Everyone Needs to Respond to the Good News
The answer seems a no-brainer to me: Of course we ought to include gay and lesbian persons in our evangelistic outreach!
No one—absolutely no one—ought to be left out of the invitation to say yes to Jesus Christ. Why would anyone not be given access to redemption and the opportunity to switch the lordship of one’s life from self to God? Who does not need to respond in obedience and thankfulness to so great a salvation? Everyone needs to be valued enough to be evangelized.
So, yes, by all means, we must include gay and lesbian persons as part of our evangelism. I fail to see any controversy in that.
If you want controversy, mention including Jewish persons as part of our evangelism. Or better yet, if you want controversy, try simply doing evangelism in a denomination that has studiously avoided it for decades. But sharing the Good News with gay and lesbian persons outside the faith and inviting them to give their lives in submission to Jesus Christ—just as every one of us already in the church has supposedly done—now that’s not particularly controversial, as I see it.
But perhaps that isn’t what Susan Andrews was considering. Maybe she was trying to turn political social engineering into some form of ersatz evangelism. It is quite possible that she was thinking not so much of telling gay and lesbian persons about redemption through faith in Jesus Christ, but instead just kind of inviting them to join her club and be a part of this do-good social organization.
No expectations. No faith requirements. Nothing to give up, as Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do concerning his attachment to money. Just mosey on by and join our club, without paying any attention to the radical redirection of all of our life and living that is supposed to go hand-in-hand with making Jesus Lord of everything and not just chief affirmer of all that's wonderful in me.
There’s this little hang-up with sexual morality that perhaps Susan Andrews was hoping we’d just kind of paper over—you know, the thing about living our lives by God’s loving commandments rather than being controlled by our prideful sins and harmful addictions. That part about being born again, about confessing sin and experiencing metanoia (a turning of direction to follow God’s will); that part about saying “Not my will but thy will be done”—perhaps Susan would prefer to lay that aside and just tell people what they want to hear, not what they desperately need to hear.
Oh, we’d be very popular in this anything-goes world if we would simply invite people with any particular sin to celebrate it and not worry about conforming it to God’s will. We’d be hip. We’d be happenin’. We’d be the darlings of the “tolerant” set, who demand adoration of any bent other than orthodox Christianity, which oddly must not be permitted. The press would lionize such “acceptance,” as compared to the much-frowned-upon “intolerance” of orthodox Christian morality.
But we would be unloving, and we would be in opposition to the Lord of the Universe if we became sloppily antinomian. We’d be unloving by encouraging people to destroy themselves and others with ungodly actions. We'd be unloving in hiding from gay and lesbian persons the one message every one of us most needs to hear: Repent and be baptized.
We’d be in opposition to the Lord because we would withhold from people whom God loves the radical words of salvation. We’d be in opposition to the Lord because God hates sin, and no sin gets a pass, while every sin can be erased through God’s grace.
So, yes! Let us include gay and lesbian persons in our evangelism. The Good News is for every one of us sinners. Let us include them in the church—unrepentant as they taste the love of God and get exposed to the Good News of redemption, and then repentant as they are swept up in God’s overpowering love and accede to God’s lordship.
And let gay and lesbian persons—fully given to Jesus Christ as he gives them power to live chaste lives in obedience to him—reach out as evangelists to others, not with some bogus “good news” that tries to accommodate brokenness, but with the genuine Good News that Jesus saves us from any and all behaviors and proclivities, as he transforms our lives to mirror his good and perfect intent for our perfection.
Now that, I contend, would be gutsy evangelism!