I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people" not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. - 1Corinthians 5:9-11 (NIV)
I would have preferred to not wade into these waters but this story just does not seem to want to go away and usually when that happens, God is still trying to be heard. Pastor Begg tried to have Him be heard but he has been drowned out by a sea of NAR theological reactions devoid of understanding the gospel and who Jesus was. I ask you to put aside your pre-biased thinking and listen. Try to learn that you have been wrongly taught hate and disdain for the very people that need the gospel - the lost. Not the unchurched, as Rick Warren taught you but the lost. To the lost, the things of God are utter foolishness. The NAR has infiltrated the body of Christ like a cancer and their chief theology these days is dominionism. While we can point to hardcore dominionists such as Greg Locke and Mario Murillo, there are also more calmer voices supporting it such as Dr. Michael Brown. Dominionism takes the entire bible, almost 800,000 words from God, and boils it down to two issues for Christians to care about. We all know what they are - abortion and gay rights. They are in fact the third rail of the apostate church in that anyone crossing the line, as Pastor Begg recently did, will unleash a cacophony of rebuke. Some of this rebuke has been well-intended but unfortunately ill-informed. Most of it however has been from the NAR and I know this much, when so many false people are against something, I think I may want to take a peek at Pastor Begg's side, especially considering he was highly regarded until touching that third rail.
The absurdity of this NAR theology is simply not talked about because we have been so trained to accept it. The hatred of these two societal wedge issues has in fact become an idol in the church today. Believe it or not, God actually speaks to a lot more than these two things in His word. After salvation in fact, the number one topic in the bible is taking care of the least in society. This is of course anathema to the political forces behind the NAR. So, what was the great sin of Alistair Begg? He was asked by a grandmother if she should attend the same sex wedding of her grandchild and he said yes. Begg was clear that it was a matter of personal conviction. This means all the critics claiming he said all Christians should do the same is a false argument. Begg is saying if you feel convicted, then you should not go. He also pointed out that this would retain the bridge between the two to allow her to keep sharing God and the gospel. Lastly, Begg was very clear that the grandchild must understand that she was not affirming the lifestyle. That was enough to send the twitter-sphere into convulsions. So let us reason once more beloved. Please realize that this subject, as well as anything else I may comment on in my life is my opinion, based upon my reading of the bible. I reserve the right to be wrong because ultimately, I am merely dirt talking to dirt, as my pastor was fond of saying. I say this because at the end of my argument, you may still disagree and let me say - that's ok. Unfortunately, it seems the church so far has used this one statement to try and discredit decades of service to the Lord from Begg. The hubris and arrogance I have seen is simply staggering. If we are waiting for complete agreement to seal the deal for heaven, there is no one being saved.
Now, let's deal with the first argument I keep hearing. That attending is somehow confirming the lifestyle. Begg already said that the grandmother needed to make sure they understood she was not affirming it but apparently that is not good enough. I think I would have a different opinion if the grandmother was asked to be in the wedding party or say the toast but merely attend? This reminds me of Zacchaeus and how all the false religiosity folks were so indignant that Jesus would go to the house of a sinner. The exact words were "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." Yet it was because of this that Zacchaeus was redeemed that day. Let us also deal with the hypocrisy. How many of us have gone to the wedding of an unsaved friend of family member? Were they perfect when we went? Did they live together prior? Had they slept together prior? For exactly how long were they in complete rebellion to God before tying the knot? How come you were ok with that then? Oh, because once married this sin lifestyle would stop? Is that the new criteria we are using to judge those outside the faith when Corinthians clearly says we have NO BUSINESS judging those on the outside! Read the very uncomfortable key verses for today. Paul is clarifying for the Corinthians that when he said do not associate with the sexually immoral, he did NOT mean the people in the world! If that were the instruction then we would never associate with anyone in the world! No beloved, he meant to not associate yourselves with these people who claim to be in the church! Yet how many of them do we look the other way on? How many current leaders are trying to excuse even Mike Bickle at this point? Dr. Brown recently claimed that Bickle and Ravi Zacharias were great holiness teachers? What? One seduced a 19-year-old by claiming God told him his wife would die so they could be together and the other had an international network of sex workers for his "ministry" trips. They are not holiness teacher Mike. They were liars and con artists.
Now, I have heard the argument that it is the attending of the wedding that somehow exceeds this term "associate," which Paul uses in the key verses. You are entitled to that opinion, but other people might disagree and again, that should be ok. I see Paul as being very clear here. To expect that people in the world are going to be behaving as the bible outlines is ridiculous. I have heard well intended people say that they would still welcome this newly wedded couple into their homes and they would be a good neighbor but somehow attending the ceremony is the dealbreaker. I fail to see how you think refusing to share the day with your grandchild is "being a good neighbor" but ok. Either way, the notion that attending is confirming I simply do not see. I know certain cultures still prefer marriage within the culture but I have never heard of a grandmother refusing to attend a ceremony for their preference.
This brings us to sunny argument number two and that is that this is about the sacred institution of marriage itself, which I should point out is an entirely NAR argument. We have been lectured about this sacred institution for decades by unscrupulous and sinful men so excuse me if I pause. I just find this argument devoid of the truth. I understand why some have fallen for the argument that they are making a mockery of what God has instituted but isn't that true in every single facet of unsaved society? Mormons believe God came from another planet. Catholics think we need to pray to Mary. Atheists do not believe in God at all. Agnostics believe in the concept of God but not Jesus. Have we not all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? I assume we would have no problem attending a wedding ceremony of these persuasions and they are actually wrong in matters of faith and sin, not just sin. We all know that there is a religious, or spiritual side to a wedding and then there is a civil side as well because while we are not of the world, we are in the world. Even the most pious believers still have to get a wedding license from the state if they intend to be recognized as married by the state. Sure, there may even be liberal clergy at the event but they are not speaking to you or for you. I might add from the hypocrisy standpoint, how consistent are we in our outrage? If we had a grandchild marrying a Mormon, would we refuse to go? What about a Jehovah Witness? What about an atheist? What if your grandchild was having a wedding to an atheist performed in a non-religious ceremony. Would you attend? Does the level of sin matter? Have we been taught to trump up certain sins to super sins because there are no such things. James teaches us that if we break one law, we broke them all and just as a reminder, that means we broke them all.
This is the end result of being taught to hate the two NAR wedge issues to the point of idolatry. We reflexively think it just sounds right to say that it is somehow wrong to say to our own kin, who the bible says if we do not take care makes us worse than an unbeliever, I hate your sin so much I refuse to love you at all. Beloved, do not get this twisted. Alistair Begg was not making some bold new theological declaration that all Christians must do anything. He was asked for advice by a grandmother torn apart by the hateful teachings of the NAR and the love for her grandchildren. He very clearly said that the couple needed to understand her beliefs. He said if she felt convicted to not go, she should not. Short of that however, he said go and buy them a gift. I am just astounded that so many people have turned our Savior into some hateful being. That is not the gospel accounts I read. What if someone gay came to Jesus and asked Him to make him a bench, you know, because He was a carpenter. Do you honestly think He would decline? Or would He make the bench and preach the gospel to them? His first miracle was at a wedding where they drank so much, they ran out of wine! Did He rebuke them for it? No, He gave them more wine. Do we honestly think that we are going to get to stand before Christ and regale Him with stories of all the people we refused to go the weddings of? For His name's sake? Do we honestly think when we stand to give account it will be to account for sins of other people? Guys, we have to read our bibles more closely and stop trying to build the NAR theocracy.