Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons wants to know:
(CNN) What type of Christian are you?
Do you stand with Lady Gaga and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Mike Pence and Sarah Sanders? Two disputes in the last week between prominent Christians from the faith’s progressive and fundamentalist sides might help you decide.
Lady Gaga, a newly minted Academy Award nominee, called out Vice President Mike Pence over the weekend. His wife, Karen, made headlines for working at a “Christian” private school that bans LGBTQ students and parents. That didn’t go over well with Lady Gaga, who has been very open about her Christian faith and support for the LGBTQ community.
“You [Mike Pence] say we should not discriminate against Christianity. You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian,” Lady Gaga said from the stage of MGM’s Park Theater in Las Vegas. “I am a Christian woman, and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice, and everybody is welcome.”
It’s an important question, What type of Christian are you? For Jesus himself warned that “”Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt 7:21).
There are many who call themselves Christians who are not. And they will be very surprised to find out that they are not, because they have worked very hard to convince themselves that they are. They are following a Christianity of their own making, and a Lord of their own imagining*.
It is one side or the other. You must choose which side has done this. And you must choose what you are going to do about it. Your eternal soul depends on it.
Perhaps an easy way to decide, rather than throwing a few context-free scriptures about**, is to ask a simple question that cuts to the quick: Is everybody welcome in the church?
Today’s progressive Christian answer is that yes, everyone is welcome no matter what they do***. Real Christians enforce no sexual standards of behavior upon ourselves and each other, so long as whatever is done involves consent. I am certain that this is a fair summary of the liberal perspective, as the point of issue between Gaga and the Pences is that a Christian school decided that homosexuals and transgenders were not invited. In her Christianity, they ought to be included without reservation.
But what says the Apostle Paul of it? In the city of Corinth, we run into a situation where a church somehow got two steps ahead of our modern churches****:
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
…I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
— 1Cor 5:1-5, 11
Paul’s response to blatant immorality by Christians? Exclude and shame them until they repent or leave. And if they repent, we are to restore that person in a spirit of gentleness, knowing that we as well face such temptations (Gal 6:1). We are none of us perfect. That we do not always live up to our standards is not a reason to abandon standards.
Lady Gaga says it’s unchristian to exclude the sexually immoral from the body of Christ, Paul commands it. Only one of them can be correct.
If you are a Christian who believes that God holds us to a high standard of behavior – not just in sexual areas but in all of life, then you ought to know where you stand. If you are a Christian who believes, as the Church has since day 1, we ought to hold each other – upon pain of expulsion – to a high standard of behavior, then you ought to know where you stand.
Stand bravely, stand boldly, stand truly.
For there is one-thing that Graves-Fitzsimmons is correct about. As the title of his article claims, Christianity’s future looks more like Lady Gaga than Mike Pence. It absolutely does.
As Paul sagely noted, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Tim 4:3-4).
And is there a bigger tickle than that you can do whatever you want, indulge yourself in everything you desire, live wholly for yourself, and still hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
* God created Man in his own image. Man has been returning the favor ever since.
** I can match any liberal text-for-text, I am confident. Just don’t ask me to name any Grammy winners.
*** Unless it’s wearing a red hat, I suppose.
**** When Progressive churches rush ahead, they usually find themselves thousands of years behind.
Amen to all this. A good time to read Jeremiah, I think.