"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Not Speaking the Truth In Love Is Ultimately Unhelpful

(Update: I wish to apologize for the original title of this post "Stanleyism: Speaking a Half-truth with Self-love." That title was completely inappropriate for a couple of reasons. First, it sounds shaming. Second, it did a pretty lousy job of conveying what I wished to communicate by wrongly placing the emphasis on a person, and not what the person said. And finally, in attempting to be clever and make the title into a play on Paul's words, "Speak the truth in love," I gave the impression that I believed Andy was full of self-love. That is impossible for me to know. Let me be clear: I believe that the message Andy Stanley preached on April 15, 2012 is ultimately harmful and destructive to every homosexual who hears it. I commend Andy for his desire to communicate love and grace to homosexuals, and I applaud any church who reaches out to lesbians and homosexuals. I believe Andy is attempting to tackle a difficult issue, but he has failed miserably in one area. The issue at hand is a simple one: Is the predisposition and desire to have a sexual relationship with a person of the same gender a  sinful desire? It seems Andy is saying "No." I believe the Scripture says emphatically "Yes," and an unwillingness to call homosexuality sin ultimately leads the homosexual to trample on the blood of Christ by saying: "You did not need to die for my sin, because I have no sin."  The post below is unchanged from the original post except for the title).

Andy Stanley is an innovator and communicator. He is an evangelical conservative, Bible-believing teacher of the Word of God. He cares for people, and he understands the gospel. Unfortunately, he is now in the midst of a controversy of his own making. Andy Stanley preached a remarkable message at North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia on April 15, 2012 entitled When Gracie Met Truthy. I became aware of the message from Al Mohler's blog where Dr. Mohler politely takes Andy Stanley to the woodshed for Stanley's seemingly full acceptance of homosexual relationships as a legitimate and Christian expression of marital love.  I  listened to Andy Stanley's entire message, and though I don't do this often, I found myself in full agreement with Dr. Mohler's views on this matter. Andy's message was quite good when he stayed with the text and sought to encourage his listeners from the Word of God. But Andy's message was quite bad--restate that--'Andy's message was pitifully and painfully awful'--when he diverted from the sacred text and sought to illustrate how grace and truth meet in a church setting like Northpointe. I won't go into the graphic and bizarre illustration Andy gave as support for what grace and truth look like when they meet in a church (read Dr. Mohler's blog or listen to the message yourself), but I would like to point out what a practicing homosexual named Mike, who heard the message the day it was preached, wrote about Andy Stanley's message less than 24 hours later:

"I have some experience with Northpoint Church from when I lived in Atlanta around 10 years ago. I have a ministry background as well. I recently moved back to Atl to be near my family. Long story short... I came out about a year ago and have been looking for a place to worship. Buckhead was my first try and I was very nervous. However, the message... from the series Christian (week 5)... absolutely blew me out of the water. FWIW... they are NOT anti-gay. VERY far from it. You need to watch the message to understand. I was amazed as I worshiped with 8-10 other gay folk in the middle of the church. It was quite an experience!"

Mike is quite correct. Anyone who listens to the message will come away believing that adultery or infidelity is sin, but monogamous sex with a partner of the same gender is not sin. That is precisely what Andy said. His illustration of two men breaking their marriages to women in order to enter into a homosexual partnership delivered only a half-truth. Andy Stanley spoke the truth about adultery. However, Andy Stanley couldn't speak the truth about homosexual sex. Yet, he expessed his love for both homosexuals and adulterers. Why only speak half-truth? There is a great deal of pressure from gay activists in metropolitan cities like Atlanta to pressure religious leaders to publicly declare homosexual sex is not sin against God. Andy loves the homosexual; he just seems now to refuse to speak the truth about homosexuality (ie. "homosexuality is sin") in the same manner he speaks about adultery (ie. "adultery is a sin"). I believe Andy Stanley will soon realize the error of his half-truth message and will come out with a public correction.

You are never really loving homosexuals until you tell them the full truth about their homosexual sex.  Maybe Andy Stanley will one day soon abandon return to speaking the truth about homosexuality in love to the homosexual.

I think he will.

63 comments:

Johnny D. said...

I hope you're right, Wade.

You know, that blog you wrote sometime back about your meeting with gays and how you handled them and the meeting, had such rich lessons for me. I wish I had linked it. I remember that blog every time this subject comes up. I should dig it out and go back and reread it for the 20th time. :-)

Wade Burleson said...

Johnny D.

Thanks for the reminder.

With your suggestion, I am linking it in the body of the article (last paragraph).

Johnny D. said...

Good because I just spent ten minutes looking for it and couldn't find it! Plus, I kept getting sidetracked reading blogs I'd missed.

John Wylie said...

It's been a while since I commented so here goes, Bravo brother. Your article was spot on and absolutely needed. I appeciate it very much.

Steven Stark said...

Just to mention a voice of dissent - Neither the Old Testament writers nor the apostle Paul had a thorough understanding of homosexuality. I believe if Paul had, perhaps he wouldn't have treated it in his letters the same way.

Homosexuality is perfectly fine. People are born with that tendency, and there is no compelling reason to say it is sin, or to deny those people the pursuit of happiness in the relationships they desire. Homosexuals live happy, loving, healthy lives in long-term relationships. They raise children quite well. Every professional medical organization has turned the corner on this and recognizes homosexuality as healthy behavior.

We will show love to homosexuals by speaking the truth to them, yes. The truth that mankind has moved beyond old prejudices, and that we need compelling reasons to judge something wrong rather than a verse here or there in the Bible.

I realize that I have a different epistemological position than most people here concerning the Bible, and that most people here are forced by their worldview to view homosexual relationships as wrong, no matter what evidence there is to the contrary.

But I appreciate those who are at least somewhat friendly about it, while still making everyday life more difficult for our homosexual brother and sisters. Let's explore our consciences deeply on this and all things.

best to all, Steven

Anonymous said...

Steven
Having had a ministry which dealt with the homosexual lifestyle, I totally disagree with the premise that they live healthy and happy lifestyles.

Personally, I have seen the dark side of that lifestyle and it is wicked and ugly.

Grace to all.

Bill
Romans 5:1

RRR said...

Steve Stark said: “Neither the Old Testament writers nor the apostle Paul had a thorough understanding of homosexuality.” Steve also added, “Homosexuality is perfectly fine. People are born with that tendency, and there is no compelling reason to say it is sin, or to deny those people the pursuit of happiness in the relationships they desire.”

Steve’s comment reminds me of a report of a pod cast interview with Jimmy Carter by Al Mohler. The interview account was written by Bob Allen and his account of the interview is entitled “Jimmy Carter Discusses the Bible” dated March 27, 2012 and posted on the Associated Baptist Press web site.

Former President Carter was quoted as saying, “I really turn almost exclusively to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who never mentioned homosexuality at all as a sin,” Carter said. “He never condemned homosexuals and so I don’t condemn homosexuals.” The article also said, “Former President Jimmy Carter said he believes that the Bible is divinely inspired, but the biblical writers did not understand facts now known from science, in a wide-ranging interview with Southern Baptist seminary president Albert Mohler.”

So FP Carter only believes what’s written in red in the Bible. Steve’s and President Carter’s Bibles must be pretty small!

RRR said...

Sorry for "hogging" the site but just one more comment regarding this post and then I'm finished:

Brother Wade and Brother Al simply give credence to Andy Stanley’s “Gracie Meets Truthy” Sermon in pointing out how messy it is to deal with the fullness of God’s “grace” not compromised by the fullness of God's “righteousness”. It was a “meaty” sermon that not all can swallow.

It’s apparent that Al Mohler’s motive was to use this sermon to assert that Stanley is one of those “liberal” messengers in one of America’s mega churches to support Al’s “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?” article. Could that be an indication of some “Mohlerism”?? I’m not sure what motivates the “Burlesonism” (half-truth=” for Stanley's seemingly full acceptance of homosexual relationships as a legitimate and Christian expression of marital love. “) but maybe there's some self-serving motive that leads Wade to assume the “sermon-police” role in taking another’s sermon out of context.

If anyone listens to Stanley’s preaching on a regular basis they know that he would never want to compromise “truth” (righteousness and accountability for sin) for the sake of “grace” (underserved love and acceptance of sinners). I heard him point out that personal principle throughout the “Gracie Meets Truthy” sermon. He uses the examples of the woman caught in adultery (“Go, and sin no more”) the tax gatherers, the man who was dying next to Jesus on the cross who repented and others that Jesus accepted through grace, it is difficult to understand and accept being both full of grace and truth.

Stanley points out that church discipline was applied because the men were living in “adultery” without pointing out their additional sin of homosexuality but is that any indication that he “accepts” homosexuality as anything other than a sinful lifestyle? No. If he allows homosexuals to attend his church is than an indication that he accepts their sinful lifestyle? No. Does Wade and Al allow sinful obese gluttons to come to church or even serve in church positions? Do they allow single people who are living together to come to church? Do they allow people who are married to divorced people and thereby living in adultery according to Jesus to come to church and serve? Do they allow unmarried pregnant women to come to church? Do they allow women who have had abortions to come to church? Do they allow prescription drug abusers to come to church? I surely hope so.

Does this mean that Brother Al and Brother Wade accept these as acceptable lifestyles? No. But they seek to exercise a full measure of grace and invite them to church so that the life-changing power of Christ can have a chance to re-new and restore the lives of people who are struggling with their various sin addictions.

Pastors in particular should give each other an added measure of trust when critiquing each other’s sermons. That’s not even “grace”. That’s just brotherly love.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

Excellent comment. Gay couples are not only allowed to attend our church, they are welcome!

They could not, however, be a part of the "host teams," take leadership in our church or be teachers, officers, etc...

Why? In agreement with Steven, people may be born with a tendency toward having sex with people of the same gender, just as people are born with the tendency (desire) to have sex with married people, children, etc... Having the tendency to sin is part of being a sinner, finding freedom from that sin in Christ is part of being a Christian.

My objection to the message is that Andy Stanley had an opportunity to say to the gay couple, "Your homosexual lifestyle is a sin against God, and you cannot serve on a "host team" until God begins, by His grace, to bring you to repentance of your sin." Instead, they were told they could not serve on the host teams (or be members of the church) because one of the partners was in "adultery" (he had left his wife).

IF I AM MISUNDERSTANDING Andy Stanley, I am sure he will issue a clarification. I have listened to the sermon twice, however, and stand by my assessment. A half-truth was spoken (adultery is sin), but the whole truth was avoided.

Thanks!

wade

Paul Burleson said...

I started to write a comment but then discovered RRR's statement and decided to not reinvent the wheel. I'm also remembering no commenter can honestly claim infallibility, myself included, nor should we read any comment written as infallible.

That said...

"Do Wade and Al allow sinful obese gluttons to come to church or even serve in church positions? Do they allow single people who are living together to come to church? Do they allow people who are married to divorced people and thereby living in adultery according to Jesus to come to church and serve? Do they allow unmarried pregnant women to come to church? Do they allow women who have had abortions to come to church? Do they allow prescription drug abusers to come to church? I surely hope so."

"Does this mean that Brother Al and Brother Wade accept these as acceptable lifestyles? No. But they seek to exercise a full measure of grace and invite them to church so that the life-changing power of Christ can have a chance to re-new and restore the lives of people who are struggling with their various sin addictions." [I'm adding..even our addiction to anger or pride or______]

Regardless of any position we might have on any sin issue and recognizing there may be things we have to deal with as people grow and change, ourselves included, this is our grace lifestyle in a nutshell.

kcm said...

Why is it so hard for humans to read the words-not inbetween the lines-we want the bible fit for our lifestyle instead the other way around. Examine our ways...

Wade Burleson said...

Steven,

Thanks for commenting! Always enjoy the dialogue.

You have told me that you do not believe the Bible is inspired by God, and reject it as "The Word of God," but you do receive it as the word of men.

I can understand how someone would accept homosexuality as "natural" when the Bible (Romans 1) calls it "unnatural" if they reject the Bible as authoritative.

It is very, very clear, however, that the biblical writers from Moses to Paul, all considered homosexuality sin and an affront to God, in the same manner adultery, beastiality, pedophilia, prostitution, and a host of other sexual sins are an affront to God (see I Corinthians 6:9-10 and a host of other texts).

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

One final comment.

The issue is NOT can people FREELY attend church, no matter their struggle with sins -- the answer is "of course!"

The issue is "will we call homosexuality sin"? I believe the tension between grace and truth is real, and believe me, if I err, it is always on the side of grace! However, in listening to the message very, very carefully, it seemed to me that there was a great desire to not affirm that sex with people of the same gender is sin. Again, I could be wrong, but there folks who are misunderstanding could be helped with a statement that clarifies.

I went to our Celebrate Recovery meeting last Thursday night and a young woman who has struggled with lesbianism for years, WHILE she has been a member of our church and has serving various capacities, gave her testimony. We have been very aware of her struggle with this sin, loved her in the midst of it, but never refused to call it sin - NOR DID SHE! and the remarkable testimony she gave Thursday night was extraordinarily moving as she spoke of the love she felt by the people of Emmanuel and the freedom that is gradually coming to her in this area of sin in her life. But make no mistake, she was unafraid to declare homosexuality sin.

Being a woman is not a sin (according to the Scripture). Women leading men is not a sin (according to the Scripture). Homosexuality is (according to the Scripture).

By the way, this woman also spoke with power and passion about her addiction to pride and to food - and members of our church who were present and in her small group battle some of the same sins - and they were giving her "amens" of support throughout the testimony.

We do not have any perfect people at our church, but we do have people who are unafraid to be transparent about their sins because they know the power of the cross to transform them in time.

Off The Cuff said...

I agree with Dr. Mohler, this subject is not going away anytime soon, and sooner or later every church will have to address it. In the meantime, I think it would help in discussion and debate if we could standardize some definitions. Is a homosexual anyone who commits a homosexual act or just the person who is genetically predisposed? Our prison systems are filled with men and women who commit homosexual acts; however, they would probably hurt you if you called them gay. Does the act define the person as a homosexual or is it the tendencies? If a person never acts on his/her desires is he/she a homosexual? How about the homosexual who has taken a vow of abstinence? Even though he is not committing the act, he still has strong desires. Does not the bible say that even lust is sin? Then there is the whole question of bi-sexuality. Is the bi-sexual a homosexual, heterosexual, both or neither? When the Bible speaks of homosexuality, is it speaking of all of the above, some of the above or none of the above?
I remember as a teenage boy in the early 60’s, having a strong attraction to a young girl. I also remember the preaching of the Pentecostal Preacher who made me feel as is my thoughts and feelings were somehow sinful. I remember the guilt and frustration I felt during that time. At least, to that extent I can sympathize with the struggling homosexual.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Andy Stanley’s message, he has opened the door for discussion. I hope that we all can keep in mind that the Bible’s best definition of sin is “missing the mark” of God’s perfection. As far as I can tell it is man who has chosen to categorize sin, not God. As we elevate homosexuality to the top of the list for discussion, let us be swift to also recognize and deal with our own imperfections. Be it a beam or a speck, no sin is permissible with God. I may be wrong, but I think it takes the same amount of grace to forgive a little sin as it does a big sin. (OOPS! I just did it. I categorized sin.)

Wade Burleson said...

Off the Cuff,

A person predisposed to enter into a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex is NO different than a person predisposed to eat food to cover up inner pain or a person predisposed to exaggerate the truth to make up for a sense of personal worthlessness. We are all sinners.

The issue, again, is NOT CAN WE LOVE SINNERS. Of course we can - and we welcome them in our church. The issue is DO WE LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO ALWAYS SPEAK THE TRUTH.

All we call for in our church with anyone who struggles with gossip, gluttony, pride, homosexuality, adultery, etc... is an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the sin and a desire for the Lord to continue a work of rooting it out. That's all.

And for some folks, it takes a lifetime and then some for the full work of grace to be completed.

Off The Cuff said...

Bro. Wade,

Thank you.

I would disagree only with your last sentence. I think that for ALL OF US, it takes a lifetime and then some for the full work of grace to be completed.:)

Wade Burleson said...

Off the Cuff,

Agreed.

I was including me in the "some"

:)

stevenstarkmusic said...

Bill,

I have many family members and friends who are homosexuals. Some are a bit "out there" in their lifestyle, and many are very, very conservative in their lifestyle - just like heterosexual people.

Wade and RRR,

Indeed I do believe the Bible to be a work of man, albeit an amazing work with much to teach us about human nature and history. I think it's perhaps, arguably, the greatest work every produced by man. So I have a lot of respect for it.

I would argue, however, that many of the other sexual sins listed by Wade can be demonstrated ethically to be wrong. Many of them involve innocent victims - children, animals, etc.

Of course, many argue that the victim of homosexuality is one's self. But that is difficult to establish. There are a lot of happy, homosexual families out there.

Ray said...

I think it is naive at best to declare that the Hebrews of the Ancient Near East and later Paul did not fully understand homosexuality. Among the Canaanites homosexuality was quite prevalent and the Greco-Roman world goes without saying. What we see both with the OT and with Paul, is a combination of Special Revelation and Natural Revelation. Nature informed them that homosexuality was unnatural, God informed them it was sinful. He informed them first through Creation and design and second through Covenant Law.

I am fully aware that many will either deny scripture any authority or attempt to limit it. Therefore, I often appeal to Nature (Natural Theology). Many homosexuals who deny the full-authority of scripture often adopt a form of Darwinian evolution. The adoption of evolution seems to actually weaken their argument that their proclivities are genetic. Evolution, with its only driving force being reproductive efficiency, would obviously view homosexuality as a threat and eradicate it.

I do not deny the powerful feelings that homosexuals and heterosexuals alike possess, but scripture is clear. We are called to be lord over our bodies, not have our bodies be lord over us. When both groups simply live by their feelings and urges, they are no different then the ancient pagans.

stevenstarkmusic said...

Ray,

I don't find the "unnatural" arguments compelling. To me, they would just as likely rule out birth control, airplanes, drinking diet soda, etc. as homosexual sex. These are all variations on the "original" usage of our bodies as sculpted by natural selection.

Also, claiming that the fitness of certain traits, in term of natural selection, reflects on their morality is a naturalistic fallacy. If I kill the children of others, or live a wildly promiscuous life, it may contribute to the preservation of my genes in future generations - my genetic fitness - but that does not make it the right thing to do.

But I do appreciate an attempt at a natural arguments, else we are only left with a legalistic, authoritarian view of Scripture.

What I meant about Paul's knowledge of homosexuality is that he did not know its biological origin, that certain people are born with that tendency, either genetically, or more likely from their in utero experience (younger male siblings are much more likely to be born homosexuals, possibly because of exposure to different levels of hormones").

Ray said...

Thoughtful comments Steve,

First, if one holds to Nature as all there is, then the pattern of Nature becomes the standard of "natural" and any talk of morality is really just a way of saying "I personally don't like something," but it certainly cannot be construed as a universal. The pattern of Nature is clear, male-female organs are designed for one another. Anything else is unnatural.

Second, I am not clear on how airplanes and diet soda are similar to human sexuality and the proper use of the body. If we could separate emotions and feelings from the discussion, there would be no question that the pattern of nature is male-female and anything else is unnatural.

Perhaps Paul understand, to a greater degree, homosexuality to be a loss of control over one's passions. Which would be consistent with the Doctrine of Total Depravity.

Paul Carr said...

So what is a blog that is half truth and half contextualized, called?

Paul

Johnny D. said...

"The pattern of Nature is clear, male-female organs are designed for one another. Anything else is unnatural."

So well said, Ray. It is amazing how in our lost world that something so axiomatic has to be pointed to - yet - there it is.

Steven noted that homosexuals raise children "quite well." How did they get those children?

This is all so obvious, yet we have to complicate it to cover up our sin.

"Every professional medical organization has turned the corner on this and recognizes homosexuality as healthy behavior."

Sure they do. I disagree with the healthy part, but they are only recognizing what Scripture has said for centuries - that humans are marred by sin.

Wade Burleson said...

Paul Carr,

I am unsure of the intent of your generic comment. If you could be more specific, I would be happy to respond.

Anonymous said...

Steven

This comment below:

Bill,

I have many family members and friends who are homosexuals. Some are a bit "out there" in their lifestyle, and many are very, very conservative in their lifestyle - just like heterosexual people.


has absolutely nothing to do with what I was talkking about!

Grace in Christ

Bill

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

I would be very interested to hear of your ministry to homosexuals and any thoughts you have on an inner propensity (desire) for homosexual relations and acting out. I have often compared homosexual desire to an inner propensity toward other types of sin - but what baffles me is how some Christians have a hard time calling a desire to have sex with someone of the same gender a "sinful" desire. You seem to have a pretty good handle on the subject. No expectations from me, but if you get a chance, I'd like to learn more about (and from) you. Email at wwburleson@gmail.com

Steven Stark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Stark said...

Sorry, I edited my comment poorly and needed to fix it!

Hi Bill,

Sorry, then I suppose I don’t understand what you were talking about! ;)

Johnny D,

Professional medical organizations recognize homosexual as healthy because there is no compelling reason not to. There are studies upon studies of empirical data analyzing the effects of gay couples being together, raising children, etc. and there is no compelling evidence that it is necessarily harmful, destructive behavior.

Ray,

I realized after my comment that I was not showing the connections very well that I was trying to make. Sorry!

Diet soda is the exploitation of the sensation of flavor without the gaining of any sustenance. The sensation of flavor and the act of eating/drinking were created to sustain us. Since diet soda is not caloric or nutritious in any way, drinking it is using our bodies for pleasure in a way that nature did not intend. It is definitely unnatural. But is it wrong? Of course not! And why not? The reason is the same as why it is not wrong to have a homosexual relationship.

Airplanes - were humans created to be 30,000 feet in the air? No, it is unnatural. That is why we have to have pressurized cabins. But is it wrong?

Also, with sexuality, if we go purely by nature, then any form of sexuality would be wrong that didn’t involve vaginal intercourse. Yet that seems silly (unless you’re a conservative Catholic, that is!). Sex can be used for pleasure and to achieve intimacy in a relationship. Part of being human is expanding on nature’s original purposes. Look at art. We make dyes and paints out of plants and other natural elements, reconfiguring their natural beauty into new things that inspire us. It is not wrong.

And, as you mentioned, if nature is all there is, then what can we do that is not a part of nature?

Perhaps everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial. And that is the key to understanding what is sin and what is not.

Laura said...

This is a very complex issue for me. I was discussing it with my oldest son recently and said that it bothers me how some Christians try to use the Bible to back up their own preferences and opinions, even twisting scripture. There is an exhuberance about their condemnation of gay people, I think based more on their sense of revulsion than a thoughtful consideration of scripture. That being said, I approach this issue with the opposite inate opinion, in that I believe I have a strong tendency to accept homosexuality. With me it becomes more a necessary conforming of my opinion to what I believe scripture is saying, rather than a process of people using scripture as ammunition to arm their own pre existing prejudices.

I think that I have never read a more compassionate and respectful article addressing this subject. Thank you for this.

The quandry that I find myself in is this: I believe that homosexuals can certainly be Christians, but I can't accept their serving in leadership at church. So, is that assigning them a "less than equal" status as persons? I think not, as there are other prerequisites for leadership that many among us don't meet.

The problem is that you see very few balanced and sensitive articles that still call homosexuality a sin. Either people act as though all gay people are pornographic monsters, or you have the other side breathing fire at you if you even suggest that there is such a thing as sin in human sexuality.

I get a lot of flack because though I believe gay couples should be able to form civil unions, I think that the use of the word "marriage" is absurd and is an Orwellian re-definition of a specific term. So, both sides think I'm an idiot.

Just a few thoughts and observations:
1) Isn't it funny that the people who believe in Original Sin can't admit that some people might just be born with a tendency toward homosexuality?
2) Do these anti gay heterosexuals feel that they have made a choice to be straight?
3) Why are gay issues and abortion always get tied in together? As if you can't deal with these issues individually? But...
4) MANY- and I include my older kids- young Christian adults, who are strongly pro life, are lukewarm to accepting as regards the gay lifestyle. The lack of articles such as this one may have contributed to that, I think!
5) Christians had better get their heads on straight on this issue lest we become quite removed from the society that we are to bring light to.

Doesn't it just make you think about the amazing nature of Christ that He dealt with people's sin with such compassion, calling out the sin but loving the person...It is often confusing for me, I'm afraid!

Thanks for listening.

Tom Kelley said...

The best message I have ever heard on this topic is by Billy Wight, pastor of of Palm Coast Community Church in Florida:

Sexual Orientation-Homosexuality, God & The Church

Eagle said...

They are going to be discussing this on Internet Monk today...

Here's the link....

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/al-mohlers-problem-with-grace

Anonymous said...

"just as people are born with the tendency (desire) to have sex with married people, children"

I've always thought of paedophiles as people who have freely chosen their perversion because they enjoy the feeling of power that they get from molesting people who are so much smaller and weaker than they are, or because being molested themselves as children has overwhelmed their adult sexuality somehow. I don't know if that's an accurate assessment, but I don't believe they are 'born' with a tendency towards paedophilia the way gay people are born with tendencies towards homosexuality. Do you believe they are 'born that way' to some degree, Wade?

Bill mentioned that he has a ministry to gay people and they are very unhealthy. I know several gay couples and I can't speak for the male homosexuals but the female ones aren't unhealthy at all, in fact they take very good care of themselves.

I don't know if a correlation can be made between being gay and being unhealthy, but even if it could be, we might look at other issues than homosexuality as being the cause of/related to the unhealthiness.

For instance, lack of acceptance by religious people, family members etc and internal confusion and lack of self-acceptance caused by being 'abnormal' may be factors in their unhealthy lifestyles, not the homosexual tendencies themselves. I think it's over-simplistic when some people say that homosexual orientation in and of itself is inextricably linked to self-destructive, unhealthy behaviour. I got the impression that that's what Bill was implying, and yet I know gay people who live healthy, stable lives.

Sophie

Wade Burleson said...

Laura,

Your comment is one of the best ever on this site in my opinion. 100% agreement.

Wade Burleson said...

Eagle,

I look forward to the discussion at IMonk. I imagine many will disagree with me.

I have such a high view of forgiveness that is in the cross that I believe those who trust in Christ DO NOT NEED TO BE ASHAMED WITH THEIR SIN AND STRUGGLES. If you struggle with same-sex desires-say it. If you struggle with desire for heterosexual adultery-say it. You find forgiveness in Christ when you acknowledge your sin.

The tendency for us to try to hide our sins, ignore our sins, cover our sins, and pretend our sins don't exist, miminizes the cross and emphasizes works. I'm for the work of the cross, not the work of any man (or woman). So, I will continue to love the homosexual and the adulterer, but I will not hesitate to call sin in my life (and others' lives) sin if I see the Scripture calls it sin. And there is no confusion about same sex sexual desire in the New Testament (see I Corinthians 6:9).

Paul Burleson said...

I think both Laura and Sophie have both thrown a lot of light into the mixture of comments without the heat that is so often present.

No one of us has it altogether about this issue personally or with full biblical understanding of it as of yet. But the atmosphere in which we discuss it is to be that of Grace with eyes toward the One whose Work of the Cross is essential for all of us.

Wade, you, Laura, Sophie, and some of the others are helping with light, grace and that kind of discussion.

Thanks.

Dad

Eagle said...

For the recorc let me state that I am deeply bothered by putting pedophilia and homosexuality in the same catagory. That really troubles me deeply. It's apples and oranges.

Wade, I know what you are saying about being open about sin. But lets be honest. Christianity is a faith system for the perfect. It's for the elite, self-rightous, those with nice picture perfect families and clean counter tops in the kitchen.

I know what you'll say about Jesus and sinners. I also am familar with how in the Bible the most broken didn't have a problem following Jesus. However there is a dichotomy today by Christians among sin. They are in denial about their own sin while hammering and chasing off those who confess. I leanred this the hard way. And this is why I don't know if I'll be a Christian again. I got the message...loud and clear. It's a game about behavior modification, living a facade and pretending to be a "new" creation. I've seen some dishonesty in my life...but the level of dishonesty it takes to be a Christian is in a league of its own.

That's one thing that bothers me deeply about Christinaity...it is a threat ot one's integrity and charachter.

Ray said...

Steve,

I think your analogy of Diet Soda and Airplanes is an Apples to Oranges comparison. Soda and/or Diet Soda doesn't exist until someone creates it. Created that is, out of Nature. Likewise with flight. Man was created with the capacity to create and design, human flight is nothing more than that. Sexuality, is quite different.

How do we arrive at what is natural? By observing a repeated pattern over time. What is that repeated pattern observable since the beginning of man? It is Male-Female.

Sexuality is about who we are as God's creatures created in the Image of God. Part of the beauty of God's design of humanity is that man is incomplete without his counter-partner. What is a counter-partner? For the male it is the female that completes what he is lacking and vice versa. What is the male or female lacking apart from each other? The ability to procreate as well as complete emotionally what the other is lacking. Does all sex need to be procreative? No. But this is part of God's gift to humanity; the pleasure of sex when it is done within the boundaries of male-female marriage. The pairing together of two organs; both representing life, cannot ever be equated with the paring of two organs where only one represents life and the other death and decay. Can personal gratification come from it? Sure. Just like personal gratification can come from all types of sexual contact, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether it is morally acceptable to God. Both the Bible and Nature say no.

Victorious said...

Ray,

"Part of the beauty of God's design of humanity is that man is incomplete without his counter-partner."

I don't want to derail the topic, but I'm not sure that an unmarried person is incomplete without a counter-part. What humans need is interaction with other humans; i.e. fellowship, validation, love, etc. These needs are those that define us and are not dependent on being received from one individual. In fact, I would go so far as to say it would be unreasonable to expect one person to supply every emotional need.

We know from scripture that not all find the need or opportunity to marry. We are not told under this circumstance that they are incomplete.

Johnny D. said...

Some really good discussion here - and I must agree in that it has been respectful.

My take on the subject, which I think squares with Scripture, has been reinforced via the comments.

Wade, your body of work on this subject has been helpful, edifying and educational for me. Thanks again.

Steven Stark said...

Hi Ray,

In your comment you said that humans do not need to procreate to have a moral sexual relationship. You also implied that man can expand on what is found in nature. I think these two ideas support the position that homosexuality can be moral.

The diet soda comparison is analogous because the complaint against the homosexual act is that the sexual organs are being used for "gratification" (as you say) and also to achieve intimacy, but they are not aligned in the way nature designed us to achieve procreation. In the same way, drinking diet soda uses the sense organs for taste for gratification removed from the ability of gaining sustenance.

And of course, if the possibility of procreation must be involved, then that makes many forms of sex that heterosexuals enjoy immoral as well. And that leads us down the Catholic path.......at least they accept the further implications of sexual limitation that the "nature" argument suggests, although I find their starting premises incorrect.

As far as the male/female emotional component, every gay couple I know certainly has a natural yin/yang aspect to their relationship. They are each other's support and each other's foil, which is just how a relationship should be, I think! :)

I also want to respectfully reflect on what sin really is. It is doing harm to our well-being, both individually and collectively. I think that making it difficult for our gay brothers and sisters to have the relationships and families they naturally desire, whether by standing against civil unions/gay marriage or simply stigmatizing what they are doing as wrong, is the sin here. It is easy to sit back, as heterosexual people, and make it difficult for others who are different from us. It costs us little to create the homosexual "out group". And of course this is because very few of us are gay. Maybe as little as 5%.

Let's live and let live, supporting caring, committed families, and worrying less about how people's private parts line up. Let's support the spirit rather than the law.

I am confident that you are all well-meaning,fine people, in spite of our disagreement here. all the best, Steven

Wade Burleson said...

Johnny D.

You are welcome. Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stanley is a rhetorically persuasive speaker. Over the last
few months he has also argued for
the acceptability of inter-racial
dating, marriage, adoption. This
item actually is NOT acceptable in
that 'old book' called the bible.

Mr. Stanley is Mr. Modern, and must
follow the line of tax-exempt groups
perhaps.

So, until the MBLA achieves their goal, he will not be for other perversities.

Paul Carr said...

Excellent follow-up by Scott McKnight

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/

"There was a dustup late last week stirred up by Al Mohler, who accused Andy Stanley for soft-pedaling when it came to homosexuality, and then Mohler ramped up the rhetoric by wondering if megachurches were the new liberalism. Denny Burk chirped up some support for Mohler. Then Rick Warren got into the act and told Mohler he was libeling thousands of megachurch pastors in his comment about liberalism.

CT posted a sketch of the story, and led it off with these unambiguous words: “His message was troubling,” said Dennis Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. “It was ambiguous at best. It was a total capitulation to the spirit of the age at worst.” The word “troubling” is the new big theological frown and it is used by those who have their theological ducks quacking at the same time. Burk then chased Andy Stanley down the slippery slope to total capitulation (at worst). That comment made me ask if he wondered what might have been the best read of the situation.

This whole story reminds me of two stories about Jesus and his Pharisee critics, two stories when he befriended those whom the others thought unacceptable.

One time Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee named Simon. (You can read the whole account at Luke 7:36-50.) A prostitute heard Jesus was at.....

(continued here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/


A reminder that it was the people who were nothing like Jesus that liked Jesus. Nothing like the person of Christ rattling the religious traditions of men and foolish doctrinal conclusions (ie. inter-racial marriages are sin....really) by pointing out that grace is found in sufficiency of Christ whether it be homosexuals in your church or an obese pulpiteers. Invite them in, let them sit, let them serve, let them commune, let them converse, and most importantly let them experience the love of true christianity.

Southwestern Discomfort said...

Thirty or so years ago, I was dating a guy who was very firmly in the closet. What we were told in those days is that getting married would straighten him out. Let me tell you what that leads to: a lot of pain and anguish, hiding and secrets. And this was in a dating relationship that did NOT end in marriage! I know people who ended up in marriages with gay and lesbian persons because that's what they were told to do, they had children, and when the marriages eventually broke down, it was inevitably a disaster. People talk about gay marriage as being social engineering--I'd retort that forcing gay and lesbian persons to marry heterosexually is a more perverse form of social engineering.

Wade, you know you're going to lose on this one sooner or later? Just as your fathers and grandfathers in the faith lost on preaching discrimination against African-Americans and interracial marriage over the pulpit, and your ancestors lost the battle for justifying chattel ownership of other human beings (again, over the pulpit and out of the Bible), you will lose the battle against full acceptance of gays and lesbians.

And I will be happy. Why? Because you are offering GLBT people nothing, absolutely NOTHING. You are asking men and women to be something they are not, so they can gain your acceptance. You're telling them to do something you yourself would not do, which is to totally turn off their sexual urges. (Unlike you, a gay or lesbian person can't run down to the courthouse in Oklahoma and get a marriage license and make their relationship legal in the eyes of God and man, unlike heterosexuals.) More and more men and women and their friends and acquaintances are saying, "Wait, that's flat out unnatural. That is too much."

I'm happy to stand with those men and women, and if it buys me a first-class ticket to Hell**, I'll gladly have my ticket punched, because I've seen firsthand what kind of evil comes out when one's sexual orientation is squashed in the name of religion. I may be a middle-aged female outlier, but I can tell you that the young people the age of your children, they will not tell you this to your face, but behind your back, they accept GLBT people as equals and as able to have consenting, loving relationships, just as heterosexuals are able to have.

**I don't believe in hell, but if there is a hell, I'll be glad to tell God Almighty to his face to send me there, because having a place where people are tortured for eternity is extremely offensive. If we'll punish people for crimes against humanity for prison camps, etc., why should we cut a god any sort of slack?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your open and honest comments about your own struggles. sin is sin.
Southwestern Discomfort doesn't know the God of grace and mercy,
who loves all and is not willing that any should perish. I regret that Southwestern Discomfort thinks hell would be a place he/she would spend eternity

Chuck said...

SW Discomfort,

Our society no longer outlaws homosexuality, which means your friends are free to engage in these unnatural relationships--even to drag poor innocent children each of which, by the way, requires a male and a female to produce) into them. In some states, marriage is even redefined to permit homosexuals to marry.

Wade and Christians can be expected to respect the laws of the land, and to show kindness to all kinds of sinners, including homosexuals. But kindly don't ask Wade and Christians to condone the behavior or declare it not sinful.

It's certainly a good thing that every homosexual's mother and father didn't (or, at least, didn't always) practice homosexuality!

Your eagerness to go to Hell for the sake of your friends needs to be re-thought. You'll go to Hell only if you, yourself, refuse God's loving offer of forgiveness through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

Rex Ray said...

History shows many great nations fall because they decay from within.

How’s this for history?

“He turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in the FUTURE to look back upon and FEAR.” (2 Peter 2:6 Living)

“God let them go ahead into every sort of sex sin…vile and sinful things with each other’s bodies…they deliberately chose to believe lies…their women turned against God’s natural plan for them and indulged in sex sin with each other…and their men burned with lust for each other, men doing shameful things with other men…” (Romans 1:24-27 Living)

The devil’s trick is to make sin funny. How many TV programs have homosexual actors that are funny?

Can the good go bad?

“There was homosexuality throughout the land, and the people of Judah became as depraved as the heathen nations…” (1 Kings 14:24 Living)

We see our government bending backwards to allow freedom to do evil.

Steven Stark said...

It is difficult for me to see how a person can look at a gay couple, living a happy life for years and years together, and call it evil.

It's hard to imagine Jesus saying, "nope, you were wrong to live a happy family life for decades. I really wanted you to resist your nature and be alone!"

Unbelievable.

It costs heterosexual people very little to call homosexuality wrong. It costs gay people a lot.

It's time to get past this. Surely, if we are to error, it's on the side of promoting love, acceptance, and the freedom to pursue happiness for families - not to obsess over private parts in order to hold on to some ancient holiness code. Surely this literalism flies in the face of the idea of freedom in Christ. Surely marriage was made for man and not man for marriage?

We must search our consciences individually and collectively, and not yield to the temptation of easy Scriptural authoritarianism - making the Bible an idol before God and what is right. Persecuting the "other" because of our discomfort, not because of any tangible wrongdoing.

Best to all, Steven

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,
You said, “We need compelling reasons to judge something wrong rather than a verse here or there in the Bible.”

I’m glad you mentioned Jesus. How would you reply to?

“And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. I tell you even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.” (Matthew 11:23-24 NLT)

I believe Capernaum will be better off than you on judgment day because you have rejected more knowledge of Jesus than they did.

They had the Old Testament and the miracles of Jesus, but you have that plus the New Testament.

Worse than that is the Holy Spirit that convinces man of sin—you’ve laughed at by you’re silly reasoning that it’s not natural for an airplane to fly etc.

stevenstarkmusic said...

"Worse than that is the Holy Spirit that convinces man of sin—you’ve laughed at by you’re silly reasoning that it’s not natural for an airplane to fly etc."

I believe what you are referring to is "natural law" - a combination of ethical intuition and reasoning ability used to determine what is right and wrong.

I implore you to look at gay couples, living together in commitment and love, and then look at your conscience to see what is right. Should you actively seek to make their lives more difficult? Or should you support families and a "live and let live" mentality?

My conscience is very clear on this one. The rejection of homosexuality is clearly descended from ancient purity codes, most of which are rejected by Christians these days. It's a holdover to the days of the Levitical priesthood - shellfish, clothes of more than one type of material, homosexuality - all "abominations".

I believe Christians have moved beyond these ancient rites and purity codes to embrace love and compassion as the defining morality code of God.

On humanity's march towards greater amounts of compassion and justice, I think you are on the wrong side of history for this one.

Search your heart some more - and I'll do the same. I'm sure you are a good man, despite our disagreement!

Best to you! Steven

Anonymous said...

You are sooo deceived. Paul nor anybody since needs to "understand homosexuality." Our God-designed anatomies clearly show homosexuality is a perversion of "Nature."
No amount of excuses promoted by the LGBTQ's can override that obvious fact.

Homosexuals love to dismiss Leviticus & Paul, & gloat that Jesus never condemned homosexuality. But he did. He was sent to & preached to "his own," which was Israel still under Law. They KNEW their Mosaic Law inside & out, including the ban on homosex. When the hard-headed Jews asked him about divorce, he asked them, Have you not READ (Scripture) that God in the beginning created them male & female & that the male would leave his father & mother & become one with his wife (the female)? -- The Lord didn't have to discuss homosex. They already KNEW it was forbidden in their own Law. But when Christ commissioned Paul to go to the GENTILES, who had NO law, it had to again be clearly stated (Christ through Paul) that homosex was still forbidden.

You can continue to deceive yourself, but suggesting the rest of us should dump "old prejudices" (Scripture) in order to accept your sin as "normal," is NOT going to happen. You can pick & choose verses to suit your homo fancy, but you are wrong & terribly deceived by the homo propaganda.

Anonymous said...

My homosexual-pedophile uncle was the eldest of four boys. More often men become homos because of the lack of a loving father figure (which this uncle admitted was true, his father was "ice cold & heartless").

People put way too much trust in the opinions of "science" & "medicine," both having been co-opted by the same anti-God infiltrators & social engineers who are establishing the Biblically-warned End Times Luciferian Homosexual Society. People who have already bought into the Lies are ripe for the "strong delusion."

And rejecting Paul's homo verses in Romans 1 means acceptance of the "depraved mind."

Anonymous said...

Andy Stanley dresses like he is going to Walmart. What a disgrace to the pulpit.

stevenstarkmusic said...

I can see that you trust your own anecdotal evidence concerning the causes of homosexuality more than empirical evidence proved again and again by the best attempts we have at reaching unbiased knowledge - the scientific method. I disagree with you, and so does pretty much every scientist and doctor on the planet, who are the people who have studied this stuff.

I am sorry that your uncle apparently committed terrible acts, hurting others. That is very wrong.

The point of law, rules, morality, etc. is to create the best lives for people. It's to promote well-being. Our understanding has grown over time and compassion and justice has grown.

The Bible is filled with old prejudices. Just look at the treatment of women as property in the Old Testament.

The letter of the law must serve the spirit of the law or else the letter should be changed. That's what the writers of the Bible did over time.

If promoting committed families, freedom and love is a sign of "the depraved mind", then I accept that term gladly. And up is down and down is up. Words are merely representations. I ask you to look at the spirit with which you and I approach this subject. The real threat to civilization is not how people's private parts line up. It's intolerance of people based on one's own prejudices - the first step towards hatred.

Once again, all these arguments about what is natural........hooking a patient up to a breathing machine is not natural. But we have decided that it is acceptable because it contributes to well-being.

Let's promote what laws are actually supposed to promote - love and compassion. And let's remember that religion's primary function is not to find truth, but to find security. So we should be careful.

Best to you on your journey! Steven

Anonymous said...

Saying *EVERY* medical org says homosex is healthy is a sweeping generality.

Try this 20-page PDF by John R. Diggs, Jr., MD, "The Health Risks of Gay Sex":

Google it, copy/paste doesn't work in blogger comment windows.

stevenstarkmusic said...

The health risks of gay sex. the health risks of hetero sex. the health risks of child birth. the health risks of leaving your house in the morning......

Everything is a benefit/cost analysis.

Anonymous said...

"People put way too much trust in the opinions of "science" & "medicine,"

the thing about science is that you don't have to "trust" it. They publish their methods and results so that you, yourself, can verify it.

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,

You said: “I implore you to look at gay couples, living together in commitment and love.”

I believe the ultimate joy of a gay man is to have sex with a man that is not gay.

“The men of the city of Sodom, both young and old…said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them!” (Genesis 19: 5)

The men were angels from God that would soon bring fire from heaven.

Also in Judges 19:22 “…bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him!”

In my case, I was a freshman in college going home for holidays. I had a bus connection from 11 at night till 4 in the morning. While waiting, a college graduate offered to share his nearby “suite” which turned out to be a one hotel room—one bed. That was no problem for a dumb guy like me as I’d slept with my twin brother my whole life. I’d hardly lain down and he was grabbing and saying he loved me. In two seconds he was saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry—you can’t blame a guy for trying.”

Your reasoning reminds me of (2 Peter 3:16 Living) “…there are people who are deliberately stupid…”

Or in the words of Elbert Hubbard: “Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”

stevenstarkmusic said...

Rex Ray,

My friend, I am not sure what to address. Your post is based on an authoritarian view of Scripture, anecdotal experiences divorced from broader empirical data, and a bit of rudeness.

I am sorry for the discomfort of your personal experience, that would make me uncomfortable too, but don't take it out on an entire section of society simply asking for equality and the same chance at family life that has been offered to you and I.


Authoritarian arguments are not compelling. "It's wrong because this person says so, or that person says so, or that book says so, or even God says so" ....if it is divorced from some moral principle, authoritarian arguments are the worship of power rather than goodness.

Also, I have shown that the "natural" argument fails. What is natural about a pacemaker? Or a diet soda? But we deem them fine. (actually, my wife hates diet soda, but that's another subject.....)

I will also argue that personal discomfort is not enough. I don't like dill pickle ice cream. That does not make it wrong. A generation or two ago, interracial marriage was deemed wrong, mostly because of discomfort.

Have a good weekend! Steven

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,

We’re not friends, but you call me friend. Why? Because, like a rattlesnake waiting for its victim to get close enough, your smooth words are nothing but lies.

Once a woman got my 8th grade sister into her home by being a ‘friend’, but my sister grabbed a knife and told her “You try to touch me and I’ll cut you to pieces!”

You lied when you said “Authoritarian arguments are not compelling. It's wrong because…God says so.”

HUH?

On judgment day you won’t be telling your silly arguments to God—you’ll be crying for the rocks and mountains to cover you.

By ignoring “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, your understanding is zero.

I hope you don’t have a nice day, but one so miserably you’ll ask God to forgive you. Then, you’ll have a nice day.

Steven Stark said...

Rex Ray,

I was not using the term "friend" in a sarcastic or domineering way - sorry if it came across that way. Without tone of voice, we all struggle in our interpretations in the blogosphere.

Perhaps I am not being clear when I say that "authoritarian arguments are not compelling."

What I mean by that is that power is not the same as good. Might does not make right.

God could banish me to solitary confinement forever, or torture me, if I don't obey him. But that doesn't make His command right.

First of all, I should say that I do not seek a God that is evil. Rather my trust is in the idea that God is better than our wildest dreams.

With that being understood, I have a question for you.

Would you obey God even if He was evil? Even if His commands were fundamentally not in the best interest of you and your family - forever?

I would not. But luckily, I worship the good rather than the power. I worship a God that is worthy of worship freely given, not one who commands worship out of fear.

That is why authoritarian arguments do not work for me. And that is why there is no compelling reason to treat homosexual families like lesser families.

Good is as good does.......or at least as good means to do....

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,

You said, “I was not using the term “friend” in a sarcastic or domineering way.”

I believe you in the same manner as the stranger who said “I love you” after he got me in bed with him.

You’re not the first to ‘judge’ God. Adam blamed his sin on: “It was the woman YOU gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

You’re god is no different from the false god’s of the heathen, since your gods exist as your minds conceive.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Steven, have you studied the word “gave”?

Jesus said, “It is written I will smite the Shepherd...” (Matthew 26:31 KJ)

“Smite” means kill, but a better explanation is when Jesus took our sins upon himself God executed him for the penalty of our sins and all those who reject Jesus as their Lord will pay for their sins in hell because God is just.

Do you judge God evil for killing his Son? He did because he loves you and me. We can’t fathom that can we?

servant said...

A lot of these arguments will have no merit if we will just read the scriptures. Forget our modern day church format and just look at what God says about the Body of Christ and WHO is to be served and WHAT they are to be taught. To fulfill the commission our Lord gave us, we are to do it OUTSIDE of our gathering if we expect the Holy Spirit to be present. We are to invite IN those who repent and believe the gospel and format our teaching to equip the SAINTS. If an unsaved person happens to be there, the uncompromising Word of God and the moving of His Holy Spirit is so powerful and present that that unbeliever will have the greatest opportunity to respond to the Holy Spirits tug. However, we do not format churches around the lost. We teach saints to go out and share with the lost.
Every time these issues come up and regardless of the particular sin(s) in question, we want to defend our modern day format of church. It is simply not the biblical format God gave us. He has commands centered around church discipline throughout the NT. Ananias and Saphira come to mind first. Then Eph 5, 1Cor 5, Rev 2. Yet we want to ignore these commands because our "body" is filled to the brim with the very ones mentioned in these commands. There is no way to fulfill them when we hold our traditions higher than God's word. So....we ignore them. We say we're just concerned with their soul. We tell God we know better how to evangelize than Him. We tell His Holy Spirit that we really don't mind if He's not there.....afterall we have an agenda.
To "get" any of this, everyone is going to have to radically change their perspective and not try to fit God's word into their beliefs or their seminary teaching or their 100 year old traditions, etc, etc.