Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to comment on the details of the Louie Giglio story. If you’re not familiar with them you can catch up here. To me, this particular non-event just isn’t that important — the presidential inaugural benediction is a symbolic gesture that doesn’t have any real significance in the grand scheme of things.
But there’s an important reminder in all this: Giglio’s views on homosexuality, despite attempts by some to paint them as extreme, are in fact normative for most conservative Christians — who are, by some counts, nearly half the population of the United States. So though one may vehemently disagree with Giglio on this topic, one can’t legitimately marginalize him as representing merely a fringe position.
For those in the realm of conservative Christendom, these beliefs regarding homosexuality are not optional. They are firm, Bible-based, God-given truths, and to say otherwise is to deny the Bible and to deny God. Why is homosexuality a sin? Because the Bible says so, right there in black and white:
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Lev. 18.22 NIV)
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. (1 Cor. 6.9 NIV)
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers — and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. (1 Tim. 1.9-10 NIV)
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. (Rom. 1.26-28 NIV)
Yes, you can exegete these verses and arrive at different conclusions about what they’re saying. Great cases have been made that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn homosexuality. But I wonder how effective such arguments really are.
Read those verses again and tell me what the Bible says. The Bible says homosexual behavior is sinful. As soon as you punt to the “real” Greek and Hebrew meanings, you’ve lost the argument. As soon as you defer to historical context and Ancient Near East culture, you’ve lost the argument. As soon as you appeal to a hermeneutic that emphasizes God’s love over legalism, you’ve lost the argument.
Arguments based on language and culture and theology, as good as they might be, simply can’t change the text of those verses — text that appears in millions of Bibles, text that is read by millions of sincere Christians, text that does seem to straightforwardly and unambiguously condemn homosexuality.
That Louis Giglio holds beliefs that are the de facto standard for Christianity shouldn’t surprise us. As with most Christians, he seems to sincerely love God and sincerely be trying to do what is right. Giglio does a great deal of important work trying to end modern slavery and human trafficking — and for this he is to be commended. But the question remains: can we recognize the extraordinary good many Christians are doing — even commend them for it — without also implicitly endorsing all of their doctrinal views?
I don’t think that all, or even most, Christians hold the views they do about homosexuality because they’re hateful or bigoted or homophobic. They hold these views because it’s what they read in the Bible. Are we to fault them for that? Or are we to love them, recognizing that we may never come to an agreement on this issue and that where we can work together, we should, and where we differ — even vehemently so — we must accept that some arguments simply can’t be won.