(Friday Church News Notes, August 7, 2015, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) -
In the brouhaha surrounding the public statements about an engaged homosexual couple participating in the music program at Hillsong New York City, Brian Houston of Hillsong Sydney said, “We are a gay welcoming church but we are not a church that affirms a gay lifestyle.” He said that Hillsong allows homosexuals to be members of its churches but not to serve in leadership positions. What does this mean, though, and how does it work? How can a church welcome homosexuals without affirming a gay lifestyle? On one hand, “old fashioned” Bible-believing churches have been doing this for 2,000 years, but this “old” model is definitely not where Hillsong wants to go. According to the Bible, the welcoming without affirming is done by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all sinners, welcoming all to repent and believe, and receiving as members those who do. It is very simple. This is what we see in the church at Corinth. The members had formerly been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners, but they had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). This is the example put forth in Scripture, but this “old” model presents a problem for emerging churches in that it requires plainly identifying homosexuality as something that is sinful that must be repented of, whereas this is no longer culturally acceptable. Today’s homosexuals are proud of their homosexuality. They believe that God accepts them as they are, and if He doesn’t, He’s the loser. They don’t want merely to be welcomed to hear the gospel, and they will not accept merely being welcomed. They demand to be affirmed in their lifestyle, and in truth, Hillsong is doing both by allowing homosexuals to be members without repenting of the sin of homosexuality and without a new birth experience that radically changes their thinking and their lifestyle.