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Thursday, June 05, 2014 | Comments (32)

The homosexual agenda has no tolerance for disagreement. You’ve likely read stories about Christian wedding vendors being protested, sued, and even run out of business for refusing to participate in homosexual marriage ceremonies. Even some churches and pastors have come under fire for simply holding fast to their biblical beliefs and refusing to host or officiate a gay marriage.

This should come as no surprise to those familiar with Scripture. We should expect the persecution of our faith to get worse as society continues to protect and promote lifestyles of overt sexual sin.

But how should believers respond to this oppressively sinful culture? Can Christians ever do business with homosexuals, or does that automatically endorse their lifestyle? We recently asked John MacArthur those and other important questions about Christians and gay marriage. You can view his helpful answers in the video below.

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by Mark Walters  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 4:07 AM

Thank-you, John, for that helpful clarification. Your spiritual guidance is a part of my daily study of the Word of God. God Bless.

#2  Posted by David Grossman  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 10:36 AM

As John said, business owners are interacting with all kinds of sinful people all over the place. So why are these bakers singling out their gay customers to be ostracized? They clearly couldn't care less what kind of personal baggage their straight customers carry. For all they know, they could easily be participating in a sinful opposite-sex marriage between two people who have had adulterous relationships. It seems fairly obvious that these bakers are only concerned about forcing their religious beliefs on their customers, if those customers happen to be gay. All straight customers get a free pass. This is simply not acceptable in a secular society.

#6  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 2:50 PM

David, when you say that they clearly couldn't care less what kind of personal baggage their straight customers carry I think you're presuming a lot--too much, in fact--about about the motives of bakers and other wedding vendors who refuse to participate in gay marriages.

You're right that homosexuality is just one of many sexual sins, but it is one of the more overt and self-apparent. How might a baker or a wedding photographer know if a straight couple is already living together, or if they've had adulterous relationships in the past? It's possible they could ask a lot of questions to determine the nature of the union, and if it met the biblical standard. But I wouldn't make it the job of every Christian wedding vendor to sniff out every hint of sexual sin in every couple they meet--the reputation for extreme nosiness might drive them out of business altogether.

However, a homosexual marriage is predicated on the sexual sin of the couple--in fact, it's a celebration of their sin. That's why I think in some cases Christians wedding vendors abstain from working with gay couples--because they don't want to participate in the celebration.

One other note: I just recently got married, so I went through a crash course in wedding vendors and all it takes to put together a wedding ceremony. For most vendors, their next job is the product of their current job. Reputation and referrals make up most if not all of their business. So I doubt strongly that, as you say, it seems fairly obvious that these bakers are only concerned about forcing their religious beliefs on their customers, if those customers happen to be gay. If all that mattered was wagging their fingers and condemning gay couples, why would these men and women would be putting their livelihoods on the line?

#8  Posted by David Grossman  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 3:56 PM

“It's possible they could ask a lot of questions to determine the nature of the union, and if it met the biblical standard.”

Which is exactly what someone who claims that they are living a biblical life would do. You can’t argue that you have a right to force your religious beliefs on your customers when you aren’t actually doing that with 95% of them.

“But I wouldn't make it the job of every Christian wedding vendor to sniff out every hint of sexual sin in every couple they meet--the reputation for extreme nosiness might drive them out of business altogether.”

Exactly. If they applied the same biblical standards that they are using to discriminate against gay customers to their straight customers, they wouldn’t have any straight customers left. Because it isn’t the business of a baker (or any other public accommodation) to judge their customers, or expect them to follow their particular religious beliefs. The personal lives of their customers is not their business.

One has to wonder how many wedding cakes this baker has made for straight couples that have been previously divorced, or have had affairs, or have had premarital sex? So when exactly do their biblical beliefs matter when it comes to sinners? As I said, all straight customers get a free pass. So who is left for them to pass judgement on?

#12  Posted by Randy Johnson  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 7:24 PM

What society believes will always clash with what scripture teaches. It's not about sniffing out sin in other peoples' lives. It's not about classifying or ranking sins. It's not about the cakes. It's about abstaining from every form of evil in your own life. "Stay away from every form of evil." (1Th 5:22). Failure to do so will result in loss of human dignity through immorality. (Rom 1:18-32) "Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man." (Eccl. 12:13)

#13  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 9:00 PM

David,

I see the point you're trying to make, but here's where I think it falls short. In participating in a homosexual wedding the vendor is condoning—even celebrating—that these two people are being legitimately married. It is a de facto admission that marriage is a meaningless concept. It is full participation in their sin in the sense of Romans 1:32.

It is not, as you say, "forcing their religious beliefs on their customers." It is simply abstaining from celebrating sin. For society to force vendors to participate is to force their religious beliefs on them since the effect is, "adopt our views or go out of business." The only way a vendor could force their views on a couple is if by refusing to offer their service the couple could not accomplish their goal.

To get specific, many evangelical pastors would refuse to officiate a wedding where a believer is marrying an unbeliever. Should they be forced to do it? There are indeed pastors (I know some!) who will not marry people who have been previously divorced. Should they be forced to do it? Perhaps someone might say pastors are protected by "the free exercise of religion." That is and should remain true. But are only pastors allowed to exercise their religion freely? Does that clause not pertain to everyone? Meaning, while many may conduct their business with some level of inconsistency, shouldn't that allowed?

#14  Posted by David Grossman  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 9:56 PM

The baker is not participating in a wedding. They are strangers to the couple getting married. They aren’t invited to the wedding. Just like when a baker makes a custom birthday cake, they aren’t participating in the customer’s birthday party or celebrating with them in any way. They are a vendor that is providing a service for money.

As for marriage becoming a meaningless concept, after ten years of marriage equality, I have yet to hear of a decline of opposite-sex marriages taking place anywhere. I’m fairly certain marriage hasn’t lost its meaning — regardless if it takes place in a church or city hall. Especially when the meaning of marriage differs from couple to couple.

“The only way a vendor could force their views on a couple is if by refusing to offer their service the couple could not accomplish their goal.”

The customer’s goal was to purchase a wedding cake. Since the vendor forced the customer to abide by their chosen religious beliefs, the customer could not accomplish their goal — unlike every straight customer that walks through the door. So now, through no fault of their own, the gay customer is now obligated to find a non-discriminatory bakery that won’t ostracize them — and this is fair, how exactly? Replace “gay customer” with any other minority and you’ll understand why these business owners keep losing in court.

“But are only pastors allowed to exercise their religion freely? Does that clause not pertain to everyone? Meaning, while many may conduct their business with some level of inconsistency, shouldn't that allowed?”

What you call inconsistency, everyone else calls it discrimination. It shouldn’t have to be said, but a bakery is not a church, and a baker is not a pastor. The only place where religious doctrine should be enforceable is inside church walls. Customers shouldn’t be obligated to follow the religious beliefs of any business owner.

#17  Posted by James Culpeper  |  Friday, June 06, 2014at 2:36 AM

There is something that many are forgetting here in their posts. The Christian baker is not refusing to serve homosexuals. He has stated that clearly. What he is unwilling to do is specifically bake and decorate a gay wedding cake for their wedding (two men on the top of the cake, etc.). He was willing to sell them any other cake, pastry, or other items in his store. That's the difference. He wasn't refusing to serve them just because they were homosexual. He just refuses to participate in the homosexual marriage celebration. Dr. MacArthur mentioned the difference in the video as well. I'm sure there are Jewish bakers who would object to baking a cake with a swastika on the top for a Nazi sympathizer's wedding, or an African American who would refuse to bake a cake for a KKK member's wedding that had a racist message on it. And I doubt anyone would condemn either for refusing to accommodate such outrageous requests. But let it be a Christian, and the PC police will be out in force. Another interesting note is that gay marriage is illegal in Colorado.

#19  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, June 06, 2014at 4:14 PM

Hello David,

I agree—who wouldn't?—that vendors are not guests at the wedding and reception. However they are active participants in that they must use their time, talents, and resources in a creative fashion to increase the joy and celebration of the occasion. Unlike guests who are spectators, the baker, photographer, and others are active participants in the occasion. In fact, they do what they do because they enjoy helping others celebrate through their work.

Personally, I wish the baker of our wedding cake had taken a more active interest and actually baked the cake we asked for. We didn't simply want her to bake a cake for us. We wanted her to bake a cake that would help us celebrate according to our desires and preferences. That requires active participation, even if they don't hang around with the guests at the reception.

"The customer’s goal was to purchase a wedding cake."

Indeed! But they could have gone to any number of bakers for that cake. If one said no, they could call the next number on the list. The baker is not, and cannot, force his view on the customer.

" So now ... the gay customer is now obligated to find a non-discriminatory bakery that won’t ostracize them..."

It would be one thing if 9 out of 10 bakers were Christians and held to biblical convictions. But that simply isn't the case. The gay agenda has won the culture war—that much is clear. Now they are working on ostracizing every last Christian who dares disagree with them. We are one short step away from imprisonment for those who refuse to acknowledge and celebrate homosexuality.

"The only place where religious doctrine should be enforceable is inside church walls. Customers shouldn’t be obligated to follow the religious beliefs of any business owner."

I understand this may be your opinion, but the issue is what does the law say? The First Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" (italics mine). No mention of "only within church walls" or "only pastors can freely exercise their religion", etc.

You're coming at it from the perspective of the vendor "forcing his religious beliefs." I'm coming at it from the gay couple forcing their religious beliefs on the baker. The solution provided by the Constitution is that baker can choose what kind of cakes he makes, and engaged couples can pick their baker (which is why this only works in a free society with no established religion). The reason this controversy exists is because the culture is seeking to oppress the religious beliefs of a minority (and yes, biblical Christianity is a minority). The culture is using the courts to establish the religion of secularism, and forcing citizens to abide by it.

#20  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, June 06, 2014at 4:19 PM

James Culpeper's comments are critically important. That is what makes this issue different from racial discrimination. The culture does not want to acknowledge this reality.

#22  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Friday, June 06, 2014at 6:33 PM

I thought real definition ofthe word gay means happy and joyful.. just wondering, thanks. God bless

#3  Posted by Mae Ella Jones  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 11:37 AM

Thanks for the clarification on this issue, very timely!

#4  Posted by Greg Smith  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 11:57 AM

The Bible says that homosexual behavior is a sin. That is clear and what the Bible says is good enough for me.

However, Christians should start, in my opinion, with the commandment that all sexual sin is the same. Adultery, sex before marriage (fornication), and homosexuality are all sins of an equal nature. Rather than focusing on the 3% to 5% of the population that is homosexual, why not start with couples who live together and who are not married? It is an equal sin. In so doing Christians can demonstrate that it is the sin and not the sinners, who are our focus. We all sin and all are guilty, not even one is innocent. And all sins, regardless of their nature, are equal disobedience to God. Let's start there and make sure that in our hearts we are not further sinning by acting with prejudice.

One final note is that homosexuality is often called an 'abomination'. That is true in the Bible. However, any online Bible guide will show that the wold 'abomination' is used to describe many sins. One very striking use of the word is to describe 'inaccurate weights and measures', which means crooked business people and transactions. As Christians, if we must comment on abominations, let's comment on them all.

#5  Posted by Cameron Buettel  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 2:43 PM

Thanks for your comment Greg. You make some good points there. It is both ugly and revealing when people have a pet sin that they rail against at the expense of other heinous sins. I have seen this myself and on one occasion I can vividly remember a young man airing his grievance about being singled out in a youth group because of his struggles with homosexuality, while rampant fornication was largely ignored.

We have a Christian duty to never take a soft view of sin regardless of the category it falls into. We should warn about all sin as that which alienates people from God. That is not to say that all sin is equally bad for the Scripture is clear that some sins are worse than others (Proverbs 6:16; John 19:11) and some sins produce more devastating consequences than others (1 Corinthians 6:18).

We must also avoid the error of ostracizing our mission field. Our rebukes should never be fuelled by lamentations over the moral decay of society. Our warnings against sin should be motivated by a desire to see sinners flee God's wrath and come to Christ in repentance and faith - just like we did!

But there is one other facet to this issue that is rarely considered. While we should not single out particular sins, that is precisely what the homosexual lobby is doing right now. We are witnessing an aggressive agenda demanding that we not only tolerate homosexuality, but also redefine sin as righteousness. Right now, that is what distinguishes homosexuality from most other sinful activity.

#7  Posted by Greg Smith  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 3:30 PM

It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible's statement, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.

I would add this to what appears to be the disposition of many Christians to 'pick their favorite sin', so to speak. We are indeed best off when disobedience is disobedience and we are all miserable sinners.

#16  Posted by John Deckert  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 10:53 PM

I understand what you are saying Greg but it is inconsistent with the topic. When a fornicating heterosexual couple decides to get married versus a fornicating homosexual couple the results are different. The heterosexual couple will no longer be in fornication while the homosexual couple will continue in fornication. As christians we do not wish people to continue in their sinful lifestyle but rather leave it. God designed marriage between one man and one woman. This honors the creator when the creation acts as they were designed even if they are unbelievers.

I see another fallacy with your argument. As a cake baker or wedding photographer how would you know a man and woman were fornicating unless they told you? In the business world these sort of conversations are typically not part of a business deal. But if a homosexual couple walks in you know that if they aren't fornicating before the wedding they certainly will be afterwards. So I think what MacArthur is alluding to is that we do not want to be partakers, condoners, and affirmers of sin.

#9  Posted by Rhonda Taylor  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 4:49 PM

I love this man and what's he has done for people like me. People like me that blew their chance to learn early, threw away most of their lives instead of developing a deep understanding of The Word. Rebelling for being yelled at, and rebelling even more for being forced or pulled toward an alter that you didn't have a desire for. I believe there is a road to follow toward your own relationship with Jesus as long as it's on His terms and as long as it leads you too the dirt at the bottom of The Cross for which my Savoir gave His life for me...even when I didn't understand or know The Truth about Him. But because He's in love with me and counts me as His, He answers, He teaches, He sits with me, He comforts me, He teaches me, I run to the alter only to feel closer and repent for feeding my wretched heart.

And John MacArthur is a tool. The Potter favored us all when He shaped and modeled this man for the purpose of teaching The Truth. I'm sure he learns everyday something new about our God and he shares it with "people like me". I keep him in my prayer and ask God to never let him fall in a way that subtracts anything from his mission that he carries out so well for The Lord. Thank you, sir.

Rhonda

#10  Posted by Lac Lac  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 5:33 PM

- Physical intimacy between a man and a woman outside of marriage is a sin.

- Physical intimacy between a man and a woman after they get married is not a sin.

- Marriage, by God's definition, is between a man and a woman. Marriage is not a sin.

* Physical intimacy between a man and a man is a sin.

* Physical intimacy between a woman and a woman is a sin.

* There is no God-ordained union, by any name, between same-sex couples. Any such union is a sin.

* There is no biblical teaching which indicates that same-sex physical intimacy is ever anything other than sin.

Would Jesus, as a craftsman, have built a platform for a same-sex couple too get 'married' on? There is only one biblical answer...NO! Does anyone...including John MacArthur believe that He would have?

A man and a woman turning from sin and entering into a marriage is to be celebrated. There is no option for celebrating a same-sex union.

There is no comparison from a biblical perspective.

#11  Posted by Hugh Wingard  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 6:33 PM

I would like to know from Brother MacArthur what he thinks about doing business with a establishment that supports gay marriage such as some fast food cafés that send donations???

#15  Posted by John Deckert  |  Thursday, June 05, 2014at 10:24 PM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur! I agree 100%! Individual Christians and even whole churches and ministries are going to have to make some strong decisions in the near future. I believe Christians are being specifically targeted by the homosexual agenda. Godly wisdom and perseverance is what this christian generation needs.

#18  Posted by James Bellamy  |  Friday, June 06, 2014at 7:44 AM

Greg Smith,

You do make some great points regarding sin, but those are not necessarily the point of concern here. Yes, heterosexuals engaging in premarital sex is just has bad as homosexuals engaging in sexual conduct. Sin is sin. However, when it comes to this particular situation of bakeries refusing to make "wedding" cakes for homosexual ceremonies, we are talking about defending the definition of marriage, as our Lord and Savior created it. By these bakeries refusing to make cakes for such homosexual ceremonies, it is not to say that this sin is worse than any other sin. Rather, it is to affirm and defend God's design and definitions of marriage; that being the union between one Man and one Woman. It is not a "who's sins are worse" match. Again, you certainly made great points. Just not the main point of this discussion-and that's for everyone that has tried to makes this an argument about the "degrees" of sin. The biblical definition of marriage is the sole point in this debate.

#21  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Friday, June 06, 2014at 6:29 PM

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday. I greatly grieved for I never thought to see this day but I understand it's been wicked since the beginning of time when Adam and Eve fell.

#23  Posted by James Culpeper  |  Saturday, June 07, 2014at 6:11 AM

Good thoughts, Gabriel. So many mistakenly believe we shed our Christian liberties when outside our homes or churches. Sadly, it's only going to get worse as more and more anti-Christian judges are appointed, and voters who know nothing of the constitution allow it to happen. But scripture does say to expect these things as we draw closer to Christ's return. Just wait until pastors are arrested in their pulpits for using "hate speech." It's coming.

#24  Posted by Patty Duke  |  Wednesday, June 11, 2014at 8:55 AM

It would be an excellent idea to turn to Romans to understand that there is indeed a progression of sexual sin, and although we can agree that sin is sin and unacceptable to God, what is happening now in the U.S. is shown in Romans chapter 1. Starting with verse 24 "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." This would be premarital sex and adultery. Next progression go to verse 26 "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts" Paul then lists homosexual and lesbian relationships as firm examples of this (in case you weren't sure of what he meant). You could also probably list pedophilia, bestiality, rape, incest and so forth along in here. Then the final progession is in verse 28 "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done". And verse 32 which is the key - "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." So the depraved mind is not content with just allowing the practice of sinful sexual conduct- the depraved mind insists that you agree with him. So now we have homosexual advocates insisting that pastors marry them, that bakers bake their cakes, florists make flower arrangements for their "weddings" and if we don't agree with them we are intolerant. We have to agree with all their sinful activity because that is what the depraved mind craves.

As Christians we have to make a conscious decision to not leave our belief and conduct at the church door. We have to live and work as to the glory of God. My prayer is for the bakers who are making a stand not to bake a gay wedding cake, that they will not stand down and give in to the depraved minds.

#26  Posted by Linda Rice  |  Thursday, June 19, 2014at 1:32 PM

First, thank you for your hard work, diligence, love, and prayers in providing ministry through GTY.

1. I understand from Corinthians and Matt. 5 that when a church member who professes to be a believer is determined to continue in sin even after teaching, correction, and warnings, the church must remove him from membership and seek to evangelize him. They are not to eat with him, though. Is this because eating together signifies the idea of unity and unhindered fellowship?

2. In this video clip, it sounds to me like the principle is being applied also within the family of a grown child who professes to be a Christian but is stubbornly insistent on continuing in sexual sin (homosexual, living together unmarried, etc.). Is this correct and, if so, what is the reasoning for applying a church directive to a family?

3. Putting this into a parent’s shoes, my understanding is that they need to appeal (with gentleness, in love) to him/her to repent. If he does not, they need to call him to reevaluate his profession, to not call himself a Christian if he is going to continue in sin. Then, if he refuses to either repent or renounce his profession, at that point they must stop eating with him. There needs to be continued love, as in phone calls, cards, outings and shared activities, or perhaps chatting over a cup of coffee (?), but no eating together and a periodic return to efforts to evangelize him. (At the least, this would significantly affect visiting and holidays.) Is this correct?

thank you

#27  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 19, 2014at 2:44 PM

Hello Linda, thank you for your thoughtful questions.

1. You are correct. The social implications of eating together in our culture is only magnified in ancient culture. To eat with someone is to express personal friendship, affirmation, and relational intimacy. It also expresses to the public positive association. This is why you will never see an American soldier having lunch with a Taliban fighter. This is also why it is unwise for man to have a one-on-one lunch with a woman who isn't his wife. While there are certainly exceptions (sharing a meal in order to confront someone about something), the extremely uncomfortable nature of those situations prove the rule.

Remember that Peter and Barnabas fell into the trap of not eating with Gentiles, because they didn't want to make a public statement of affirmation. Paul rebuked them for that. To eat with someone then, as now, signifies all the positive qualities of relationship. Therefore to deny someone the opportunity to share a meal is to communicate that something isn't right in the relationship.

Now everyone should be clear: to deny eating together is not to affirm treating them unkindly, with disrespect, or otherwise in a way that is cruel. One must be careful to do it in a way that gracious and affirms care for them, while standing firm on conviction that their behavior is not acceptable for someone who professes that Christ is Lord.

2. There are a couple reasons the principles of church discipline must apply within the family structure. First, since the "child" is an adult and presumably self-sustained, they are no longer under the authority and provisional support of the parents. Sadly, many people have falsely accused John MacArthur of creating more homeless people with these exhortations. The parents are not at all kicking their child into the street. But the main reason these principles apply within the family is because the family is essentially irrelevant to the situation. What is relevant is that the parents and adult child profess to be believers. That makes them individual participants in the Church, and therefore subject to the authority and principles of church discipline.

This is exactly the same reason that if an adult child confesses to a crime, the parents ought to report them to the police. To do otherwise will lead to being charged with aiding and abetting, if not obstruction of justice. As a citizen of the state, the child is subject to the laws of the state, and as a member of the church, the child is subject to the principles of the church. The fact that they have a parent-child relationship adds a challenging emotional and relational component, but it doesn't change the rules of the game (if I can put it so crassly).

I'll answer your third question in my next comment.

#28  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 19, 2014at 3:00 PM

3. This is where the principles of discipleship intersect with the relational challenges of life. There is no easy answer in the sense that there is no answer one can give which will not bring massive heartache. If we say that, "Yes, a parent should never share a meal with an unrepentant adult child who continues to profess Christ," that comes across as the most cruel and unusual punishment a parent can receive. But even if we say that they can share meals, so long as they continue to appeal for repentance, the relationship will still be difficult, if not impossible to maintain (e.g. the child may cut off the relationship, not wanting to hear it anymore). The only easy answer is to say, "It's not big deal, just love and accept them." That is what the world wants, but that simply isn't an option for anyone wanting to follow Christ.

You see, Jesus said—and this is impossible to bear without the ears of faith—“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27).

Let's be clear. Jesus is not saying that we must hate our family members in order to follow Him. What He is saying is, if a situation arises in which we must choose our family or Christ (wherein choosing Christ would appear to be hate toward the family), we must choose Christ. At this point every parent should feel a welt in their stomach.

People in that day did not talk about crosses flippantly. Unlike executions in modern times which tend secretive and hidden, back then people were crucified in public—and it was a stomach-churning sight. As a 1st Century Jew, you don't joke about crosses, and you certainly don't wear one around your neck (that's emphatically not what it means to "bear your own cross").

... more in the next comment.

#29  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 19, 2014at 3:01 PM

To bear your own cross was to walk around destitute and stripped of all possessions and relationships. For that person, there is no reason to live. In using this radical—if not offensive—language, Jesus is saying that He and He alone should be our only reason to live. That when compared to Him, nothing else is of value and worth living for. The key is in the word "compared". Certainly, the Bible promotes and celebrates family relationships. But in the tragic situation where such relationships may lead one to dishonor and disobey Christ, Christ must be chosen above all. Jesus accepts nothing but exclusive worship and honor. We must honor Him above all relationships and possessions, otherwise we "cannot be [His] disciple."

Humanly speaking, that is an impossible view. There is nothing on this earth that can reward obedience to that standard. The only thing that can make someone follow Christ in that way is an eternal reward; an inheritance beyond comprehension; an eternal life that is simply unimaginable in the here and now. And that is exactly what Christ promises.

#30  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, June 19, 2014at 5:10 PM

With all that background we can finally come to your question #3 and answer it with a question, "If Christ calls us to such radical discipleship, is there a reason to have a different standard in this case?"

The implications are far reaching and heart wrenching. When Jesus told potential disciples, "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Luke 9:60), people didn't rise up and cheer. Some probably followed Christ with tears, while others mocked and rejected Him.

In America the call to discipleship rarely feels like dying to self. But that is changing. We are quickly coming to the place where becoming a disciple of Christ really does tear families apart—as Jesus said it would (Matthew 10:35-39).

#31  Posted by Linda Rice  |  Friday, June 20, 2014at 10:59 AM

I appreciate your answers. I understand the Luke 14:26-27 passage, loving Christ more than child, have applied it, willing to again, am glad that you included it. I also do not want to jump into any action that would be unwise or unbiblical and at the same time claim an application of Luke 14 that isn't accurate. I would want to be certain before taking action. So if I may seek further clarification:

1. This is a clear issue when the local church makes a formal determination. But this post seems indicate more individualism (perhaps not the most accurate term), expanding into the Church universal. What is a believer to do when at a work lunch or dinner with a Christ-professing person living unrepentantly in blatant sexual sin? Without the church there to make the determination, where is my boundary on making these judgments about who I eat with?

2. As you said, eating together had greater significance in Paul's culture, less in ours. What if I'm at the beach with this rebelliously, blatantly sinful, Christ-professing adult child and we get hungry. Am I to refuse to eat a hot dog with him from the stand there on the beach? What about a cookie at his house? What is the problem with lovingly confronting the sin, especially the abuse of the name of Christ, making it clear that based upon his behavior in comparison with v.__ and v.__ I do not accept that he lives like a believer, but then continuing socially while periodically calling again for repentance?

#32  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, June 20, 2014at 4:39 PM

Hi Linda, I'm grateful for your questions. It shows you're really wanting to think carefully and biblically, and I hope this interaction will be helpful to others as well.

Before I try to address your questions specifically, it must be said that there comes a point where each one must use wisdom in applying the principles of Scripture. And, "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). With that in mind, there are a plethora of circumstances where one must simply seek to apply the principles in faith with a clear conscience that you are doing the best you can to honor the Lord.

As to your first question, Paul writes 1 Corinthians 5:11, "I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an iolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one." I put the entire verse there lest anyone claim that we are focusing on the sexually immoral to the exclusion of other sins.

The thrust of this entire passage is simply this: Do not allow a person who claims to be a Christian and yet lives in unrepentant sin to think that they can continue to live that way and still be welcomed into the body of Christ. In other words, don't let them think they can behave that way and at the same time be at peace and in unity with Christ and their Christian brothers and sisters.

In the work environment, that would seem to me to be a situation where "associating" is not about affirming their Christian testimony, but simply fulfilling their employment obligations. One should be careful not to be hypocritical in their treatment (close interpersonal relationship at work, but treating them coldly outside of work), but the environment may require more interaction than one would choose to otherwise have. There should always be civility and cordial interaction. There should always be kindness and graciousness. But if the work environment requires regular personal interaction, I do not personally (not speaking for anyone else) think that is a violation of 1 Corinthians 5 or Matthew 18.

As to your second question, to begin by saying "while I'm at the beach" would seem to mean that you would be associating with them voluntarily. At that point you've already decided 1 Corinthians 5 doesn't apply to the situation, and the question is moot. To me it seems hypocritical to go to the beach, but refuse to eat a meal. Since Paul says both "not to associate" and "not even to eat with such a one," you can't do one and not the other without being hypocritical.

So you would have to think carefully about whether the kinds of activities you do are 1) an expression of positive association and affirmation, 2) conducive to confrontation, and 3) cause you to disregard some biblical principles while maintaining others.

Again, these are not easy matters. May the Lord grant you wisdom in these things.

#33  Posted by Craig Hillman  |  Monday, June 23, 2014at 8:06 PM

This may be a little off topic but my question is this. How do I apply Dr. MacArthur's comments to the situation a landlord is in? Should faithful Christians rent their rental homes, condos, apartments, etc. knowingly to homosexual couples?