Imagine that we’re having a conversation about Adrian. I assume that you must be talking about Adrian Peterson, a 6’1,” 220-pound, real-life black man who is perhaps the greatest running back in the history of football. But as you describe Adrian, it becomes clear that we’re not thinking of the same person. The Adrian you’re thinking of is a 5’4″ white woman who is the fictional recipient of Rocky Balboa’s famous “Yooooooo, ADRIAN!” shout in multiple Sylvester Stallone movies.
In short, there are many times when two people use the same word to mean very different things. This is especially pronounced when the attributes each person ascribes to the person in question are different in terms of essential characteristics. If you’re talking about Adrian Balboa from the Rocky movies, and you describe her as being 5’3″ and having black hair, there’s no reason to think you’re discussing an entirely different person, since being off by a few shades of color and an inch are not significant, essential errors. But it becomes clear very quickly that Adrian Balboa and Adrian Peterson are not the same person.
This is also obvious in theological issues. Muslims and Christians both worship “God,” but the God being worshiped is obviously not the same person. If there’s disagreement about essential characteristics, you simply aren’t talking about the same thing. I’m hammering this point because understanding essential characteristics is the only way to recognize when the line has been crossed from two people having slightly different understandings of the same thing, and two people using the same word to talk about completely different things. Let’s get specific:
In the same way that being a man and a real person are essential characteristics of Adrian Peterson, Scripture defines The Gospel’s essential characteristics in Romans 1:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
We see this again in John 6:
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Again in Ephesians 1:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
I could multiply verses, but the conclusion is unavoidable: the Gospel saves all who believe in it. This is an essential characteristic of the Gospel. If you teach something that does not save everyone who believes in that teaching, then what you’re teaching isn’t the Gospel. Almost every Christian on earth believes that the earth is round (hopefully all of them), but it’s possible to go to Heaven while believing in a flat earth. Additionally, there will be many people who go to Hell, despite believing that the earth is round. There’s a simple reason for that: the roundness of the earth isn’t the Gospel.
The Gay-Affirming gospel
This is why a “gay-affirming Christian” is a contradiction in terms. (For the purpose of this article, “gay-affirming” means that you don’t believe that the homosexual lifestyle must be repented of.) We know for a fact that those who live a homosexual lifestyle will not go to Heaven, since Scripture says that explicitly in I Corinthians 6. This means that the gay-affirming gospel must not be the real Gospel, otherwise it would save homosexuals who believe in it, instead of searing their consciences and making the road to Hell more comfortable. This is just like the roundness of the earth: since it’s possible to believe the gay-affirming gospel and still go to Hell, it must not be the real Gospel. It’s a counterfeit.
Some may protest that the gay affirming gospel isn’t actually a gospel at all. Perhaps it’s just an error? This might sound reasonable, but it falls apart on closer examination. Scripture defines the Gospel as “the power of God unto salvation.” So an essential characteristic of the Gospel is that it is how God saves us. Contrast this with the gay-affirming gospel: while the true Gospel is God’s instrument of salvation, the gay-affirming gospel is Satan’s instrument of damnation. Quite literally, Satan uses the gay-affirming gospel to deceive homosexuals into thinking that they do not need to repent, and that is the means by which he confines them in torment forever. If what you believe is Satan’s instrument of damnation, that makes it a false gospel.
Dealing With The Gay-Affirming Heresy
Now that we’ve established that gay-affirming gospel is not the true Gospel, how are we to view the gay-affirming gospel? Scripture tells us exactly what to think of a false gospel:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The word “accursed” here means “cut off.” The Apostle of Jesus Christ commands us to cut off from the church anyone who preaches another gospel. The meaning is clear: anyone who preaches the gay-affirming gospel must be immediately thrust into the church discipline process outlined in Matthew 18, culminating in excommunication if they refuse to repent.
But doesn’t it seem a little harsh to kick someone out of the fellowship of the church, just because they endorse homosexuality? It might seem so, but part of being the people of God is doing what God says, even if it seems harsh. The Bible demands that those who preach another gospel be excommunicated. The gay affirming gospel is another gospel, so those who are gay-affirming must be excommunicated.
What About Those Who Are Gay-Affirming Out Of Ignorance?
The first thing we should understand is that it is extremely difficult to be gay-affirming out of ignorance. The Bible verses calling homosexuality an abomination are some of the most famous verses in the entire Bible. Further, as Romans 1 explains, homosexuality is the sort of unnatural sin that is especially repulsive to right-thinking people (we should seek to be repulsed by all sin, but this one shouldn’t require any special effort). It’s only possible to hold the Gay-Affirming Heresy by being thoroughly indoctrinated in the spirit of the age. Almost everyone knows, deep down, that homosexuality is wrong. Even lost people who have never darkened the doors of a local church. The parts don’t fit, so it’s pretty clear that the Designer never intended the parts to be used that way.
But let’s say that a member of the congregation did actually find a way to be gay-affirming out of ignorance. In this case, we apply what has already been said: “anyone who preaches the gay-affirming gospel must be immediately thrust into the church discipline process outlined in Matthew 18, culminating in excommunication if they refuse to repent.” The important thing to understand about the Matthew 18 process is that it can stop at any time. The whole thing can be over in an instant. The sinner just has to repent. In this case, the gay-affirming person just has to repent of approving and endorsing what God hates.
I’ve called it the Gay-Affirming Heresy a few times, so I’ll explain what that means: a heresy is something that puts you outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. A damning heresy is something that if you die believing it, will be the instrument of your damnation. If you don’t believe that Jesus is God, you aren’t a Christian who has some unique ideas. You aren’t a Christian at all. In the same way, the Gay-Affirming Heresy is a damning heresy. If you believe it, you aren’t a Christian at all. You believe a false gospel that sends people to Hell. You believe another Gospel, which means you are cut off from Christ and His Church until you repent.
Let’s pray for those who are deceived by this heresy, that God would grant them repentance and bring them to the knowledge of the truth.