It took me this entire post to figure out what I was saying. And it was the last sentence. But if you would like to speed up the process, here is the whole post wrapped up in two sentences.
Question: Should gays be allowed to be pastors?
Answer: No, because if a teacher of the Bible disagrees with the Bible, he shouldn’t be teaching the Bible.
There. Entire post summarized. But if you want the details, keep reading.
So, for the last two posts, we talked about the Holy Spirit’s ability to convict and form a person into a more Christlike person. In short, what should we do about the gay Christian? We should, first and foremost, trust that God has a plan for this person, and that the Holy Spirit is fully capable of convicting and forming them. After that, we should listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading in how we act and react. It’s all too easy to try to turn a homosexual into a heterosexual without the Holy Spirit calling us to do so.
In my opinion, our default response to all homosexuals should be to love them in ways that they understand and appreciate. By the way, I do not mean “love them for the purpose of eventually earning the right to tell them what to do.” We should love them because God loves them. We should want what’s best for them because God wants what’s best for them.
I’m not going to lie to them about what the Bible says about homosexuality. However, homosexuality doesn’t seem to rank highly on God’s priority list. If it did, Jesus would’ve said something about it.
“But Carson, Jesus probably didn’t mention it because a lot of His ministry was around Jews who already knew that it was wrong!” Well, I believe that the Father was leading Jesus wherever He wanted Jesus to go, which included often going into Gentile/Roman territory (on one side of the Sea of Galilee was a bunch of primarily Jewish towns…on the other side was primarily Roman towns). Remember the story about the demons going into the pigs? No Jew is going to raise pigs. That was Roman territory. And there were a lot of homosexuals in Roman culture. Thus, it would’ve been easy for the Father to lead Jesus into a situation where He talked about homosexuality. He didn’t.
So concerning Scripture, whether God sees homosexuality as right or wrong is very clear. However, the priority level of homosexuality is not very high…if it was, God would’ve repeated Himself more often. God REPEATS Himself several times to condemn idolatry. God REPEATS Himself several times on placing faith in Jesus Christ alone. God REPEATS Himself that eating Kosher is not a requirement for entering the Kingdom. As for homosexuality, God gives us a) an example in Genesis (Sodom and Gomorrah), b) outlaws homosexuality in Leviticus 18, c) an example in the end of Judges (the moral decline of the tribe of Benjamin), d) mentions it in the first chapter of Romans and e) a one-word mention near the end of Corinthians.
So again, it is mentioned enough to be clear, but not mentioned enough to be a priority.
So the question: Should gays be allowed to be pastors?
The books known as the “Pastoral Epistles” (1st & 2nd Timothy, Titus) are known for giving some details about requirements for a person in the church who wish to be an “overseer” or an “elder” (probably the equivalent of a senior pastor) in the church. Some of those requirements are that they a) must be a man of one wife (some interpret this to mean monogamous and not polygamous, while others interpret this to mean a man on his first wife), b) not a lover of money, c) not new to the faith, but seasoned, etc. In fact, here is that passage from Timothy…
1 Tim 3:1-15 (NIV)
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
Let us summarize it like this…in ALL things, pastors are held to a higher standard. They do not have to be perfect…for no one is…but they are still held to a higher standard.
So should homosexuals be allowed to be pastors? Some denominations say yes. Others say no.
My answer: No.
But why not? What makes a homosexual worse than somebody who gets angry, or somebody who is judgmental? How can you say that homosexuality is worse of a sin than the others?
One thing we need to make clear: I’m not saying that homosexuality is a worse sin than the others. Many people think that when I say that it rules them out of pastor-ship, I think so because it is worse than other sins. I never said that, and I do not believe that.
To start, the “man of one wife” requirement for pastors would rule out homosexuals being pastors. However, let’s say that we are in the camp that believes that this really means “monogamous, not polygamous.” What then?
Well, as we just talked about, the Bible is pretty clear about the wrongness of homosexuality. But instead of homosexuality, let’s talk about an even more fun topic…POLITICS!!! Everybody’s favorite, yes?
An example in politics
Let’s talk about the red side of everything…those conservatives (those are the red ones…right? I don’t get too political very often). Let’s imagine that a person is interested in becoming a Republican political leader.
Now, amongst different Republican leaders, one might find many different values. But there are some values that Republicans typically stand against…values that if this person held, they simply would not be a Republican.
Let’s imagine that this somebody wanted to be a Republican leader…they held beliefs that are very common on that side of the political spectrum…they are pro-life, anti same-sex marriage. They complain about illegal immigrants. They frequently gather together with other Republicans to enjoy whining about Obama and/or Clinton, wishing for the glory days of Reagan. This potential candidate does all of this…but then on ONE issue, they push for higher taxes in order to pay more to the unemployed people who aren’t looking for another job.
Would they be put forth as a leader of Republicans? No. On one core issue, they make a stand which is directly contradictory to the Republican position.
Or how about those liberals? A person wants to become a leader of the Democratic party. They seeth with anger at the very mention of George W. Bush’s name. They are pro-choice, and believe that marriage between homosexuals should not be hindered or prevented. Yet, on ONE issue, they stand against government assistance for people in need of assistance, believing that this person should go and find that assistance themselves.
Is that person going to become a Democratic leader? No. Again, this person publically makes it known that they are directly contradictory to ONE core issue that is central to the liberal position.
Now, quick side note…you are probably starting to notice how inept I am at politics. Good. I like to keep it that way.
NOW LET’S IMAGINE that the Republican candidate stands for family values…he is anti-divorce except for cases of abuse or infidelity. Yet, when you look at his past…you find that he has three divorces. Will this person rise to a position of leadership? I don’t know…but it is possible. Although he does not meet the standard that he presents, he still presents this standard as a value he endorses.
Or let’s imagine that Democratic candidate who speaks of giving more of our money to assist the poor…yet he himself gives nothing to the poor. Might he get elected? It’s possible. Again, although he doesn’t meet the presented standard…he still presents the standard as a value.
So back to the topic of homosexuality and the clergy…
I don’t really hear of any homosexuals that say “I deal with the temptation of homosexuality, however, I believe that homosexuality is wrong.” There are people out there who do experience this. However, they do not call themselves homosexuals, now, do they?
Typically, someone who calls themselves “gay” believes that homosexuality is okay. The Bible is pretty clear about homosexuality being wrong. So there is a contradiction.
How is this different from, say, the problem of a person being judgmental? Christianity is against judgmentalism too, right? Well, a person can have an anger problem, but know and teach that anger is bad. A person can believe and teach that hard work is important, but be lazy. A pastor might find themselves being judgmental at times, but a person that verbally says “judging others and looking down on them is okay” is not fit to be a pastor. They are teaching something that directly contradicts a core value of Scripture.
So I need to repeat loud and clear…I do not, and have never thought, that homosexuality is WORSE than any other sin. However, I do not think that homosexuals should be pastors because they are endorsing a sin as part of their identity, as an “okay” part of who they are. And while Scripture does not require perfection of pastors…it does still require a higher standard. And if one teaches what is contradictory to the main book of Christian teaching, why would you make them a Christian teacher?
Side-note: Do I believe that a person who deals with homosexual temptation could be a pastor? Yes. My issue is not with their dealings with sin or temptation…my issue is with their position on the topic and the beliefs that they put forth (beliefs that they are going to teach!!!).
I believe that homosexuality is not a high priority in the Bible…Christians have better things to do that try and make the homosexuals of the world heterosexual. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuals are qualified to be Christians, because the same blood of Christ that qualifies me qualifies them. However, I do not believe that they are qualified to be pastors. One must espouse Biblical values in order to be a teacher of the Bible.
So in short, I believe that homosexuals are not qualified to be pastors, not because I think that they are worse sinners than anybody else, but simply for the same reason that I am not qualified to lead the “democratic club” at Chemeketa. My values do not entirely line with the core values of that group, and therefore, I shouldn’t lead it.
One last side note…what makes a heterosexuality a core value?
It’s not, actually. But our belief on homosexuality is resultant of a core value: Inerrancy/Inspiration of Scripture. To be honest, I’m actually not too concerned with a pastor’s take on homosexuality…I am concerned with a pastor’s take on inerrancy/inspiration of Scripture. So there’s a cause-effect thing happening.
I am not against a homosexual pastor because he is homosexual. I am not against a homosexual pastor because I believe that teaching that homosexuality is okay will destroy a church. Rather, I am against a homosexual pastor because if a teacher of the Bible disagrees with the Bible, he shouldn’t be teaching the Bible. That, really, is the only reason.