For years now I have been finding myself warning folks that my fears concerning homosexuality are not so much with liberal apostate denominations that have abandoned the gospel long ago; my fear lies more with the apostasy of popular, mainstream, non-denominational mega-churches that attract thousands to their “worship” services. The recent article by the Christian Post has brought the issue that much closer. The article features a video interview on Katie, Katie Couric’s television show where Joel Osteen takes what seems to be a personal stand against gay “marriage” but obviously does not go far enough.
Osteen’s doctrinal compromises are well known and well documented. The recent “controversy” over the Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s statements against the sin of homosexuality, had the entire culture buzzing over his statements. Despite the Duck debate, Osteen’s comments are to me, much more disconcerting for several reasons.
1. The continual misinterpretation of Scripture on very simple yet crucial texts of Scripture for engaging the cultural conversation on homosexuality.
2. The elevation of acceptable, non-offensive, politically-correct rhetoric by Christian proponents that represent non-denominational churches. (this complicates the secular world’s ability to determine what Christians belief).
3. The nature of compromise and the end of American Christian conviction and Christian consensus on this crucial issue.
On the last point and the end of American Christian influence, Albert Mohler recently put out a very helpful post exploring this very topic. What makes Osteen’s statements so troublesome of course is not that he identified gay “marriage” as something the Scriptures do not teach, but that this was his personal opinion based on feeling, “because I feel that would go against what the Scriptures teaches.” This is hardly consistent with true Christian conviction. This is nothing like what Jesus said and nothing like what we are called to do with the issue of homosexuality. Instead we are called to expose the darkness (Eph. 5.11) to confront sin (1 Cor. 15.34) and warn of judgment (Lk. 13.3). Osteen’s comments are but a thin veneer of Christian conviction that can easily be done away with after one generation. All it takes is the “new Joel Osteens of the world” and that veneer could totally vanish into thin air. Osteen also says that homosexual people are welcome at his “church.” One has to wonder what that means precisely. Does that mean they can fellowship without being confronted for their sin? Does that mean membership? Joel Osteen speaks of being “for” everybody and not wanting to bring people “down” but again we need to ask what does that mean? Does Joel Osteen see preaching against homosexuality as bringing people down? It certainly seems like it. Of course, if that is the case then Paul fell into that category as did Jesus and the rest of the apostles (1 Cor. 6.9; 2 Tim. 1.10; Mt. 19; Rom. 1.23). If preaching against sin is what brings people down then we need to bring people down much more often. One wonders if Joel Osteen has ever read the Minor Prophets? Joel Osteen has bought into the new “all-loving-god” heresy that makes moral judgment impossible. This then is just another example that the new proponents of the “all-loving-god” heresy in reality hate people by refusing to tell them the truth about sin and judgment (cf. John 8.44-46).
On our part, we should not be surprised by the present Evangelical climate. Scripture has forewarned us that perilous times would come. The only question is, do we believe it?:
2 Timothy 3:1–5 1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
Paul’s word, “difficult” kalepos (χαλεπός) could be translated, “hard to deal with” or “violent” or “dangerous” or “fierce.” This would certainly agree with the volatile times the church is in today with an ever-increasing downward trend towards ubiquitous apostasy on the issue of homosexuality. Unlike Osteen, our aim in ministry, preaching and Christian evangelism is to show people their plight, their desperate condition as enemies of God and the glorious sin-destroying solution found in the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.