Faith

Christian Response to LGBT 'Bathroom Bullies'? Listen, Share the Gospel

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Two faith leaders discussed “Bullies, Bathrooms, and Big Brother” on Saturday at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference. Speaking about the intractability of the LGBT movement, a pastor and a former pastor emphasized the importance of Christians being involved in government, listening to their would-be opponents, and articulating a compelling biblical worldview.

Jason Jimenez, a former pastor and founder of Stand Strong Ministries, joined Jimmy Siebert, the president of Antioch Ministries International and pastor at Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX. Jimenez and Siebert presented strategies to explain a Christian worldview and to defend religious freedom against what they called the bullying of activists in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement.

Christians need to educate themselves on philosophy, listen to and engage with those who disagree, and make their presence known in government. Jimenez and Siebert explained that this approach would be more effective than direct confrontation or disagreement.

Why Bullying?

While these pastors spoke about the Christian response to the LGBT movement, the best explanation of why believers feel unfairly targeted came from a questioner in the audience. Melissa Ortiz, founder of the disabled advocacy organization Able Americans, explained that she and her husband were one of only three straight couples in their neighborhood in Washington, D.C. She recalled a situation from the presidential primary.

I had a Ted Cruz sign on the back of my chair and the smaller of the two men came up and spat on me, and said, “I will never vote for him because he hates people like me.” My answer to that was to say, “Have you ever talked to him?” He looked at me and said, “you believe that Jesus Christ is your personal savior, don’t you?” And I said, “Yes, I do.” He didn’t know what to do with that.

Ortiz later told PJ Media the story of how she met Cruz and why she believed in his campaign. While other candidates (most notably Donald Trump) had treated her with disgust because of her disabled condition, Cruz spoke with her, petted her disability assistance dog, and even told stories about her canine on the campaign trail. All of this was lost on her gay neighbors, who could not stomach the idea of anyone supporting the Texas senator.

Jimenez shared his experience in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. The city passed a non-discrimination ordinance in 2014, and Jimenez attended a rally with LGBT activists. He explained that there are three major tactics they use.

The activists “trash you — I am automatically discriminatory.” Then they hijack your morality, arguing that civil rights law protects a wide variety of behaviors that transgress your community’s rights. Finally, they tell a story about the situation that makes you out to be the bad guy and their movement to be the hero.

“But these bullies — what are they doing?” Jimenez asked. “They’re doing everything they say we’re doing. They’re the ones who are discriminatory, segregating, et cetera.”

Jimenez insisted that Christians do not stoop to their level. “Bullies defame you and name-call,” he declared. “You cannot fall for that. Jesus didn’t name-call, Paul didn’t name-call.” The former pastor urged his fellow Christians “in these conversations, rather than go against or go with that they’re saying, don’t defame back.”

Next Page: The church’s struggle with LGBT issues shows how important it is for Christians to develop a robust biblical worldview.

Image Credit: Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media

Image Credit: Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

“What’s becoming more hostile is actually the church,” Jimenez warned. He recalled teaching about biblical sexual morality at a youth group, and afterwards, “I had a group of young girls come to me, and they flipped me off and they cussed me out at a youth group, because one of their friends here in the youth group was a lesbian.”

After giving the girls a talking-to, the pastor spoke with the lesbian girl, and “by the end of that conversation, the lesbian girl was praying with us.” Jimenez recalled that he had told the girls, “I’m not here to offend you, I’m here to love you, but I’m here to speak God’s truth.” After the lesbian girl prayed with him, he chastised the girls, saying, “You should be ashamed that you’re leading your friend to hell. You think that you’re doing is right, but it’s wrong.”

The former pastor criticized churches across America, calling them “biblically illiterate.” Even many megachurches do not give their parishioners an intellectually rigorous foundation on which to argue for biblical truth and morality.

Jimenez recalled a senior pastor telling him in 2010 that the church was too busy to focus on intellectual and political issues. “This was a massive multi-million dollar church, doing nothing to fight for people’s rights, doing nothing to protect the innocent, unborn babies.”

He insisted that Christianity is not a privatized faith. A biblical worldview speaks to your origin, your destiny, and morality. Jimenez listed David Silverman, president of American Atheists, as a leader in the movement “to silence Christians.” People like Silverman “are out there trying to convince people there is no God and that you Christians are to go home, go back into your churches, and stay there.”

The idea that our faith is private even extends to President Obama. Jimenez summed up the president’s argument as “you guys have a right for your practice of religion in your house of worship,” but declared that “that’s not the First Amendment.”

“The First Amendment pertains to your conscience, it contends you have a right to publicly display your religion, and it needs to be accommodated, not interfered with, by the government,” he declared. “Not a place of worship on Sundays and Wednesday nights — the First Amendment rights permeate everything.”

Nevertheless, Jimenez argued, “It’s not the David Silvermans who have silenced us, we have silenced ourselves because we have become quiet.” Christians need to understand how to argue for their faith, and they need to not be afraid to speak out in the public square. Both Jimenez and Siebert had tips about the best way to dialogue with those who vehemently disagree with the Christian worldview.

The former pastor emphasized his current role at Stand Strong Ministries, where he aims to equip Christians to explain their worldview. A biblical worldview means “seeing things the way God intended them to be seen,” and that isn’t easy to achieve or to explain. Nevertheless, a careful examination of why we believe what we believe, and how it applies in our modern culture, is vitally important for dialoguing with non-Christians.

Next Page: How to dialogue with LGBT activists — listen first.

Image Credit: Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media

Image Credit: Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Especially following the terror attack at Pulse nightclub on Sunday in Orlando, FL, it is important for Christians to be able to listen to the fears and concerns of the LGBT community. Jimenez emphasized the importance of asking hard questions and attentively listening to the answers when in dialogue with those who disagree with us.

“Ask them all the time, put the burden of proof back on them,” the former pastor declared. “Ask, ‘What do you mean by that?'” Many of those who are most adamant about LGBT issues have friends or family members who are gay, lesbian, or transgender. “One of our city council who voted for the non-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte two years ago, came to found out his daughter was gay. If he voted against the ordinance, he’d be voting against his daughter.”

Jimenez also urged Christians to ask LGBT activists how they came to their conclusions. This encourages them to really consider why they believe what they believe, and to explain it. Finally, a Christian should ask, “Have you ever considered this?” From there, we can lay out our position in a way that answers their concerns, once we have already demonstrated our willingness to consider their position.

“They may think they know about Christianity when in fact they really don’t,” the former pastor explained. “I have had to apologize for a lot of Christians and a lot of pastors. People, when you let them talk and you listen, by the time you ask ‘have you ever considered?’ they’re going to be way more open to that discussion.”

Siebert told a story of how he applied this advice. When his home city of Waco, TX had a new city manager, the leader immediately wrote a non-discrimination ordinance for the city. The pastor described this as the first move in a four-step process in the LGBT agenda, and recounted a meeting he personally had with the new city manager.

During lunch, Siebert realized the manager had a lesbian daughter. “You could see tears in his eyes from a father’s perspective, not a politician’s perspective,” the pastor said. He listened to the man’s story and understood where he was coming from, but then he got a word in edgewise. Siebert told the manager, “Your constituency doesn’t back you up: 70 to 80 percent of this city does not agree with the agenda that’s being rolled out here.”

The pastor built a political coalition, got a conservative Christian elected on the city council, and used the process as it already existed in order to defend the rights and views of his people.

“The Judeo-Christian base of the Ten Commandments is the law written on our hearts — in our hearts is our knowledge of good and evil,” Siebert argued. Christians should not just explain our morality in the public square, we should live by it, because that morality helps society to flourish. “When the Ten Commandments are followed, it is for the betterment of society,” but “when the Ten Commandments are broken, it is for the detriment of our society.”

“Whether or not they accept our worldview, out of love we have to share our worldview,” the pastor declared. “Secondly, we have to be so engaged in the community that they can’t live life without us.”

Siebert emphasized the importance of clarity and compassion when Christians do end up discussing these political principles with LGBT activists. While we must stand for our rights and explain our worldview, we should do so civilly and with understanding for our very human counterparts. After all, Christianity is about God’s love for us.

As the LGBT slogan goes, love is love — Christians just have a more nuanced, 1 Corinthians 13, understanding of what love really means.