Point of View: Lesson of Giglio controversy: none can pass on homosexual issue
by JIMMY SCROGGINS
Special to Florida Baptist Witness

Article Date: Jan 18, 2013

I am a Louie Giglio fan. Ever since I first heard him preach in a field outside of Memphis in 2000, I have been moved by his creativity, stirred by his love for the God of the Scriptures, and encouraged by his passion to see young people rise up and make a difference in the name of Jesus. His winsome voice has called the attention of American evangelicals (especially the young) to deeper worship and wider social engagement both here and abroad.

SCROGGINS
I was pleasantly surprised when Pastor Giglio was invited to pray at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. That pleasantness was short-lived as the invitation was evidently rescinded less than 48 hours later. Giglio was compelled to “withdraw” from the event after his biblical views on marriage and sexuality were “outed” by pro-LGBT websites.

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell (who was thrilled with the turn of events) pointed out that Giglio was removed from the program for simply “teaching the Bible.” Russell Moore, executive vice president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, observed that Giglio’s teaching on the sinfulness of homosexuality is firmly in the stream of historic Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. As a result of teaching traditional sexual morality, Giglio was unwelcome on the inaugural platform.

What happened to Giglio last week at the hands of the Obama administration is disappointing, but not surprising. Jesus promised that the world would hate His disciples. In America, up until now, Christians have largely been spared the hate. But the day for hate is coming and quick. The response of the secular press to Giglio’s “outing” was swift and harsh. When a compassionate Christian social activist like Giglio is called “an unrepentant bigot” on the editorial page of the Washington Post, times are changing fast.

All Christians could learn from Pastor Giglio’s gracious response to public presidential rejection. He did not lash out, he called the president his friend, and he used his withdrawal statement to draw attention to the issue of modern-day slavery. Giglio also committed to continue to pray for our president. His maturity models “Sermon on the Mount” behavior in the face of persecution. This is exactly the kind of response Jesus was calling for when He told His followers to “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile.”

It is apparent from Giglio’s statements to the press and to his church that he has intentionally avoided public comment on homosexuality for many years. In fact, the only available evidence of his views on the subject is a single sermon preached over a decade ago. I am sure that many would like to regard that sermon as a relic of an embarrassing past, like Strom Thurmond’s former views on segregation or George Wallace’s way of talking about black people. Presumably, Giglio could have issued a statement of repentance or “evolution” of his views that would have allowed him to retain his position on the presidential program. Thankfully, he refused to do so.

As a pastor I know that the young people in my church (including the teenagers that live in my house) love Giglio. They listen to him. College students from conservative evangelical churches spend millions of dollars to buy his music, download his sermons, and attend his conferences. He has huge influence. And those young people are watching this entire episode. This is why leaders cannot afford to avoid clarity. We can’t call young people to live and die for the Gospel of Jesus while refusing to be clear about basic Gospel implications for predominant social issues of our day. The Gospel calls us to take a stand on modern-day slavery. And the Gospel also causes us to take a stand on modern-day sexuality.

Believers should note that it was not Giglio’s tone, his language, or any homophobic actions that the inaugural committee and the secular press found objectionable – it was his beliefs. Go back and listen to his sermon – it’s still available online. The truth is that Giglio’s old sermon isn’t embarrassing at all. It’s sound, compassionate, and clear. It’s biblical preaching on an urgent topic. The man who preached that sermon was willing to stand for the Gospel and some of its most potent and pertinent implications for our times. All of us need to learn to preach like that.

In the coming days, all Christian leaders will be forced to choose a side on issues that flow from the Gospel – including biblical teaching on sex and marriage. Intentionally avoiding clarity will not do. None of us will be allowed to take a pass.

Scroggins is pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach. 

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EZgoerr (1/18/2013)
You say "None of us will be allowed to take a pass." yet you seem to take a pass yourself by not being clear on if/how Giglio has "avoided clarity". Why don't you come right out and state your view instead of beating around the bush? Isn't that what you advocate? Giglio did not retract anything from the sermon and did not even hint that his view has "evolved". What more must he do to please you? His stance is obviously crystal clear to non-believers, how much clearer must he make it to satisfy you? You may disagree with his approach but please at least concede that he is doing what he believes will be most effective for his particular ministry. Forgive me if my tone seems too argumentative or disruptive but I am fed up with fellow believers who choose to criticize Giglio rather than trying to understand his approach and support his efforts. - E Z, Denver, CO
hypernike (1/19/2013)
EZgoerr, please reread the article. Jimmy is not being critical, but supportive of Giglio's response to worldly criticism. Check this paragraph: "All Christians could learn from Pastor Giglio’s gracious response to public presidential rejection. He did not lash out, he called the president his friend, and he used his withdrawal statement to draw attention to the issue of modern-day slavery. Giglio also committed to continue to pray for our president. His maturity models “Sermon on the Mount” behavior in the face of persecution. This is exactly the kind of response Jesus was calling for when He told His followers to “turn the other cheek” and 'go the extra mile.'" He goes on to conclude the next paragraph by saying: "Presumably, Giglio could have issued a statement of repentance or “evolution” of his views that would have allowed him to retain his position on the presidential program. Thankfully, he refused to do so." In fact, the very quotes that you cite, were as an encouragement to the rest of us not to falter when faced with similar circumstances. May God continue to give us examples of how to respond to the issues of our day no matter the cost to ourselves. - David Atkins, Biloxi, MS
Peyro (1/19/2013)
My understanding is that he contacted them and declined the invite. There was no indication of him bring forced into it, at least from Louie. Although that is understandable. I appreciate your thoughts - my only thought is that you can stand and be bold for the gospel without making a specific issue your calling card. Nobody that stands for anything can make every issue their most visible stance. I don't think Louie would run from any issue. My understanding was that he didn't want to call attention to himself and the peripheral issues but to give the President his due at his inauguration. - Peyton Rawls, Pearl, MS
EZgoerr (1/21/2013)
That should read "Christian Leaders" I apologize for the error. - E Z, Denver, CO
EZgoerr (1/21/2013)
David, I appreciate the response. BTW I replied earlier but I think the post was lost due to system problems on my end. I did read the article, very carefully in fact. You are correct that Jimmy is very kind and complimentary toward Giglio at times. However, I think the criticism is subtle but it is there. I don't think Jimmy would deny it. I have heard others express this view more overtly, Jimmy does between the lines. It goes something like this: "why did they have to go back 17 years to find the sermon? He isn't preaching the whole bible!" There are at least three lines in this piece that hint at this view: " he has intentionally avoided public comment on homosexuality for many years. In fact, the only available evidence of his views on the subject is a single sermon preached over a decade ago." "leaders cannot afford to avoid clarity. We can’t call young people to live and die for the Gospel of Jesus while refusing to be clear about basic Gospel implications for predominant social issues of our day. The Gospel calls us to take a stand on modern-day slavery. And the Gospel also causes us to take a stand on modern-day sexuality." "In the coming days, all Christian leaders will be forced to choose a side on issues that flow from the Gospel – including biblical teaching on sex and marriage. Intentionally avoiding clarity will not do. None of us will be allowed to take a pass." I get frustrated when I see Christina leaders choosing to nit-pick Giglio instead of trying to understand, support, and model his approach. - E Z, Denver, CO

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