Thursday, 28 February 2013

Farewell Steve Chalke

by Joel Hawting | @jhawting

Now that I've got your attention with my John Piper-esque title, I'll clarify what I'm talking about. For those of you who are unaware, Steve Chalke is regarded as one of the United Kingdom's most prominent and respected preachers. He is now also very well known throughout the world for coming out in support of committed, faithful, same-sex relationships. You can read his statement here and can read an article by his good friend Tony Campolo (who is opposed to his viewpoint) here.

So what do I think? Firstly I want to start by saying that I want to make it clear that I am all for extending the love of Jesus to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. That is a given. That is our biblical mandate as followers of Christ. We are to love all people equally regardless of lifestyle. I think most Christians would agree with my view. What concerns me however, is when we as leaders compromise clear biblical truths in order to be culturally relevant in our times.

This is clearly what Steve Chalke has done in making this announcement. Steve argues that the bible condemns only non-committed same-sex erotic behaviour, and says nothing about 'same-sex Christian couples' living together in committed, exclusive relationships with one another. Unfortunately, Steve has made the choice to attempt to be culturally relevant at the expense of holding to clear biblical teaching. Steve Addison in his article accessible here, argues the point well:

"For thousands of years, God’s people have affirmed this teaching (heterosexual marriage). Steve and others have fallen into line with the current social trends, and walked away from God’s intention for marriage."

Steve Addison continues:

"Discipleship means teaching people to obey Christ’s commands. Movements are counter cultural. They follow Christ, not social trends... Disciple making movements always raise the tension with the surrounding culture. They are both radically engaged, and radically different. Fundamentalists are radically different, but radically disconnected. Progressives, like Steve, are connected with the culture, but not radically different."

Quite right. That is the tension that we battle with each day as Christians. Engaging with and living in worldly cultures, but not submitting to and 'becoming like' the worldly culture around us. Jesus was always counter cultural and he did not concede in any way from His message or from the truth of the Word of God. He stood firm in his beliefs whilst extending love, compassion and concern to all people everywhere.

The beauty of the Christian message is that it is different. It is radical. It is counter-cultural. It is salt to season an otherwise bland world. Matthew 5:13 says:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

We need to remain salty in our world. Yes, we need to extend love to Same Sex attracted people. But they key is this: the love we extend to them or anyone else for that matter,  needs to be based on the truth of the Word of God. That is true love. We are to remain salty regardless of what culture tells us is right and wrong. Let's be praying that Steve Chalke returns to a biblical view of marriage, becoming salty once again.

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