Mike Erre, a rising star in Evangelical circles, is sorry his movement has been so nasty toward gay people.
Over the weekend Erre, senior pastor at Fullerton, California’s First Evangelical Free Church, posted “An Open Letter to the LGBTQ Community” on Facebook:
I am a pastor and a follower of Jesus. I know Louie Giglio only by reputation. I have a great deal of respect for him. I have followed the news surrounding his invitation to pray at the President’s inaguration (sic) with some interest.
I want to begin by simply confessing the great deal of harm that we Christians have done to you in the name of Jesus. Our anger, hostility, and antagonism toward you have no place in the community that is supposed to represent Him. I am so sorry. Far too frequently we in the Christian community are rightly characterized as homophobic, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded.
I have several friends who are gay, and they have enlightened me to the heavy burden that many of you carry when you are rejected, mocked, and discarded by those in the church. Instead of offering helpful care, wisdom, and encouragement, we have often turned you away in disgust. We have done too much talking and not enough listening. I grieve this. And I know that Jesus does also. He had a very tender place in His ministry and priorities for those who were marginalized by the religious leadership of his day.
I regret that we have not been more faithful to His example. The church has lied to you in at least two ways. We have highlighted homosexuality over other issues in the Christian community. We have railed against homosexual marriage while turning a blind eye toward concerns like quick and easy divorce, premarital and extramarital heterosexual sex, greed, gossip, and anger. Our double standards have served only to highlight our own hypocrisy.
Some of us have also said to you that salvation or coming to Jesus means being automatically transformed into a heterosexual. I do think transformation is possible, but often we seem woefully naive of all the factors involved in this issue. As far as I can tell, one’s sexual orientation is not the determining factor in one’s eternal destiny. If my friendships are any indication, many yearn to follow Jesus fully and completely and yet continue to struggle to reconcile their faith with their desire for intimacy (sexual or otherwise) with someone of the same sex. We have failed to live out the good news of Jesus. Please forgive us.
I also believe that, at times, the homosexual community isn’t entirely truthful to you either. For one thing, the gospel of Jesus Christ announces that our desires are not our destinies. They can be overcome and placed in their proper context. Our wants don’t have to become our needs. Entrance into the kingdom of God through Jesus makes possible those things that, prior to Him, were thought to be impossible. We don’t have to live at the mercy of desire. Salvation isn’t found in self-gratification, nor is it found in unhealthy repression or denial. Jesus offers a third way.
One last thing. I disagree with those who think your sexual orientation is the most important thing about you. The most important thing about you is that, as a human being, you are made in the image of God. As an image bearer, you are a person who has intrinsic dignity, honor, and worth. You, like the rest of us, are also broken and bent toward what is worst for us. But the good news is that Jesus has come to make things right. He invites you into that redemption. Please don’t hold the sins of the church against Him.
I do sincerely ask your forgiveness. I grieve the harm we have done, and I recognize that if the church had done a better job listening, grieving, encouraging, telling the truth, and giving grace along the way, we would not be so polarized and alienated from each other today.
Since Erre posted the essay on Friday, he’s received more than 90 comments—mostly from fellow Fundamentalists.
One straight commenter wrote: “I have become increasingly aware of the double standard that exists within the church: Why is it any different than a straight couple living together out of marriage, or anyone who has an affair? Are these acts less sinful, or simply less ‘foreign,’ to our way of thinking? Sadly, this is the way the church portrays these situations.”
Another poster: “As a ‘gay’ person, and one who believes in Jesus, let me just say that its not all about sex. its about love. And if Jesus were to come back now, I think he would be more concerned with the starving children and the people suffering in war-torn countries than he would with gay marriage.”
And then there was this one: “I refuse to believe that God can’t or won’t change a person. Pure and simple.”
As our dear departed Grandma would say,”Bless your heart!”
What do you think? Do you appreciate Erre’s candor and conciliatory tone? Or is he a wolf in shepherd’s clothing? Weigh in below in the comments section!
h.t.: Good As You