I had an interesting conversation last summer with a man at a church picnic. Because I had never met him, at first glance I thought he was going through chemotherapy. He wore a knit cap in ninety-degree weather, had no hair on his arms, legs or face, and had penciled in his eyebrows. Only after I sat across from him at lunch did I understand the situation.
After his grandmother introduced me to him, he said, “If you were the pastor of a church, how would you deal with people involved in alternate lifestyles?”
Not wanting to seem presumptuous about where he was heading, I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “You know, people involved in same sex relationships. You’re from California, so you know what I’m talking about.” A few people at the picnic started to lean in to hear my answer.
I smiled at that and said, “Well, I cannot support a lifestyle that I believe the Bible condemns. However, people involved in alternate lifestyles are always welcome in ‘my’ church. But, by choosing to live in a way that disobeys Scripture, I cannot allow them to be involved in a leadership position. The same would be true for a man who chooses to gamble away his paycheck and then borrows money from his friends for food. My concern is always for the ultimate good of the individual, regardless of their actions.”
Then I said something that seemed to please him. “But I must tell you, I do have one major requirement for a person to come to my church, and if they don’t have this they can’t come. He looked at me as if to say, Here it comes. The other shoe is about to drop.
“In order to come to ‘my’ church,” I said, “a person must be a sinner. Therefore, everyone is welcome.”
The man smiled and said, “Thanks. That’s a good answer. I like that.”
As we were getting in the car to leave, another man came up to me and shook my hand. Continue Reading