Some Christians Mad because a Pastor Had an Opportunity to Bash Gay People and Didn’t Take It

I had to read this story a couple of times to make sure I had it right, but then I realized I wasn’t wrong the first time. I couldn’t believe Christians were upset about this.

Here’s the backstory: A husband and wife attended a place called North Point Church in Atlanta. They had a daughter together. At some point, the husband started having an affair with another married man. (Scandalous!) It was serious, too, and the men wanted to be together. Not only that, but they also wanted to attend the same church as the wife. That understandably made her upset. So the gay couple attended another North Point church in a different location. They even began volunteering there. During all this, the husband and wife got divorced. However, his partner’s divorce was not finalized.

When North Point’s head pastor Andy Stanley found out about all this, he asked the men to step down from their posts. He could not condone the in-your-face adultery that was going on within his own church. The partner and his wife were still technically together, after all!

Some time passed. The wife began a new relationship. The gay couple was still together. All of them were very civil (even friendly) with each other. They now all attend the same church together. Isn’t that special…?

So why is any of this news?

Because Stanley told this story at his church a couple of weeks ago. And at no point in Stanley’s story did he mention that he ever told the couple, “YOU’RE GAY AND THAT’S A SIN!” How *dare* a pastor not use a perfectly good opportunity to bash gay people?!

Here’s president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Albert Mohler:

The most puzzling and shocking part of the message was the illustration and the account of the homosexual couple, however. The inescapable impression left by the account was that the sin of concern was adultery, but not homosexuality. Stanley clearly and repeatedly stressed the sin of adultery, but then left the reality of the homosexual relationship between the two men unaddressed as sin. To the contrary, he seemed to normalize their relationship. They would be allowed to serve on the host team if both were divorced. The moral status of their relationship seemed to be questioned only in terms of adultery, with no moral judgment on their homosexuality.

We can only hope that Andy Stanley and the church will clarify and affirm the biblical declaration of the sinfulness of homosexual behavior…

And here’s Biblical Studies professor Dennis Burk:

“His message was troubling,” said Dennis Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. “It was ambiguous at best. It was a total capitulation to the spirit of the age at worst.”

“He mentions adultery as a sin,” Burk said. “But he never calls homosexuality a sin. When he issues the sanction from leadership, it’s only about adultery. That just sends a message.”

Yes, a message that you might be a little too tolerant…

Pastor Rick Warren was upset that Mohler questioned megachurches as a result of Stanley’s omission:

Christians talk all the time about hating the sin, but loving the sinners. Here’s we have some Christians getting upset because someone didn’t hate the sinners enough.

For what it’s worth, I’m sure Stanley’s still on the side of bigotry. The fact that he didn’t bring it up in this portion of his sermon is hardly tacit approval of homosexuality.

But how awful of a human being do you have to be to get upset at a pastor for not condemning others hard enough?

You can hear the relevant story from Stanley’s sermon starting at the 24:30 mark here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • TheAnalogKid

    Fucking scumbag . . . ah, the hell with it.

  • Persephone

    Remember this lesson well– one is not made safe by being a member of the in-group. Sooner or later they will devour their own just as voraciously as they do the outsiders.

    • Norodg

      You are so right.  Any prolonged discussion around here about elevatorgate will prove that point.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    Lol, I like Warrens spin, as if the only issues with megachurches were size.

    That aside, it’s yet another case of people setting their own priories up and clothing them in religious rhetoric. Just a little more naked about it than usual.

  • Gus Snarp

    So I’ve believed for a while now that the generation after mine is better on gay rights, that they essentially will look at our generation the way we look at the sixties on civil rights for African Americans, wondering how so many could be so ignorant. I have thought that the tide was turning right now, that these spasms on the religious right were those of an ideology near death, or at least obscurity, that really only old people and a few truly ignorant religious folk still opposed gay rights. But there seem to be so many stories lately like the vile hate spewed by the North Carolina pastor, like this story, like the yearbook story, that I just wonder if I’m living in a bubble and maybe public opinion isn’t going the way I think it is. In short, the news is making me depressed on this issue lately. Can someone reassure me that this is just a lot of media attention on a hateful, religious minority and that the majority recognizes that gay people are OK, and that the vast majority of young people want full civil rights for GLBT persons? Someone, please, make me not think I’m living in a country of backwards, ignorant thugs.

    • jdm8

       Public opinion is improving, I’ve seen charts of polls taken over the years and there is a very clear trend.  It just happens a lot slower than we would like.

      • eonL5

        And bad events are news. Good events generally aren’t.

        As the radical Christians continue losing power, they will get louder and louder and louder. Then finally, ‘Poof!’ They’ll be irrelevant. Probably not gone, but no longer news. No longer worth paying any attention to. That’ll be a really good day/year/decade.

    • Onamission5

      What you’re seeing in the news is the panicked death throes of a dying bigotry, like a wild animal lashing out before it finally heaves its last breath. So it also is with the whole persecution meme that fundies like to trot out any time they are asked to share their ill-earned power with others, or to uphold the constitution. It’s a violent last gasp before sinking into the depths of oblivion.  They are obsolete and they know it, so they’re going to try to take as many down with them as they can before they’re finally run out of town.

      At least, that’s what I have decided it means.

  • Glasofruix

    Uh, why people’s personnal lives (and private affairs) are suddenly everyone’s business in a church?

    • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

      because it’s a church, silly!

    • Gus Snarp

      Apparently you haven’t been to church very often.

      • Glasofruix

         I’ve never been in a church in my life (except in a cathedral during history lessons)

        • TheAnalogKid

          Lucky you.

        • Gus Snarp

          Ah, that explains it. People’s personal lives and private affairs have always been everyone’s business in church. You know, I think there’s something about not gossiping in the Bible, or maybe it’s just what everyone’s grandma always said, but it is perhaps the least obeyed rule in all of Christendom. 

          • Stev84

            It’s only gossiping if you criticize people in authority. Seriously. I’ve read plenty of spiritual abuse blogs to know that this is a standard accusation to throw at people when they question things done by church leaders

      • Pseudonym

        I’ve been to churches lots, and it’s never happened to me.

        Of course, none of them were in the US bible belt.

    • Nordog

      Since when is marriage and public adultery a private affair?  I know there’s a movement about to redefine marriage to include anyone having reached the age of consent (siblings excluded of course (?)).

      But when did marriage cease being a public institution?

      • Glasofruix

        Well, the act of getting married is public sure, but after the couple is done with the ceremony, everything that follows is a private matter. That includes adultery, closet outings etc… I think you ignore the meaning of the term “public institution”, go check wikipedia you might learn something.

        • Erp

           Not everything.  The public has an interest in knowing what kids are born.  It also has an interest in seeing that one partner is not abusing the other (or the children) [note the husband beating his wife/children has been considered a private matter].  

          • Glasofruix

             fixed

  • RandomOrator

    I’ve been to that church. Drug there. It was all rock music Jesus Jesus Jesus hands waving crying falling down in the isle and not any bible bible bible. Most cult like experience I’ve ever had. Joel Olsteen approach on steroids. Don’t offend, everyone leaves happy and shows up next week with more money for the coffers. Have to pay for that new wing of course.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

    “It was a total capitulation to the spirit of the age at worst.”

    This is an amazing quote. Here we have a guy that acknowledges the power of modernity and wisdom to change minds and attitudes, that given enough time we’ll all be living together harmoniously, and he’s upset about it. That’s a sick mind right there.

  • Annie

    The “real” Christians are now stealing from the pope’s playbook- criticizing others for not showing enough PDI (public display of intolerance) toward the unworthy.  If it weren’t so sad it would be downright amusing.

  • http://twitter.com/LeftsideAnnie Kate

    I’m sure Republican Jesus is really well and truly pissed off…

  • Theshoves

    Honestly, I don’t get the American take on Religion. I’ve got a few god-bothering mates, and they honestly don’t care if you’re gay, straight, or have a weird sexual attraction to grapes. However, as they’re clearly deluded in their belief in an invisible sky fairy, I mock them ceaselessly….I have no idea why they’re still my friends…..

    Yet an average American religious person cannot comprehend that others don’t believe in a god figure. Why? In a land that prides itself on tolerance of others, it only seems that they’re tolerant of others as long as they’re religious.

    Yes, adultery is immoral. Being homosexual is a NATURAL occurrence. Something to do with the chemical changes in the foetal stage of pregnancy. Why is it so hard to understand? 

    Go back 2000 years. The Romans(the most advanced civilisation at the time) belived in a whole pantheon of gods. Yet to them, homosexuality was accepted.

    And now, we have America, the only real world superpower(and therefore the most advanced….?) left, and it’s absolutely NOT accepted.

    In this day and age, with all the knowledge available to us, and it’s one of the worst things a person can be in the eyes of the god-fearing(Probably ahead of us atheists though).

    Why? Has the religious viewpoint got worse the more advanced we get? How?

    • Glasofruix

       Inbreeding

    • Onamission5

      It’s fear. Remember, we’re not just descended from the ancestors who worked cooperatively to ward off danger and gather supplies. We’re also descended from those who threw their neighbors to the wolves in order to save their own asses.

    • Nordog

      “Yes, adultery is immoral. Being homosexual is a NATURAL occurrence. Something to do with the chemical changes in the foetal stage of pregnancy. Why is it so hard to understand?”

      You make it sound as if something is just fine if it occurs naturally.  Now, homosexuality may or may not be just fine, but if it is, it is NOT so simply because someone is born that way.

      After all, some babies are born with cleft palates, or leukemia, or spina bifida.  We don’t tell those babies, “Hey, your deformation is a NATURAL occurrence!  Walk it off!”

      Can we agree that homosexuality is neither justified nor unjustified due to it being something naturally occurring?

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        If right-wing Christians would stop going on and on about homosexuality being “unnatural,” then there would be no reason for us to point out that they’re wrong.  

        Since it’s not unnatural, and it’s not immoral, and the two have nothing to do with each other, there’s really nothing to discuss.

        • Nordog

          “Not unnatural” and “not immoral” are the points of contention in the controversy –  blanket denunciations of bigotry notwithstanding.

          Regardless, your post in response to mine totally ignores the point of my post.

          But since you did respond, perhaps I’ll ask you directly…

          Anna, can we agree that homosexuality is neither justified nor unjustified due to it being something naturally occurring?

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Like I said, it has nothing to do with it. I’d be happy if I never heard another right-winger screech “homosexuality is unnatural!” Unfortunately, they seem to think it is a legitimate argument despite the fact that they’re a) wrong and b) whether something is natural has no bearing on whether it is immoral.

      • Glasofruix

        Well, some babies are born with “small people disease” (sorry i don’t know the politically correct scientific term for “dwarf”) it’s a natural occurence, that does not mean that you can refuse rights to those people under the excuse that your religion finds them ugly. That said, being gay is not a defect and you can’t cure it, it’s time you bigots recognize that.

        • Nordog

          LOL.  I love that you are basically responding to an argument I have not put forward, and like Anna have refused (or are incapable) of addressing my simple question.

          Point of fact however is that you do raise some important questions.  Yet, how does one discuss the important, and more complicated questions when one cannot or will not address the more fundamental, and easy, questions?

          Let me rephrase it for you, “Can we agree that a given sexual desire is neither justified or unjustified by virtue of someone having been born with it?”

          “…you bigots…”???

          As I offered elsewhere, “The horror…the horror…”

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Um, why did you accuse me of refusing or being incapable of addressing your question? I don’t know how I can make it any clearer. I already said the two have nothing to do with each other. It’s not a legitimate argument, and I would dearly love it if I never heard a conservative Christian mention it again.

            • Nordog

              So, are you saying that nature has nothing to do with morality?

              • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                I don’t know what you’re confused about. I’ve said it like three times now. Yes, the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Please, tell your fellow conservative Christians to stop trotting out this argument.

                • Nordog

                  Well, actually, your initial statements, while not contradicting the point, did not actually state quite univocally that you held that nature had nothing to do with morality.  At least I found the word choices to have some “wiggle room”  (please pardon the expression).  My question had two elements, you really only answered one.  Whatever.  I suppose the one implies the other.

                  In any event, I was originally asking about nature in the context of “being born that way.”  Now the context has gone on to, well, pretty much everything in the material atheist’s world view.  I mean, nature is pretty much everything for many atheists, right?

                  So you hold that nature has nothing to do with morality (not my position by the way; my position is that “being born that way” is insufficient in itself to conclude one way or the other).

                  So I can’t help but wonder from whence one (that would be you) derives morality.  Or are you one of those individuals holding that there really is no such thing?

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  All right, but I don’t see how my original statement left “wiggle room” for anything. What part of “it’s not unnatural, and it’s not immoral, and the two have nothing to do with each other” is unclear?

                  As for nature, I don’t really know what you mean. Since when do atheists think nature (things that occur in the natural world) has anything to do with morality? Nature is non-sentient, so things like weather, disease, etc. would be incapable of morality. Those things would properly be described as amoral, not moral or immoral.

                  I don’t know what this has to do with sexual orientation. Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality are all naturally occurring, but that’s neither here nor there. A sexual orientation by itself is simply an aspect of a person. It doesn’t make sense to describe a sexual orientation as immoral. People can be (and are) judged on what they do sexually, which is why things like rape and pedophilia are illegal. Homosexuality hurts no one, and having gay or lesbian sex is not immoral. Therefore, there is no argument to be had.

                  I do not get my morality from nature (an odd idea) or from an ancient book. I don’t understand basing morality on a book, let alone a book that promotes genocide, torture, sexism, homophobia, etc. You can base your morals on such a book, if you’d like, but I’d rather base mine on more progressive human ideals.

                • Nordog

                  “What part of “it’s not unnatural, and it’s not immoral, and the two have nothing to do with each other” is unclear?”  Nothing.  Didn’t say it was unclear.  I intimated that it was incomplete.  There are also the aspects of natural and moral in addition to unnatural and immoral.  But like I said, I suppose one can infer the one from the other.

                  “I do not get my morality from nature (an odd idea) or from an ancient book. I don’t understand basing morality on a book, let alone a book that promotes genocide, torture, sexism, homophobia, etc. You can base your morals on such a book, if you’d like, but I’d rather base mine on more progressive human ideals.”

                  You may find the idea of nature as a guide to morality odd, but it is hardly a new idea.  Right or wrong, Natural Law has a long pedigree that goes back millenia. In fact, that’s exactly how I based my morality as an agnostic.  I didn’t use a book either.

                  So, progressive human ideals is it?  How does that work exactly?  Does one need to constantly update one’s morality to keep pace with the progression?

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        (Moving this up because the box will shortly become too narrow to read properly.)

        I didn’t know you ever an agnostic, Nordog. I thought you were a life-long Catholic. Incidentally, how did you base your morality on nature? Something occurred in nature, so you automatically pegged it as moral, regardless of the consequences? It seems a very strange idea to me. How can nature be moral or immoral? Most of nature is not sentient. Even animals, who are fellow sentient creatures, are not tagged with those labels because we generally understand them to be incapable of moral reasoning. Even the most intelligent animals (the great apes, for example) would not be tagged as immoral for committing acts of violence towards each other.

        I’m not following your train of thought re:  nature and morality and am at a loss to understand what it you perceived to be incomplete about my previous statement. I don’t understand how something being natural or unnatural has anything to do with whether it is moral or immoral. Human beings judge actions based on consequences, and on the intent of the person committing the action. Things that occur in nature can have positive or negative consequences, but intent seems to be missing. A tornado or cancer cannot intend to commit a malicious, premeditated act of violence, nor can a sentient creature like a dog. That’s why we don’t lock up animals for rape or murder.

        As I said, I don’t based my morals on a book. Christians claim their book is a correct source of morality, but it seems nonsensical to me to look at a book and say that it is a) supernatural and b) moral because they claim it is supernatural, even when it promotes harmful things. A book is quite a subjective a source of morality, since it was written by human beings. There is nothing about it that makes it any more valid than, say, Enlightenment ideals.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    no moral judgment on their homosexuality. The HORROR !

    • Nordog

      bismarket, I find the response is better delivered if done in the voice of Col. Kurts, “The horror…the horror…”

  • Wickedss

    so let’s be upset that he dealt with the one thing that is blatantly a sin because it’s in the 10 commandments and not the part that is open to interpretation. You would think that if their god hated homosexuality as much as they seem to think it does…it would have been in their commandments….his ego is there…seems like there was room.
     

  • jakeo102

    I bet that pastor didn’t even check to see if they were committing the sin of wearing a garment of multiple materials. What a terrible religious leader, spending his time trying to unite people and stress the importance of forgiveness, all the while forgetting to teach his “sheep” of every inane moral law they were violating. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    Adultery breaks one of the  10 Commandments.  God apparently considered it a far worse sin than being gay.

    • Nordog

      I suspect you are correct.

  • Pseudonym

    What makes me cringe is that any Christian clergyperson would single out individuals to make an example of them in a sermon. I’ve NEVER been in a church where any cleric would even DREAM of doing that. It’s unprofessional and unethical. If you have a problem with someone’s behaviour, take it up privately.

  • Muxika

    “Moral judgment on their homosexuality”  <– Dividing by zero

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    During all this, the husband and wife got divorced. However, his partner’s divorce was not finalized. When North Point’s head pastor Andy Stanley found out about all this, he asked the men to step down from their posts. He could not condone the in-your-face adultery that was going on within his own church. The partner and his wife were still technically together, after all!

    Even this makes zero sense. The partner and his wife were in the process of divorcing. They were no longer together. So any “adultery” was taking place with the full knowledge of all parties. By that point, no one was being hurt or deceived. It seems nonsensical to punish the men by taking away their jobs, simply because the legal paperwork hadn’t gone through yet.

    • Stev84

       Since when is Biblical “morality” based on actual injuries?

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Pretty much never. It just makes the story even more ridiculous from an atheist point of view.

  • Servaas

    Why do you say it is awful of a human being to be upset that a pastor didn’t condemn someone hard enough? Is it wrong to condemn others? Who teaches that?

    • Glasofruix

       Kof, the bible, kof, kof…

  • JohnK

    1 Cor 5:9-13

  • JohnK

    Homosexuality isn’t natural. It doesn’t take a genuis to figure out homosexuality isn’t an effective way to procreate.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I’m just going to assume this needs a snark tag. If not, there’s so much wrong with it I wouldn’t even know where to begin.


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