Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, just “removed himself” from his spot on the program for President Obama’s upcoming inauguration ceremonies. Giglio was slated to deliver the benediction at the event in DC later this month.
Giglio’s self-removal simply saved the President’s inauguration team from doing the deed themselves. (Most suspect they essentially pushed Giglio out of the door). As soon as Giglio’s 15-20 year old sermon manuscript in which Giglio called homosexuality sin surfaced and began causing a stir among gay rights supporters this outcome was a fait accompli.
First of all, while I do not like it, I certainly understand that the first president to endorse gay marriage can hardly be “prayed” into office by a relatively conservative evangelical pastor, who so far continues to stick to his past comments about what God has to say about homosexuality. Giglio obviously understood this as well, and withdrew.
It is very unfortunate for Giglio, who has done an incredible job of spotlighting the issue of human trafficking and slavery in recent years, using his event the Passion Conference as the prime platform to draw attention to the tragic reality. His presence on the inauguration agenda could have clued millions more into what is going on in the dark, but now he will be just be another “hater,” to be kicked to the curb for committing the ultimate cultural taboo in America today: speaking God’s truth about homosexuality.
Whoever may “pray” Obama into office is not my issue or concern… and Obama might as well be prayed into office by a Scientologist as far as I am concerned, (though I doubt they do much praying). Since I suppose that whoever he does ask to replace Giglio is highly unlikely to articulate the humbling of self before God, repenting, seeking God’s face or any of the other things that 2 Chronicles 7:14 says is required for a nation to receive God’s favor and blessing.
What strikes a real chord with me here is the hypocrisy and religious bigotry on display. Do we remember something that happened in the 2008 campaign? Do you remember Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago? During Obama’s campaign, videos of Wright’s sermons, full of extremely anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric began to surface. At first Obama downplayed it, saying he never heard such things when he attended, then he eventually acknowledged the comments were inappropriate but did nothing, finally after dropping in the polls a bit, he disavowed Wright and terminated his membership at the church.
Apparently Obama can sit under the teaching of a pastor for years who is spewing anti-Semitism, and anti-Americanism, but an evangelical pastor calling homosexuality a sin by quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9, 15 years ago is so egregious it cannot be tolerated. Adding to the irony, also in that 2008 election, Obama refused to endorse gay marriage.
It occurs to me that there is a movement in evangelicalism today that is awesome and inspiring, yet fraught with peril. Large urban evangelical churches have discovered that nothing motivates 20-somethings like an uber-compassionate global cause. Fighting AIDS in Africa, providing shoes around the planet, digging wells, you name it and evangelicals are currently battling it. The good that is being done and will be done by evangelicals in the third world is exponentially more than past generations ever dreamed. I am sincerely amazed at the capacity of young believers today to care about and do something about the “least of these” in this generation. These efforts where once left to the non-evangelicals to tend to, as evangelicals feared the creeping “social gospel” aspects of it all.
It is amazing to see what this generation of young evangelicals is doing in places like Haiti, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, fighting AIDS in Africa, providing shoes and clean water across the globe, battling slavery and human trafficking (Giglio and Passion City Church’s pet project), and the list goes on and on.
But here is the peril. Many of the 20-somethings I know seem convinced that when the secular world/ mainstream media/ prevailing culture sees all this “love of Jesus” on display it will melt their hearts toward Bible believers. After all, hasn’t that always been the accusation… we are mean, narrow, and lacking compassion? Look at us now! We put the old Peace Corps to shame, and we do it without all the “weed” and hemp sandals. Surely they will like us now? They will like our Jesus and us. The events surrounding Giglio getting kicked to the curb should open our eyes.
Do not be fooled. They will only like you and your Jesus as long as you sit quietly in the corner and never mention the stuff Jesus really said and believed and the order and purpose with which he created us, and human sexuality. I recall Jesus, out of love and compassion, pointing out a few sinful behaviors himself. What point is there in a Bible or a church or a religion stripped of any definitive truth? If we can only embrace a truth that never confronts the sin in all of us, how true could it be? I heard one liberal commentator suggest in the aftermath of this that Obama should not take his oath of office with hand on Bible, because the Bible just causes too many problems these days and “no one really believes the things in it anyway.” It does give one pause. Why is Obama bothering to take an oath with hand on a book that he is this embarrassed to associate with?
So here is the only conclusion… You can go along with America hating and anti-Semitic garbage for years from your actual pastor and get elected President, but under no circumstances, can you tolerate a few seconds of perfunctory prayer from a guy who has done a world of good for decades, if he dares to have believed and quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9 two decades ago?
America seems to have discovered a new state religion. A faith in which freedom of speech extends just to the limits our newer sensibilities which state that there is now no such thing as sin… and you can believe anything you want as long as you never step on the wrong toes, or call out the wrong sin or sinner! Just ask Louie Giglio.
And the truth shall set you free,