I intended to blog about tomorrows trip to the Holy Land. I do hope you will follow us as we travel by being my friend on Facebook or following me on Twitter (DoctorKD). But just as I was preparing to write I read an email. It was titled "Mega-Church Pastor, Bishop Jim Swilley, Declares He's Gay." Jimmy was a childhood friend of mine. My dad was the Sunday school superintendent and his father was the pastor. He lived in the parsonage next door to the church. It was an easy walk from my house to his. We would play at church and afterward in the yard. He left town when his mother and father moved to another church. I heard about him a few years back and learned that he was the pastor of a large charismatic church just outside Atlanta. I was really happy about his life's calling and the success of his church.
This was the story as it was reported by ABC News:
On Tuesday, ABC Good Morning America featured Bishop Jim Swilley who says he came out as a gay man to save the lives of teens across the country—maybe even his own children. On Atlanta’s WSB-TV, Bishop Swilley said, “As a father, you think about your 16 or 17 year old killing himself…”and choked up with tears. Bishop Swilley spoke to his congregation recently and said, “I know a lot of straight people think orientation is a choice. I want to tell you that it is not."
It seems Jimmy was touched by a story of a young man killing himself because of the grief he was getting because of his homosexual feelings. He now believes that by coming out of the closet he can save others. I want to be careful how I respond to the words of my childhood friend. It is a tragedy that anyone takes their own life. My heart goes out to that family. Unfortunately, Christians have been unfairly critical of gays while ignoring other sins like predjudice, greed, covetousness and the like. Because we find the sin of homosexuality so repulsive we tend to forget that all sin is repulsive to our Father. But, Pastor Swilley, is the answer really siding with the sin instead of praying for the sinner? Just because we have overly condemned one sin and have basically ignored others, does it mean we are to now somehow make up for too much condemnation by ignoring such behavior. Let's be clear, all sin condemns one to death. (Romans 3:23) No sin is to be tolerated or coddled. By admitting we are sinners we are tearing down walls of self righteousness that has so long caused unbelievers not to take us seriously. But to admit our sins and then justify them as "just being the person God made us" is to make God a liar. (I John 1:10) How much more would God have been glorified if Jimmy would have declared that he was sinner, that he struggled with being gay and that God loved him no less for it. How many could he have helped by being honest about his life and agreeing with God's Word that his life was not pleasing to his Heavenly Father? What if he told others struggling with same moral dilemma that they could walk the road to forgiveness together? By doing so he might not only save someones life from suicide, but someones soul fro hell as well.
The reaction to Bishop Swilley's announcement has been predictible. He now has maximized the number of friends he may have on Facebook. GLAAD, the gay activist group, has come out to support and encouragement him. His ex-wife says she stands beside him. His mom, my former pastor's wife, is writing now how the Spirit is moving so freely and powerfully in their church services since her son's announcement. Jimmy says he understands how many will not agree with him. He says we just differ on the interpretaion od Scripture. Jimmy I disagree. We don't disagree on interpretation. Romans 1 is very simple to understand.
Romans 1:22-32 (NKJV)
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
It is not our job to try and explain away the Bible when it speaks so clearly on a subject. Bishop Jimmy Swilley please consider your actions in the light of God's Word. I am not speaking to you as one who is perfect. I am not. I have much to be ashamed of myself. But please know this, I am ashamed of my sins. I cannot before God justify or ignore them. I can only seek God's forgiveness and go on.
1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.