I recently read an article by Bryan Fischer in which he predicts that “Southern Baptists may be in trouble with new President J.D. Greear.”
He describes Greear as “a young charismatic pastor with a strong social media presence and a large following among millennials.” Then, he observes that Greear’s election “may be a fateful, even fatal, choice for the Southern Baptist Convention [SBC]. The reason is simple: Greear is soft and simplistic on the number one cultural and spiritual issue of our time — homosexuality.”
To illustrate his reasons for thinking so, Mr. Fischer highlights three thoughts Mr. Greear shared with his co-religionists in a sermon he gave “at the 2014 annual meeting of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission [ERLC]:
- We have to love our gay neighbor more than we love our position on sexual morality.
- We do not cut them off — we draw them close.
- We say yes, this issue is important, but I love you more than I love being right.”
In his article, Mr Fischer anticipates the troubling consequences of Mr. Greear’s suggestions:
It will be a slow drift, not a plunge. It will happen almost imperceptibly as they follow a softer, gentler, nicer-than-Jesus form of the gospel. One day SBCers will realize that the shore is no longer in sight. This is how mainline denominations wind up with lesbian bishops who believe that Jesus was a bigot. They didn’t start our there, they wound up there.
I found Mr. Fischer’s concerns convincing, like the illustrations he draws from the experience of other denominations that have taken the sentimental yet unprincipled path Mr. Greer espouses. It remains to be seen whether we will have to add the Roman Catholic Church to such examples.
Pope Francis’ statements about homosexuality and other issues related to God’s sacred provisions regarding marriage and human procreation have elicited similarly profound expressions of concern from high clerics, such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, and others, (including folks among the laity, like me.)
I wonder, though, whether the dire consequences that follow from the mistakes of such religious leaders will be as gradual as Bryan Fischer anticipates. Leaders like Mr. Greear (and, for example, the Catholic advocate for a friendly approach to homosexuality, Fr. James Martin) present their views as a mere change in tone. Even cursory reflection on formulations like those Mr. Greear employs reveal them to be an abysmal abandonment of God and His truth.
This becomes glaringly obvious if we make just one substitution in Mr. Greear’s formulation, like this: “We have to love our gay neighbor more than we love God’s position on homosexuality.”
But when Christ states God’s first command of love, he declares, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Since, according to God’s written Word, the first human was a commingling of Spirit with the dust (physical matter), this list exhausts all the spiritual, emotional and corporeal aspects of our humanity.
If we are replete with the love of God, how could we love anything more? But Christ also says, “If ever you love me, you will heed my commands,” and “if ever one loves me he heeds my words … and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and commune with him” (John 14:15).
Christ says that the second command of love — “Love your neighbor as yourself” — is like the first. But though “neighbor” literally means one who is nearby, in the illustrative parable he offers, the one who proves to be neighbor to the man set upon by thieves (the Good Samaritan) is not near neighbor to Christ’s audience in habitation or religion. Yet, he proves to be the true neighbor because he saves the life of the robbery victim.
But Christ himself has come from afar (as far as heaven is above the earth, Psalm 103:11).
Christ himself is the savior of all willing to accept the Grace of God open to them on account of his self-sacrifice. But Christ is the Word made flesh, that was with God and was God in the work of Creation.
The second command is indeed like the first, for it, too commands us to love God, in Jesus Christ. How then can anyone who loves God, and trusts His provisions for our human good, love gays or any others, more than they love the commandments of God; more than they love God’s justice and being in right accord with God’s benevolent will.
Seen in this light, Mr. Greear’s winsome phrases involve abandoning the love of God in order to befriend a human perception of love that self-righteously rejects God’s provisions. For when we reject the commands that reflect his Provision for our presence here, and its perpetuation, we reject the love of God that fills and fulfills us beyond all human measures.
Bereft of the very stuff that love is made on, what love is left to show others? What is love, indeed, but the futile, endless, empty longing that abides forever unfulfilled, in those who will not open their hearts and souls to the Spirit? For the Spirit of God is what reminds them of the truth: We are made in the image and likeness of God, and can only be neighbors to others when and if, through loving Christ, we agree to love and abide in His Word.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.