FIRST-PERSON: The Giglio sermon -- he was right on all counts
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- Georgia pastor Louie Giglio was pressured to step down from offering the benediction at President Obama's upcoming inauguration due to what has been deemed by some as unacceptable remarks made in a sermon almost 20 years ago.
Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta and founder of Passion Conferences geared toward college students, delivered a sermon at a conference in the mid-90s titled "The Christian's Response to Homosexuality."
Think Progress, a blog that identifies itself as liberal and associated with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reported Jan. 9 on Giglio's sermon and described the address as "vehemently anti-gay" and full of "rabidly anti-LGBT views."
In the eyes of homosexual activist groups and apparently the White House, Giglio's transgressions were that he dared not only to articulate the biblical truth that homosexuality is categorized as sin, but he also called attention to the true nature of the activists' goals.
In reality, the only transgression Giglio could be charged with is being right. He not only was theologically correct, but he also was spot-on concerning the sociological goals of the homosexual movement.
I listened to Giglio's sermon, and what I heard was a very even-handed treatment of a controversial subject in which he stressed compassion for those who were struggling with homosexuality.
At the outset of the sermon, which was part of a series of messages keeping with the theme "In Search of a Standard," Giglio stressed that the issue of homosexuality was complex and this particular message was designed to "discover what God has to say about this issue and to challenge the church to respond to this issue with truth and grace."
Giglio bent over backwards to season his comments with grace and compassion. At one point he said that Christians should avoid railing against the homosexual movement with intolerance and insensitivity.
Rather than single out homosexuality as some special sin, Giglio really sought to include the behavior along with many others that the Bible also classifies as sinful. He indicated that sin is opting for a behavior that is less than God's best. All people do that, he said, and are in need of God's grace.
Giglio even said God's view of homosexuality is different from his view of homosexual people. "God is opposed to all kinds of sin," he said. "Every homosexual is a person who matters greatly to God and that God loves intensely."
At one point Giglio read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 which says: "Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom. And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Giglio stressed the phrase "and some of you used to be like this." He pointed out that the only hope for an unrepentant sinner -- any sinner, including a person who is practicing the sin of homosexuality -- is turning to Jesus Christ.
Theologically, Giglio was on target and did an excellent job of articulating the truth.
One part of Giglio's sermon that seemed especially irritating to homosexual activists was when he described the modern homosexual movement and its sociological goals. Giglio said:
"We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. ... Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive movement. That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family."
Giglio quoted from the 1990 book "After the Ball: How America will conquer its fear & hatred of Gay's in the 90s." Written by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, the book has been viewed by many homosexual activists as the blueprint for achieving societal acceptance of homosexuality.
Though Giglio only quoted a few excerpts from the book, it was more than enough to support his point that the homosexual movement's goal was nothing short of societal acceptance.
"You've got to be able to respond lovingly yet firmly to this aggressive element in the homosexual community," Giglio said. "And I dare say you've got to be willing to be called an intolerant bigot or a homophobe in our society, because you will." He added, "I daresay as a result of sharing this talk I will."
Giglio proved to be prophetic. Not only was he apparently asked to relinquish his spot on the inaugural program, but he has been vilified. Writing on Americablog, John Aravosis called Giglio "an antigay bigot." Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, said he had "backward views on L.G.B.T. people." In The Washington Post, columnist Jonathan Capehart called Giglio's statements "antigay" and "bigoted."
If you take a public stand against the effort to mainstream homosexuality, you will be subject to attack. I know, because in my columns I dare to oppose the idea that homosexuality is natural, normal and healthy. I have been on the receiving end of numerous letters and e-mails filled with vile threats. I was once even told to my face by an activist, "We will shut you [meaning conservative Christians] up!"
The only place I might take issue with Giglio is he seemed a bit apologetic and said that addressing homosexuality has not been in his "range of priorities in the past fifteen years." Pastor, you do not need to express one shred of regret. You were right on all counts.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, www.baptistmessage.com, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).