Albert Mohler has a terrific piece in Christianity Today about the latest tantrum over Tim Tebow. In case you missed it, Tebow backed out of a speaking gig at a prominent Baptist church whose pastor is known for provocative statements and for teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful. We don’t know all the reasons Tebow canceled the engagement, but we do know the pressure to do so was intense. The secular press can be as fundamentalist as any hard core Baptist when it comes to its orthodoxies.

And at present, one of the worst heresies is to be in the same zip code with someone who takes a firm stance on homosexuality. From the Giglio Imbroglio to the Tebow Tantrum, or even the Chick-Fil-A controversy before that, we see the new way our world works. “If you espouse views we deem intolerant,” the logic goes, “or collaborate with someone who does, we will not tolerate you or anything you stand for.” It’s the Ivan Drago approach to cultural persuasion: I must break you.

So someone needs to refuse to be broken. Maybe some famous Christian athlete or actor needs to do it. Maybe a famous academic. Maybe a well known musician or humanitarian. Maybe you will be called upon this week to give account for your faith. Give it time and most of us will need to say something. What we must not do is allow the world to dictate what is and what is not a socially acceptable view on sexuality. The world may do that anyway, but we can at least play a little defense by refusing to play the game on their terms.

The next time—and there will be a next time—some famous Christian is pilloried in the press for maybe, possibly, at some point now or in the past holding to the traditional view of marriage, I hope he (or she) will come up to the microphone and say something like this:

Thanks for coming out today. I’ll try to make this brief and get right to the point.

Some people are really upset because they think I believe God does not approve of homosexual behavior. Well, I’d like to clarify: that is what I believe. Like everyone I believe some actions are good and some are not. We all have some form of morality. Thankfully, on a lot of topics most everyone agrees. Almost everybody agrees that murder is wrong and stealing is wrong and telling a bold-faced lie is wrong. But on other topics, we don’t all agree. That’s part of life. That’s part of being human. We have different views on raising children, on religion, on sex before marriage, on marriage itself, and on a hundred other issues.

I’m a Christian. That doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone. In fact, I’m a Christian because I know how bad I am and that I need a Savior. But as a Christian I believe the Bible. I believe God is smarter than I am. I believe God tells us about himself, tells us how to be saved, and tells us how to live in this book. That’s actually what most Americans have believed about the Bible throughout our history. I understand that some people in this country don’t believe in God or the Bible. I understand that some people interpret the Bible differently. But I think the Bible is pretty clear that sex is a gift to be experienced in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. I’m challenged by this teaching too. I am tempted to sin in a thousand different ways, including ways that involve my sexuality. But if God tells me what’s right and wrong in the Bible, I have to trust him. If Jesus is really Lord, then he gets to the call the shots.

I don’t expect everyone in a free country to agree that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord or that the Bible is the inspired word of God. But in a free country I expect that we can hold to different views without automatically resorting to shame and ridicule. I hope that my fans will understand that we can still root for the same team or watch the same movies even if we believe in some different things. I also hope my critics will try to understand why billions of people all around the world believe what I do about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, faith, and marriage.

So the short answer to your question is: Yes I do still believe God designed sex for marriage between a man and a woman. And yes, I’m still accepting the invitation to speak. I don’t fault you for you doing your job. And I don’t deny your right to disagree with me in the strongest terms. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to let you dictate the terms of this conversation. I’m not going to be intimidated by bad press. And I’m not going to live my whole life trying to prove that I’m something I’m not. It ain’t gonna happen.

I’m a Bible-believing Christian. There, I said it. I’m out of the closet.  I’m not bitter. I’m not on a crusade. I just think it’s time to stand up and say enough is enough. I don’t like making people angry. But I can’t live my life to make you happy.

I don’t think I have anything else to say about the subject. If you want to know what I believe and what Christians are like, I’d be happy to take you with me to church anytime. I hope you all have a great day, because that’s what I plan on having now that this is over.

I don’t know exactly what Louie Giglio or Tim Tebow should have said or done. I’m not privy to all the information or behind-the-scenes conversation. This post isn’t about the past. It’s about what is coming in our future. At some point (and many points actually), Christians need to simply take it on the chin, not back down, affirm the truth, put in a good word for Jesus, and keep on smiling.

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141 thoughts on “What Someone Needs to Say”

  1. Paul Janssen says:

    ………and can someone not believe as you believe and still be called a Christian? The statement seems to imply otherwise. Or am I inferring it?

  2. Faithworks says:

    I think in cases like this, the KISS principle would work the best.

  3. Cristiano says:

    This reminds me of another recently controversy: fans wanted writer Orson Scott Card to be out of Superman, just because he’s not in the same agenda of the gay rights movement.

    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/orson-scott-card-superman-controversy.html

  4. Grant says:

    “The secular press can be as fundamentalist as any hard core Baptist when it comes to its orthodoxies.”

    I’m not sure this is the time or the place to take a cheap shot at Baptists Kevin and I think you could swap “Baptists” in that statement with any denomination yours included so I would remove that if I were you.

    Apart from that, it’s a great article.

  5. Lou says:

    It’s a no win situation. I hate the cultural battle here in the USA. I’ve been a missionary in areas of the world where large portions of the population never even live to get married. Where they’re mired in drugs, prostitution, crime, gangs, darkness and evil that is so oppressive that young people who live to actually get married and have a job are in a tiny minority.
    Yes, I think homosexuality is a sin. So what? Step away from the podium and stop fighting against media manufactured cariactures, and just get out there into the trenchs and minister to people.

    Seems like celebrities and a lot of publically recognizable pastors just have way to much time on their hands, having to publish a running social commentary every day railing against everything they’re opposed to. I guess there’s a place for it. But I have found that where the rubber meets the road is one on one and in small meetings of prayer, friendship and reading the Bible.

    Standing up and making some sort of proclamation of our positions on this or that issuse, no matter how well worded only accomplishes a little, if anything. Preach the Word faithfully and gather folks into the communion of the saints — to meet the Lord Jesus Christ and seek His face.
    (We need to stop reacting to media-manufactured garbage.)

  6. Greg says:

    Grant, I don’t think he meant “fundamentalist” to be mean. I’m pretty sure he meant it in the original, historical sense of the term; i.e., one who adheres strictly to certain baseline principles. KDY isn’t officially part of any denomination, far as I know.

  7. Paul Janssen says:

    @Greg: Kevin is a minister in the Reformed Church in America. He doesn’t hide that.

    @ Kevin — I can imagine a very different person making a very different speech:

    Thanks for coming out today. I’ll try to make this brief and get right to the point.

    Some people are really upset with me because I decided not to lend my name and my public image to the (name event here), because the host has gone on record opposing homosexual behavior. Well, I’d like to clarify: I do not agree with the host. Like everyone I believe some actions are good and some are not. We all have some form of morality. Thankfully, on a lot of topics most everyone agrees. Almost everyone agrees that murder is wrong and stealing is wrong and telling a bold-faced lie is wrong. But on other topics, we don’t all agree. That’s part of life. That’s part of being human. We have different views on raising children, on religion, on sex before marriage, on marriage itself, on how the poor should be treated, on how we should live as stewards of God’s good creation, on racial justice and equal treatment of all people in society, and on a hundred other issues.

    I’m a Christian. That doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone. In fact, I’m a Christian because I know that I have experienced life so much more fully since I began to renounce myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. As a Christian, I believe that the best record of God’s intentions for God’s people are found in the Bible. I believe God is smarter than I am. I believe that the Bible contains a record of the conversation between God and a chosen and beloved people: not only Hebrew people, but also those who came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah. As a Christian, I believe Jesus is that Messiah. Over the last century, some Christians have chosen to say more about the Bible, but I do not share in that choice. Christians interpret the Bible differently.

    But as regards my decision not to appear at the event, I believe that the Bible speaks clearly about the equality of men and women in the sight of God. I believe that is bears witness, and quite clearly, to the sexual ethics that prevailed in the ancient near east, between about 2000 and 3000 years ago. I affirm, and very firmly believe, that the bond of marriage is sacred. I affirm, and very firmly believe, that the intimacy that two people share during sexual intercourse can be a holy thing. I recognize that both heterosexual people and homosexual people live in broken relationships that do not reflect God’s intention for human love. The Bible’s teaching about the complete mutuality of human relationships challenges me. I have so often ignored its teaching, in a thousand different ways. Still, I hold my behavior to the standards that I believe the Bible teaches, because I believe that what the Bible teaches is reliable.

    I don’t expect everyone in a free country to believe what I do about Jesus. I don’t expect everyone to measure their lives against the teachings of the Bible. But in a free country I expect that we can hold to different views without automatically resorting to shame and ridicule. I trust that among Christians who, the Bible teaches us, are held to a higher standard than society, we too can hold to different views without resorting to shame and ridicule. My choice not to appear at this event does not in anyway mean that I consider the hosts to be any less followers of Jesus than I am.

    I hope that my fans will understand that we can still root for the same team or watch the same movies even if we believe in some different things.

    I also hope my critics will try to understand why I stand here, as one lone Christian, but not a lonely Christian. I join a whole host of witnesses to Jesus who believe as I do about the Bible and matters of human sexuality.

    So the short answer to your question is: I believe that human sexuality is a gift that God has given us so that when two people fully love one another, they can do so, not just intellectually or emotionally, but physically, as well. I believe that two men can fully love one another in a way that is pleasing to God. I also believe two women can love one another fully, and in a way that is pleasing to God. And, of course, as my spouse and I can attest, I believe that a man and a woman can love one another fully in a way that is pleasing to God. As I have said, I do not condemn the hosts for the fact that they believe differently.

    But I do want my hosts to know that, if the invitation still stands, I will stand at the ready to bear witness to my relationship with God, and I will gladly invite others to share in that relationship. I will not abuse their hospitality by making their event a litmus test on what the Bible does or does not say about human sexuality. I’m not going to be intimidated by people who claim that because I do not read the Bible the way they do, that I am somehow less of a follower of Jesus. I’m not going to trumpet my beliefs about this issue, but if asked to defend them, I will.
    I am not ashamed of the good news of Jesus Christ, whose embrace, I have come to learn over the years, always extends far beyond the people I am willing to call friends.

    You may or may not believe me when I say this, but I’m a Bible-believing Christian, and so are millions like me, who, quite frankly, believe that God is leading us to read and hear the words of the Bible in a new way. There, I said it. My agent asked me to back away from saying that publicly. He thought it would cost me too many bookings in the future. It probably will. If that costs me, and it costs him lots of money, so be it. I just think it’s time to stand up and say what I believe. I don’t like making people angry. But my life is about more than money. The most precious inheritance I have to pass down to my children is my integrity.

    I don’t think I have anything else to say about the subject. If you want to know what I believe, and if you truly want to understand the diversity that exists within the Christian faith, I’d be happy to take you with me to church any Sunday. And the following Sunday, I’d be happy to go with you to a church that believes very differently.

    I hope you all have a great day, because that’s what I plan on having now that this is over.

  8. Melody says:

    The TMZ spot with Jeffrees was interesting. They concluded that Tebow was being a woose if that church believed the same thing as the church he already attends. So it would seem that he cannot win with the secular press no matter what he does.

    So many people that call themselves Christians came out to slam him. Then so many came out to support him but slam Jeffrees calling him hateful.

    Are any of the people going by personal real time information? Or are they all going by what they have been fed in the press, the honest non-biased press?

    Isn’t that the same as deciding things based on gossip?

  9. Tim J says:

    Lou, I agree with your sentiment. It’s easy for us to focus on trying to answer critics or make accurate statements about homosexuality, and forget to do the work of the gospel. Unfortunately, if you were 100% correct, then Lou Giglio should have been able to participate in Obama’s inauguration. He has not made a public statement on homosexuality in 15 years and his ministry is all about ministering to people by fighting human trafficking. I anticipate that many of us will have to give an account of our beliefs, not because we seek it out, but because it will seek us out.

  10. Don Sartain says:

    Well said, Kevin. It’s sad to see people back down from what they know is right, even when we don’t know all the circumstances behind it.

  11. John says:

    Kevin,

    Very well said. Stand firm.

  12. Kevin this is a great and needed response. Thank you for once again being willing to take a stand and say what needs to be said while at the same time teaching and encouraging the church.

  13. Lou says:

    Tim J, true. Yes, with regard to Giglio. I’m with you there.

  14. Phil Long says:

    This sounds like what a Christian would say to another Christian when they are imagining that they are speaking to a nonChristian.

  15. Scott C says:

    “………and can someone not believe as you believe and still be called a Christian? The statement seems to imply otherwise. Or am I inferring it?”

    I don’t speak for Kevin but if I understand what you’re getting at, then the answer is an unequivocal yes. IOW, if you think it is okay to be a practicing homosexual as your second post implies, the Bible is quite clear such shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; cf. 1 Tim. 1:8-11). We don’t have the right to toy with the plain meaning of God’s Word. To hide behind semantic games or some convoluted theory about different hermeneutics is a dangerous game to play before God. He will not take kindly to those who know better (Rom. 1:32). This is not a game, the gospel is at stake.

  16. Scott C says:

    I mis-spoke. I should have said “unequivocal no.” Bad editing.

  17. John S says:

    Lot’s of nitpicking. I think the point is stand for truth, make up your own.

    My problem is it’s too long. The fewer words, the more effective. As a citizen of the current world I immediately started skimming it. Should be concise.

    What about ‘secular’ arguments? Evolution (or ID, take your pick) has determined it’s not natural or normal as a self-evident truth. And statistics show the gay lifestyle brings more partners (= less stability), more STD’s, and kids do worse in gay homes.
    Do we want to encourage it with incentives? Why not use these with ‘the public’ in addition?

  18. Paul Janssen says:

    Three comments.

    First, my second post was an imaginary speech of someone holding a different position from the imaginary speech envisioned by KDY.

    Second, you’re just begging the question (i.e., assuming your conclusion). You may well agree with Robert Gagnon’s interpretations, but they’re not the only interpretations out there.

    Third, am I right in deducing that you believe that any person who claims to be a Christian but disagrees with the traditional interpretation of Scripture passages on this matter are in fact not Christians?

  19. Jeff Baxter says:

    Great response Kevin! Well said.

  20. Jesse says:

    @Paul & @Greg:
    Is there anything wrong with being a “fundamentalist”? I would consider myself a fundamentalist.

  21. kpolo says:

    A fundamentalist is one who returns to fundamentals … rigid adherence to fundamental principles.

    I’m applauded and rewarded for being a fundamentalist at work – a fundamentalist engineer.

    I think everyone is a fundamentalist. It is just that some of their fundamentals ain’t that fundamental or stationary.

  22. Scott C says:

    @Paul
    No need to invoke Gagnon. This is historic orthodox belief. These passages were not even remotely in question before the advent of the modern acceptance of homosexuality. Just because some professing Christians like to contort the plain meaning of Scripture to suit the whims of the culture does not negate the perspicuity of the truth. Sorry, but you’ll have to try again.

    And yes, I will say emphatically that anyone who believes practicing homosexuality is morally acceptable in God’s eyes and that such individuals need no salvation from the sin of homosexuality, then I must question their own claim to salvation. Why? Because they have perverted the holiness of God and have made a mockery of the standard by which He judges us and by which He provides redemption to save us from our sins. I do not believe such individuals understand either God’s holiness or the gospel. They pervert both.

    Having said that, we need to love homosexuals as much as any other person caught in the grip of sin. We must present the same sin-shattering truth of the gospel to them as anyone else who is a slave to sin (i.e. all unbelievers). If we don’t, then we emasculate the power of the gospel. End of story.

  23. While I like everything Kevin says in his hypothetical speech, I don’t think we’ll be hearing something like it anytime soon.

    Unfortunately, in a sound bite world there’s little chance something so long and well-articulated could get heard.

  24. Cathy says:

    Thank you!! Thank you for standing up and saying it! As sad as it is, I needed to see how it was done. I am afraid to talk about my faith publically–social media or to unsaved/rejecting friends/family. The world is probably not shocked at what we believe, but probably more so that we are afraid to say it.

    Thank you!

  25. Michael says:

    @ Paul Janssen,

    Sure, you can disbelieve part of God’s Word and still be a Christian. There are lots of disobedience Christians since no one is perfect.

  26. Brianna Bell says:

    Kirk Cameron has publicly spoken his beliefs on homosexuality and received quite a public lashing for it. He is an example of a “famous” Christian who isn’t afraid to speak what he believes.

  27. John says:

    @Michael,

    Whoever says “I know” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him – 1 John 2:4

  28. anaquaduck says:

    Just like OT Israel you have the true & false prophets today. God’s call is to come out of the world,forsake its deception, turn to Christ.

    Coming out into the beauty of holiness means turning away from those things displeasing to God in our daily living. There is a consistant argument & strong warnings in the Bible against the practise of homosexuality amongst other things.

  29. anaquaduck says:

    I might add you dont have to be rich or famous…

  30. Lynn Gemmel says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  31. Paul Reed says:

    “That doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone.”

    Is that really true or are you just saying that as a way to candy coat things? You, who are a Christian who has repented and put his faith in Jesus is no better than say an unrepentant homosexual? If this is true, Jesus has some disturbing words for you: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

  32. Jim Plagge says:

    Paul Janssen…..I think you’re missing the point.

  33. Paul Janssen says:

    Kevin has a point. I get it. All i am saying — making a different point — is that there’s more than one way to slice this pie. Some assert that there isn’t. They’re welcome to their opinions.

  34. Melody says:

    You can confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead but if you do not repent then you are ignoring the very thing that Jesus said at the beginning of His ministry.

    How can anyone say that they are a Christ follower and ignore what He said and tell other people that it doesn’t apply to their sin? Where is the loop hole in the scripture for not doing what Jesus said?

    Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    Mark 1

    and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:47

    Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

    “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31

  35. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Pastor Kevin DeYoung: So someone needs to refuse to be broken. Maybe some famous Christian athlete or actor needs to do it. Maybe a famous academic. Maybe a well known musician or humanitarian. Maybe you will be called upon this week to give account for your faith.”

    (1) I hope Pastor Kevin DeYoung becomes that famous person who refuses to be broken.

    (2) Wouldn’t it be cool and courageous if Tim Tebow spoke sometime this year, and spoke Pastor Kevin DeYoung’s hypothetical speech into a real-life press conference speech?

  36. BrokerBeach says:

    @John
    You replied to Michael’s post by disagreeing that you can’t be disobedient and still be a Christian (in Christ) by quoting 1 John 2:4.

    I really hope my salvation isn’t based on keeping perfect conformity to the law. Already messed that one up because of Adam and I continually need that grace everyday.

    Might want to read the surrounding verses to 1 John 2:4. The part about Christ being the propitiation for our sins… not our obedience. And that the keeping of the law in those verses is an evidence of heart changed by grace.

    We can’t keep the law. That’s why we need the propitiation.

  37. Yed A. says:

    Thank you brother!!!

  38. Lou says:

    One other thing — I find it interesting that evangelicals are focused on commenting on Tebow and his words and decisions. I would have hoped that more leaders in the church, especially Al Mohler, would have paid more attention to Robert Jeffers’ brand of theology, which seems bizarrely step with The Gospel Coalition.

    Maybe Carl Trueman will comment??

  39. Lou says:

    bizarrely OUT OF step with TGC.

  40. Don Hartness says:

    “It’s about what is coming in our future.” Like, say, publicly proclaiming that one is a Christian? Soon…very soon…

  41. Alan says:

    Interesting piece. My challenge to you is to admit your personal role in Biblical interpretation. All too often I hear believers say “the Bible says” with an authority that does not acknowledge our shared interpretative history, and the diversity within the Christian faith. There are many devout, prayerful and educated Christians among the ranks of the Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ etc. who believe that taking “a firm stance on homosexuality” is beyond our pay grade. Jesus gave no such mandate to His followers, and quite famously re-framed those seeking to understand the law as he gave us the greatest commandment. Far too much of the Bible that may be fruitful for individual Christian edification, or even the edification of a group that shares accountability in a congregation has become doctrine shared with the external world in the form of public declarations. The assumption that every Christian would feel comfortable with a doctrinal stance that believes homosexuality is wrong is a faulty one. More importantly, however, the belief that taking stances on what is right and wrong is the job of Christians. In other words, if a believer looks at social-conduct doctrine and lives life accordingly, but earnestly avoids projection of that doctrine into the outside world in honor of the majority of Christ’s teachings, I think that is to be applauded. It seems as though you are encouraging formal stances that seek to define the specks in other people’s eyes, and beyond that specks in people’s eyes who may not even be part of your faith community (which is closer to the original context). Is it possible that the “stance” should be one simply of personal and private action, and that all the external world should know of people emulating Christ is unconditional love, that carries with it no expectation of changed behavior?

  42. Brian says:

    So now, after thousands of years, we are to understand God’s Word IN A NEW WAY? What a pathetic excuse to force ones view of sexual disobedience on what God has already clearly stated. Like anything has changed in the sexual disobedience catagory of man? You’re an enemy of the one true Holy God who rules and reigns supreme.

    In John chapter 8, Jesus explains to those who were supposedly following Him, that they weren’t really his disciples and deep down they wanted to kill him. Why? Because they had no room for His Word and they didn’t hold to His teachings, just like some of you.
    To the praise of His glorious grace!

  43. Terry C says:

    Great insight!

  44. Alan says:

    Brian,
    Can a believer live a life of sexual obedience and not make any sort of verbal public stand about the behavior of others? My point is less about what is right and wrong, and more about what Jesus charged His followers with doing in the world. Have you seen the movie “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” ? I HIGHLY recommend it. It is made by an Evangelical Christian to explore how Christians are perceived in our society. The movie does not delve in to doctrine, law, right and wrong, but rather asks honestly “do people see Christ in Christians?”

    I am not debating the morality of a behavior, that debate belongs in 2 places… #1 between a person’s heart and God and #2 in the context of accountability agreements (whether between individual or in congregations). What I am inviting you to do is to suspend this debate (making this public stand) because it is not something Jesus charged His followers. Keep morality conversations in the contexts where they belong and keep unconditional love that reflect’s Christ’s mercy where it belongs. It is just an invitation.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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