This post, in a rapid departure from my usual format, is in response to an open letter by David to Vicky Beeching. I’ll confess I have not read the book in question and am simply responding to the form and content of the blog post in question.
In your open letter, you have the following words to say, and it is by according to these words that I will reply to you.
I’m not quite sure what you mean by the door of my heart, but I hope it is always open to reflect the glory of the God who is love. I also want to keep open the door of my mind and be open to reason, evidence and persuasion.
I hope, therefore that we can reason together. However, for us both, this will be tinged with the same conflict of interest – blogs by their very nature are about public attention and love in its nature is not. Let us continue then, assuming the very best of intentions but with the full knowledge that we are flawed.
You had a choice of many words to describe this section of your letter. You could have chosen “sadness”, “pain”, or “hardship” all of which imply empathy (an element of love). Instead, you chose horror which implies something from which you recoil. I wonder where you are going with this.
I hope that you are not using the classic ad hom tactic of taking a few stupid and evil threats and then implying that anyone who disagrees with you is somehow responsible for, or endorsing them.
Careful laddy, your inner pharisee is showing. You are off to a pretty aggressive start here, David. Don’t forget that love, as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13:7, seeks to see the best rather than look for the worst as you have done. Given your introduction, I expected better of you.
Empathy is first an action
Your apparently purposeful word choice causes what you say next to ring hollow. How can you empathise while also recoiling?
I can empathise a little with you because each week I receive hate mail and abuse through social media. Don’t you think this is the nature of the beast?
No, no, I do not. Have you not read that a soft answer turns away wrath? (Proverbs 15:1, for my readers’ reference).
I seek to perfectly imitate Christ. As too, I chose to hope, do both you, David, and Vicky Beeching. We note from the gospels that the only people Christ ever received abuse from were legalistic Pharisees out of touch with the love of the Father.
If our church’s discourse, as a community, has descended into hate and abuse, how are we any different from the rest of the world? Abuse is not a measure of “treasures in the life to come” it is a sign that you are hurting people’s feelings. This is not something that those that strive for meekness, kindness, and compassion should aspire to.
I’m not so sure that it is wise to blame the whole evangelical movement or evangelical theology for abuse received ‘in the name of Christ’.
As I said, I have not read the book you are responding to. However, as you have not established evidence for your strawman, I must assume that you have taken you assumption as axiomatic. That, in itself, is deeply unwise.
We should be without stones
As pastors and teachers – or at least those claiming that title – the very existence of abuse in the name of Christ should alarm us to our very core. There is nothing more hurtful to me than even the idea that those who claim to cling to the Massiah might in the same breath display utter ignorance of His teachings.
Jesus turned the very idea of condemnation on its head. Take, for example, John 8:1-11 where the original Pharisees put a woman that the law (so they claimed) demanded be put to death. Unlike the LGBT issue where (despite your claim) there is more than a shadow of doubt doctrinally, this was a clear-cut issue. The scriptures said what God thought of such people and what must be done with them. There was no getting out of it.
What did Jesus do? He simply challenged them to dare to claim to be themselves without sin. Not one teacher of the law could do so.
When no other religious leader was there to throw stones, Christ said, “I do not condemn you either.”
Therefore we must, like Christ, be without stones to throw. His example shows us that despite doctrinal belief or theological position on an issue, condemnation – even of the apparently guilty – should not be part of how we act.
A little yeast
Is it not written that even a little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise? (Galatians 5:9). Therefore, any abuse in the name of Christ from any calling themselves Christian makes us all guilty of that abuse.
Does the very thought of Christians abusing others in the name of Christ not make you want to cry out to the Father in repentance for what our community has done? It does me.
Any abuse in the name of Christ from within our community sullies the whole community. We are called to be salt on this earth. If we cannot bring saltiness to even our own family, what hope have we of any effective witness?
No time for disputes
You will, I have no doubt, be aware that Romans 14:1 says to accept those we see as “weak in the faith” without debate over disputable matters. Let me assure you, our acceptance of the LGBT within the church is very much a disputable matter. Those sullying the name of the Christ with abuse of others – that is not.
Does the very thought that this abuse goes on not make you want to rise up and take action? Does it not make you beg the broken and damaged for forgiveness on behalf of the church? It does me.
You are a pastor while I am just a talker. You should be setting the example to me yet I am teaching you.
Ah, David, you started out so well here. You rightfully express pain at the light being shone on hypocrisy within the church. Then you undermine it all by – in one long sentence – questioning the validity of the memories of a rape victim and levelling unauthenticated and evidence-free accusations at an entire community.
Although I should point out that all this is dependent on your memories being correct (married students having affairs, lots of unmarried students having sex) and also subject to the caveat that you cannot condemn the whole institution for a handful of rotten apples – after all it would hardly be fair of me to condemn all gay people just because I have known some who have committed rape or abuse!)
I must bring you back again to Galatians 5:9 and say that yes, “a few rotten apples” do spoil the whole barrel.
Can I assume your church has a safeguarding policy? I hope to goodness that it says “take seriously any accusations of abuse”. That is how these matters should be handled. I am horrified, one student of God’s word to another, by your attitude here. Your dismissal of claims of rape and wrongdoing shame us both.
I beg you, in the name of Christ, to repent with me. To undo the damaging message that your words send to all the young ladies of your congregation – any one of whom might one day need to confide the pain of rape to you and must hope to be treated better.
Do you even see the “us and them” distancing language in your own words here?
They were not remotely interested in you when you were just a Christian singer – but the minute you come out as an LGBTQI+ spokesperson, they are all over you. They didn’t want to hear about your Christianity before, now they want to hear about your views – not because your views are Christian, but because they reflect theirs and they can now use your views to attack and demonise further Christians who hold to the Bible’s teaching. You are exhibit number 1 of how evangelical Christianity ‘oppresses and suppresses’. They love you for providing them with that ammunition.
See how quickly you turn from asking Vicky Beeching not to tar all with the same brush to then do so yourself?
Titus 1:15 says this:
All is pure to those who are pure. But to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their minds and consciences are corrupted.
Could it be that you yourself are tainted by the sin of taring everyone with the same brush? Could that be why you are so quick to see it in others? Was it not you, just a few paraphs ago that said: “you cannot condemn the whole institution for a handful of rotten apples”?
You were so quick to set up an adversarial dichotomy that you have become the thing you condemn. This is not how we show love. It is how we show hate.
Plank in eye time
Oh David, how you have disappointed me. Every Pharisee does this sooner or later. They reach a plank in their eye moment. And this was yours.
But there is another hypocrisy that comes across in the book. Your own.
I’ve not this very moment done reading your words which show your own hypocrisy than I find you ladling the blame for that selfsame sin onto another person.
The passages of scripture found around Matthew 7:4-5 are calling out for you to revisit them.
Once you start…
The yeast of the Pharisees will not let itself stay bottled down for long.
You made the choice to stay ‘in the closet’. This was not a choice that was forced upon you. You were the person who decided that your career was more important than your ‘identity’.
You have clearly forgotten not only what it is like to be a young person – exposed to a strong peer pressure to conform – but appear to have taken leave of any pretence of compassion and charity.
As a church leader, how many weddings did you read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for? Are you not now just “counting wrongs”? You have gone from reviewing a book to ad hominem attacks. (Something you baselessly accused Vicky Beeching of, at the top of the page).
With the measure you use…
Surely you would expect no less than a Biblical response to your words? Matthew 7:2 says that the same measure you use to judge others, you will be judged – measure for measure.
I think you are wrong in this comment – which incidentally is very judgemental – presuming to know others motives and making judgements based upon that.
You have literally just been doing this very thing yourself! Your own words stand testament against you, David. Please tell me that you see this, my brother?
Did you proofread this, David?
I cannot actually believe you or any rational person would write this sentence.
I, like many others, do not see you as different because of your sexual orientation (I know many fine Christians who are gay and who live fine Christian lives), but I disagree with your theology and to be honest your practice.
You start by saying “you are wrong because you are wrong about me”. Then you claim (without evidence) to know “fine gay Christians” without ever addressing if they know (or even like you). This is too close to “I’m not racist because I have black friends” which is… I’m not even going to continue that thought. It hurts my heart to even think that this could be a true reflection of your soul.
What really made me stop and say “he did not just say that?” was how you finish that sentence. “I disagree with theology and your practice”. By implication you say (without directly saying it) “I no longer see you as right but wrong”. How is this not in contradiction to your earlier statement (that you see Ms Beeching in the same way as before)?
Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
David, we need to talk about some Bible basics
You are in full on Pharisee mode by this stage, David. And, frankly, we need to talk about some Bible basics you seem to have forgotten.
You admit that you pretended to be one thing and then came out as another – but why blame the church for your hypocrisy!
It seems to me that you are very angry with Ms Beeching pretending to be someone she was not and then giving that up. I’m not going to ask you if there are any deeper issues you need to talk about because that is not something I can help you with. Clearly, though, you see this pretending as a sin.
Are you saying Vicky Beeching repented of pretending to be, someone she was not? Why are you not celebrating this joyous move towards righteousness with her and all of heaven?
Do we need to revisit Luke 15:7?
I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.
How can giving up on faking who you are be anything other than repentance?
“Us” and “them” again, David?
David, I just want to clarify. You do understand that from the Father’s perspective there is no “evangelical church” and “liberal church” there are only His sheep, right?
It is not up to us – you or I – to build Christ’s church. He said He would do that. Trust Him to do as he says and stop trying to find a fight where there is only family.
It’s as though you are seeking to justify your hypocrisy by saying ‘they made me do it’! It’s like a small child when confronted with a particular wrongdoing saying ‘the devil made me do it’ – only in this case the devil is the evangelical church – which in the eyes of your new friends, (gay activists and liberal Christians) is pretty well the same thing!
David, in these words I see only a child throwing his toys out of the pram because he feels his side of the playpen looks bad. No glory to God, nor praise to you can come of such a display.
On a more serious note, I am deeply troubled by your very specific use of “us and them” language which is a feature of hate speech. Please tell me that I am not reading hate speech, David.
I love the liberal church just as much as I love the evangelical church and I do not like the way you try to set up an implied ad hominin by aligning half of my family with an activist group. An activist group, which has a very good point about the terrible way we have treated them.
Do you understand love and friendship, David?
The most primary thing that love does is to protect the beloved. I hope we can take that as a given. Furthermore, love does not ever attack the beloved. By definition, love seeks the good of the beloved.
I hope we can take that first paragraph as a truth, not in need of further justification. Otherwise, we will be here all day.
By extension, love is not jealous. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says that.
Why, then, do you sound like a jealous and domineering boyfriend when you complain about “your new friends”? If you were among the old friends no wonder this young lady needed new friends. As the youngsters around here say, “you suck at friendship”.
Your words sound not so much like the words of pastoral care but of an abusive husband having a tantrum. I beg you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to rethink what you have said and how you said it.
Want to chuck in a slippery slope argument for good measure?
I was going to assume that you know what a slippery slope argument was, David. After all, you know what an ad hominem is, you named dropped that one at the start but then you demonstrated it a few times yourself.
It is also known as a “thin end of the wedge”. If we allow that we are wrong on one point of doctrine, then soon dogs will be sleeping with cats, up will become down, trees will run for president, and the world will end. That is a slippery slope argument.
Here is another one in which you, David, make the case that if the church admits to being wrong about one doctrine, all the others will be thrown out too.
You speak about the church as being responsible for doctrines you imply you no longer agree with – apparently it was the ‘church’ (the evangelical one which you are now rejecting) not the bible which taught that sex before marriage was wrong, that pornography was wrong, that married pastors who had affairs should be fired. Do you now accept these things as legitimate? How far down the socially progressive rabbit hole have you gone? You seem to have bought into the complete ‘regressive’ package (the church is always behind the times and needs to become more like society, the bible is not the infallible word of God etc. – you even add a footnote to the book apologising for using male pronouns for God!).
Want to revisit that one?
You say this, David:
Vicky we don’t disagree with you because of your sexual orientation, but rather because of your theological orientation.
I do not believe you. From your words alone, I think that you hate this lady – not disagree but hate – because your faith is not strong enough to stand up to your doctrines being questioned. Which is a shame because good doctrine should be questioned.
It is Godly and Biblical to question doctrine. You do realise that, right, David?
Equating the questioning of one doctrine with an attack on all doctrines is why repressive attitudes take so long to change. Your splurge of aggressive language is nothing but fear exposed to some salt. Did you forget what 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says?
But examine all things; hold fast to what is good.
The church has a history of questioning dearly held doctrine
There was a time when slave-owning was seen as biblical and normal. There were strong scriptural reasons to favour slavery – stronger than anti-gay scriptures too. We threw that one out and the world did not end.
There was a time when lending money with interest was seen as a grievous sin. That one was chipped away and no one made a fuss. (I’m not 100% sure that was a good thing).
Once we rejected women pastors and made all women sit silently in church wearing hats. On the whole, we no longer do that. The world did not end.
Once divorced people were not allowed to remarry – ever. C. S. Lewis saw the latter end of that one when he married a divorced woman. We even let divorced and remarried people lead churches. The world did not end.
Finally, let us not forget that Jesus was murdered on false charges because he was a sinner-loving radical liberal that made the fundamentalists of his time look bad.
You make it very hard to love you, David
My problem now is that like you, I started out trying to show love. Only by this stage in your letter, the rank hypocrisy and total void where the understanding of scripture should be has left me feeling rather cross with you.
I have felt led to reply to you because you claim to be from within the church and yet your attitude pains me. Even a little bit of hate and Pharisee within our community makes the whole community hateful Pharisees. 1 Corinthians 5:12 directs me to separate the good from the bad within the church.
For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside?
The word judge here is SG2919. krinó meaning to “try” (as in, at court) the facts of the matter. Despite my efforts at balance, I find your words deeply wanting, David. I do not decern the love of God in your words. I do decern condemnation. You realise that there is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? (Romans 8:1)
No one reads the Bible without bias
David, no one can read the bible without bringing their own bias to it.
Now you read the Bible entirely through the lens of what you want and what you feel.
Yes, and so to do you. It is evident all the way through this hate-mail. Your open letter is all your biases writ large.
I have no doubt that I bring my own bias to my study. That’s why the Holy Spirit was given as a guide. That’s why 1 Thessalonians 5:21 directs us to question and test all doctrine.
David, I am beginning to have my doubts as to your level of training for your church leadership role.
Do you understand that the Word of God is living, David?
When you write this next part, you make us all look stupid, David.
Do you really think that Luke (the author of Acts) or Peter thought that when this was recorded they were really writing about sexual orientation? Where did God declare that what he had previously described as sinful (sex outside marriage – including homosexual sex) was now fine?
Has no one taught you about the difference between what is God-breathed and what is written down? The Rhema word (inspired) and the Logos (written)?
Do you not recall what Jesus did with Isiah’s writing? He too recast it with new meaning. I thought you were a Biblical teacher?
Come on now, David. Did I not just get through listing doctrines only a few fringe groups support anymore? They were always “what the Bible says and there can be no argument” points for all of them. But there was an argument because a deeper truth the Father was made known to us. We banned slavery, we allow remarriage, and we let women speak in church. Your exact argument was the one that was against all of those reforms. All of them.
I feel like I am educating a child here. Do I really have to engage with your extra-Biblical appeal to authority at the end of that paragraph?
This hypocrisy has become a farce, David.
You simplify and demonise anyone who doesn’t agree with you as being backward and as using arguments like…
Let me stop you right there. That is exactly what you are doing too.
… ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and ‘the Bible clearly says’. But your position on history, whilst it accurately describes some people and views in the past, is not accurate.
You just wrote, “Your argument while accurate is not accurate.” I’d let my head hit my desk but for the fact that I like both my head and my desk.
I need to step away and get a drink of water. Your lack of argument – biblical or otherwise has let your letter become a rant of hate without even any solid logic to it. You have disgraced the body and bring the faith into disrepute.
Right, where were we?
Oh yes, I remember. You were telling a fellow Sister in Christ whose doctrine you disagreed with that she was wrong. After all, you are apparently free to ignore the writings of Paul when it suits you.
Your total evidence for this position from the Bible was nothing at all. Who set you up as the arbiter of doctrine? Back your words with scripture or simply admit that this is only a rant of personal opinion and nothing biblical at all. After all, you appear free to make these proclamations on your own authority with nothing more than a demonstration that you have some grasp of what a circular argument is.
You are engaging in the kind of circular simplistic arguments that we have come to expect from the Progressive fundamentalists.
Hey, David, while you are at it why not throw in an ad hominin attack on all progressive fundamentalists too. Boy, you really do love you ad hominin attacks, don’t you? This is beginning to remind me of a few local racists I know.
You have descended into quarrelsomeness devoid of scripture or light. You do recall what 2 Timothy 2:24 says on that subject, right? I am trying very hard to gently reprove you in the hope that God may grant you repentance (leading to a knowledge of the truth). I hope that you will come to your senses to escape the snare of the devil, who has taken you captive to his will. (2 Timothy 2:25-26). I am not finding it easy to do.
David, it is like you don’t want to understand the scriptures. Again, here we are back to your theology and your misunderstanding of the Bible.
But you can easily produce ‘fruit’ like that and yet be sinful. I love the Psalms of David, but he committed adultery and murder – do you think he could justify himself by saying ‘but look how many people have been helped by my songs!”
How many good fruits did David produce after he sinned but before he repented? Go, on count them. I can wait. Yes, that’s right, none at all. In fact, David continued to reap the harvest of his sin for the rest of his life. That one failure corrupted the blessing on him.
In Luke 6:43-45 Jesus Himself says:
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.
Do you claim to know more than Jesus? Are you right and Jesus wrong? What sort of crumpled up doctrines do you teach in that church of yours? I hope this is not a reflection of your church as a whole.
From where I am reading, I see a fair amount of rotten fruit in this letter, David. Be careful that no root of bitterness has taken hold in your heart whereby it will defile many. You may be at risk.
Not all who say Lord, Lord
I honestly cannot believe I have to teach a pastor what Matthew 7:21-23 means. Jesus is teaching that the difference between the nations of goats and the nations of sheep is subtle. Sheep are valuable but goats are not. Wild goats would creep into the flock and because they look almost exactly the same, they could get a free ride.
The difference between sheep and goats was a slight difference in the tail. Likewise, the difference between the two in this teaching is subtle. The two groups could not help themselves but each followed after their own nature.
It is not sinning, upholding the law, prophecy, or getting the right doctrine that divides the sheep and the goats, but love as evidenced by actions. Those that He says “I did not know you”, failed to feed the hungry, failed to clothe the naked, failed to visit the sick… In other words, one group built up the treasure of love in heaven and the other remained unknown in heaven. Which group have you acted like in your letter?
You can be right about doctrine and be a goat. You can be wrong and be a sheep. Love is the deciding factor. So just be careful where you wave those scriptural passages, mister.
And this is where you became a sinner, David.
It seems that you have given up all pretence of Christian love and shown us exactly why you get such aggravation on social media. The sheep’s clothing has fallen away and the wolf is finally shown.
I don’t think you have left the Christian faith because I’m not sure you were ever in it – other than at a very superficial level.
Are you the Father? Do you have any say at the final judgement? Just like me, the answer to both of those is “of course not”.
It is written (1 Corinthians 5:12) “For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside?” Therefore, I must conclude that by your actions you declare Ms Beeching to be within the church but, with your words, you say she is without. Which makes you a double-minded man and we know what the bible has to say about those. (James 1:8 for those of you readers still with us).
Do you think yourself better than God, David?
Now you are attempting to fill the hole in your heart through your newfound status as an LGBTI celebrity. That won’t work either.
Apparently, David, you claim to know the hearts of men which only God knows. This makes all of your doctrine suspect and not to be trusted. Your Christianity seems to be an outer clothing, a cultural badge, but in your own words, it is clearly not your heart. As for this young lady you have been attacking, it is clear from your selective quotes that she has undergone change – you could learn from her because I decern a great need for change in you.
What if my ‘self’ is racist? Homophobic? Abusive?
At least two of those three things are true, David. You are an abusive homophobic bully without any sound understanding of the good news. You claim to be a pastor but all I see is hate poured out onto a page. This is not the sign of a good shepherd. Check Ezekiel 34:2 for what God thinks of selfish shepherds.
You talk about knowing Christ but can only quote Augustine. Me, I’ve quoted Christ because I do know Christ. I’ve tried to show you His attitude to judgement. I’ve tried to show you the truth. I am offering you a chance to repent of your pride, David.
I see now that you are eaten up with hate
You write under a heading of “hope” and yet this is a disguise for you to pour out hatred.
You offer a beauty which is ugly, a diversity which is uniformity, a freedom from shame which is an enslavement to sin, an ‘authenticity’ that is fake, a wholeness which is broken, a peace that is war. “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
Now, now you offer scripture? You back naked hate with the word of God? How dare you! This is not what scripture is for.
Those sullying the name of the Christ with abuse of others is not something I can tolerate. David, you have done this thing.
Let me quote Jeremiah 6 in context, sinner. It is God’s declaration of war against the proud and the sinful. Against those who use His Word to inflate their own wealth – even the wealth of web traffic.
From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,”
says the Lord.
Will you let me speak to you and will you heed my warning David? Will you learn the lesson of Jesus Christ that only those without sin should dare cast the first stone?
You have picked up large rocks to do violence in the name of defending your doctrine. The Pharisees did the same to Jesus.
Saul thought he was defending God but the Father said: “Why do you persecute me?”
To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the Lord is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
But I am full of the wrath of the Lord,
and I cannot hold it in.
David, I call on you to repent of your hate. Repent of your dismissiveness of rape claims. Repent of your fear of being wrong about a doctrine – you miss so much because of the fear that you are hardly ever correct – and repent of your lack of love to a sister in Christ. Just now, I am ashamed to think of you as a brother. Simply reading your words makes me want to apologise to the whole world on your behalf.
David, you have much to make right. I beseech you as one that may still be restored to righteousness, end your abusive behaviour and repent of your hate.