Monday, May 7, 2012

Andy Stanley Answers on Homosexual Stance, Sort of

Was Andy trying to pull a Jesus zinger on us and it bombed?

GW has not been able to hear the final sermon in Andy Stanley's sermon series, Christian, but here is a write up by ChristianPost. If this article gives all the relevant answers from his sermon it will probably leave many questions out there:

Pastor Andy Stanley finally alluded Sunday to how Christians should respond to gays, weeks after he left some wondering about his stance on homosexuality.
Monday, May 07, 2012

In his last message of an 8-part sermon series on what it means to be Christian, Stanley, who leads North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., made it clear that the church had failed to minister to homosexuals, although he did not use the words "gays" or "homosexuality" in his message.

Stanley had caused some to question his stance on homosexuality when in an April 15 sermon he told the story of a divorced couple who formerly attended North Point together. They separated after the husband began a same-sex relationship with another man, who was still married to a woman.

The man and his partner wanted to serve as volunteers at the church, but Stanley explained that the two men were committing adultery since one of them did not finalize his divorce yet and thus could not serve as volunteers. The "messy" story, as Stanley described it, ended with the gay couple, the first man's ex-wife and their child, as well as her new boyfriend and his child from another relationship, all coming to worship together at a service in the church. The pastor referred to them as an example of a modern-day family. Christians, he said, are called not only to hold on to the truth, but also to grace, which includes forgiveness and love.

Stanley had pointed The Christian Post to his message series when asked Wednesday for clarification on his views on homosexuality, and added that he might issue a statement to CP in the near future about the topic.

On Sunday, the pastor reminded the audience that he mentioned in his first message of the series that Christians had a "branding problem." Christians, he said, are viewed as being "judgmental, homophobic, moralist" and who think they are the only ones going to heaven, and "secretly cherish the fact that everyone else is going to hell."

A part of it is a terminology problem, he proposed. Originally, the term "Christian" was used as a derogatory word by others, he pointed out. It is used only three times in the Bible. Jesus, he added, referred to his followers as disciples.

Referring to one of the last times Jesus spoke to his disciples, as found in John 13:1-17:35, Stanley quoted Jesus as saying, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." He stressed on the words, "By [only] this everyone will know…"

The pastor said today's Christians have lost sight of this.

Every time we pick up the scripture to find a law or a command or an instruction on anything – and there are hundreds of them in the Bible – remember that Jesus asked us to make sure that we "look at all of that through the filter of" the two greatest commandments: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments," he said.

God, Stanley added, does not want us to use His law "to unnecessarily hurt and disenfranchise people."

There are two categories of people who have influenced us to make us what we are today, he explained. And their influence had little to do with what they said they believed or whether they were Christians or not. The two categories are: those "who hurt you deeply and those who loved you profoundly," the pastor said. Regrettably, he added, many a times we find that those who have hurt us are the ones who are right in their theology.

Jesus' movement was all about "how you love," but overtime it became "what you believe," he said. "If we would simply do what Jesus did… instead of arguing about what he said, "the world would change, the reputation of Christ's followers would change, the influence of the church would change. This is easy. This requires nothing… just a brand new worldview."

Stanley explained that sometimes we don't like someone because of his behavior or attitude, but then we hear their stories everything changes. "Jesus interacted with people with their stories in mind."

The pastor encouraged the audience to always ask the question, "What does love require of me?" Don't do anything that would hurt anyone, he said. And don't even hurt yourself, he added. "There's nothing between you and you… because you are loved… Your Heavenly Father loves you, and love requires that you respond to His love by taking care of you."

Don't even be mastered by anything, Stanley added, because that will keep you from loving someone.

People around Christians, the pastor suggested, should not feel condemned, and that would give leverage to us which we have lost. Change cannot be brought about by preaching and legislation, he emphasized. Change comes when people see something; "it's so attractive, almost irresistible."

Observations.  First, there may be a big duh factor in Stanley's sermon.  Let's all agree that the traditional biblical position has always been to love the sinner but hate the sin.  Jesus modeled this with the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."  He didn't write her off (condemn) or hate her, but in the same breath he clearly confirmed her that her actions were wrong and to "sin no more."

But Stanley's approach, if that's all he was trying to ultimately say, has raised significant problems.  One poster online wrote in response to the above article, "He seems to be encouraging divorce to legitimize the husbands homosexuality!"

It's hard to argue with that.  His words were in effect, "You can't serve because you're still married and that's old fashioned adultery."  Perhaps he tried to encourage them to stay together or at least not add sin to sin. We don't know because Stanley didn't say.  Lack of clarity on this point is perhaps Stanley trying to be too clever by half.

In fact, it seems Stanley's sermonic goal was to create the same emotion in his hearers that Jesus' Pharisee hearers would have felt in Luke 15.  He says this in #6 of his series.  There is a problem, however, because evangelicals already know Jesus' words (neither do I condemn you....go sin no more) and the majority of evangelicals are already on board with the idea of trying to reach out to so-called "sinners" in love.  So to get the same emotional response Stanley had to push it all further.  He had to take an obvious sin and talk about it without any "go sin no more" attached.  Just a guess.

If this is his goal, then a better approach would have been to be less cryptic (trying to stump them like Jesus) and more honest and explicit, along the lines of, "Hey, our brand Christian hasn't done well with certain groups like the gay community because all they here is we're against everything, and they don't see God's love toward them.  We have to find ways to reach out."

But at any rate, it was downright bizarre for him to rail against "adultery" but ignore homosexuality in the same sentence.  Looks like Andy slipped on a pair of "bad idea jeans" when he wrote that sermon.

It reminds me of when Joab tried to pull a "prophet Nathan" on David.  You remember, Nathan had told David the story of the man with many sheep who took the poor man's one pet lamb and cooked it for his house guests.  David was ticked.  Then Nathan zinged him:  "You, David, are the man! You took Uriah's wife and arrnaged for Uriah to be killed."  Later Joab tried a similar thing, only lame, and David saw right through it.  I think Andy was trying to pull a Jesus zinger on us and it has bombed.

Because in this whole homosexuality debate very few ever bother to actually look at key Scriptures, GW has added them below:

Genesis 19:4-7; 12-13 (Prior to the Law)
But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing....
12 Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. “Do you have any other relatives here in the city?” they asked. “Get them out of this place—your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. 13 For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.”
(Note that this was before the Law of Moses was given. It is a timeless principle. See Jude 1:7)

Leviticus 18:22 (In the Law)
22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.

Leviticus 20:13 (In the Law)
13 “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.

Judges 19:22-23 (In the Writings)
22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.”
23 The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing."
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (New Testament)
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
(Is stealing or idol worship a sin according to this passage?  Yes! Likewise everything else listed.)

1 Timothy 1:9-11 (New Testament)
For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
 (Is lying or slave trading wrong?  Yes! So are the other things listed.)

Romans 1:24-27 (New Testament)
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

Jude 1:7 (New Testament)
And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.



  1. Nice reference to Bad Idea Jeans. And your take on the AS sermon makes more sense than most of the theologians blogging out there.

  2. The other mistake Andy Stanley makes is to call this conundrum of relationships the "modern-day family", thereby redefining the family and giving his flock the false notion of a family. Family is reserved for the way God defines man, one woman and their offspring. Even if a couple divorces their is still one man, one woman and their progeny. What "pastor" Stanley is doing is forcing pure liberalism on the church which he despises. In essence "wrongs have been committed by the nasty church and I, the great Andy Stanley, am here to save the wronged by ignoring God's word." Even the woman caught in adultery was instructed by Jesus to " go and sin no more" AFTER she repented. We need to present the whole counsel of God and let the Holy Spirit do His work in redeeming the lost. It won't happen by kowtowing sinners and ignoring God's word.