Upon seeing the news headline “Willow Creek pastor clarifies stance on gays” in the Chicago Tribune my heart sank and I thought, “another one bites the dust.” Reading the news article brought my heart out of my stomach and I had a sigh of relief. Another high profile pastor and church did not bite the dust. Rather, Willow Creek stood firmly on the Bible by expressing God’s love for humanity while at the same time affirming the Scripture’s view on sexuality; both homosexuality and heterosexuality.
Here are some excerpts from the news article:
“We challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in Scriptures, which encourage sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage,” said Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek. He added that the Bible prescribes “sexual abstinence and purity for everyone else.”
Hybels said he wished the petition organizer, Asher Huey, a Democratic strategist in Washington, had contacted the church to clarify its views before launching the online campaign [to boycott Starbucks if its CEO spoke at the upcoming Willow Creek Leadership Summit]. Based on materials including recent videos of Willow Creek members testifying about their transformation from homosexuality to heterosexuality, Huey wrote that the church “has a long history of anti-gay persecution.”
“In no uncertain terms is Willow anti-gay,” Hybels said. “The whole thing is sad to me. Willow is not only not anti-gay. Willow is not anti-anybody … To suggest we check sexual orientation at the door is simply not true.”
In the video from the Willow Creek conference (that can be seen online), Hybels announced that he was going to try to get together with Huey to try to have a conversation about the church’s views and try to resolve any conflict. Hybels also strongly urged that no unpleasant emails be sent to the CEO of Starbucks for backing out of the conference due to Huey’s campaign; rather, to send notes of love and encouragement to the CEO.
The grace from Hybels was refreshing, his love for all people was warming, and his standing on the truth of the Scripture in the face of political and social pressure was uplifting.
What was and is sad about the entire affair is the attitude expressed by Huey and some people who responded to the news article. Namely, the attitude that if a person or religious group does not endorse the homosexual lifestyle, that person or group is anti-gay and persecutes those who are homosexual. The attitude is another example of being intolerant in the name of tolerance. Instead of seeing tolerance as respectfully disagreeing, Huey is declaring that tolerance is “unless you agree with me and endorse my views, you hate me and persecute me and are evil and intolerant.”