March 3, 2015

As one evangelical church ‘comes out’ for LGBT rights, others cast a wary eye

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Pastor Stan Mitchell’s announcement that evangelical GracePointe Church would fully affirm gay members met with a standing ovation from some members and stunned silence from others, but everybody prayed together quietly at the end of it. Photo courtesy of GracePointe Church

Pastor Stan Mitchell’s announcement that evangelical GracePointe Church would fully affirm gay members met with a standing ovation from some members and stunned silence from others, but everybody prayed together quietly at the end of it. Photo courtesy of GracePointe Church

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) The shifts and conversations within this Bible Belt congregation mirror a larger debate among American evangelicals as they engage tricky and sensitive matters of human sexuality, the authority of Scripture and a rapidly changing culture.

  • I suppose the one benefit of distasteful controversies like the one under discussion is that we get to discover which evangelical entrepreneurs are most driven by market research.

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  • James Carr

    No Christian / Jewish authority could welcome the LGBT Community as such, because of the undeniable sin attached to their actions. All people are welcome in God’s house, but any sin they magically change into virtue is impossible to accept. Adulterers know this, thieves know this, fornicators know this, as do liars, prostitutes, and those who accept abortion. God knows we are sinners, but he does not want us showcasing it as something acceptable to Him.

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  • John W

    There are some really difficult issues in Scripture, issues that require careful consideration & where believers of good conscience can agree to disagree because of the theological complexities involved.

    This isn’t one of them.

  • Greg

    Well said Mr. Carr. We know from Scripture that in prior to our Lord’s return there will be very few who hold to the values of the Gospel. Jesus saw this two thousand years ago, and couldn’t have been more spot on: “[W]hen the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:18. What this pastor has forgotten is he is to lead people to Christ, and that requires a change of heart, and a change of actions that are not in conformance with the Gospel.

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  • Gus

    Caught you again Karla. You’ve copied and pasted that same spam content more than 3 dozen times on this site. Enough already.

    CEASE AND DESIST!

  • Julian Penrod

    Note the characteristic bleats used whenever promoting homosexuality.
    Among other things, talking about “acceptance growing”. A principle is defined by its truthfulness, not by how many people are willing to embrace it because they can’t see or won’t see deep enough into the nature of the world to recognize its faults. Attitudes and tastes change, which mean that defining something only by how many accept it can be, at best, questionable. How many of those promoting this approach to homosexuality, indeed, all the sexual deviances, will deny that, at one time, the majority apparently willingly accepted slavery?
    As with so many swindles, a primary facet of the New World Order approach to sexual deviance is withholding the truth. Many, many things are avoided by the “news”, to prevent the public from realizing the truth about the practices.
    But, in fact, homosexuality demonstrates qualities of mental disorders and the other forms of deviance are no different.

  • Julian Penrod

    For example, in the case of homosexuality, consider the issue of homosexual Alabama Representative Patricia Todd. She stated openly that, if any legislators voted against her pro homosexuality agenda, she would reveal those legislators’ scandals and affairs. She displayed wholesale disinterest in how it could hurt their children and their families to have that thrust out in the open. More than that, she demonstrated a criminal intent to commit governance by coercion, extortion. That is a high crime in office! The purpose of “government” is supposed to be to act in keeping with the welfare of the public, not to do what one is told under blackmail! But Patricia Todd does not have that respect for justice! By the same token, she does not have respect for her constituency, either!

  • Julian Penrod

    Also, the matter of the Iowa sex offender law should be mentioned. As originally written, the law said that anyone who knowingly transmitted HIV/AIDS to another could be charged as a sex offender. As soon as this came out, homosexual representatives attacked it. They said it would keep homosexuals from getting tested since, them, when they transmitted HIV/AIDS in sex to another, they could be charged. But that had meaning only if they intended to have sex with others, even after knowing they had the disease! And that’s what they were saying! That knowing they could contaminate another was not enough to keep them from having sex. Their self centeredness, selfishness, narcissism and contempt for others made them not care if they gave another a dangerous disease! That is known as “depraved indifference for human life” and that is a fundamental feature of homicidal sociopaths.

  • Larry

    So Fred Phelps is the best representation of Christianity you guys can think of.

    Good to know.

  • bqrq

    Its seems like the primary purpose and mission of Religion News Service is to campaign for and promote the practice and acceptance of gay sex in Christian Churches and among Christian families. RNS has devolved into just another homosexual website with its own version of spiritual pornography that is obscene, immoral and sinful.

  • Cranmer

    Actually, you’re not really quite correct here. This is certainly one of them.

  • Cranmer

    Wow — the hate and misunderstanding you have is beyond belief. You mistake hate for the Gospel and persist in your iniquity. I’m glad to see evangelical churches recognize the truth and yet sad that people like you are still quoting the most provincial, hateful bigotry I’ve heard lately.

  • Jeff Mayhugh

    The Church cannot approve of homosexual activity unless it abandons biblical Christian morality. I think the Catholic Church presents it the best. It is not wrong to be a homosexual (we do not know if people are born this way but we do know it is a cross to bear). It is wrong to choose to engage in homosexual sexual activity. Those churches that base morality on polls eventually die (look at the Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ and a lot of others).

  • Darren

    I’m curious, a story sub-header states “Exclusive salvation questioned” by Pastor Mitchell, but never says if that’s a position he still holds. The point being, if he doesn’t believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and life (exclusively), then his position on “fully affirming” homosexuals is irrelevant as he’s a heretic on essential doctrine.

  • Darren

    Cranmer, you mistake calling people hateful and bigots with an argument worthy of what is by any definition a debatable issue. Throwing around “bigot” is just an intellectually lazy ( and hate-filled too but you missed the irony) way of cutting off debate by questioning the motive of the opposition.

  • Larry

    Except Mr Penrod is posting bigoted and hateful comments. The comments are more than warranted. Your response is either misplaced or you are simply trying to defend what is clearly a set of nonsense posts.

    Calling gays homicidal sociopaths, accusing them collectively of blackmailing political leaders, making libelous attacks on them as a group…Its all hateful and bigoted nonsense not worth discussing on alleged merits.

  • Gus

    Caught you again Karla. You’ve copied and pasted that same spam content more than 40 times on this site. Enough already.

    CEASE AND DESIST!

  • Gus

    Caught you again Karla. You’ve copied and pasted that same spam content more than 40 times on this site. Enough already.

    CEASE AND DESIST!

  • Larry

    Can you point me to the chapter and verse which says this is appropriate behavior from good Christian folk:

    “Mitchell routinely receives emails inviting him to kill himself, often including the assurance they were sent in love from other Christians”

  • Larry

    Except for the following:
    Reform Judaism
    Reconstructionist Judaism
    Jewish Renewal
    Humanistic Judaism
    North America
    MCCNY, a church in New York City.
    Grace Gospel Chapel, in Seattle.
    Affirming Pentecostal Church International
    The Anthem Network
    Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
    AXIOS – Eastern and Orthodox Gay and Lesbian Christians Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Community of Christ
    Ecclesia Gnostica
    Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Ecumenical Catholic Communion
    Episcopal Church (United States)
    Evangelical Anglican Church In America
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
    The Evangelical Network
    Friends General Conference
    Friends of Jesus Fellowship
    Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT-affirming_Christian_denominations
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT-affirming_denominations_in_Judaism

    You may say they aren’t real Christians or Jews, but your opinion…

  • Larry

    …doesn’t negate their existence or their beliefs.

    I must learn how to be more concise thanks to the character limit feature.

  • TJ

    Gender is foundational to God’s creation. God made mankind male and female. Gender comes with Divine expectations. The Bible does not support racism or slavery (Bible regulates slavery and divorce, but disapproves of both. . . free to serve the Lord is the ideal.). Christians led the abolitionist movement and civil rights. They won the argument because the Bible supported their position. Denying that body and soul have a clear connection divides the person in an unhealthy way. Gender comes with gender roles described in the Bible. Bible believing Christians will never sign on to the homosexual political agenda that obliterates the meaning of man and woman. Liberal denominations have liberated themselves from scripture and the Lord Jesus Himself. These kind of churches are shrinking. For those who still believe the Bible, you are about to become outcasts for being homo-racists. I find it sad that gays want to use the power of government to force people of faith to submit.

  • Malcom Warner

    “don’t work for the majority of evangelicals who take biblical prohibitions on homosexuality at face value. ”

    But don’t take the biblical prohibitions on eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics at face value. Interesting……

  • The Last Don

    The issue of homosexuality from God’s standpoint is so well known and recorded that it shouldn’t even have become an issue. Not only is this pastor in trouble for his stance on affirming sin he has also caused division within the church which is equally evil.

    “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them”.
    Roman 16:7

  • Jim

    Every church has members that other members would prefer went somewhere else. If doing justice to gay people makes these people pack up and leave, then that’s as good a way as any to be rid of them. GracePointe will recover and then thrive; soon nobody will miss the deserters–if anybody truly misses them now. This kind of intimidation gambit works at most only once. There’s no such thing as a walkout redux. Apparently GracePointe is not intimidated. Good for them. Fresh air and courage will root out any infestation of bigots. The church is always better off without them. For GracePointe, this is an opportunity, not a loss.

  • Christina

    Sign of the times. Church in apostasy. Bowing to caesar. Compromising to save the flesh. Leading others into apostasy. Homosexuality is a sin. See Romans 1; 26-27, 1 Cor. 6; 9-11, Leviticus 18 & 20. The truth doesn’t change. Repent now while there’s still time. Salvation is in Christ alone. See bible.

  • Larry

    So you don’t accept the entire word of God as put down in the Bible. You find excuses and work arounds for the parts you find inconvenient.

    Why do you hate the Bible so much Karla?

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  • James Carr

    They think they are Christian/Jewish “churches”, but they are not if they remove anything from what is known infallibly as God’s Word……..

  • Garson Abuita

    What in “God’s word” prevents those Jewish denominations from welcoming the LGBT community?

  • Larry

    They exist. They identify as Christian and Jewish. Their identity as such is not subject to your opinion on the matter.

    If you don’t like them calling themselves Jewish or Christian sects, tough luck.
    Its not your decision or in your power.

    But you can’t claim in any good faith that Christian and Jewish sects which accept LGBT do not exist. They do, you just don’t like it.

  • Larry

    So in other words uncivil hateful behavior is perfectly OK for Christians. You certainly weren’t really criticizing such behavior. Far from it. You were extolling it and the reasons behind it.

    Telling a member of the clergy to kill themselves is acceptable in your brand of Christianity, because you are doing it in God’s name. That good old Christian relativistic two-step. Do something malicious and claim its OK because God says so.

  • J

    I am not Jewish, I can eat whatever I want. Acts 10:15, Col. 2:16.
    I am a Christian, have no doubt about that. 1 Cor. 10:21, Luke 16:13

  • Shawnie5

    Nah, no need to go that far. Along with Ben, we can simply ignore the issue until we see the police reports and proof that these alleged email actually came from Christians.

  • Shawnie5

    Show me where the Bible says God judged Gentiles for eating shellfish, and I’ll show you where it says God judged Gentiles for sexual immorality. Deal?

  • Big Giant Head

    Absolutely right.

  • I’m sure it makes some people feel warm and fuzzy all over to see that some so called churches and some so called pastors “affirm gay marriage”, but God still condemns it. I don’t expect Him to change His position any time soon. If you prefer to listen to lies and liars then you will be happy with such “affirmations” from men, but you will be condemned by God. I prefer to do what God wants and I really don’t care what man has to say. There is great peace in this. Jesus spoke the truth 24/7. He never lied. If you seek truth and peace and joy in your life you will find it in the Son of God who died for you. Receive Him as Savior and Lord, turn away from evil and lies, and you will know God’s peace and forgiveness and walk in His joy.

  • Um .. I don’t think you understood his reply.

    He was saying that you will not find any support for those emails in the Bible, just as you won’t find any support for homosexual acts in the BIble.

  • Its obvious that you haven’t taken Scripture as a whole. Moses gave us the Moral and Purity laws that encompassed what God wanted his Covenant people to adhere to before Christ’s coming.

    Peter was given the vision about the ‘unclean’ foods, which shows that the New Covenant people did not have to adhere to those restrictions.

    However, the moral law was never superseded or negated, it remains in force today.

  • Nice Red Herring you’re waving around here.

  • l

    Nobody said speech is ‘ok’. However, that doesn’t mean Mitchell or the other ‘pastors’ are right. He and others like yourself are trying to see something in scripture that isn’t there, and if it is there, doesn’t mean it was ‘ok’ to do.

    Scripturally speaking, he isn’t a pastor.

  • l

    How is it hateful? Hateful is when there’s evil intent. Telling TRUTHFUL information about something that DID happen, is TRUTH. Not hate.

    Hate is KNOWING the truth, but denying the truth and calling someone else hateful for doing so.

  • l

    Unfortunately, there’s almost nowhere you can go in ‘christian’ circles today and get the truth. christian post, christian science monitor, name them without almost exception, are now speeding up the formation of the apostate ‘church’.

  • l

    That’s not a catholic church thing. That’s just being correct on the basis of sex throughout church time.

  • l

    Yeah… I noticed that too. Take a look at the UPC.. TD Jakes I believe came from that branch as well. I could be mistaken.
    http://www.apologeticsindex.org/j11.html

  • l

    A name is a name. Doesn’t mean anything. Just means a name. Those who ‘affirm’ what God does not… are not. At least that’s what He said.

  • l

    How about

    26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations (sex) for unnatural ones(sex with each other).

    27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve

  • Garson Abuita

    I, I’m not sure if you were responding to my comment, but if so, citations to the New Testament are irrelevant to Jewish law and practice.

  • l

    Got to Leviticus then. 18:22. Plain as day for Jews.

  • l

    What is ‘welcoming’ mean?

  • l

    Doesn’t matter Larry. You can call yourself a tree if you want, but if you don’t look or act as one, then you’re not a tree. If one doesn’t abide in Christ, abide in His Word, then Jesus Himself said, you are not of me. Not one jot nor title will fade away.

  • l

    So, who’s arguing one can continue to live as a drunkard, adulterer, pedophile, thief or divorce (unless because of adultery or death) any of the other things and still continue in the faith?

    Tweet, tweet, tweet.

  • Garson Abuita

    The Torah’s prohibition on anal sex between males does not prevent welcoming LGBT persons any more than the Torah’s prohibition on working on the Sabbath prevents welcoming people who drove to synagogue that day. As for what “welcoming” means, I was responding to James Carr’s use of the term above when he asserted “,No Christian / Jewish authority could welcome the LGBT Community as such, because of the undeniable sin attached to their actions.” So you’ll have to ask him.

  • l

    Until you define what ‘welcoming’ is, you’re playing a game.

    Nobody has ever been denied a seat at any church I’ve ever attended whether Conservative or IFB. I’ve been attending for approximately 45 years. So, you’re “WELCOME” to attend church. However, ‘welcome’ isn’t the same as your saved because I’m going to continue to sin against God because I won’t abide by His Word.

  • Garson Abuita

    Like I said, it was someone on your side of the debate that used the term “welcoming.” I was responding to him. As to whether someone is “welcome” in church not meaning that person is “saved,” I have no stake in that argument so I won’t argue with you.

  • Hurting

    Don’t judge those that left GP. You don’t know our reasons for leaving. By your statement you are more of a bigot than those that left. Dont let this issue make you into a promoter of false truth.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Moderators, why is it permissible for Karla to spam this website with her same diatribe again and again and again, but unacceptable for Gus to call her on her spam?

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Homophobia is a mental disorder, not a “principle.”

  • CarrotCakeMan

    But it’s OK for anti-gays to attack loving, committed same gender Alabama couples and their many children? What did their children ever do to hurt you?

  • CarrotCakeMan

    You’re correct, I. Anti-gays routinely try to “project” their own misdeeds onto their intended LGBT victims.

  • Diogenes

    Abandon all hope, ye who enter herein (RNS).

  • Marie

    I watched a dear co-worker commit slow suicide because of self-loathing. Soon after I met him as an incredible intern, I wanted to introduce him to some beautiful, kind, devout, out gay folks who could support him in our small field. Little did I know he was closeted – I saw him doing his best to form authentic connections. So I just tried to be a friend.

    A few years later, he worked himself to the bone. I asked “Dear D, why so run down?” “C, if I stop, I’ll remember how much I hate myself.” He soon contracted pneumonia, and died a few weeks later. Though he had attended an Episcopal church while alive, his parents held the memorial service at his childhood evangelical church. The minister preached hellfire and didn’t – mention – his – name – once.

    This will haunt me forever.

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  • Jeremy

    The message of the Gospel is reconciliation with God through Christ…and being transformed into a new creation, not being at peace with yourself. Christ says, “Deny yourself, repent, let me transform you.”…Stan Mitchell says, “Be at peace with yourself, God loves you just the way you are.” At some point, we as believers need to decide who to trust…and who to serve. This man is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, teaching a false gospel to Christians who aren’t deeply rooted enough to not be blown around or tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine that comes along that is contrary, crazy enough, to what God says about Himself. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

  • Ilarraza

    Jesus is the standard for Christian behavior. If these folks that sent the hate mail Identify as Christians they are grossly mistepresenting Biblical Christianity. Love is the fruit of the Spirit and they have it not!

  • Robert Mendez

    Amen!

  • Robert Mendez

    Keep the faith bro. Praying for you, You speak the truth of God. God bless!

  • Robert Mendez

    Amen!!!! She speaks the truth! Im so glad that I have another sister in Christ that speaks the truth! I will see you in Heaven!

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  • ConcernedDisciple

    “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:15-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    Stan is now working on his 2nd divorce, was removed from Christ Church for sleeping with multiple women in the church in between marriages and refusing to seek counseling. He is bearing fruit and his followers refuse to recognize it. In a short time, we will find out he is now gay. He has opened the gates of hell in his soul and taking others with him. God have mercy!