North Point Community Church, an Atlanta megachurch pastored by Andy Stanley, is hosting the Unconditional Conference, featuring two gay-identified speakers who are in “same-sex marriages,” Justin Lee and Brian Nietzel.
North Point has a weekly attendance of almost 40,000, meeting at eight different locations. The church lists dozens of church partners, “built upon the same vision, mission and strategy,” around the world.
The sold-out conference runs Thursday and Friday, September 28-29, and also features David Gushee, a Christian ethicist who shifted his views on homosexuality and transgenderism in 2014. He argues for “covenantal marital lifetime monogamy” for LGBT-identified individuals and for “full LGBT inclusion” in the church.
The event hasn’t yet taken place, so we don’t know exactly what Lee, Nietzel and Gushee will teach, but they’ve made it clear that they reject biblical teaching on sexuality, relationships and marriage, and they now embrace revisionist gay theology. They twist and re-interpret Scripture to view homosexual and transgender identities and relationships as given and blessed by God.
This would be like inviting the president of Planned Parenthood to speak at a church about ministering to women who’ve had abortions. Or inviting a man who’s married to two women to be the keynote speaker at a Christian marriage conference.
The Unconditional Conference is sponsored by Embracing the Journey, a ministry co-founded by Greg and Lynn McDonald, with a mission “to build bridges between LGBTQ+ individuals, their families, and the church, not in spite of the bible (sic) but because of the bible (sic), drawing parents and children into a deeper relationship with each other and vertically with God.”
The event is billed as an invitation for people “to listen, reflect, and learn as we approach this topic from the quieter middle space.”
But Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, says of the event on “The Briefing,” “There is no middle space on these issues.” Instead, he sees the conference as having an agenda:
The advertising for the conference indicates that this is actually going to be an event designed as a platform for normalizing the LGBTQ+ revolution, while at the same time claiming this is a representation of a “quieter middle space.”
Lee founded the Gay Christian Network (GCN), now rebranded as the Q Christian Fellowship and under a new director. GCN tried to bring together “Side A” members, who believe same-sex relationships between Christians can be biblical, and “Side B” members, who promote chastity among Christians struggling with same-sex attractions.
Lee has been on “Side A” for more than 20 years, arguing “that homosexual behavior is appropriate within the confines of a committed, loving, monogamous, lifelong, Christ-centered relationship.” He’s now “married” to a man.
Neitzel wrestled with his faith and sexuality for years. But then, he says, “I met a guy, and I fell in love.” They’re now in a same-sex “marriage.” He believes, “I can be gay and love Jesus,” calling this “a sacred conclusion.”
Sadly, the Jesus they “rediscover” is not the Jesus of Scripture, who taught a clear sexual ethic, saying:
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:6-9, ESV)
Jesus loved perfectly, and sinners were drawn to Him, but he spoke directly about sin – including sexual sin. To the woman caught in adultery, He said, “Go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11, ESV).
Jesus taught a gospel of repentance – God loves you and calls you to turn away from sin and toward following Him. Jesus’ gospel tells us we are sinners in need of a Savior, and we’re called to trust Him. As we follow Christ, His love, power and truth transform our lives and free us from sin.
Mohler explains that the conference speakers’ affirmation of homosexual sin is “incompatible with biblical Christianity” and “cannot co-exist in one space with biblical Christianity.” He writes,
One of the most important responsibilities of the Christian Church is to talk about these issues out loud but to talk about them in explicitly biblical terms consistent with Christian moral witness over the course of the last two millennia on issues of marriage, sexuality, and gender.
He’s also concerned that the conference is part of a trajectory that North Point and Stanley have been on, away from “historic normative Biblical Christianity.” In an article in World Magazine, Mohler concludes:
The conference has not been held yet. No doubt there will be a good deal of conversation once it has been held. Maybe the conference will surprise us and Stanley will present a resounding affirmation of Biblical authority and the Christian church’s longstanding convictions concerning sexuality, marriage, and gender.
But that would require a reversal of Stanley’s trajectory and a bold correction of his platform guests. To state the obvious – that is not what is advertised. He has been working in this direction for years now. Sadly, it looks like the train is about to leave the station.
Those struggling with homosexuality and transgenderism – and their parents and families – need grace, healing and truth. Redefining sin and calling it “sacred” or “a covenant” offers them none of these.
Related articles and resources:
Focus on the Family:
- Resources Homosexuality
- Transgender Resources
- Understanding Homosexuality
- Counseling Consultation & Referrals
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