Rick Warren, author and pastor of Saddleback Church, has in recent days been making the media rounds in promotion of the 10th anniversary of his popular book, The Purpose Driven Life. In an interview with the Huffington Post yesterday, Warren was approached regarding his views on homosexuality. Some are arguing that the megachurch pastor appeared uncertain as to whether homosexual behavior actually is sinful.
The Huffington Post’s Marc Lamont Hill aired footage of Warren’s interview with Piers Morgan, then sought clarification from Warren on his beliefs. Rick Warren indicated that he believed it was possible that a person could be born with so-called natural tendencies toward homosexuality. Hill inquired further, saying, “[So you believe] that God would create a situation whereby someone would have feelings or desires that are natural to them, but it’s still a sin.”
Warren began his response with, “I don’t have it all figured out…” and unfortunately, missed an ideal opportunity to explain the Gospel. An open door was provided in which “America’s pastor” could have explained man’s fallen, sinful nature, that man is born depraved and that his “natural” inclinations will always be toward that which is sinful. Warren failed to explain that, without the imputed righteousness of Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, all men are at enmity with God. Instead, Warren bypassed the Gospel in favor of more palatable talk of “loving everybody.”
Hill then asked whether Warren believed it was a sin to love, in the romantic sense, a member of the same sex. Warren replied that it was not a sin to love somebody, but “it might be a sin to have sex with them.”
“Wow!” exclaimed Hill, to which Warren quickly added, “It might be.”
Of course, the Bible does not say that it “might” be a sin to engage in homosexual behavior. Rather, Scripture is quite clear that such actions, like all sins, are worthy of condemnation if the sinner does not repent and turn to Christ for salvation.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9—11)
While it is clear that the immediate context of this discussion between Hill and Warren was that of homosexual behavior, it is important to note that Warren continued his comments and stated, “I’m very conservative. For instance, I believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong. That’s because my view is based on the Bible.” Some may say, then, that when declaring that “it might be a sin to have sex with” a person, Warren was referring to examples such as this, and not actually wavering on the topic of homosexuality. Without clarification from Rick Warren himself, one cannot know for certain what was the intent of his comment.
Hill later asked if Warren believed that homosexuals go to Hell, to which the pastor replied, “I don’t believe you go to Hell for being a homosexual. You go because you didn’t accept the grace of God.”
Perhaps Warren here meant that individuals are condemned for eternity because they rejected Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation. While this is not false, it also cannot be denied that unsaved men will be punished for their sins against a holy God. It is because men love their sins that they reject Christ.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19—21)
To brush sinful behavior aside is to deceive unregenerate men. God hates sin and, because He is righteous and holy, He will judge and punish sin. Jesus Christ bore the punishment for the sins of all who will be saved. Those who reject Christ, however, will find themselves justly condemned to suffer God’s eternal wrath for their own sins against Him.
Hill followed up by asking what happens to a homosexual who accepts Jesus, to which Warren excitedly declared, “They go to Heaven! Without a doubt.”
Again, it is unfortunate that Warren missed another opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, for to merely state that one must “accept Jesus” is a weak, diluted and incomplete gospel that cannot save a soul.
In its coverage of this story, Christian News Network spoke with Peter LaBarbera, the president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and asked his opinion of Warren’s remarks. LaBarbera “was shocked at Rick Warren’s comments and said that Warren needs to either retract his statements or be labeled an apostate.” LaBarbera further stated,
“You don’t want to give the impression that it’s fine and dandy to live the homosexual lifestyle and as long as I believe in Jesus, I can still go to Heaven,” he said. “I think he’s really in danger of confusing people.”
“When you accept Christ, your behavior changes,” LaBarbera said. “And the attitude is [people like Warren] don’t want to talk about changes…We know that God changes homosexuals, so why isn’t Rick Warren saying that?”
LaBarbera also stated that Warren is treading into very destructive territory by claiming that the issue of homosexual behavior is a grey area.
“What part of Romans 1 doesn’t Rick Warren understand?” he asked. “It’s so clear.”
“Why would you go to a known homosexual source and cast doubt?” LaBarbera added. “Every time somebody like Rick Warren capitulates on Biblical truth, leftists like Huffington Post celebrate.”
Indeed, the media often turns to celebrity pastors who are willing to compromise on biblical truth in favor of “building bridges” with the world. The media then touts these voices as “Christian,” when they instead may stand in opposition to the clear teachings of Scripture. How indicative this is of the warnings the Apostle Paul shared with Timothy so many generations ago:
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. (2 Tim. 4:3—4)