Friday, February 12, 2021 : By John Wesley Reid
The headline reads like a Babylon Bee article, but this is real. Congregants of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. are upset because Pastor Max Lucado spoke at their cathedral — and that Lucado affirms biblical marriage.
This is yet another example of how cancel culture has become so poisonous that even non-extreme traditional views are being silenced. Lucado’s views are not radical. As the rule, Protestant and Catholic Christians have been affirming biblical marriage for centuries. Yet sects from within Christianity, sects that can hardly be identified as Christian, are manifesting as the warnings given in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Church, we must be better to call out false teachers — fiercely so. O that we would not get to the end of our lives finding guilt that we usurped biblical truth with our own fleshly desires. Remember, even silence makes us guilty by succumbing to fear when rebuke is imperative.
On February 7, Lucado spoke at the National Cathedral at the invitation of Bishop Mariann Budde and delivered a message on the Holy Spirit. He did not mention homosexuality or the wayward sexual norms of modern culture. But because 17 years ago Lucado made comments opposing same-sex marriage, congregants of the progressive Episcopalian denomination belonging to the Capital sanctuary demanded that his invitation be rescinded.
A petition was signed by over 1,600 people (falling short of its 2,500 goal) and then submitted to Bishop Budde and the Cathedral’s dean, Randy Hollerith. The petition described Lucado’s comments as “harmful” and “dehumanizing” towards the LGBTQ community. Lucado’s comments, which were made over 10 years before same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states in 2015, suggested that the legalization of same-sex marriage could be a slippery slope towards legalizing incest. In the wake of the backlash, Lucado apologized for his choice of words while maintaining that he affirms a biblical approach to marriage.
The petition went beyond the 2004 comments and targeted Lucado’s broader ministry, saying that
“Lucado’s teaching and preaching inflict active harm on LGBTQ people…. Fear-mongering and dehumanizing messages from powerful speakers like Lucado have been used to justify rollbacks of LGBTQ rights and to exclude LGBTQ people from civil protections and sacred rites.”
The petition continued by fallaciously conflating biblical teachings on marriage to the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was beaten to death by two men in 1998 and is buried at the National Cathedral.
“Matthew Shepard’s remains were entrusted to the care of this cathedral. Inviting a man who preaches the kind of dangerous theology that promotes oppression of and violence toward the LGBTQ community does not honor that trust nor serve his memory.”
Shepard’s death has been a landmark talking point for gay rights advocates, though whether the murder was related to Shepard’s sexual orientation is widely dissented. The fact that the petition’s authors would make such a ridiculous conflation is evidence of their fallacious emotional appeal. Such a weak and broad stretch in logic void of facts reveals how out of touch progressives are with biblical teachings and the Church’s position on marriage. While the Bible is clear that God intended marriage to be between man and woman, there is nothing to indicate a violent, aggressive, or maligning approach to the LGBT community. So, to claim that biblical teachings on marriage lead to violence is objectively false.
Despite the petition’s call to rescind Lucado’s invitation, Dean Hollerith and Bishop Budde upheld Lucado’s scheduled event. However, Hollerith and Budde both released statements of apology for the hurt that their invitation caused after Lucado spoke. Hollerith’s apology did include a defense for his reasoning behind the invitation, but he still considered it a mistake in retrospect.
Of Lucado’s comments and subsequent invitation, Hollerith said,
“…when people pointed out those writings to me, when they tried to tell me they were hurting because of this invitation, I didn’t listen. In my straight privilege I failed to see and fully understand the pain he has caused. I failed to appreciate the depth of injury his words have had on many in the LGBTQ community. I failed to see the pain I was continuing. I was wrong and I am sorry.”
In an email to Kathleen Moore, Hollerith explained why he invited Lucado even though Hollerith knew about their disagreement on homosexuality.
“Let me share why we invited Max to preach. We have to come out of our corners, find common ground where we can, and find ways to live with and see each other as the beloved children of God that we are. We have all grown too accustomed in our silos and echo chambers. In order to start the process of rebuilding, we need to hear from each other.
That does not mean we will always agree. In fact, I don’t agree with Max’s views on LGBTQ issues. We can still hold our convictions and cling to our values in the midst of disagreement. But the work that we cannot ignore is the vitally important task of what Isaiah called “repairing the breach.” That starts, first and foremost, with those with whom we disagree. When we only engage with those with whom we agree on every issue, we find ourselves in a dangerous (and lonely) place. My hope is that all churches and faith communities will find ways to open their doors to perspectives different from their own.”
Bishop Budde also offered her apology, suggesting that she was unaware of how deeply her congregation felt:
“I didn’t take the time to truly listen to your concerns. In a desire to welcome a wide variety of Christian voices to the Cathedral pulpit and on the assumption that Max Lucado no longer believed the painful things he said in 2004, I made you feel at risk and unwelcome in your spiritual home. I am sorry.
In the days since, I have heard from those who were not only wounded by things Max Lucado has said and taught, but equally wounded by the decision to welcome him into the Cathedral’s pulpit. I didn’t realize how deep those wounds were and how unsafe the world can feel. I should have known better.”
As was referenced early, the Bible alludes to times like these where people will prioritize the flesh over the spirit — a time when we call evil good, mock the cross of Jesus, and parodize sin by making it relative to the axis of our own desires. We want to sin but we don’t want to say we’re sinning, so we just say our sin isn’t sin — and in some cases we celebrate it.
Dean Hollerith and Bishop Budde are both guilty of misleading the flocks they claim to shepherd. To celebrate sin is an objective disqualification for ministerial leadership. The role of the minister is to lead their congregations in gospel truth, but sin is the very reason that the gospel (Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection) was even necessary. Thus, to celebrate sin is to celebrate the very horror that, paired with Christ’s love, put Him on the cross.
To those in the Episcopal denomination and other like-minded sects, woe to you.