The following is a transcript of Dr. Corey McPhersons message titled “Homosexuality: What Does God Think?” Highlighted quotes in red are followed by comments (blue text) from a Nazarene pastor in response
Corey McPherson’s Message, April, 2012, at Eastern Nazarene College Chapel
Corey MacPherson: Well it is good to be worshipping with you this morning. Thank you for coming all this way to our guests coming all the way to Boston and cheering on the Bruins on to victory last night as they begin their march to another Stanley Cup, and the Celtics, another NBA championship. And of course, the Yankees to another World Series. Thank you for-
Here at ENC, we have a Let’s Talk About Sex Forums, a Let’s Talk About Sex Committee and we even have a theme song which is kind of exciting, Salt-n-Pepa. But the committee consists of students, faculty, staff and over a three-year period, we cover certain topics addressing issues of sex and sexuality. And we try in a three-year time frame to get through the 12 topics so we can start again because new students come through. And at the beginning of the school year, we had decided it was time for me to preach another message that I had preached actually six years ago even before I was chaplain, I came to speak and preach. And I was asked to give that message again. I wasn’t originally planning to do it for NSLC but as the NSLC Committee was preparing and had asked me to speak, I had told them that we needed to fit this subject in. They said maybe it is one that should be preached at NSLC and it is on the topic of homosexuality.
Now I want to begin by saying this. If you are gay, bisexual or questioning your sexual identity, there are two things I’d like to say at the outset. And these very well could be the most important things I say today for you so please listen closely. Please know that you are loved, cared for and highly valued by this community. We are thankful for you in that you are part of this community. We recognize that we still have much to learn on how to best demonstrate and express our love for you but please know it is our hearts’ desire and prayer to love you as Christ loved the church. He gave his life for the church. And we trust that God will lead us to a deeper and better understanding of how to love one another. And second and most importantly, know that you are loved and deeply valued by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Please never forget these two truths. (Where is the call to repentance to anyone who is living in any of the above sins? What if the sin was drunkardness, lying or theft? Would we soft touch our standard of holiness with the same type of response? )
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we come before you as communities, communities of faith that seek to love like you and care like you, that seek to be faithful to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. And there are times that we are confused and questioned on what that looks like. I know I will be sharing some of those questions that I have today. But we pray that you lead us not only in this time of worship. We pray you lead us in all of our discussions that may follow. Be glorified. We pray. Now may the words of our mouths, the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
What if I was wrong? That is the question that I began wrestling with when I was a student here at ENC. What if I was wrong? What if what the church was teaching me all these years about homosexuality? What if it was wrong? ( He never really verifies this doubt he created. He brings a cloud of doubt upon the very church he is ordained to represent that it might be wrong and he is not sure and creates Doubt and confusion throughout the remainder of his message. )
It was over 15 years ago that I was a student here at ENC and a good friend who eventually become one of my closest friends had a younger brother who was very, very sick. In church one Sunday morning, we were told that his brother was hospitalized with pneumonia, that he would not make it through the week. My friend actually sang in church that Sunday. He stood right here. And praise the Lord for God’s grace and peace in such trying times with his brother being so sick. We wanted to be there for him. We wanted to support him. For later that week, his brother did pass away. And we went to be with him as he buried his brother.
Several months later, the two of us went to see a movie together at Braintree Cinema and I will never forget driving back from the cinema. We had just gotten off of 95 and we’re passing to Quincy Adams T Station on our right when he asked me, “Did you ever see the movie Philadelphia?” I told him that I did and he asked, “Well what did you think of it?” I responded by saying something to the effect, “Why, I thought it was good.” There were a few seconds of silence and then he said, “Yeah… that’s how my brother died.” It wasn’t registering with me right way what he was saying. “What? What do you mean that’s how your brother died? I thought he died of pneumonia.” “Well I didn’t lie to you or the church by saying that but my brother died of AIDS. His body could not fight that because of AIDS. He could not fight anymore.
Looking back on it now, I realized that it was there exiting 95, passing the Quincy Adams T Station on our right when my journey began in wrestling with God and what does God think about homosexuality. ( The bible is very clear on this subject) This friend was becoming one of my closest friends and he did not feel comfortable. He did not feel safe and letting me know and most of his friends know that his brother was gay and that he had died of AIDS. And maybe even worse, he did not feel comfortable. He was afraid. He did not feel safe and letting the church know about his brother’s life and the truth behind his death. Yes it was then I slowly began to realize when I was your age, I started to realize something was radically wrong [in the church] and something was radically wrong in my life and understanding. ( he implies the churches doctrine is wrong and that is wrong)
A few years later, this same friend, same one whose brother had passed, my friend had grown up in a Nazarene church, attended ENC and he told me he was bisexual. It wasn’t too long after that that he categorized himself as strictly homosexual. There were a group of friends that he shared this with and gradually over time it became quite clear that some of us almost outright began to affirm him in his gay lifestyle. He so desperately wanted us to approve of him as a gay man and he so desperately wanted God to approve of him. He was friend and I loved him and wanted him to be happy. ( if this friend of Corey had never been born again and forgiven then of course he was yearning for acceptance among people and God. However, the reality of homosexuality stands as an immoral behavior no matter what we think, feel or how we try to rationalize it)
The issue of homosexuality and what does God think now took on a whole new perspective for me. And I could not help but continue to think, what if I’m wrong? ( he could help to control what he thought about and stuck to the scriptural truth regardless of his emotional connections with lost sinners whom he cared for.) What if what the church has been teaching me has been wrong? He wants to be happy. He wants to be in a loving relationship. What is wrong with that? He wants companionship. Maybe my beliefs on the issue of homosexuality and what I was taught growing up in the church was wrong. (This is an indictment on the church itself as being biblically wrong in our stand for the past 100 years and all of church history. Corey here clearly is creating doubt to impressionable minds and also giving enough support for those students who are or who know someone caught in such sin to justify it to themselves based on the authority of this Elder not taking a clear stand against the immoral sin of homosexuality)
Several of us were now out of college and had friends in seminaries and many of those seminaries and the denomination they come from support and affirm a homosexual lifestyle. Meaning, they would say that it’s not a sin to live a sexually active gay lifestyle in a committed, loving, monogamous relationship. And that was new for me here.
And we soon begin meeting people and having gay friends who were in committed, long-term, monogamous relationships. I couldn’t help but think what if we’re wrong? What if I’ve been wrong? You can’t help but take on a whole new perspective when someone you love is gay.
I was gradually coming to the point where I was affirming of the gay and lesbian lifestyle. By affirming, I mean encouraging him and believing that an active gay lifestyle in a committed, monogamous relationship is acceptable by God. ( it is not acceptable and this again is false teaching) It wasn’t the Bible that led me to this as much as my experience with these friends and loved ones. Although it was not difficult to find respected biblical scholars and pastors who were also gay. (these comments to a student body at any of our colleges or in any of our churches is so wrong. He has not justification at all for his comments as an Elder in the COTN. Not only should a minister not affirm the lifestyle, but God’s word actually condemns the lifestyle and its sexual acts as immoral. This statement is nothing less or more then complete confusion in the ears of those who are not solid in the faith or who are not yet in the faith and therefore a false teaching)
In 1998, January of 1998, Eddie and I were married and this friend of mine sang three songs on our wedding. Though I was attending Nazarene seminary at the time, I was still moving more and more and more in the direction of affirming him in his lifestyle and homosexuality in general. Just because I was attending a Nazarene seminary did not mean I would have to become a Nazarene pastor. For if I was not in agreement with such a foundational point to Christian living, I knew I should not be a pastor in the Nazarene church.
It was a Sunday morning after, about six weeks after our wedding. We got home from church on a late- early Sunday evening and I got a friend, a call from a friend from Boston. She said, “Corey, I have bad news.” She went on to say that this very dear friend of mine who lost his brother only a few years ago, who sang three songs in our wedding just six weeks earlier had suddenly passed away. He checked into the hospital after having flu-like symptoms but the autopsy confirmed that it was not the flu that took his life. It was meningitis. It was completely unrelated to his lifestyle. My response was cold and awkward. It was a shocking statement and my wife of six weeks was standing there and I know it sounds terrible but I didn’t want to cry in front of her who my response was like, “You’re kidding me.” But it was not a joke. He’s gone.
That was a busy week flying back to the east coast for a funeral and memorial service in two different cities. The memorial service is in this sanctuary. A group from the Midwest were flying back to Missouri very early Monday morning after the Sunday afternoon memorial service. And my friend’s belongings were stored in another friend’s basement. So Sunday night, I went into the basement and for hours, I just kind of rummaged through his belongings which several friends had already done. I found some of his journals, his poetry which reminded me of what an incredibly gifted writer he was, and also reminded me of the eternal struggle he had been battling for years.
And the question that I was wrestling with the last two or three years was the same question that was going through my mind that night, but my perspective had changed again. What if I was wrong? What if I was wrong in my affirmation of a lifestyle that may be viewed by God as sinful? What if I was wrong?
So this journey took on a whole new perspective, a sense of urgency and frustration and yet the same question. It was a month or two later when I sat in one of our largest churches in our denomination hearing a guest evangelist preach a message on- I’m not actually sure what he was preaching on to be honest. But I know that in the middle of the message, out of nowhere, he made a “joke,” the highly [Indiscernible] [0:11:17]. He said and you know as it says in the Bible, God made Adam and Even, not Adam and Steve. It had nothing to do with the message and even if it did, a comment like that is not only not Christian, it is sinful. For any time we demean, belittle or degrade another person or group, it is sin for it’s not a [Indiscernible] [0:11:38] Christ.
And then as I was already shell-shocked by this statement, a large percentage of the congregation began to applaud. They began to applaud. And all I could think about, were my gay friends and loved ones thinking, what if this was the one time they decided to come to church with me? What if this was the one day they decided to give church a chance and walked in to hear that statement and that response? I immediately thought of the parents of gay children sitting in that sanctuary who may feel like they have to keep their son’s or daughter’s sexuality a secret, what must be going through their hearts and their minds? I sat in a Nazarene church on a Sunday morning in the midst of wrestling with this question of whether I was wrong in affirming my friend and his lifestyle, and I sat there thinking, “Well this joke is certainly not of God. That I am sure.”
Just to jump ahead a little bit for a moment, I do appreciate a few years ago, someone from headquarters called me and asked for my perspective on this issue of homosexuality as they were preparing a booklet by the generals on the church’s stance, and I shared that story, that experience, and I appreciate that they put that story in the book that went to all pastors in the Church of the Nazarene.
How do you respond in ways that are Christian when you see other Christians not living as Christ? How do you live when you are not 100% certain of what God thinks on issues of life? How do you respond when a family member or close friend tells you that they are gay and that they believe they were born that way because ever since they can remember, they have the desire of intimacy of someone of the same sex? How do you respond when someone you love says, as someone very dear to my life said recently, “If being gay is a sin then I do not want to spend eternity with God who made me this way and considered it a sin.”
See the issues change when it is someone we love and care for. Our thoughts and feelings change over the issue when it hits close to home, when it involves someone you love. So I found myself looking at the issue from so many different perspectives and angles trying to find [Inaudible] [0:13:51] And I could give you a detailed bibliography of scholars and pastors from respected universities and names you would know who are affirming of the gay and lesbian lifestyle, who are Christian seminaries and universities. And I could do the same thing, give you a detailed bibliography of respected pastors, of respected scholars who are not affirming.
Wherever we are on this journey, we can find people in the Christian church to support what we’re thinking and feeling, and so all this did was confuse it. And this is the place I found myself asking “God what do you think?” And that is why the title of the message this morning, Is Homosexuality, What Does God Think? Not because I feel I can give you the answer this morning but because that is the question that has been driving me since my friend’s death.
And I wanted to answer this question as best I could without the influence of someone else’s opinion and agenda. I simply wanted to try to wrestle through the issue as objectively as possible. So I went back to something I learned here at Eastern Nazarene College. When we look to issues of life and faith, we looked at scripture, tradition, reason and experience. We look to these four, these quadrilateral to try to see how God is calling us to live and be.
In the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline asserts that Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason. Scripture however is primary, revealing the word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation.
And I am so desperately wanting to take a drink of water as you maybe to tell but don’t know when to do that. So we are going to pause at this moment while I untap this bottle. Excuse me momentarily.
The Bible has been misused and abused on so many, many issues and agendas of those in positions of power in the church throughout her history. Scripture taken and being used out of context to try to justify a point-of-view or lifestyle is not new in the history of the church. Peter Gomes, Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University in a New York Times article writes, “The same Bible that the advocates of slavery used to protect their wicked self interests is the same Bible that inspired slaves to revolts and their liberators to action.” Let us never forget how the American Christian church used to justify slavery on the “authority of scripture.” If the church finally came to a better Christian understanding on issues like slavery, maybe it’s about time the church came to a better understanding of homosexuality. The oppression of women in the church and society was also justified by the use of the Bible or misuse. More and more denominations are now affirming of women in leadership positions ordaining them to preach and to lead. Maybe it’s time the church came to a better understanding on homosexuality. At least this is what I was thinking and feeling and wrestling with.
When I look to the Bible, I understand it to be the foundation of authority in my life and living whereas the Book of Discipline said which I just read primary revealing the word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation even though it is at times challenging to understand.
Many of you already know the passages of scripture that address or seem to address the issue of homosexuality. They are used as weapons to attack and abuse others so even if at times the passages quoted in the right text, it is done so in a manner that is demeaning and abusive. So I would not look to these tests. In fact, I will not quote them at all this morning.
So here is where I find myself. What does scripture and its entirety say? Instead of taking verses out of the Bible, what does the story of God reveal to us? What does it say about God and His people, this unfolding revelation of God, the story of God and his people? What does it say?
And here’s what I come to recognize and understand. When we look to the whole of scripture, all 66 books from beginning to end, at no point in 5,000 years of biblical history do we have even one gay relationship mentioned in the scriptures in a positive or affirming light. A homosexual lifestyle in scripture from beginning to end is always viewed and always referred as sin.
( granted it affirms scripture here, but many of the previous statements created doubt about this very statement above- Confusing to say the least. )
A book that was helpful to me at some of these questions when we also look at issues of slavery and women and church leadership, was a book called Slaves, Women and Homosexuals in the Bible by William Webb. In that book, the author helps guide the reader in seeing that though it is true that slavery and the oppression of women seems to be affirmed in scripture, there is a redemptive movement taking place or as he calls it a redemptive hermeneutic. In other words, you can see God working and moving and unfolding his plan, redeeming the culture and its understanding of slavery and women in society. Think of Paul in the Book of Philemon when he tells the slave to return home and he says, “Whatever this slave owes you, charge it to me. Not only that, I want you to receive him as a brother.” Now that may not seem like a radical statement to us but in that day, that was turning the issue of slavery completely upside down to have kingdom values. It was just not cutting at the root of slavery and the evil that it was. It was turning it upside down and redeeming it. And that is what Webb is saying. We see this redemptive movement when it comes to issues of slavery in scripture.
We see the same thing with women in society. We just celebrated Easter and as you know, the first ones to proclaim the Easter message were women. Jesus’ closest disciples were women. And over and over again, we see this redemptive movement taking place with women and scripture not only in the New Testament but also in the Old Testament, the Hebrew scriptures whether we’re looking to Ruth or Naomi or others throughout the Old Testament text.
Robert Gagnen and his book writes, simply put “Scripture nowhere expresses a vested interest in preserving slavery. Whereas scripture does express a vested interest in requiring a male, female dynamic in sexual relationships.” He goes on to say “There are a number of positive precedents and scripture for putting women in leadership roles. There are no precedents for endorsing homosexual behavior in the Bible.”
Ooh, and yet Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. And no you cannot assume a person’s point-of-view based on something they haven’t spoken about. It is a valid point to consider. Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. He did however speak of marriage.
(this statement again creates confusion and doubt. Jesus also came to fulfill the law and not abolish it and the laws of God prohibit homosexuality and therefore even if Jesus did say it, he also did not contradict it either. This is just more emotional verbage that creates confusion. )
Matthew 19 verses 4 through 6. “Haven’t you read the scriptures? Jesus replied.” Jesus himself going back to the foundation of the word. They record that from the beginning God made them male and female. And he explain this and he said this explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them forth. God has joined them together. It’s interesting in verse 4 that Jesus does two things. At least this is the way it stood out to me and it still does. He goes back to the authority of scripture and then He said they record it from the beginning. God made them male and female. He goes back to creation, to the created order of things. And God’s created order leads to this reasoning. Granted due to the fact we are born into sin and brokenness, not everyone will be able to have children, not everyone will get married. But the created order does create life. It leads to life. And again, though not everyone will be able to have children, not everyone will get married which Paul refers to as a higher calling because you can have undivided devotion to the Lord, it still means that God’s created order does have authority. It’s primary. It speaks to us. It’s not perfect. It’s in a broken world but it does speak to this issue. We must look to God’s created order and we must allow it to speak.
I look to the history of the church not just the Church of the Nazarene, the Orthodox Christian Church, the history of our Christian faith, and throughout the history of all the major world religions even not just Christianity, none of them were affirming of homosexual practice or gay marriage. And it is not as if this is a new issue the Church is wrestling with. They have wrestled with it before. And it has never- It was never affirmed down a large scale, and if we are to have the history of the Orthodox Christian Church be our guide and issues of life and faith, it is important for us to understand that through history and even today, a gay lifestyle is not affirmed.
So we have scripture, tradition of the church, and reason, God’s created order. All of these were eye-opening to me. But then we come to experience. And here’s where I struggled. It is when thinking about and listening to the experience, desires, and pain of those who are gay or questioning their sexual orientation that I do struggle especially for those who have grown up in the church. (Our students need chaplains with authority, conviction and victory. I’m not knocking transparency here, but honestly with everything already said this is drawing in confusion again. It’s a back and forth message without a clear concise deep seated scriptural conviction.)
Eight years ago when I was pastor in New York, I was on a panel discussion at Stony Brook University discussing same sex marriages. The student president of the LGBT group called me just a week earlier and asked if I would sit on the panel for the conservative point-of-view when it comes to same sex marriages. Now I was- We were pastors at a small house church at the time so I asked him what made him decide to invite me. How did he hear about me? I was kind of excited that my reputation as a pastor was being made known. And he said, “Actually, I’ve just been going down the phonebook to every evangelical church and everyone else is declining and I’ve come to North Shore Church of the Nazarene.” I told him “Thank you for making me feel so loved and valued. I appreciate that.”
On one side of the table to my left there were eight people that were affirming of same sex marriage. On the right, there was me and one other guy, and he was abusive. He was brutal and I was ashamed to be sitting next to him. At one point in the forum and it was in a large auditorium at Stony Brook University, every member of the panel discussion which involved parents who had children that are gay. They belong to an organization called PFLAG, Parent and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. They shared their stories and their hurt and their pain often at the hand of the church. Then others did. A mom with two children, she’s a lawyer and she talked about the challenges of being a mother and having a wife and the challenges that come and how they’re especially hurt in the church. There was a conservative gay Republican. Who knew really? Honestly? I was shocked. And he shared his story. And all of them were so pained. And as my, whatever this guy was, not my friend, not my colleague, whatever this fool is doing, I turned and said, “I’m a pastor of a church of like 20 people. I’m only here because they couldn’t get anyone else to come. I have real, no authority. You’ve never heard of my church. But on behalf of the Christian church, I apologize.” And something happened that I didn’t expect. Well I started to cry.
( again here is more examples of him lining up with approval of homosexual acts and lifestyle that leads to acts of immorality )
When the church community has been so vicious toward the LGBT community, people will naturally turn to community that accept and love them. And the depression I see in friends go through, loved ones go through, not because they’re being bullied as much though that’s something that I’m going to talk about in just a moment. But because the internal struggle that is going on in them of what they’ve been taught or what their family has taught them, of what the church has taught them, that internal struggle fighting against their desires and their hopes and their plans for life and this overwhelming feeling that I’m going to be alone forever, at least the depression and it’s sometimes for many, it leads to suicidal tendencies. And I struggle with it.
You may remember last year here at ENC, Dr. Stevenson wrote an article called Homophobia Kills. It’s in our school newspaper. And in one portion of the article, he even mentioned how our denomination, the Church of the Nazarene has statements in it that can come across and actually do come across as hateful. And the manual of the Church of the Nazarene on the issue of homosexuality, Eric writes, Dr. Stevenson writes, “Search the word wrath as in the wrath of God, one hit, one time in the entire Nazarene manual, the dreadful phrase wrath of God is evoked. Is it reserved for murderers, rapists, child abusers, heretics, [Indiscernible] [0:27:59]? No. That special phrase is reserved for just one group, those who practice homosexuality. I am concerned about both the overt and covert impact of this language and the deeper attitudes of which it is just [Indiscernible] [0:28:14]. How can God’s “wrath” be so specifically and narrowly applied? And should we be surprised to hear that people on Nazarene campuses and can I add, churches, expressing the spirit and force of this “wrath,” your homophobia and hate speech.”
This afternoon, the chaplains from the Nazarene schools will be gathering together for our development sessions and we will be working on a proposal to submit to the General Assembly of the Church of Nazarene next year to change the wording and statement of the wrath of God and other changes in the statement in our manual. We’re not changing the theological stance but the wording behind it must change. We will submit it to the church and hopefully it will it to vote next year.
( it’s very clear in God’s Word that wrath is the end result of unrepented sin of immorality and other sins.)
But I see the pain. I see the depression. I see the way they they’ve been hurt by the church. And here in this experience piece is where I struggle. I think the scripture is clear. I think the history of the church is clear. I think God’s created order is clear. But it’s this experience piece that I struggle.
On the other side of the table, one of the gentlemen was a gay pastor, Pastor Shane Hibbs who foundered and pastored the only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender evangelical church on Long Island which he started about the same time I started North Shore Church of the Nazarene. Shane grew up in a very conservative church in Ohio. In fact, his family and church considered him a liberal when he was a teenager and started attending a Nazarene youth group. Shane said he always knew that he was gay but fought it for so many years because as he preach in a message on a night I attended his church, I believe the lie he preached. I believed the lie we were told that homosexuality was sin. And fighting who he believes God created him to be, he really did fight. He decided to go to God’s Bible College in Ohio, a very, very conservative Bible college. And an act of defiant rebellion, one night when he was all fed up, he ended up doing something that was so rebellious they kicked him out immediately. He went to see to movie Sister Act.
The first service I attended at Change Church was a service of forgiveness. It was a few months after we met at the panel discussion. His church members are all from the LGBTQ community together gathered for a worship. They gathered together for worship to corporately forgive the person or people that attempted to burn down their offices or their enemy. I read about it in New York Newsday and was sure to attend to this service. And I was glad that I did.
Our friendship became a strong one. My wife and I quickly became good friends with Shane and his partner Mon. Edie and I and our two children Catherine and Logan had been in their home for dinner, and they have been in our home for dinner.
In 2005, in a bold step for both congregations, we had a combined worship service at Change Church where Shane suggested and organized, and he asked me to preach. We were both nervous but it was a wonderful evening of worship. Shane called it a day of solidarity, focusing on what unites us in Christ and not what separates us. We had a second day of solidarity in 2006.
Shane and his community understood that I was a pastor who is not affirming of the gay and lesbian lifestyle yet they still welcomed me and the members of our church. And visiting Shane’s church’s website this week, they mentioned those days of solidarity in their history statement as an important piece to their history. I was blessed to read it from their website.
In April 2005, the Long Island Community Fellowship hosted the first joint service between the evangelical community and GLBT community. The evangelical community was represented by the Church of the Nazarene. Our denominational magazine, Holiness Today must have missed that press release. It goes on to say “This was a landmark event as two groups that have often been perceived as incompatible set aside their differences to focus on the similarities that made each of them Christian. The day of solidarity was marked as a success as persons from both groups packed the sanctuary to see history in the making.
( this was an abomination to be in agreement with professing Christians living who were in direct sin according to the scriptures)
To ENC students, we’re going to go just a little bit longer. I’m wrapping up soon. The shuttle will wait if you have to go over to Old Colony so please if you could just give me a few more moments of your time.
For the first two or three years as chaplain as ENC, I had wanted to bring Shane to campus and he wanted to visit. We envisioned an evening dialogue where both of us would share a little bit about our Christian journey, our faith and our friendship. I thought and still think it would have been a good idea for the purpose of modeling friendship where our love and respect for each other was not in question. He was a good friend, a dear friend. It was our hope and prayer that we could model that here. But it was not to be.
( this is all clearly an endorsement to being a Homosexual Christian and homosexual pastor and we are to accept them as such. This is scriptural wrong again. )
Last year, the same week that Dr. Stevenson’s article came out, Shane while attending a conference with several of his church members passed away suddenly in his sleep at the age of 37. I do not regret trying- I do regret not trying harder in arranging to have Shane visit our campus.
You may have noticed, I have not circled back around to the question I raised just a few moments ago. Experience. How culture is so formative, how society is so powerful, how the pain and depression of many gay and questioning people I have met is so great, so great to the point they’re becoming suicidal, it terrifies me. I did not circle back around to answer those questions I have raised because I do not have the answers. I’m still wrestling, still trying to understand. God, why can’t you help and do more?
So where do we go from here? The picture on the screen before you is the only place I knew where to go. The table of [indiscernible] [0:35:19]. And this picture has cost me some friends but that’s okay. I made a lot more at Long Island Community Fellowship when they came forward and I said, “The blood of our Lord [indiscernible] [0:35:37].
(again this is a disgrace and clearly not biblical and forbidden in Corinthians by Paul himself. )
I have no agenda with my gay friends and loved ones other than to love them. We’re friends. We’re family. I am not seeking to change them.
( why not? If they do not repent they will go to hell)
That is not for me to change anyway. God is the only one who can change any of us whatever our issues or struggles maybe. So we all must live in a way where we trust that the Holy Spirit will give us wisdom and discernment in our conversations and our relationships in our lives
William Webb summarizes well where I am on this journey, where I hope the Church of the Nazarene is, and where I hope ENC is in all of our Nazarene institutions. Webb writes, “We need to live redemptively in our relationships with gay men and lesbian women. Creating a redemptive focus to our lives means that we love homosexual people as ourselves. It means that we treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with the same kind of grace, respect, care and compassion with which we want to be treated.
(First of all the bible is clear that if we walk in sin we do not have fellowship with the Father and are backslidden if we had known the Lord. Second of all Corey calls them brothers and sisters. Unless someone is biologically one’s sibling then only those who are redeemed by the Blood of the lamb are given the status as our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Corey implies that homosexual people are our brothers and sisters because they believe in Jesus even though they are still walking in the sin of immorality. This is wrong , unbiblical and a false teaching according to 1 Corinthians 5 :9-11)
It means that we fight alongside of them against hateful actions aimed at their community. It means all of the above even if we do not agree with their sexual ethics.
(the bible says we should not associate with them let alone fight alongside with them if they are those who once professed Christ and now are immoral) .
In the final analysis, each will determine whatever course of action he or she deems best for his or her life. However a difference of perspective does not mean that the Christian community should be silent about their sexual ethic. Caring for people includes seeking their very best whatever that may entail. The Christian community needs to lovingly persuade all people towards a sexual ethic that is in their best interest even if those with whom we dialogue never comes to our conclusions. Of course, such dialogue is of little or no value unless it takes place in a context of genuine friendships where the matter of love and respect is not in question. My prayer is that I, that we all live with this redemptive focus. Maybe if more Christians on all sides of the issue live with a redemptive focus, the love of the Father and the grace of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit would be made more manifest in our lives in churches and schools and ways we never imagined. May we live with that redemptive focus.”
So allow me to conclude with the way that I began. If you’re sitting here at ENC who is gay, bisexual or questioning your sexual orientation, there are two things I’d like to share with you. Please know that you are loved, cared for, and highly valued by this community. We are thankful for you and that you are part of our community. We recognize that we still have much to learn on how to best demonstrate and express our love for you and everyone else. Please know it’s our heart’s desire and prayer to love you as Christ loved the church where He gave His life for the church. And we trust that God will lead us to a deeper and better understanding of how to love one another. And though this may be difficult to hear and understand, I have come to the place in my journey, though still with many questions, that because of my love for you, I cannot affirm or disciple you in a direction I do not believe to be of God.
If you allow my friend Shane to be my advocate, please know that we could still have a deep, loving friendship and relationship if you wish to do so. Second and most importantly, know that you are loved and deeply valued by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we all live with this Christ-like redemptive focus. Please never forget these two truths. Let us pray.
Show us how to love Lord. Show us how to love more like you through the questions and through the confusion, through the doubts and through the struggles, through the pain and sorrow and grief and heartbreak, through the depression, through the frustration. Show us how to love like you. May the prayer of our lives be more. Take our lives and let them be consecrated, Lord to be. We pray these things now in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen. And amen. We love you.
You have quoted me incorrectly in the last sentence of the third to last paragraph. What I actually said was:
“I have come to the place in my journey, though still with many questions, that because of my love for you, I cannot affirm or disciple you in a direction I do not believe to be of God.”
I ask that you please make that correction.
For your readers that would like to listen to the full message, they can do so by going to the following link and clicking the April 13, 2012 message:
Grace and Peace,
Chaplain of the College
Eastern Nazarene College
Done, thank you for the correction.
Dr. Corey states, “I found myself asking “God what do you think?” And that is why the title of the message this morning, Is Homosexuality, What Does God Think?” In his attempt to answer, he goes back to something he learned at ENC as a student to look to the issues of life and faith, “we looked at scripture, tradition, reason and experience to see how God is calling us to live and be.”
In support of the quad method of proof, he states the Methodist Book of Discipline. “In the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline asserts that Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in scripture, illuminated by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason. Scripture however is primary, revealing the word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation.”
In expressing his perception of the churches reluctance, to change the wording, concerning the wrath of God Dr. Corey says, “But I see the pain. I see the depression. I see the way they they’ve been hurt by the church. And here in this experience piece is where I struggle. I think the scripture is clear. I think the history of the church is clear. I think God’s created order is clear. But it’s this experience piece that I struggle.” I am not sure which experiences his struggle references in the statement “It’s this experience piece that I struggle.” Is it his experience, or as a friend of the homosexual, or both.
Experience is a great teacher when properly connected to scripture. When applying Wesley’s Quadrilateral to reach a conclusion each needs examining in balance with the others. Wesley believed scripture to be the core of our Christian faith. He further believed that none of the other three apart from scripture be viewed as equal or on authority with scripture. He did not believe that any be taken in isolation without the balancing effect of the others. In other words, scripture will have authority over tradition, experience, and reason when applied together.
Here is his reasoning: Scripture is to be the first test of authority whereby all other truth is tested. Tradition passes through many hands in a succession of the ages and often weakened. Let it have its place, it is serviceable in its kind and degree. Reason, he states “without reason we cannot understand the essentials of scripture.” The Holy Spirit must assist reason, if we are to understand the mysteries of God. Last Experience, Wesley insisted that, “we cannot have reasonable assurance of something unless we have experienced it personally.” In conclusion, Wesley experienced in his own life both justification and sanctification based upon scripture. It is not what someone experiences, but rather what we experience backed up by scripture that counts in the end. I might add others experiences may be helpful as long as Biblically based.
Homosexual activity cannot be a biblical accepted life style in any form, or a claim to be confused about the issue as some profess today. The Bible is clear upon the subject and the church is failing in their God called responsibility if we compromise His truth. The greater danger we are paving the way to hell by not taking a clear stand (in love) against such activity. Yes, we are to love the sinner, but not condone the sin.
I am looking into the beliefs of the Nazarene Church because my daughter is most likely about to attend PLNU. My family has been loving and serving the Lord for decades, and I want my daughter to be encouraged to live in grace and truth. I hear love and authenticity in Corey’s words, I hear only Pharisaical self-righteousness from the pastor speaking the words in blue. Apparently he doesn’t hear himself as the noisy gong I hear in his words. Yes, scripture holds all authority. That includes “the greatest of these is love.” If Corey is more typical of the Nazarene Church’s viewpoint, I am happy to send my child to a NU. But if the other man is, not so much.
What you said is very concerning. It seems that you approve of Corey’s affirmation of a lifestyle that is clearly sinful. And to send your daughter to PLNU is pretty much a guarantee that she will be in a very dangerous environment- with promotion of emergent church ideology, mysticism, and also affirmation of the gay lifestyle. If that is what you want for your daughter, its your choice. But that’s what she will get.
For further reference about PLNU’s environment of promotion or tolerance of homosexual sin, here are a few accounts to read and prayerfully consider:
All articles referencing PLNU:
It is dangerous to stumble around trying to decide for yourself what God thinks. Stick with the scripture!
I’m concerned that allowing the LGBT camel to put it’s nose under the University tent is the wrong thing to do. As a parent of a student at one of our universities, I’m not indebting myself for the rest of my life to give her worldly indoctrination, but education based on morals and values.
Reading this is, sadly, one of the many reasons that at age 47 I am an atheist. I was raised in a christian household and attended church weekly and attended a parochial school for part of my childhood. I always had questions that were never answered to my satisfaction, and I turned my back on religion and any deity a very long time ago. The sheer hatefulness I have found in supposedly “christian” people is astonishing. What people do in their bedrooms has NO effect on you. Who other people marry has no effect on your marriage. Sadly, more wars and deaths and man’s inhumanity to fellow man – ALL of this is usually done because of a struggle of whose invisible man is better. Sickening and sad.
I am sorry that you are an atheist. frankly, I believe that takes a whole lot more faith to believe that God does not exist, than to believe in God.
If you could understand what Jesus Christ requires of a true Christian, you would understand what we do here better. We are told by Jesus that those who obey Him and His word, are those who truly love Him. We are to obey Him, regardless of anyone’s opinion, and regardless of the popularity of any view in the culture. This includes the sin of homosexuality, or any other sin for that matter. Christ has ordained only one kind of sexual relationship, and that is between a married man and woman. I choose to obey what He has ordained.
I pray that the real “deity”, that is, the real God in the person of Jesus Christ, will reveal the truth to you, and you will come to Him in repentance for forgiveness of sins, and for eternal life in Him.
To those who need real love in his or her life can go to the Word of God. God is a God of great love, but read all sixty six books. It also says a lot about His wrath. What we debate/experience does not change what the Word says is sin. This debate/struggle Dr. McPherson keeps talking about seems to be with the Word of God, not with the church. If we start to believe according to our experience as Dr. McPherson has so gently guided these young people to do, then we will eventually question all our beliefs. Experience is never a guide by itself.
I have a friend that needs to get away from the struggles of life from time to time. He goes to the local bar and drinks himself blind. It is his experience that this works and makes him free. After a night of drinking he also comes home and abuses his family for which he is very sorry the next day. The experience that he lives by becomes a trap.
If you go by experience/debate and nice stories about friends then you will be in a place like Dr. McPherson. Love like Christ..The sin that we debate is the sin that He went to the cross for so that we can be Free from that sin.Should we not be so dogmatic about lies, coveting, and having other gods before Him the next time we speak? We all have different experiences in life in which we should not adapt our christian belief on. Faith comes by the Word and not by the way we feel about our friends and love ones. Yes sometimes the homosexual community does better at loving others than some Christian. Disobedience to the Word for both of these groups has the same end.
I weep for the haters in the body of Christ, for they have not the love of God in them and they will be judged. I weep more for mortal men who put a soft easy gospel out at God’s own Son’s expense and cheapen the atonement of the cross. The word to hear is the Word and that is not debatable. We have no right to debate what God calls sin.
We are called as minister to preach the word, not your experiences/debates/sweet stories. When we find no confusion in the word then the dialogue we seek is about what are trying to justify as not sinful.
A group of seven billion people agreeing in conversation still does not change the truth of God’s word. GO TRUTH!
Worshiper of the Word
T. D. Underwood