Andy McQuitty, pastor of Irving Bible Church, has criticized the Church for failing to properly address the LGBT "crisis" and urged congregations across the United States to "love and accept" those who are "far from God" while still holding to the authority of Scripture.
"The Church needs to deal with the LGBT crisis," McQuitty told The Christian Post. "And I do think it's a crisis, because we've got thousands, if not millions, of young LGBT people in America today, many of them Christians, followers of Christ, who have left the Church because they feel rejected. I think it's a great tragedy."
McQuitty said the Church needs to treat members of the LGBT community just like it would "any community of people who are hurting and far from God."
"We need to treat them like Jesus treated them," he said. "How did Jesus treat the tax collectors and the harlots and sinners of his day? Well, the Pharisees will tell you how He treated them; they criticized Him and said, 'He's one of them. He has dinner parties with them.' Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector hated by his people, to be His disciple. Jesus embraced everyone, regardless of who they were."
The pastor emphasized that while churches should "love and welcome" members of the LGBT community, they should first establish their position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
"We need to hold up our standards and the authority of Scripture and our interpretation of Scripture," he said. "Having established our position scripturally about gay marriage, then we need to hold to that standard and say, 'This is God's highest and best, this is what God is going to bless and this is what we're going to promote.'"
He added, "But, if there are gay couples that are married and want to pursue God and want to do it with us, of course we'll accept and love you. I advise my congregation to love people well, hold to your own standards, and let God be the judge."
McQuitty's latest book, The Way To Brave: Shaping a David Faith in a Goliath World (Moody Publishers), addresses how the faith community can show courage and bravery as they deal with the "Goliath's" of our world, from political divide and school shootings to racism and continued attacks on Christian values.
"We've seen so many changes culturally, just within the past few years," the pastor told CP. "Our nation has also changed how it handles the Christian faith and values. A lot of Christians are asking, 'What do we do? Where do we go from here?'"
"But, I don't think that's a terrible thing," he continued. "I think it's a wake-up call to the Church. We need to be active in pursuing our faith together as a community, because that's the only way we're going to create confidence within the Church and find courage in these uncertain days."
Referencing 1 Samuel 16, the pastor, who is a stage IV colon cancer survivor, pointed out five ways God prepared David to be intrepid in facing the giant who opposed him. The positive qualities and experiences David possessed, he said, are the ones Christians need today.
"First, David was prepared to walk in the way of the brave because God had called him," McQuitty said. "Second, God anointed him. Third, God had broken him of his pride. Fourth, God had tested him to make his faith deep. And fifth, God had trained him to be skillful in fighting the battles He wanted David to fight."
Modern Christians, McQuitty said, have the ultimate weapon against what he called the "schemes of the devil."
"David's offensive weapon was just a stone and a sling," he said. "What is it for New Testament Christians and for us today? Simply put, it's the Word of God. To walk in the way of the brave, we've got to be immersed in the Word of God, and that will give us courage and wisdom in dealing with the Goliath's of today."
To learn more about The Way To Brave: Shaping a David Faith in a Goliath World, click here.