Ten years ago, I was not looking for a new battle to fight.
My life and ministry were quite full, and as a Jewish believer in Jesus, I had more than enough controversy to deal with, especially since I was the author of a 5-volume series on “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.” If that doesn’t put you into the cross-hairs of religious controversy, nothing will.
Plus, between writing, public speaking (both nationally and internationally), lecturing and debating, there wasn’t much room for anything else. And then gay activism came knocking at my door – and the rest is history.
It started in 2004 with the gay pride event in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city to which our family and ministry relocated in 2003.
We were shocked to hear about all kinds of lewd and vile displays at the event, witnessed by some colleagues who then shared their dismay with me. These acts would have been vulgar if they had been heterosexual in nature, including lap dances for 9-year-olds, an open booth with pornography in the view of little children, a man exposing himself, drag queens wearing tutus (with toddlers putting money in their underwear) and more.
All this in Charlotte, North Carolina?
Then the Human Rights Campaign relocated their annual Carolinas fundraising dinner to Charlotte, with major backing from the biggest companies in the city (Bank of America and, at that time, Wachovia, now Wells Fargo) as they announced their agenda to change the nation.
Then there was the young Christian woman who taught at one of Charlotte’s highly rated pre-schools and shared her experience with me. She was required to read books like “Heather Has Two Mommies” to her 4-year-old students (she simply declined to do so, ultimately having to resign), and she was not allowed to address the kids as “boys and girls,” since that would be making a gender distinction. She was instructed to call them “friends.”
And there was the call I received from a Christian attorney friend who had been working with the ADF (now the Alliance Defending Freedom), telling me that never in a million years did he dream that, day and night, across the country, his organization would be combating gay-activist attacks on our freedoms of religion, conscience and speech.
In short, I didn’t go looking for this battle. It came knocking loudly at my door (and I’ve only shared the tip of the iceberg here).
To be sure, for many years I had preached about the dangers of sexual immorality, but my focus was on heterosexual issues.
I had seen friends destroy their ministries through adultery, I was quite aware of the many biblical injunctions to walk in purity, and I was grieved to see how no-fault divorce was destroying so many marriages. And as a heterosexual male, I had to deal with temptations like everyone else, which meant I was preaching to myself as well as to others.
But homosexuality was simply not an issue I thought about, even when a close relative of mine (a woman) married a man who had been delivered from homosexuality after coming to faith in Jesus.
I also knew that anyone who dared speak out against homosexual activism would be subject to the vilest attacks: You would be branded a Nazi, a bigoted hatemonger, and worse, be accused of being a closeted homosexual yourself.
And the more you responded to the very real issues that came knocking at your door, the more you would be accused of being obsessed with them, which would be like accusing a roofer of being obsessed with the leaks he was hired to fix.
As for the myth that people stand against gay activism in order to make money, the reverse is actually true: People often distance themselves from you because of the controversy, and you must fund most of your efforts at your own expense.
And for those of us who are involved in ministry more than politics, there’s another issue to address: While we speak out against the redefinition of marriage, the normalization of homosexuality, the media’s celebration of gay (and beyond), the attacks on our freedoms, the indoctrination of our kids, the rewriting of the Bible (and more), we often drive away people that we care about as individuals, people we genuinely want to reach.
This week, I have been attacked for writing about the NFL’s first homosexual kiss, but this was not something I was looking for either. Instead, while trying to spend a relaxing night watching sports, this was the biggest news of the day, shouted from the rooftops, so to say, with the (in)famous kiss plastered on the front pages of websites everywhere.
In response to my article, I was called a “hatemongering homophobic bigot” who “promotes violence and hatred of LGBT people.”
A couple of weeks before that, when gay websites joyfully announced that the lead singer of the Christian band Jars of Clay was supporting same-sex “marriage” – somewhat of an exaggeration, but not much – I wrote an open response to him, and it went absolutely viral.
For this I was accused of creating a “social media frenzy,” as if I was the one who started the firestorm.
To be clear, I joyfully embrace my calling, and I don’t deserve any sympathy (or praise). Not all ministry assignments are pleasant, and, as I’ve said many times before, being reviled or mocked hardly qualifies as persecution in light of the very real suffering being endured by fellow-believers around the world.
I simply write this to separate fact from fiction and to remind critics that we didn’t start this battle, and, the truth be told, for every story we address, there are 10 or 20 we ignore.
We are simply responding to the gay-activist onslaught with love and truth, not willing to surrender any more ideological or moral ground. And we can foresee the day when the tide will turn.