It is Gay Pride season. Just as predictable as the rainbow flags and great music are the street preachers and condemnation. Some of these street evangelists present a “softer” approach; they are not bullhorn carrying or “sodomite” screaming. They arrive with smiles and slick tracts and smooth “Hey guy, I love ya” banter, but they too are destructive.
Their message can be reduced to: because you are gay or lesbian or transgender, you are a sinner and must repent or change so that you are acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life. They often think they are the kinder, gentler and inherently Jesus-like alternative.
My experience tells me that they are more damaging.
Most people ignore the God-militia bullies. You know the sort: grotesque repent, hell and “homo” shirts and tall banners with a list of those that God hates. The “hate” always includes gays, or a code word for gays — sodomite, sexual perverts or abominations.
Lately though, the smiling street preachers/evangelists are making their way to Pride events. They want to be your pal and then BOOM — the subject of sexual orientation comes up (they will call it sexual preference). The LGBT community is presumed to be outside the Kingdom of God or the reach of it until they “repent” from being gay or trans.
Because they are comparing themselves to the God-militia and often disdain the LGBT affirming churches and Christians at the Pride events, they envision themselves as the moderate and “right” way to reach out to the LGBT community.
I try, over and over, in person, on line and in blogs to let these street preachers/evangelists know that they are perhaps MORE offensive and damaging. I have a few years experience of witnessing the attempts of these do-gooders coming to Pride events and effectively hugging the LGBT community with knives in their hands.
Two years ago, Michael Brown led about 200 red shirt wearing, “love” offering, you-must-change messaging Christians into PrideCharlotte. It was wholly ineffective. I watched the website they set up for contact after the event. Each person that did visit it, was angered by the “bait and switch”.
In an attempt to communicate the impact before the event, I wrote the mission statement and intent of the “God Has a Better Way” invasion and asked how people inside the event might respond. I then followed up with a full report on the invasion.
So, I am soliciting the help of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. I need your words and thoughts.
For concrete example of the smiling, you-must-stop-being gay example of street preacher, I am going to use Pastor Steve Sanchez, Hope Chapel Christian Church, LA. He attended West Hollywood (WeHo) Pride yesterday.
I have offered to give him insights and reasons why the actions of his team are damaging, and he is not hearing.
So, I am asking others to relay to Pastor Sanchez and other street preachers/evangelists the impact of their actions. I expect interaction by other street evangelists and preachers. It could get hot on this thread. Be considerate. Those that have read my blog for years know the tone I set and maintain. Please honor it.
My preference would be that those of us that know how to love unconditionally and the faith communities that are fully welcoming to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community attend Pride events. Others, please stay away. You are doing damage. Don’t believe it, stay tuned and hear the words of those you condemn.
From this point on, I will use Sanchez’ own words to describe his intentions and impressions of WeHoPride.
Explaining why Sanchez goes to Pride events to apologize, he says:
That’s why I’m called to go there: to show love, to speak truth… and to apologize on behalf of true Christians everywhere. I will tell them that I am sorry that the Christian community has not demonstrated tact, poise, reason and grace to those who are in dire need of a Savior.
Don’t get me wrong. I will talk about sin.
Inevitably, I will be asked: “Will God send me to Hell because I’m gay?”
My answer: “No one ever went to Hell because they are gay.”
Immediately, the person softens and I’m able to explain that they have sinned by breaking God’s ten Commandments. They will be judged for lying, stealing, looking with lust, hating or using God’s name as a cuss word. I warn that if they don’t change, they will end up in Hell because God is just. Then I remind them of God’s incredible grace, love and mercy as demonstrated on a cross. That if they repent and trust in Jesus, who suffered and died on their behalf, was buried for three days and rose again, they can be forgiven.
“So you see,” I’ll say, continuing the conversation, “it’s not about you being gay, it’s because you’ve sinned in these other ways. Homosexuality is a sin, it’s just not THE sin.”
When I speak to a gay person, I will be firm, but gentle—just like I am to everybody I talk to.
If I’m asked about whether gays should be married, I will not shrink back from the truth that marriage, as God created it, has always been between a man and a woman. We should never re-define a term to fit our culture’s preferences. Civil unions? Why not?
I will attempt to shake their hand, even give them a hug. I will ask them if they have ever met a Christian like me. Someone friendly, concerned, and gracious.
I suspect the answer will be no.
What’s wrong: 1. God is a He. 2. Gay people are under God’s wrath until they they repent and trust in Christ, just like all sinners are. 3. This is not a church. A church is “God’s called out people.” Called out of the world, not the closet.
Addressing why his action is the “God-way”:
On one side I’m not hard enough according to some Christians. On the other I’m too hard. So, I’m either Westboro church, or I’m a flaming liberal. Good. That means I’m right in the middle, right where I want to be. I will call out sin wherever possible, in communities where sin is flaunted. But I will do it in a gracious, tactful, loving way. What can be more loving than to warn people of the judgment to come if they persist in their ways, and also, let them know of the love of Christ as demonstrated at the cross?
About this picture contrasting the God-militia and the affirming clergy, he writes:
I’m re-posting from yesterday to show the great divide we tried to bridge when our evangelism team went to the Pride
Parade yesterday. The top image is of the traditional “Christian” thugs shouting down parade-goers with anti-gay diatribe, protected by two metal gates and a cadre of sheriffs. Across from them, and just as wrong, were the gay “clergy” promoting false peace and assurance to those unrepentant and lost in their sin. All the while their loudspeakers blared worship music, and effectively drowned out the thugs. Our team quietly walked along the parade route, cheerfully handing out gospel tracts (about 10,000 of them), and having reasonable conversations with the GLBT+ crowd.
In defending his style;
I am an Ambassador of Christ as if God were making his appeal through me. If you’re not familiar with my style or my preaching, please go to my blog at Stonethepreacher.com. I am very clear on what my message is and how Christians ought to deliver the message.
Okay, there you go.
I am not targeting Pastor Sanchez specifically. He may envision himself as unusual, but he is a new breed of street preachers/evangelists showing up at Pride events.
I have engaged them often. I try to have conversations to give them insight as to the impact. Most often, they leave the event or tone it down and disappear. They believe they are doing good; they believe they are doing the work of God.
I have a quick way to assess God-work. Does it bring life and love or destruction and fear? I do not see life and love, fruit and any good thing coming from the you-must-change-your-orientation street preachers/evangelists.
So, go ahead and talk to the street preachers. They do not invest time listening; they do lots of telling and assuming. Help them to hear. Express your hearts, your pain and your faith.
See you at Pride.
Conservative Christians, you have gay and transgender brothers and sisters in Christ.
The church has told you for DECADES that gay and trans people are “broken” and can change. The TRUTH is coming out.
Please watch this on June 20th and begin to extend compassion to those you do not understand.