Jim Swilley, pastor/bishop/teacher of the Church in the Now in the Atlanta area, recently came out and told everyone he was gay and born that way. The gist of his message to his church in the mid week gathering was that he has 2 things that are from God, his calling to ministry and his sexual orientation.
I appreciate his honesty in admitting his sexual desires and attraction. I can even agree that he could have been born with this desire and attraction. But I do not agree that it is acceptable before God. All sexual lust that is not fit in the context of heterosexual monogamous marriage is sinful.
But I’m not writing this to discuss or debate the issues of homosexuality. I don’t even want to debate at this point the Swilley’s statement that Scripture is inspired but not infallible and that the straight authors did not know what they were talking about when it came to homosexuality (see the video at 31:35-33:35 and 1:06:30) What saddens me is that churches can be led astray by the power of personality. This is not just The Church in the Now, this is also a real danger for my church and other churches.
“I’ve had people in my church come to me and say, if this had been anybody but you, I would have just had a knee-jerk reaction and not even considered hearing them out,” Swilley says. “But you’ve been my pastor for a quarter of a century. I know you… so if you say that you are, and you know you were born this way, then that changes everything.”
I’m concerned that people in our church may not discern when a pastor is leading them astray against God and his Word. For people to change their view on the morality or immorality of homosexuality, based on one’s personal relationship and trust in their pastor, is terrifying. This is probably part of the reason there are so many warnings for pastors/teachers in the New Testament.
As a pastor I need to be careful to teach people the Scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ from the Scriptures. I need to teach them to be aware of false teachings and teachers. And I must constantly remind them that I and my teaching are to be assessed by Scripture. The power of personality can easily trump the authority of Scripture in our churches. I want my people to say that I’m wrong when I’m going against Christ and the Scriptures. May God give our church discernment to know Christ’s voice spoken through me and to know Christ’s voice when I’m speaking against his.