It’s really hard to see a fellow brother in the LORD, Sammy Rhodes, genuflecting all over himself about the tragedy in Orlando. Rhodes is a fellow PCA pastor for RUF at the University of South Carolina. He goes to great pains to “confess his sin” of not doing enough for the LGBTQ crowd, as if, somehow he and all of Christendom, are really guilty for what happened in Orlando. It seems Mr. Rhodes is only a few steps away from abandoning all principles of the gospel in order to openly embrace gays, their lifestyle, and all that they want.
The sad reality in his words, besides giving himself over to emotionalism, is that it sounds like he is abandoning the one actual tool he has at his disposal for reaching the LGBTQ crowd: preaching the gospel. All other attempts are nothing but window dressings in the Twin Towers.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting (which doesn’t feel like a strong enough word), amidst the shock and grief of how broken the world can be, one thought particularly convicted me. Honestly it was a tweet from author and lesbian Támara Lunardo: “Straight friends, especially you Christians, please know: We hear your silence so loud.”
I’ve been part of that silence. I’ve (often) cared more about my theology appearing “correct” and orthodox than I have about loving millions of LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
This is my attempt at an apology. I’m speaking mainly for myself, although I hope I’m not alone.
Please forgive us that it took Orlando to open our eyes to the pain we’ve caused by our silence and indifference. Our eyes should have been opened so much sooner.
He starts out making an apology for himself, then quickly includes “us.” I really don’t wish to be a part of this, for it buys into the premise that what took place in the Orlando night club last week, is “our” fault. It is not our fault. It is the shooter’s fault and the religion he follows. We are not responsible for the actions of this Muslim, or any other Muslims’ endeavors into terrorism. They are responsible for their own actions.
As for Mr. Rhodes eyes being open, maybe that is a good thing. Islam has only been killing gays for the last 1,000 years or so, along with Christians, and Jews, and anyone else who hasn’t bowed the knee to their false religion.
Please forgive us for not standing with you against the evil of hate. As if somehow you deserved that hate.
How do you propose doing that Mr. Rhodes? And exactly how are gays standing against hate? Haven’t you noticed the rash of attacks on Christians by gays, either in bakeries, photography establishments, or other areas occupied by Christians? Haven’t you noticed their hatred toward us because we dare to preach God’s word? Haven’t you noticed the vitriol against those who stand for the faith like the owners of Chick Fil-A and Hobby Lobby? Exactly how is the LGBTQ crowd standing against hate Mr. Rhodes? Please, tell us.
Remember, the aroma of what we are. To them, we are the aroma of death. They don’t exactly want us hanging around because the Spirit convicts them of their sin. We don’t have to say a word.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Given this truth, are you saying we should punt who we are so we can band together with the sinner? And are you willing to actually share the gospel with them? Or do you just want to stand with them symbolically, kind of like you are standing with your theology, symbolically. If so, let me ask you this, what fellowship does light have with darkness?
I wish you would have stopped there, but you don’t. You continue on in your emotional, but thoughtless and theologically devoid blather.
Please forgive us for not supporting you in the face of injustice and inequality, not just as fellow Americans, but as fellow image bearers of God. We’ve worshipped our own comfort and rightness more than we’ve loved you.
This really reveals your hand. We should not be seeking equality for gays. We should be seeking their repentance from this wicked lifestyle, which is sinful, an abomination to God. So standing with them, and supporting them, is only affirming them in their sin. Remember, you took vows to preach the gospel, uphold the Westminster Confession of Faith, and nowhere are you called upon to stand with sinners in a fight for equality so that they remain in their sin.
Mr. Rhodes, you really need to think about what you are saying in this post, and repent of it’s thoughtlessness. I’m really quite surprised that you are an RUF minister, leading our college students in the gospel. Do you truly believe in the gospel? If you did, then you would think more clearly about what your are saying. I know you may be crushed at the death of the 49 people in that bar in Orlando. It is a sad event. But to make Christians, your brothers and sisters, the Bride of Christ, out to be the ones who are wrong, is clearly misguided. Then to say that you are sorry for not standing with the LGBTQ crowd in solidarity in their fight to be treated equally is really not your calling. We don’t want them to stay gay. We want them to repent, believe, and be saved.
Please forgive us for all the jokes and opinions so arrogantly spoken, making you undoubtedly feel less human and more alone. We’ve been so careless with our words.
Well, maybe you have been careless. Maybe you have joked about the gay lifestyle. But remember, the jokes about the gay lifestyle were part of Hollywood’s plan to make the gay life acceptable to us. Remember Friends? Ross was divorced because his first wife decided she was a lesbian. It was part of the gay agenda, used to make homosexuality more acceptable and mainstream. So put the blame where it belongs, in Hollywood, not on the Bride of Christ.
Please forgive us for talking at you more than listening to you. For hiding our tragic lack of humility behind the Bible. For being more like Job’s counselors than anything resembling Jesus.
Again, your assumptions are far off base. As those called to preach the gospel, we are to listen to His word, not the words of sinners. We don’t seek their counsel (remember Psalm 1). Our calling is to preach the word and pray that God gives them ears to hear. We are not called to sit and listen to them complain about how we won’t accept them in their depravity. What parent ever puts up with that kind of thinking when dealing with children? Sorry I disciplined you for stealing, son. I guess I just need to listen to you better in your excuses for stealing.
Remember Mr. Rhodes, the Bible actually condemns homosexuality. We are not called to listen to the sinner give excuses about their sinfulness, but are called to call them to repentance. Do you remember that repentance?
I really can’t cover every one of your errors, Mr. Rhodes. Your words are insulting, thoughtless, and careless, but I will allow your last words to close out this post:
I know these words fall short. But my hope is they could be something like the starting place of repentance, at least for me. Come Lord Jesus.
Yes, you are correct. You need to begin in repentance, but not for the reasons you state. You need to repent for your betrayal of the gospel. You might want to start there and quit acting like the church hasn’t done enough to make sinners feel welcome in their sin.
UPDATE: For further reading, Carl Trueman weighs in with Zero Sum Game: What Is An Apology? Key Quote:
There is much to commend. It is good that he is apparently abandoning his habit of telling anti-gay jokes and of quietly using pornography – at least, that seems to be the only fair reading of an apology offered ‘mainly for myself.’ Most of us, I hope, did not need Orlando to help us stop doing those things. I would suggest it is also appropriate to confess such things to his congregation, elders, and presbytery too. If he is really speaking mainly for himself, that is.
That should help us understand how absurd Mr. Rhodes post truly is.
SECOND UPDATE: Reformed University Fellowship, the college ministry organization of the Presbyterian Church in America, to which Mr. Rhodes belongs to, put forth this statement yesterday in an attempt to distance themselves from Mr. Rhodes statements:
“Reformed University Fellowship joins with the wider church and world in grief and shock over the events in Orlando, Florida. The murder of 49 people by a man inspired by hate and moved to terror is tragic. We mourn over the loss of lives and grieve with their families and loved ones. We also recognize the shooter targeted the LGBT community as focus of his hate. We reject that hate and intend to do all we can to not only mourn with them but to extend every amount of love and sympathy to the LGBT community.
We expect all our Campus Ministers as compelled by the love of Christ to model this in their life and work.
As a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America we also maintain without reservation the church’s position on sexuality. Specifically that the biblical standard of sexual ethics is fidelity within heterosexual marriage or chastity outside of such a marriage. And in bringing the whole counsel of God to students on campus, this biblical ethic is clearly taught and practiced.
We expect all our Campus Ministers as compelled by the same love of Christ, and as a matter of integrity and fidelity, to assert, maintain and defend this view.”
I’m glad they have taken some sort of stand.