Earlier this week Trey Pearson, lead singer of the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, let the world know that he is gay. And the world celebrated. The celebration looked and sounded like it usually does. Trey was praised for being brave. The Church was mocked for being bigoted and on the wrong side of history.
I guess this isn’t the acceptable thing for a pastor in 2016 to say in regards to such news but here goes. Trey Pearson’s announcement disgusted me.
It disgusted me because I couldn’t help but think about his wife and kids. Writing about his lifelong struggle with homosexuality, Trey says, “I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.” Trey says of his decision to leave his wife and kids and come out that, “There is a weight that has been lifted, and I have never felt so free. I cannot even believe the joy and lightness I feel from being able to accept myself, and love myself, for who I truly am.”
I grew up in a single parent family. Divorce hit me hard at a very early age. Much of my professional career has been devoted to counseling families and children that have been ravaged by divorce. I can tell you with full assurance that the weight that has been lifted off of Trey, leaving him feeling so free, has been brutally placed on the backs of his wife and kids.
Trey talks about growing up in a conservative church where he was taught that being gay is a choice. He says that he later realized that his attraction to other men was not something that he chose. It was something he was born with.
Let’s assume for a moment that Trey’s assessment is true.
Think with me then of how many husbands and fathers have been born with a bad temper or a strong craving for intoxicants or a seemingly uncontrollable desire to have sex with multiple women every weekend. Should we then celebrate those dads for “being true to themselves” the next time they blow up on one of their kids, or score some meth or have sex with a few of the girls they met at the bowling alley one night?
The difference, you might say, is love. Trey made his decision based on love. His biggest crime is loving another man. The dads in my hypothetical weren’t loving. They were destroying.
Ask Trey’s kids whether they feel loved or destroyed.
The reality is that our world has completely distorted the word love. They think that it is one and the same with sexual pleasure. It is not. Love is the man who has had a temper his whole life but takes the time to work on it for the good of the family he committed to. Love is the alcoholic who fights hard against his natural desire because he knows that just because something is natural does not make it good. Love is the man who is tempted to sleep with his coworker but takes drastic measures to flee the temptation because of the commitment he made before God to his wife.
Love and sex are not the same.
For some reason, the sin of homosexuality has been canonized in our society. It’s the new 90-foot statue that we must all bow before whenever we hear the music of the culture droning on and on about love and expression and self-identifying. And those who claim to be Christians are all too quick to join in on the fun. We should not be surprised when the world acts like the world. It’s when the Church starts acting like the world that we should be alarmed. Much of the confusion in the Church is due to the fact that, because of a lack of emphasis on biblical preaching and discipleship, people claiming to be Christians have bought into the lie that Jesus never had anything to say about homosexuality.
And that’s true, if you’re the type to pick and choose what you want Jesus to say. If however you actually take Jesus at his words, all of them, you’ll see that he had plenty to say about homosexuality. He condemned sexual immorality as a condition of a sinful heart (Matthew 15:18-20). He spoke frankly about lust and we would be foolish to assume that it was only straight lust that he was condemning (Matthew 5:27-30). And he condemned the god of no fault divorce that our culture has so easily embraced (Matthew 5:31-32). To say that homosexuality is okay because Jesus never spoke against it is the same as saying that it’s okay to vandalize my neighbor’s Mercedes because Jesus never mentioned anything about spray paint or luxury sedans.
But still, Trey mingles talk of God with his decision to embrace sin at the expense of his wife and kids. And as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but imagine what Trey’s reasoning would look like if the sin of homosexuality were replaced with another sin clearly condemned in the Bible but not yet fully embraced by the world. What follows is my altered version of Trey’s words.
“I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other thieves before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me as a thief until I could come to terms with it first.
I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about being a thief, and how I was made by God to be a thief, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”
I do not celebrate Trey Pearson’s decision. No true Christian should. Our failure to celebrate will be classified as bigoted by the world and offensive by some who call themselves Christians. But we must remember how Christ responded when it was brought to his attention that his words could have offended the spiritually misguided Pharisees.
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:12-14 (ESV)
Trey Pearson is being led by blind guides straight into a pit.
But there’s good news. Homosexuality and divorce are not unpardonable sins. God’s grace is big enough to handle them. Jesus’ shoulders are strong enough to carry the burdens that come with them. Everyone of us, gay or straight, is a sinner by nature. We were born that way. But God, in his grace, sent his Son so that his people would not die that way.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)