Hillsong Church's senior Pastor Brian Houston welcomes all people, including gays, into Hillsong Church, but Pastor Shane Idleman from Westside Christian Fellowship disagrees with his principle, saying that allowing homosexuals to engage in church activities all the while practicing a gay lifestyle is just plain wrong.
"Although I appreciate Brian's heart — we must love and help everyone — if we tell people that they can be members and participate in all aspects of church life even while embracing the homosexual lifestyle, we are sending the wrong message," he wrote in an article for The Christian Post.
Idleman explained that there is a huge difference between someone who is struggling with sin and someone who is embracing it wholeheartedly. He said the church's "loving confrontation" with a homosexual serves as a way to restore that person from sin, and not to legalise his presence in the church.
"Lasting hope and joy are by-products of repentance — turning from sin rather than embracing it. We actually hurt rather than help when we don't convey this truth," he said.
To be clear, Idleman believes that the message from God's heart would be: "All are welcome, but those who continue to commit unrepentant sin via a lifestyle that opposes God's cannot participate in leadership or become members."
Jesus Christ exhibited the perfect balance of grace and mercy with confrontation and correction, the pastor noted, and He wanted people to know about the truth even if it meant hurting or offending them in the process.
"We are not called to make truth tolerable but to make it clear," he stressed. "We cannot 'affirm' what the Bible clearly calls sin. Those who strongly believe in the Bible and God's will regarding sexual behavior also strongly believe in unconditional love and forgiveness."
It is a wrong perception that Christians hate or fear people who practice a homosexual lifestyle, he added, since telling people from the LGBTQ community that what they are doing is wrong is not an expression of hate but love. "To 'confront in love' simply comes from a desire to honour God and to truly love and care for others," he said.
It is not "hate speech" when Christians oppose the homosexual lifestyle, said Idleman, since God has called on them to extend compassion without compromise. However, they must spread the truth in love.
"Thank God for the wonderful work that Hillsong has done over the years, but I pray that they would reconsider their stance and wording. We can be both loving and truthful. How can we warn if we won't confront, correct if we won't challenge, and contend if we won't question?" he said.