will continue to be given plenty of time in those pulpits as long as they present the secular viewpoint. But you won't catch self-proclaimed secularists proclaiming the traditional message about sexuality in Christian pulpits.
For example, just imagine a journalist from CNN or USA Today doing the opposite of what Kirsten Powers did in her recent column. Imagine such a journalist entering a Christian pulpit on Sunday morning and envisioning the day when "liberal secularists support the biblical teaching that adultery and homosexual behavior are sinful." How would that reporter be viewed within his organization come Monday morning? And would such a vision even make sense?
Conservative Christians, like conservative Jews, have an understanding of Scripture which dates back thousands of years. It hasn't changed. Likewise, liberal secularists embrace an ideology that isn't about to change. But in America today, it is in vogue for secular pulpits to seek out Christians who will help to advance the message of liberal secular thought. After all, that message is the "gospel" in secular pulpits. In the secular mind, most religions are seen as OK to a certain point, and most sexual experiences are acceptable as long as no one seems to be getting hurt by it.
But make no mistake about it. Whenever the secular pulpits find an influential Christian who will help them spread their gospel, they are all over it. They will preach it to the max. And they will give that Christian free time in their pulpit because it advances the mission they are seeking to advance. Can you blame them?
If Christian churches could find a journalist from a secular media outlet who would preach the truth of the Gospel and the truth concerning God's beautiful boundaries for sexuality, we would likely hand over some time in our pulpits to them as well.
After all, most pulpits seek to advance the points which are believed to help people the most. And so the secular pulpits and the Christian pulpits of America will continue to do what each of them naturally (and supernaturally) do.
Can you honestly expect them to do any less?