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St. Jude, Don't Make it Bad

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St. Jude’s, the local gay church in Wilmington, NC, is one of those churches that makes me glad I’m not a “liberal” Christian. Some years ago, they ran an advertisement that read “Whatever you believe, we embrace you.”

When I saw that “whatever you believe” ad, I was tempted to go to St. Jude’s one Sunday and tell them I thought the Holocaust was a good idea and that I liked cooking cats in a microwave oven. I just wanted to see whether they actually bought into moral relativism – a philosophy so vacuous that only college professors deem it useful.

Today, St. Jude’s seems to have softened its stance on wide-open “whatever you believe” moral relativism. Their website now actually lists several “core values,” which I assume means something like “absolute truths.” Here’s what the website says specifically:

“St. Jude's is committed to expanding our Core Values into the community. We are: Christ-Centered - Holy Spirit Led, (We are) God's Love in Action, (We) Celebrate LGBTQ & Straight individuals and families.”

It’s a good thing the St. Jude gay church talks about certain “truths” or “core values” because that is what St. Jude himself talked about in verse three of his one-chapter epistle in the New Testament:

“Dearly loved friends, I had been planning to write you some thoughts about the salvation God has given us, but now I find I must write of something else instead, urging you to stoutly defend the truth which God gave, once for all, to his people to keep without change through the years.”

In other words, St. Jude was concerned that people were going to come along and start to change things that were clearly prohibited by the Bible. Maybe even celebrate them. And for those who think the New Testament preaches only forgiveness - in contrast to the Old Testament emphasis on punishment – take a look at the very next verse of St. Jude’s epistle:

“I say this because some godless teachers have wormed their way in among you, saying that after we become Christians we can do just as we like without fear of God’s punishment. The fate of such people was written long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

I doubt all of the people at St. Jude’s heavily gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered church have read verse seven of Jude’s epistle, which is quoted here in the Living Bible translation:

“And don’t forget the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, all full of lust of every kind including lust of men for other men. Those cities were destroyed by fire and continue to be a warning to us that there is a hell in which sinners are punished.”

So this is interesting. By actually celebrating homosexuality – as opposed to say, ignoring it – the St. Jude congregation is actually driving congregants towards damnation. An argument could be made for classifying this church as a hate group.

But, of course, the real St. Jude doesn’t think we should reach out to gays with anything like hate speech. In verse twenty-three he urges that we approach them with both kindness and caution:

“Save some by snatching them as from the very flames of hell itself. And as for others, help them to find the Lord by being kind to them, but be careful that you yourselves aren’t pulled along into their sins. Hate every trace of their sin while being merciful to them as sinners.”

One of my readers recently told me – in an argument about post-marital sex – that it was OK for him to be in favor and for me to be opposed. His reasoning was that he is a “liberal Christian” and I am a conservative Christian. Of course, what my reader really meant was that being a liberal Christian means having one set of rules for himself and another set of rules for everyone else.

Maybe it’s time for liberal Christians to get their own set of epistles. Maybe they should get their own set of Saints as well.

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