Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HELP.... I'm Confused

We are still church hopping here over in my neck of the woods. I'm starting to think we're going to have to settle. We DID find a great church for us (two of them in fact) but they were in a neighboring town, over 45 minutes a way. It just seemed like it would be too hard to be an active member of the body when we live so far away.
Now we have been looking locally at one church pretty seriously. We like a lot about it, so I did my typical (call and grill the pastor to make sure there is nothing goofy). You would be surprised to know how many churches actually think the bible rules don't apply to them.
After a nice conversation I brought out the fundamentalist" big guns" abortion and homosexuality. Now here is where I got caught up a bit, He said that while they believe what the bible says, and homosexuality is wrong, they welcome practicing homosexuals into their congregation. No, they do not preach to them about it nor ask them to change because they want to first develop a relationship with them and hope someone might council them at a later date.
My reply was "Would you let a man who is cheating on his wife bring his mistress to church and not call him on it?" "Oh, no, of course not, we'd follow biblical procedures A, B and C." It sounded a bit like a double standard to me and made my conservative self shudder.
After I hung up and I talked with my hubby we resolved to NOT attend the church. Now I have been thinking... am I too harsh? What if I had a close homosexual relative? Wouldn't I want the opportunity to bring them to church and lead them to God? Maybe I'm being brainwashed by the Liberal influences around me... I don't know!!! What would that be saying to my kids if we attended a church that looked the other way? What about people who show up high on drugs, or drunk, or weigh 300 pounds from their gluttonous out of control life style? Should we say, "I'm sorry mam, you can't attend this church unless you stop stuffing your face with donuts." A sin is a sin. AHHH!
What do y'all think? ~Karlie


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... a good question.
I would think a church has to be outspoken enough on truth, and be a place where the Holy Spirit is welcome enough to convict people of their sin. I see these "feel good" churches and I wonder when the people attending ever get to the point of growing spiritually?
I think, from what I see in the Bible, that church, ie: regularly meeting together with other believers, is supposed to be a time when like-minded followers of Jesus come together to strengthen, encourage, edify, worship, so we can GO OUT and evangelize a lost world. It should be a haven in this day-to-day mess we have to deal with. Too often than not, church (the building and gathering place for Christians) becomes the only evangelistic tool people rely on. In other words, Joe Shmoe Christian says, "I really think Marvin needs the Lord. Maybe I'll invite him to church!" Nope. Not the way it was intended. If pastors continue to spoon feed their flock the same basic salvation message in the hopes of Marvin being in the audience some random Sunday, well, then the flock starves to death and the purpose for the coming together of His saints is thwarted.

My advice is to find a church that boldly feeds the flock. Let the chips fall where they may. Look for ways to bring along something to share or contribute to the feast, like, encouragement, a kind word, a prayer, a hug, a song, etc... Teach your kids that church is a place where we come to share...not to be spoon-fed!

I'm SURE you do, because you seem like the type of strong gal who would, but I thought I'd put this here since I don't have a blog yet!!
Thanks for the soap box rental. I'll get down now :o)

javamamma said...

His "kindness leads them to repentance". Our Sunday morning services are generally a time to preach HOPE and restoration in Jesus not condemn the homosexual, adulterer and glutton. I don't really get the guys response. Hope you find where you're supposed to be!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

When I look at how Jesus treated people, the only people He came down hard on were the believers; the Pharisees.

He welcomed and spent time with sinners BEFORE they changed their ways. He even chastised those who thought people living a sinful life shouldn't be with Him.

I think you made a great point in that sin is sin. Someone living a homosexual lifestyle is loved no less than I am by God; is not a greater sinner than I am.

We're called to love and gently lead. There is of course a time for rebuke and restoration, etc. But how can we do that if we have no relationship with them; if we don't show we care about them as people, not just about their sin? I don't think a church who won't welcome homosexuals will ever be effective in reaching them.

I hope you'll share where your thoughts go from here. It is a tough topic.

Anonymous said...

Katherine has some good comments, and I'm also leery of "feel good" churches. It's the job of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin, but if the Holy Spirit is hindered because the pastor is so carefully tiptoeing around difficult topics and choosing his words so as not to offend...maybe it's not so compelling or valuable for the congregants to "feel good." I was just thinking of Paul's preaching, from whom we get some of the harshest words against homosexuality, and am wondering how effective his ministry would have been had he not preached the stark truth - about everything.

The fact that God loves the homosexual just as he loves the heterosexual is not the point. You're wondering if avoiding speaking on the subject is the right thing for a pastor to do. Oh, let's all love each other, sin is sin, welcome the sinner. Fine, Absolutely, but do NOT compromise the word of God or be silent just because an issue is politically sensitive.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Jesus did a lot of hanging out with sinners and tax collectors. Should we not do the same? Not to say that their sin is ok but show them that Christ looks past their sin and truly loves them. A sinner is not going to stop sinner until he knows Christ's redemption.
It would be totally different if someone is calling themself a Christian and living a lifestyle of sin. But even so rebuking someone in love should happen in private and not in public. I would never return to a church that the minister rebuked me publicly. I would be crushed that he didn't care about me enough to talk to me in person. At the same time I would expect a ministry to preach on issues that I may be convicted by. Solid teaching is important.

Halfmoon Girl said...

good post. I second Cindy. I believe that there is a time and place for rebuking, but not intitially. That is the Holy Spirit's job first. Like you said, there are lots of things that principle can be applied to - gossiping, lying, etc, not just the obvious ones. If a congregation is encouraged to be in the Word themselves on a daily basis and hears the Word of God preached Sunday after Sunday as intended, not watered down into a topical sermon that suits the one giving it, everyone will be convicted of ways that they can walk in a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Gayle said...

Oh Karlie, always with the good deep questions.

My thoughts are that every church should be open to EVERY type of matter the lifestyle. Shocking huh? But if the doors of the church are only for the people with NO outward sin, uh, how's that reaching people? The truth shouldn't be avoided but should still be preached...not to shun or make a point. But once someone accepts Christ, they are held to a different standard.

We had an issue in our church where a couple had been separated for years and the husband had moved on with his new girlfriend, lived together and had a baby. After they finally commited to following Christ, the leadership lovingly coached them through God's word regarding marriage, sex, divorce....etc and held them accountable, again in a loving mentorship kind of way. It really took some careful conversations to work it out...but they did and there were no offenses. The issue has been resolved...families were made whole (or the mess they made of it was fixed)and they are pressing into the Lord.

I think you're questions were great!

Chelle said...

I have to agree with javamamma and Cindy. They already expressed most of what I was going to say, so I won't repeat it. I would like to add a though from my pastor,

"The problem with religion today is that it looks at people and despises them. We ought to look at people with one thought in mind: Jesus loves them." ~Leon Fontaine

That's not to say that anybody here is despising anybody. But it's a good thing to keep in mind when faced with sins that we find particularly disturbing, whether they be within church walls or without.

ConservaChick said...

These comments have been great! I agree that the churches doors should be open to EVERYONE, BUT I like what Jennifer in Or had to say "do NOT compromise the word of God or be silent just because an issue is politically sensitive."
I still would like to hear what you think in regards to the churches role when a practicing homosexual is attending. Does the church quietly ignore the lifestyle? Or, does it take it upon themselves to show them what God's word says about it? If someone shows up at church with his mistress, do we say "let's just love him and wait for him to hear God about the situation"? NO, we step in and say say "Hey, this isn't right!". Why should we treat homosexuality any different? (This is an actual question, not my normal sarcastic attitude (;
If we choose to ignore the issue and let them continue to practice this lifestyle while being involved in the church, how long do we wait? 6 months, a year, forever???? Is it ever our place to call them on it? When in our hearts does it become the norm, and we end up with rainbow stickers on the stained glass? I seriously doubt that these churches that now embrace homosexuality started that way.
I also like what Shari had to say "rebuking someone in love should happen in private and not in public".
While I agree with what Javamamma had to say "Sunday morning services are generally a time to preach HOPE and restoration in Jesus not condemn...", I must say that the best services (the ones I've grown the most from) have been where the pastor unapollogetically shared God's Word about areas in my life that needed some convicting!
I see the church treading on dangerous ground as more and more of them cross over into compromising God's word, yet we don't want to close our doors to those that are lost (otherwise I'd have never made it in). It's a very fine line... one where I can't see the boundaries very clearly. ~Karlie

PS. KATHERINE!!! So glad you came back! I'd wondered where you had gone to. You have GOT to get your own blog going! I love to read your comments.

PSS. My tool bar disapeared... the one that had my spell check on it. SO, I guess you will all see what a TERRIBLE speller I am.

Mrs. Darling said...

I think a church should indeed open the doors to sinners with any sin. But to not preach against the sin once the sinner is in the pew is downright wrong.

You would be amazed how many christians are harboring sexual sins and other sins and sitting in our pews. The Bible is good for Christians and for the sinner. Preach it!

I would not join the church you're speaking of.

EEEEMommy said...

I DO have a family member who is in a lesbian relationship, and I HAVE dragged both she and her roomate to church with me when they were in town and they WERE welcomed. But the sermon that week just happened to be about sexual sin, and they heard the uncompromised truth (Note: I had no idea and didn't plan that!)

But being welcoming to visitors who are sinners and accepting them as members without questioning their lifestyle are two different things. The questions I would have would be: will those living in sin be permitted to serve? hold leadership roles? become members? and also will their presence adversely affect what is taught from the pulpit? If there is a seriously obese person, is the pastor going to shy away from preaching on gluttony for fear of offending or will he have the boldness to speak the truth in love, pointing to Christ as the only way receive freedom from the bondage of sin......and how long would they have to attend before they were confronted about their lifestyle?

Right now, my parents are members of a church with a culture of unwed mothers. The pastor preaches against "shacking up" very boldly, EVERY week, but still the cycle continues. To my knowledge, they've never followed through with church discipline and the result has been that more and more teenagers just keep having babies...and then when it happened to our family and we reacted differently, my parents were harshly criticized...something's not right!

Yes we need to reach out in love to the unbeliever, but without compromise. And no matter what the sin, it needs to be dealt with! We CAN'T allow our churches and God's Word to be compromised in an effort to be politically correct. It is a diservice to the one who is in bondage to sin and desperately needs to hear the truth that there is freedom in Christ! That we can live righteous lives in Him.

Wow! What a post! You pulled out all my dirty laundry with this one: lesbian sister, illegitimate niece...heavy stuff.

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Great conversation going on here; I came back to see what people were saying. You always have great thought-provoking discussion. I love that you aren't afraid to do it...

For your question..."what you think in regards to the churches role when a practicing homosexual is attending. Does the church quietly ignore the lifestyle?"

I don't know that in my church it would be any different with a practicing homosexual or a man with his mistress. If it is their first time or two to the church and they have no relationship with the leadership of the church, I doubt they'd be rebuked that first Sunday morning. A church can certainly "NOT compromise the word of God" yet still begin to build a relationship with people. I imagine most pastors with a heart for the lost would want to do BOTH- build a relationship AND honestly approach the subject from God's word. If however they skip the building the relationship part, I don't know that the rebuke will be very effective except to drive them away from the church, Christians, and perhaps even from seeking a relationship with God.

I imagine the leadership of many churches would welcome the person, meet privately with them, share scripture lovingly but firmly, but would not tell them they were not welcome. (Of course, firmer action might be taken down the road if after studying scriptures they still choose to continue on a daily basis to sin without trying to make changes that are in line with scripture.)

I liked Katherine's point that the church becomes the only evangelistic tool people rely on. I think that can be true. Unless we are out in the world, meeting the lost and sharing the gospel with them, we'll only reach the people who already are brave enough or searching enough to enter a church's doors. But if someone IS brave enough to walk through those church's doors, I hope they meet truth BALANCED with love and grace, not condemnation right off the bat. Again, I never see Jesus preaching to sinners right away, but instead he spends time with them, builds a relationship. I read today in Mt 9 where the Pharisees asked why Jesus would eat with sinners and thought of this whole discussion. :)

Obviously in choosing a church to attend you probably won't find one where you agree with EVERYTHING or where the leadership does EVERYTHING right. I'd look to see if it is Biblically sound, if they are serious about reaching the lost, and if you can serve there. How does this particular church rate in those areas and others that might be important to you?

EE said...

I'm with Gayle.

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Katherine. The church service is meant for the Christian, hence the reason it is called *worship*. A lost person is incapable of this until his/her salvation!
As far as allowing someone who is in open, defiant sin of any kind (read: lost) to come to church to listen...of course! But to join, no way...not until they make a full commitment to Christ (which will cause them to strive for obedience to His other words, casting down open, habitual sin).
BTW, I do have a close family member who is a homosexual, so I have thought this through thoroughly. In the end, true biblical love for *any* lost person is never-ever comprimising biblical standards. If we allow or close our eyes to open sin when they are drawing near (by coming to church or questioning, ect.) we are LYING to them...where is the love in that?

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

Oh yeah, meant to add that we travel 30 minutes one way just to get to a church that we believe teaches without compromise...and we probably pass 50 other churches just to get there.
Most of all, just pray. God will give you the exact thing that you should do. Praying for you Karlie...:)

Anonymous said...

I'm assume that if a church is preaching the Word of God/ Sermon on the Mount Christianity than a homosexual not interested in changing their lifestyle won't continue coming.

Why stick around somewhere that wants you to love your enemies, and even bless them, give away your money, talk to an invisible Man, and not eat.

If it's genuine, they(and us too)will be drawn in to change, or we'll leave and find somewhere else that itches our ears.

Anonymous said...

It is a sin, people who sin should go to church to learn why they shouldn't sin. That would be each and every one of us. We should invite everyone to join us and love them no matter what their sin. So many people just don't understand what sin does to them. People need meat and potatoes in church not just a feel good message that doesn't step on toes or makes anyone feel convicted. Conviction is what helps us to know sin and to make decisions to avoid it. We are also looking for a church (the one we did attend is 45 min away). I would love to find a local bible based church who reaches out to everyone and still preaches all of and is true to God's word. We want to be invovled in our church and fellowship is very important. 45 min one way on a work day just doesn't work all that well!

Anonymous said...

Jesus spent time with people. He built relationships. He drew them to Him and then told them to turn from their sins. If the churches don't welcome them, how will they hear the truth?

The funny thing is that whether or not we want to admit it, as Christians we tend to think there are varying degrees of sin, with sexual sins being among the worst. Sin is sin. Jesus often listed things like anger and gossip in the same sentence with sexual sins. Are there any in our churches who struggle with anger or gossip? Heaven help us!

I am not in any way condoning their sin. Two of my dear friends are in a lesbian relationship. Do I agree with what they are doing? No way! Do I love them anyway, talk about the Lord and invite them to church whenever I get the oppportunity? You bet! I will not compromise God's truth, but I also won't beat them over the head with it.

Thanks for brining up such a hard subject.

Melissa Stover said...

this was a great post and i enjoyed reading every bit of the discussion here.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Just stumbled upon your blog! Very enjoyable!

I know your frustration with finding a church. We recently moved to a new city and had to church shop. It was TOUGH!

I blogged about it here:

Blessings on finding a place where you can be ministered to and where you can minister to others!


Lydia said...

I don't know how I found your blog but I'm here and had to comment that I agree with your concerns completely! It is amazing how far the preachers have fallen into mediocrity until there is so little difference between a church and the world that you wonder what in the world they are preaching!I have been married for 36 years to a preacher and we have seen how one by one preachers are softened to the point that they will not take a stand. They are afraid of losing their jobs, of the church splitting, or of people leaving. It is really disheartening, especially in light of the fact that we knew the church when it was firm, when old people used to stand up for truth first and foremost and didn't show favoritism towards people. They did not say "Well, it was my aunt, and Ilove my aunt, so I won't say anything." Also if we did something that was opposed to the Biblical teaching, we didn't feel very comfortable until we repented. Now people are made to feel comfortable even when they are not doing right.