36-Vineyard 2

“Love without Truth lies; Truth without Love kills.”

January 12, 2020, 930 AM

The website stated that church started at 930 and ended about 11 am. I assumed that meant they sang for a good half hour upfront, something I have experienced in a number of my church visits to date. I figured I could show up about 945 and be safe. However when I arrived, the preacher was already speaking. Oops. I entered through the main door at the side of the the front section so everyone could see my arrival. Oops again.

This church meets in an upstairs chapel of an old Catholic Church. The dark wooden arched beam ceiling and stone walls seem to contradict the three overhead screens and modern lighting in the band/speaker area up front. The preacher is a late 40’s/early 50’s white man with dread locks going all the way down his back. He used a hair band to hold it all back behind his ears. He also has a beard and mustache, goatee style and a number of tattoos on his arms. He often said, “right?” at the end of sentences, almost like he was asking for our agreement.

His message, based on 2 Corinthians 13:2, was that both Love and Truth are important. According to him, neither one is more essential but they both must be held in balance. I would probably differ from him on that point, but oh well. His sermon contained a number of juicy tidbits which I liked. For instance, he paraphrased 1 John 4:8, saying, “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” (“Right?”) And for a while, I felt like he was preaching well–making his point that love and truth must always be married.

However, he continued down a line of thinking that I found troublesome. First, he said it was “Satanic Brilliance” that divorced love from truth so that truth telling became evil in society. I can agree with that to some extent, but when he said, “the largest conversation today is about human sexuality.” Really? It’s a big topic, yes. But is is the “largest,” or the most important issue we’re facing in the world? Some might say abortion is the bigger conversation. Or climate change, or opioid addiction, or sex trafficking or cancer or, shit, almost anything! Therefore, his main premise was already on shaky ground, for me anyway.

He continued to explain that Truth has been lost when we changed from using the word “sex” to “gender.” He said “gender” is untethered to biology, which is God’s order for male and female, created in His image and complimentary to each other (which is not untrue, of course.) He said it was significant that the Bible begins and ends with a wedding. Right? He argued that there is room for grace for those who have same-sex attractions in the church, but not for those who practice homosexuality.

Okey, dokey. So my take is this: If I were a gay woman, I would obviously not be welcome here. However, since I am straight (so far), I guess I have to argue on the Biblical and logical merits of his position. One, the Bible condemns many other “sins” which we practice anyway. For instance, Leviticus 19:28 says,”You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” It appears the preacher didn’t take that one seriously. I also wonder if he conducted a poll asking how many of his young parishioners are virgins? I think he would find that most, if not all, of unmarried christians have had or are having sex. Sorry, I don’t buy that they’re all waiting for marriage. So, what about them? Aren’t they sinners as well? Why is one sin greater than the other? Would he insist on those practicing pre-marital sex be barred from the church?

This leads me to another point. Preacher said that we’ve divorced biology from God’s ordained order of things or something like that. Yet, science is showing that gender identity and homosexuality is likely linked to genetics. I am NOT the expert here, but a quick Google search will show you all the studies that have been done on the topic. It seems to me that it’s only a matter of time before homosexuality and gender identity is proven to be coded somewhat in our DNA–which by the way–is God’s amazing invention.

One might argue that homosexuality is another outcome of the FALL of creation–and that it was never intended to be in God’s perfect order of things. Perhaps that’s true. But if so, then all brokenness falls into that category–divorce, child abuse, prostitution, drug addiction, slavery, gluttony, pride, and on and on and on. Barring one sin from church seems exclusionary doesn’t it? No wonder Jesus went to the crowds where he found the poor, the prostitutes, the sick, the ridiculed, the outcasts, the overlooked, the ones who were not welcome in churches.

The band rose to play another few songs which were quite nice. The young man in front of me raised his hands and seemed to wipe away tears at several points. When the singing ended, the pastor came down and greeted him. A woman next to him asked if this was his first time here. He said it was his second. I waited to see if anyone would also greet me. But no one did. So, I walked back to my car the way I came in.

This church FAILED the WELCOME TEST.

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