What would you do if you received a letter from the authorities that said:
“If you continue preaching the gospel and attempting to convert people to Jesus Christ, you will be sentenced to prison for an indeterminate period of time”? I know my response (or what I hope) my response would be. I would continue preaching until they followed through on their promise—and then I’d keep proclaiming Christ in prison.
But what if I received a letter that said this:
“If you continue preaching that homosexuality is a sin and attempting to counsel those with a homosexual orientation to pursue celibacy and/or healing in Jesus Christ, you will be sentenced to prison for an indeterminate period of time”?
Could I never again preach what God says about homosexuality and still be faithful in preaching the gospel of Christ? I mean is it really something worth going to prison for—sacrificing my cherished freedom, life with my family, further gospel ministry? I see nothing about a stance on homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 15. I know that I could never say, “Homosexuality is not a sin” but could I simply say nothing?
Help from John Bunyan and Martin Luther
John Bunyan had only been married two years when he was carried off to prison. He left his wife with four children (none of them her own) and the grief of having just lost a newborn baby. He was in prison for twelve years. He could have left any moment if he would have promised not to preach. This was Bunyan’s response:
If nothing will do unless I make of my conscience a continual butchery and slaughtershop, unless putting out my own eyes, I commit to the blind to lead me, as I doubt not is desire by some, I have determined, the Almighty God being my help and shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eyebrows, rather than thus to violate my faith and principles.
He believed it was more valuable for him to stay in prison and suffer (and his family to suffer) than to make a “butchery” of his conscience or to violate his “faith and principles”. I tend to agree. So did Martin Luther:
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the solider is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
Luther, Bunyan, and many others were able to see that some things which at first glance may seem adiaphora are actually part of the gospel. To refuse to name sin that which God calls sin is to sacrifice the word of God on the altar of political correctness. Such a rebellion is similar to heeding the voice of the serpent who cunningly asked, “did God really say…?”
If your ministry is only about decrying the ills of society and the sinfulness of homosexuality you’ve likely missed the gospel. The point of battling for the right to name sin is waged only so we can point to the balm for that named sin. If we win the battle of naming sin but lose the battle of proclaiming the gospel then we’ve only made the devil dance to a different tune.
Yet, I am charged with preaching the whole counsel of God. Part of that means being truthful about what God says concerning homosexuality. If it really is true that homosexuality is sin then it means that this particular sin (like all others) aims to dethrone God and ruin people. Therefore, it must be battled with all the power of the gospel.
If the battle to see sinners (of all stripes) drop their idolatries and bow a knee to Jesus happens to lead me to prison then to prison I shall go. (Lord keep me faithful!)
What say you?