Select Page

INTRODUCTION

On February 15, 2021, I looked at the headlines in an email from Christian News Now.  The first headline read “Max Lucado Apologizes for Past Sermon on Homosexuality After Critics Slam National Cathedral Invitation” (link: Max Lucado apologizes for past sermon on homosexuality – The Christian Post ).   After reading about Max Lucado’s apology and the apology itself, I said to myself, “C’mon man! You’ve got to be kidding!”  But, of course, the news report wasn’t kidding.

What Max Lucado’s apology reveals is the plain and simple fact that the evangelical Christian church is caving under the pressure applied by the LGBTQ movement.  The evangelical Christian church is abandoning the clear biblical teaching that homosexual practice is sin, and according to 1 Corinthians 6:9, homosexual practice “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (NIV).  For a person not to inherit the kingdom of God means that he or she will spend eternity in hell.  To cave in to the pressure of the LGNTQ movement essentially gives those engaged in the LGBTQ lifestyle a roadmap to eternal damnation.    

In this post, I do three things. 

First, under the heading BACKGROUND, I present a short background of the Lucado-WMC situation in which I make some relevant observations. 

Second, under the heading THE BIBLE CONDEMNS HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE, I set out a listing of Scripture which establish that the Bible condemns homosexual practice.    

Third, under the heading FIVE BASIC SUGGESTIONS FOR EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS, I suggest actions that followers of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to take to strengthen the resolve of the evangelical Christian church to stand firm in support of the biblical teachings about the LGBTQ lifestyle.

Please note that I have quoted the pertinent communications by endnotes.  You can read these communications, and in fact, I suggest you read them and formulate your own opinion.

BACKGROUND

As a background[i], the Washington National Cathedral (WNC) is a church that is inclusive of and condones the lifestyle advanced by the LGBTQ movement.  WNC invited Max Lucado to preach on Sunday, February 7, 2021, and his topic pertained to the Holy Spirit. 

Many of the WNC congregants were in an uproar[ii] because of Max Lucado’s position on homosexual marriage, especially as set forth in a 2004 sermon[iii] about homosexual practice.  Some circulated a petition to rescind his invitation[iv], but WNC leadership refused to reject the invitation.[v]

Max Lucado preached on February 7, 2021.  After he preached, the apologies to the LGBTQ community at WNC began to flow.  On February 10, 2021, Dean Hollereth[vi] and Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde[vii], who are leaders at WNC, issued apologies.   On February 11, 2021, Max Lucado issued an apology.[viii]

My brief observations about the dialog surrounding these events now follow.  

First, in his initial defense of Lucado’s speaking, Dean Hollereth wrote:

As an ally of the LGBTQ community myself, it grieves me when churches or religion are used as weapons against God’s LGBTQ children.

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.

At least as I interpret the Bible, there are none of “God’s LGBTQ children” and those living the LGBTQ lifestyle are not “the beloved children of God.”   What the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9 mandates this to be the case.  Therefore, the LGBTQ supporters appear uninformed or are unwilling to become informed about what God’s Word teaches concerning the LGBTQ lifestyle.   I suggest that you read pages 303-339 of the book The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Dr. Robert A. G. Gagnon.   It is a thorough treatment of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. 

Second, Dean Hollereth wrote in the defense:

My hope is that all churches and faith communities will find ways to open their doors to perspectives different from their own. 

This Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, proudly so. That means this Cathedral, and this pulpit, are big enough and strong enough to welcome pastors, rabbis, imams, clergy of every faith. It does not mean we agree with everything they might believe, but it does mean that we exhibit and inhabit a sense of open handed welcome.

It seems to me that WNC misunderstands the purpose of the pulpit ministry of the church which is to preach the pure Word of God rather than function as a college “world religion” class.

Third, in view of the extremely pro-LGBTQ agenda of the Biden-Harris administration, you would think that the LGBTQ community would have been willing to show Max a little grace.  But, in view of the following excerpt from the petition, it appears that “grace” is not a part of their vocabulary:

If Lucado wishes to use this opportunity to renounce his hateful views, this is not the appropriate forum or context. This is not an opportunity for easy healing or “bringing together,” as though the question of the full belovedness of LGBTQ people is a simple argument or difference of opinion. Lucado has inflicted serious harm. If healing is to take place, Lucado has much work to do before it can begin.

Fourth, in his apology, Dean Hollereth wrote (in part):

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 her apology, Bishop Budde wrote (in part):

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.

It is startlingly clear how quickly the LGBTQ folks play the “victim card.”  The LGBTQ movement at WNC is sticking with the game plan of the November 1987 article in Guide Magazine entitled “The Overhauling of Straight America.”  The first two things recommended by the article are (1) talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible, and (2) portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers.

Fifth, in his apology, Max Lucado wrote:

In 2004 I preached a sermon on the topic of same-sex marriage. I now see that, in that sermon, I was disrespectful. I was hurtful. I wounded people in ways that were devastating. I should have done better. It grieves me that my words have hurt or been used to hurt the LGBTQ community. I apologize to you and I ask forgiveness of Christ.

Faithful people may disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality, but we agree that God’s holy Word must never be used as a weapon to wound others. To be clear, I believe in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage, but I also believe in a God of unbounded grace and love. LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ families must be respected and treated with love. They are beloved children of God because, they are made in the image and likeness of God.

I’m disappointed by how willing Max Lucado was to compromise on what the Bible says about the LGBTQ lifestyle.   In this regard, the Bible does not support the statement that those in the LGBTQ community “are beloved children of God” where the inference is they are believers.

Sixth, in my opinion, the LGBTQ movement will never be satisfied until there is complete capitulation by the evangelical Christian church in which the church admits that all of the lifestyles and practices advocated by the LGBTQ movement are biblically acceptable practices approved and condoned by God.   The current trajectory of the evangelical church signals that someday there may be that total surrender at least by much of the leadership.  

THE BIBLE CONDEMNS HOMOSEXUAL PRACTICE

An extensive treatment of this topic is well beyond the scope of this blog article.  However, just a plain reading of the following exemplary passages reveal that homosexual practice is condemned by the Bible:

Genesis 19:1-29 (Sodom and Gomorrah)

Leviticus 18:22 (NASB95) – 22 ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 (NASB95) – 13 ‘If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

Romans 1:26–32 (NASB95) – 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

1 Corinthians 6:9 (NASB95) – 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

1 Timothy 1:8–11 (NASB95) – 8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Referring to 1 Corinthians 6:9, an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 6:9 teaches that those who are engaged in homosexual practice (“effeminate” and “homosexuals”) are on the road to hell (i.e.,” not inherit the kingdom of God”).   Details of my analysis of this issue are set out in my October 13, 2020 article entitled, “1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Homosexual Practice is the Road to Hell – Part 17 of a 17 Part Series.”  (link: https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/13/1-corinthians-69-11-homosexual-practice-is-the-road-to-hell-part-17-of-a-17-part-series/ ).  Dr. Gagnon’s treatment of this passage is significantly better than what I did, and so if you have to choose only one to read, please read his.

FIVE BASIC SUGGESTIONS FOR EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS

Quite frankly, the evangelical Christian church is beginning to crumble under the pressure from the LGBTQ movement.  Entire denominations such as the Episcopal Church and much of the United Method Church have condoned the lifestyle advanced by LGBTQ movement.  Some evangelical church leaders seem to be moving away from biblical teachings about the LGBTQ lifestyle.  Here’s what I suggest evangelical Christians do.

First, you need to realize that those practicing the lifestyles of the LGBTQ movement need Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  The lifestyles advocated by the LGBTQ movement are far from holy and demonstrate a repudiation of God and what He teaches through the Bible.  Their lifestyle does not evidence the life transformation that occurs upon salvation.   You must pray for the salvation for those engaged in the LGBTQ lifestyle.  

Second, you need to urge your church leadership to educate your congregation on what the Bible teaches about the LGBTQ lifestyle and practices.  Those in your congregation need to be able to articulate the specific reasons that support the biblical teachings that the LGBTQ lifestyle is sin.  This instruction includes helping those in your congregation to better know how to lovingly and honestly interact with those in the LGBTQ movement.  Yet, in no way should this instructions compromise the relevant biblical teachings.

Third, call on your church leadership to stand up publicly against the lifestyles advocated by the LGBTQ movement.  For the community in general, silence by your church can easily be seen as acquiesce.  Possibly, your Pastor could preach a sermon series on the sins of homosexuality and transgenderism.  Advertise these upcoming sermons to the public.

Fourth, pray that God will give courage and strength to evangelical leaders and churches to stand up against the pressure of the LGBTQ movement.

Fifth, sign the Nashville Statement (link: https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement  ).  Article 1 reads:

WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell.  But, your destiny can change. 

Today can be the day of your salvation.  Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).

NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS

I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works.  I thus try my best to not violate any copyright rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works.  The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works.  The quotations from commentaries are considered to be “fair use.”

Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Scripture marked “NASB95” are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

Scripture marked “NCV” is taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

The Scriptures marked “NET” are quoted are from the NET Bible®  http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved”.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked “GW” is taken from the God’s Word Bible that is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission.


[i]  A report at Blaze Media appears to present the most complete chronology.  See link: https://www.theblaze.com/news/national-cathedral-apolgizes-for-allowing-max-lucado-to-speak

[ii] A February 5, 2021 article entitled “National Cathedral criticized for inviting Max Lucado to preach despite pastor’s anti-LGBTQ views” at the Episcopal News website (link: https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2021/02/05/national-cathedral-criticized-for-inviting-max-lucado-to-preach-despite-pastors-anti-lgbtq-views/ ) described Lucado’s “transgression:”

Opponents of that decision also have circulated an online petition urging the cathedral to rescind its invitation to Lucado over his “fearmongering and dehumanizing messages.” They point specifically to a 2004 article in which Lucado calls homosexuality a “sexual sin” and outlines a biblical argument against gay marriage while suggesting it could open the door to legalizing polygamy or incest.

[iii] As I can best discern, a 2004 article (“What Does God Say about Gay Marriage?”) that tracked the sermon had been published at the Crosswalk.com website, but at Max Lucado’s request the article has been taken down.  See link: What God Says About Gay Marriage (crosswalk.com) .  Therefore, I was not able to obtain the text of the sermon or the article.

[iv] A petition to rescind Lucabdo’s invitation was published in an article in change.org entitled “Rescind Max Lucado’s Invitation to Preach at Washington National Cathedral” (link: Petition · Rescind Max Lucado’s invitation to preach at Washington National Cathedral · Change.org ).  An excerpt of the text of the article is below:

Washington National Cathedral has announced Max Lucado will serve as preacher this Sunday, February 7. Lucado’s teaching and preaching inflicts active harm on LGBTQ people. To cite one example, in 2004 he wrote of his fears that homosexuality would lead to “legalized incest” and likened same-sex marriage to incest and beastiality. 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. To our knowledge, Lucado has not publicly renounced these views.

**

If Lucado wishes to use this opportunity to renounce his hateful views, this is not the appropriate forum or context. This is not an opportunity for easy healing or “bringing together,” as though the question of the full belovedness of LGBTQ people is a simple argument or difference of opinion. Lucado has inflicted serious harm. If healing is to take place, Lucado has much work to do before it can begin.

[v] WNC defended their invitation to Lucado by writing (link: https://www.change.org/p/dean-randy-hollerith-rescind-max-lucado-s-invitation-to-preach-at-washington-national-cathedral/u/28504098  ):

Dear Kathleen (if I may) –

First, I want to thank you for writing to share your thoughts about our upcoming guest preacher, Max Lucado, and for sharing the petition and signatures with me. I value your feedback as a member of our Cathedral family.

I also want to underscore that our commitment to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters is unshakable and unchanged. As you know, this Cathedral has long been a beacon for LGBTQ inclusion, and we believe in that because we believe the Gospel calls us to nothing short of full embrace and inclusion. That said, I understand why Max’s earlier statements  on LGBTQ issues would cause concern, and I want you to know that I share your concerns.  As an ally of the LGBTQ community myself, it grieves me when churches or religion are used as weapons against God’s LGBTQ children.

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. 

This Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, proudly so. That means this Cathedral, and this pulpit, are big enough and strong enough to welcome pastors, rabbis, imams, clergy of every faith. It does not mean we agree with everything they might believe, but it does mean that we exhibit and inhabit a sense of open handed welcome.

Again, thank you for writing. I do appreciate it, and I do hear you. I hope you’ll join us on Sunday, and I look forward to remaining in dialogue with you.

The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith

[vi] Dean Hollereth’s February 10, 2021 apology entitled “I was Wrong and I am Sorry” (link: Dean Hollerith: I was Wrong and I am Sorry – Washington National Cathedral ) in which he wrote:

Dear friends,

In my 31 years of ordained ministry, I have had the honor of walking with people through the range of human emotions: joy at the birth of a child, the excitement of a new marriage, the painful sting of death, the tragedy of a failed relationship. 

As a priest, it is easy to sojourn with people through the good times. The painful times — those are much harder. They are harder still when, however well-intentioned, you have done something to contribute to that pain. 

This past Sunday, I invited the Rev. Max Lucado to preach at Washington National Cathedral. He and I disagree on many things, but I invited him because I believed him to be a man of deep faith. Moreover, I hoped his presence would be a step toward building new bridges to the evangelical community. What I did not know was that he also had written and said some horrific things about LGBTQ people. However, that is no excuse.

Later, 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 my attempt to build new relationships with others, I didn’t see how my actions were damaging already cherished relationships with those who have been hurt by words and teachings of religious leaders like Reverend Lucado. And for that I apologize.

Was it a mistake to invite Max Lucado to preach at the Cathedral? Seeing all too clearly now the pain that it caused and the trauma it resurrected for so many, I know that  it was. I made a mistake and I am sorry. 

In my first sermon at the Cathedral in 2016, I preached on Isaiah’s call to be repairers of the breach. That mandate has been the guiding principle of my tenure as dean and remains so.

I am committed to that work, but I regret the pain, hurt and disappointment I have caused during this misguided attempt to do that work. It is important that  we seek reconciliation and relationship with those with whom we disagree, but not at the expense of the sacred dignity and worth of our LGBTQ friends and families. 

Bishop Budde and I have heard from so many people who were hurt by our decisions; we are still listening. We invite you to join us for an online public discussion on Sunday Feb. 21 at 7 pm ET as we seek to move together to become the people God calls us to be. I hope to see you there. 

[vii] A February 10, 2021 apology by Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde entitled  “Hearing from Those We’ve Hurt” (link: https://www.edow.org/about/bishop-mariann/writings/2021/02/10/hearing-those-weve-hurt?fbclid=IwAR0SHC7zBfBw_HSC3R8YcbvEU6rtvUAVQG-AnjONf95BHEDPdEeJ2ovzWgA ) in which she wrote [in part]:

I would like to apologize for the hurt caused in inviting Max Lucado to preach at Washington National Cathedral, and for not heeding the appeals that came to Dean Hollerith and me prior to Sunday, February 7 asking us to reconsider. 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.

More than apology, we seek to make amends. As a beginning, we invite all who wish to speak of their experiences in the church as LGBTQ+ persons and their allies to join Dean Hollerith and me for a listening session on Sunday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. EST

[viii] On February 11, 2021, Max Lucado wrote an apology:

Dear Cathedral Community,

It was a high honor to serve as your guest preacher on February 7, 2021. It has come to my understanding that my presence in the Cathedral is a cause of consternation for many of your members.

I was invited to Washington National Cathedral to preach on the topic of the Holy Spirit. My desire was to highlight the power of the Spirit to bring comfort in these chaotic times. However, instead of that sermon, many only heard my words from many years ago.

In 2004 I preached a sermon on the topic of same-sex marriage. I now see that, in that sermon, I was disrespectful. I was hurtful. I wounded people in ways that were devastating. I should have done better. It grieves me that my words have hurt or been used to hurt the LGBTQ community. I apologize to you and I ask forgiveness of Christ.

Faithful people may disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality, but we agree that God’s holy Word must never be used as a weapon to wound others. To be clear, I believe in the traditional biblical understanding of marriage, but I also believe in a God of unbounded grace and love. LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ families must be respected and treated with love. They are beloved children of God because, they are made in the image and likeness of God.

Over centuries, the church has harmed LGBTQ people and their families, just as the church has harmed people on issues of race, gender, divorce, addiction, and so many other things. We must do better to serve and love one another.

I share the Cathedral’s commitment to building bridges and learning how to listen — to really listen — to those with whom we disagree. That work is difficult, it is hard, it is messy, and it can be uncomfortable. But we need it now more than ever.