Barack Obama and those organizing his upcoming
inauguration have effectively declared historic, biblical
Christianity to be out of bounds.
A new chapter in America's moral revolution came Thursday as Atlanta
pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from giving the benediction at
President Obama's second inaugural ceremony. In a statement
released to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural
Committee, Giglio said that he withdrew because of the furor that
emerged Wednesday after a liberal watchdog group revealed that
almost 20 years ago he had preached a sermon in which he had stated
that homosexuality is a sin and that the "only way out of a
homosexual lifestyle … is through the healing power of Jesus."
In other words, a Christian pastor has been effectively
disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes
and teaches Christian truth.
The fact that Giglio was actually disinvited was made clear in a
statement from Addie Whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural
"We were not aware of Pastor
Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection, and they don't
reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our
country at this inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the
benediction in large part because of his leadership in combating
human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select
someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs
reflect this administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance
for all Americans."
That statement is, in effect, an embarrassed apology for having
invited Louie Giglio in the first place. Whisenant's statement
apologizes for the Presidential Inaugural Committee's failure to
make certain that their selection had never, at any time,
for any reason, believed that homosexuality is less than a
perfectly acceptable lifestyle. The committee then promised to
repent and learn from their failure, committing to select a
replacement who would "reflect this administration's vision of
inclusion and acceptance."
The imbroglio over Louie Giglio is the clearest evidence of the
new Moral McCarthyism of our sexually "tolerant" age. During the
infamous McCarthy hearings, witnesses would be asked, "Are you now
or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"
In the version now to be employed by the Presidential Inaugural
Committee, the question will be: "Are you now or have you ever been
one who believes that homosexuality (or bisexuality, or
transsexualism, etc.) is anything less than morally acceptable and
worthy of celebration?"
Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta's Passion City Church, is also
founder of the Passion movement that brings tens of thousands of
Christian young people together to hear Giglio, along with speakers
such as John Piper. They urge a rising generation of young
Christians to make a passionate commitment to Christ. In recent
years, the movement has also sought to raise awareness and activism
among young Christians on the issue of sex trafficking. It was that
activism that caught the attention of both President Obama and the
Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Note carefully that both the White House and the committee were
ready to celebrate Giglio's activism on sex trafficking, but all
that was swept away by the Moral McCarthyism on the question of
Two other dimensions of this story also demand attention. First,
we should note that Louie Giglio has not been known lately for
taking any stand on the issue of homosexuality. To the contrary,
Giglio's own statement withdrawing from the invitation made this
"Due to a message of mine that has
surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation,
and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to
make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly,
speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities
in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people
to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ."
A fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor
Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue
of homosexuality for at least 15 years. The issue "has not been in
the range of my priorities," he said. Given the Bible's insistence
that sexual morality is inseparable from our "ultimate significance
as we make much of Jesus Christ," this must have been a difficult
strategy. It is also a strategy that is very attractive to those
who want to avoid being castigated as intolerant or homophobic. As
this controversy makes abundantly clear, it is a failed strategy.
Louie Giglio was cast out of the circle of the acceptable simply
because a liberal watchdog group found one sermon he preached
almost 20 years ago. If a preacher has ever taken a stand on
biblical conviction, he risks being exposed decades after the fact.
Anyone who teaches at any time, to any degree, that homosexual
behavior is a sin is now to be cast out.
Second, we should note that Pastor Giglio's sermon was, as we
would expect and hope, filled with grace and the promise of the
Gospel. Giglio did not just state that homosexuals are sinners --
he made clear that every single human being is a sinner, in need of
the redemption that is found only in Jesus Christ. "We've got to
say to the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that
you would say to me … It's not easy to change, but it's possible to
change," he preached. He pointed his congregation, gay and
straight, to "the healing power of Jesus." He called his entire
congregation to repent and come to Christ by faith.
That is the quintessential Christian Gospel. That is undiluted
biblical truth. Those words are the consensus of the Church for
over 2,000 years, and the firm belief held by the vast majority of
Christians around the world today.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have
now declared historic, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds,
casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its
newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of
the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non
grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest
can participate in the ceremony. No Evangelical who holds to
biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians
around the world have been disinvited. Mormons, and the rabbis of
Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in
Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy
Graham, who participated in at least ten presidential
inaugurations, is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a
similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama's first
inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years,
the rules are fully changed.
The gauntlet was thrown down on Wednesday, and the axe fell on
Thursday. Wayne Besen, founder of the activist group Truth Wins
Out, told The New York Times Wednesday: "It is
imperative that Giglio clarify his remarks and explain whether he
has evolved on gay rights, like so many other faith and political
leaders. It would be a shame to select a preacher with backward
views on LBGT people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving
forward on our issues."
And there you have it -- anyone who has ever believed that
homosexuality is morally problematic in any way must now offer
public repentance and evidence of having "evolved" on the question.
This is the language that President Obama used of his own
"evolving" position on same-sex marriage. This is what is now
openly demanded of Christians today. If you want to avoid being
thrown off the program, you had better learn to evolve fast, and
repent in public.
This is precisely what biblical Christians cannot do. While
seeking to be gentle in spirit and ruthlessly Gospel-centered in
speaking of any sin, we cannot cease to speak of
sin as sin. To do so is not only to deny the
authority of Scripture, not only to reject the moral consensus of
the saints, but it undermines the Gospel itself. The Gospel makes
no sense, and is robbed of its saving power, if sin is denied as
An imbroglio is a painful and embarrassing conflict. The
imbroglio surrounding Louie Giglio is not only painful, it is
revealing. We now see the new Moral McCarthyism in its undisguised
and unvarnished reality. If you are a Christian, get ready for the
question you will now undoubtedly face: "Do you now or have you
ever believed that homosexuality is a sin?" There is nowhere to
Albert Mohler, Jr., is president of The Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky - the flagship
school of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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