We’ve all seen the same news stories, right? A pastor in North Carolina (Charles Worley) suggests we put all the “gays” inside an electric fence, provide food and water, and wait for them to die out. Another pastor in Kansas sites Old Testament scripture that homosexuals should be stoned to death. And then there’s the kid with the questionable song lyrics, but let’s leave him to his parents. In the first place he is a minor; secondly, and more importantly, he is probably a reflection of his parents’ world view and has not yet developed his own.
The internet can give a national or even global voice to writers, preachers, etc. that are in otherwise obscure places (such as myself). What I think we’re really dealing with in the North Carolina story is culture shock. Fundamentalist preachers in the Carolina’s, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and so forth probably say a hundred things every week that would shock people, including Christians, from other backgrounds. I can only imagine what would happen if journalists in New York started listening to every fundamentalist, Pentecostal, charismatic or even Southern Baptist sermon from below the Mason-Dixon line each week. Those of us who grew up in churches where women do not wear pants (and no one of any gender wears shorts) do not find anything shocking about this story whatsoever. If terms like mixed bathing and handing out tracts are part of your vernacular, then putting “all the gays” behind an electric fence is rather par for the course. For the record, I’m not making a judgement of right or wrong I’m just saying that in this particular case it all depends on what you’re used to.
Curtis Knapp is the pastor in Kansas who also drew national attention, and came so close to getting it right. The Old Testament, and he quoted Leviticus in particular, does say that anyone caught in a homosexual act should be taken out of the camp and stoned. But during the interview he stated that today that isn’t actually going to happen. He said the government should do that but they won’t, so no one really has anything to worry about. It is no wonder the culture doesn’t get the church when the church doesn’t get the Gospel.
Does the Old Testament say gays should be put to death? Yes. It also calls for the death penalty in cases of adultery and for children that talk back to their parents. This pastor had a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel. The Old Testament, the Old Covenant, was based on the Law. The Law cannot make us righteous, the Apostle Paul says it actually makes us more guilty. The Law brings death. Jesus died that death so that we could live. The Law brings death to the sinful (which is all of us) while the Gospel gives life. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Teaching the Bible accurately will still be unpopular and Christians will be misunderstood at best and persecuted at worst. Homosexuality is a sin, and the New Testament upholds this concept. But all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Curtis Knapp had a national audience during his 15 minutes of fame, and rightly said many things about the Bible. But he fell short of sharing the Gospel message; we are all created in God’s image, sinners by nature, and loved by God who gave his only son as our ransom. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
We the Church must be the body of Christ; we must understand the Gospel; we must rightly divide the Word of Truth; we must love others as Christ loved each of us. We must be conformed to the image of Christ, and we can only do that by reading and studying the Word while being led by the Holy Spirit.