We can’t tell you how many times we have written, deleted, edited, abandoned, and almost thrown our hands in the air as we’ve worked on this specific post. But, as much as we’d like to assume the silent “agree-to-disagree” posture, we just can’t.
We absolutely love Brandon and Jen. We love their entire family, and they’ve been our friends for many years. They’re the kinds of friends you laugh and cry with, host supper clubs with, and vacation with. We love them. We always will.
There are also two other things we really love. 1) We love the holy, God-breathed Scriptures–the parts that are easy for us to accept, as well as the harder parts. 2) And, not in spite of our love for Scripture, but because of it, we love people in the LGBTQ community.
We’ve hesitated writing anything about Jen and Brandon’s recent announcements for two reasons. First, they are our friends and the last thing we’d want this to look like was friends being mean to friends on the internet. No thank you. And second, we thought, “Who really cares what we think? Why does it even matter?”
Here’s where we came to settle on both of those hesitations. There’s no mean-spiritedness in saying that their interpretation of scripture is wrong. Just because someone opposes someone’s viewpoint and states it on the internet doesn’t equate to “meanness.” We have learned so much from both Jen and Brandon on how to truly love people–all sorts of people from different races, nations, orientations, backgrounds and viewpoints. In fact, we can thank God for the numerous ways God has used our friends to love the oppressed and marginalized so well! And, Jen is so RIGHT about the Church needing to grow in our understanding of how to love and care for the LGBTQ community properly, as they have wounds from the church that are too deep to articulate.
But, the second hesitation is one that we can’t skip over: “Who cares what we think? Why does it even matter?” It matters, because, we are church leaders in our city and want to clearly communicate that nothing can change the fact that God is love AND God is truth. We can’t separate those, and when we do, we risk presenting a false gospel to the world—a gospel that points people to a god of our own making, rather than the God of the actual Bible. God is not ONLY love. And, God is not ONLY truth. He is both, and that’s what makes Him God.
God’s Word is clear and consistent when it addresses the practice of homosexuality, and it’s also clear and consistent on God’s intent and desire for marriage between a man and a woman, to represent Jesus and His Bride, the Church. To disagree with that requires such a degree of bending and distorting the original languages and contexts of the Old and New Testament.
This post isn’t meant to stir up an online debate, or punch holes in all the differences of interpreting scripture. We are fully aware that this teaching can be super unpopular in our culture.
Aaron’s friend Scott Sauls, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, recently wrote a book, “BeFriend” that has helped us with dealing with the unpopularity of this orthodox teaching.
“If the true relevance of Scripture is that Scripture shows no interest in being relevant–that is, it shows no interest in being adapted, revised, or censored in order to be more in tune with ever-shifting times–then the sex question is one that sincere believers have to wrestle with. We must remain countercultural where the culture and the truth are at odds with one another. This…is what will make Christians truly relevant in the culture.” (BeFriend, Scott Sauls)
So, this post is truly meant to say this — We love both the Word of God AND the LGBTQ community. We believe that the best way to love BOTH is not to condone or encourage people to pursue their innate desires, but to point all of us to a better way – the way of Jesus. That is, dying to self and trusting Him with everything.
We think of the many members in our church who experience same-sex attraction or who have questioned their sexuality, and are walking in holiness and godliness by following the original teachings of scripture. They have surrendered themselves to Jesus and the authority of scripture in ways we cannot even imagine. The road is hard, no doubt. And it requires an army of community to listen, empathize with, war with, and be present with. We love our brothers and sisters dearly, and thank God for the work He is doing in and through them.
So, what does it matter? Who cares what we think? It matters because this is not a moralistic conviction, it’s a matter of faithfulness to the doctrines that the Bible holds as truth. We will continue to hold God’s Word with the utmost authority. We will also continue to listen to those who have been hurt, and those with different opinions. We will continue to love our friends. We will continue to present the Way of Jesus Christ as the most precious and sacred thing in our human journey. We will do our best to do what God does perfectly – to be full of love and truth.
Jamie and Aaron Ivey