Recently I wrote an article in response to the controversy created by Pastor Alistair Begg's remarks and advice regarding a Christian's attendance at a same-sex or transgender ceremony. This reignited the debate over being judgmental toward others.
Being judgemental for Christians and for our society has become the unpardonable sin and has placed a lot of pressure on people who are trying to live by what God's Word teaches.
Disagreeing has quickly become "hate" speech and has been classified as "Pharisaical" because all of us have sin in our lives. It is true we all have sin in our lives. We all have things we are working on. But my understanding of the same-sex community and transgender community is that these ceremonies and relationships are not temporary, they are lifelong choices to engage in relationships that are counter to God's Word.
To stand against the modern day's progressive view of relationships is to create a potential angst that unleashes judgement on us from a society that has decided to redefine things in a way that is contrary to God's Word.
Pastor Begg agrees that these relational choices are sin but believes that to avoid attending formal ceremonies will send the message of being "judgmental".
I realize there is not a verse in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not attend a same-sex ceremony." So, we are left to discern what is wise in this situation.
Pastor Begg's argument is that "If we don't go, 'they' will perceive us as judgmental", but if we do go, how will Jesus perceive us?
Yes, if we must error, we should error on the side of grace and love over being judgemental. But love, as 1 Corinthians tells us, doesn't rejoice with unrighteousness. So, deviating from God's perspective is not demonstrating love. If you said to your loved one 'are you okay if I come and stand with my face turned away from your altar' and they said 'yes', then I would say 'go'.
If you can go and stand for truth while showing love, always do this. But giving into our loved ones and being silent publicly is never advocated in the Bible. Matter of fact, Matthew 18;15-19 gives us the roadmap for how to engage our loved ones who profess Christ but are in sin. We go privately, we go with a small group, then we go publicly and publicly stand against their sin for their own sake. This is what we are to do for those we love and are in relationship with.
Trust me, I realize personally how painful and prolonged this pain can be. It is excruciating to walk through life standing against your loved ones for the sake of the Gospel. But rarely are the right thing and the easy thing the same thing in God's economy.
Jesus' actions were never to gain the approval of humanity. He made it clear that He came to do the Father's will. Pharisees, however, did what they did to look righteous but were simply self-righteous in their own eyes, not God's.
Being judgemental and being perceived as judgemental by those who want acceptance for their sin are two different things. If God and His Word believe you are 'judgemental' you'd better listen. But if it is people who are wanting to justify their sin, or silence your witness, or minimize the convictions of God's Word lived out in your life through your relationship with them, I would encourage you to say the same thing Peter said in Acts 5:29: "It is better to obey God rather than man."
Jesus Himself had to deal with this issue and the burden of either obeying God or making his family happy with his actions. At certain points, his own biological family was not happy with Him for how He was living His life. He dealt with the same things we have to deal with.
His family came to rebuke him in Matthew 13:48 and here is what He said: "'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'"
Wedding ceremonies and funerals are family centric and some of the most delicate moments of a family unit. They show what's there or what's not there and expose the truth and love we share or don't share with one another in the name of Jesus.
Pastor Begg's argument is: go, take a gift and your loved ones will feel loved by you and not judged. And this love will give you the best chance to speak into their life so God can change them down the road. But listen to what Paul said about a couple who was doing things sexually and in essence attempting to redefine the marriage bed themselves in 1 Corinthians 5:1:
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with is father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?"
Sounds judgmental to me.
Why would God have the Apostle Paul give such advice? He tells us why. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:3,
"I have already passed judgement in the name of the Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord."
What does this mean? It means sometimes you must give up the physical relationship of a loved one in order to give them over to their destruction so that God can deal with them and save them in the end.
Trust me, this is excruciating to do and even harder to live. But this is God's will and God's plan for those who redefine His Truth while claiming His name. Our love can't contradict God's Word. Our trust in His sanctifying work in another's life must exceed our attempt to control the relationship through 'perceived' non-judgmental actions.
God requires us to turn our loved ones over to Him and get out of the way.
This is not easy, but may God give you and I the grace to carry this silent burden of love for our loved ones, for their salvation, even if everyone else around us perceives us as 'judgemental'. May God give us the confidence that this is what God's love requires of us for them.
As I said earlier, the easy thing and the right thing are rarely the same thing in God's economy.