Is This Evangelical Coach Out of Bounds?

There’s a saying in Nebraska: “If you don’t like the weather then wait a minute.” It is not surprising to run your heater and air conditioner in the same day. But such variable weather tends to coincide with stable public relations. This is why it is so interesting to consider the stormy story of University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown.

You may recall Brown as the eye of the hurricane in the aftermath of the horrific Penn State sex scandal last fall. Nebraska played Penn State the weekend after the story broke. Surrounded by clouds of despair, Brown, an outspoken evangelical, led a prayer meeting of players, coaches, and officials at midfield. He also provided clarity and biblical perspective during the week. Brown’s Christian worldview and witness were, as many said, the highlight of the day.

Six months later Brown finds himself in the headlines again. Only this time he is not being applauded but assailed for these same evangelical convictions.

In late March the Omaha City Council held a public hearing concerning an amendment to their anti-discrimination ordinance to add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The law already provides protection from discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, and disability. Brown attended the hearing and voiced his opposition to the amendment.

A host of national outlets have picked up the AP story about backlash against Brown. I recently visited with Brown to get his thoughts on what happened and why he spoke up.

Personal Encouragement

Ron Brown is fearless. At least he seems so. He lives his Christian life like he played as a college and NFL defensive back. Like a roving safety, Brown defends his ground, looks for breakdowns, and tackles the opposition. His love of Christ trumps all. It is amazing to read stories in an Omaha newspaper about how he has won over a Muslim running back by his daily faithfulness. I also hear many more stories through friends close to him of steady, intentional Christian living. Therefore, before we observe or say anything else we can be challenged and encouraged. This guy is a rare jewel in contemporary evangelicalism. And he is living it out in a media fishbowl.

I asked Brown why he is so bold, so outspoken. He responded,

Jesus said, “Whoever desires to save his life shall lose it. If you deny me before me then I will deny you before my Father.” My greatest burden is not losing my job or what people might say about me. My greatest burden is faithfulness. I want to be faithful. I want to see the body of Christ be faithful. I want to see unbelievers come to Christ.

Brown is 100 percent Division I football coach and 100 percent preacher. When he talks you want to strap on the spiritual helmet and get in the game.

Clarity Is Necessary

Brown is arguably the most influential evangelical in Nebraska. He is routinely asked to speak at churches because people look up to him and love him. This is true inside and outside the church. As a veteran local sage at the Omaha World-Herald noted, Brown has a track record of public engagement on moral issues.

Brown has been consistent in his convictions and beliefs for the 20-some years I’ve covered him, and gotten to know him. He’s been speaking out and attending so many meetings, for so many years, quoting the good book and suggesting how folks should live their lives, that he’s become a bit of a caricature of himself.

Why would the writer say this? Brown has a reputation for boldly speaking out on moral issues, and we have come to expect it.

Why is this a concern? Because many, like this columnist, hear a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” in his soundbites and statements. This is where we all should be listening to those who listen to us. Are they hearing gospel or moralism? Are we preaching the gospel of what Jesus did or what we need to do/not do?

D. A. Carson has helpfully said, “It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins, what we need is to be prophetic from the center.” That is, preaching against issues that flow out of a rejection of the gospel (sexual sin, abortion, etc) are peripheral and must be addressed by means of the core gospel, that which is of first importance (1 Cor. 15:3-5).

I asked Brown about the danger of his message being reduced merely to moralism. Brown pounced on this like an open-field tackle:

I do not want to see a moral Nebraska. I want to see a Nebraska and a country transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why I do all of this. Everything is about getting the truth of Jesus Christ out.

Brown’s view of homosexuals does not emerge clearly in this media dust-up. Many have argued that he is hateful towards gays. He told me:

That’s not true. It is not all about seeing homosexuals become hetereosexuals. This is not the message of the gospel. The gospel is about all types of sinners (like me) who are unbelievers becoming believers. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not discriminatory, it is all inclusive: we are all sinners. I am pretty consistent in talking to all types of people about Christ. This is the thing that encourages me in this whole thing: the gospel of Christ is being presented. God will forgive people. He will give a clean-slate to all who turn from sin and trust in Jesus.

As you listen to Brown talk about his burden for the gospel to take root, and then you re-read the soundbites, you feel the burden of Carson’s words all the more: we must be prophetic from the center. They will hear what we are passionate about. We have to keep hitting those gospel notes, because it is a strange sound to people who do not yet recognize the tune.

Cultural Observation

There is much we could conclude from this situation, but I’ll highlight just two observations.

First, if Brown had spoken in favor of the amendment, media would not have protested. Brown boldly proclaimed, “This offends God.” Consequently, many people were offended (including the university chancellor). People really are interested in gagging God. They don’t want to recognize authority outside themselves. This response illustrates Romans 1:18-25. There is no consideration about offending the Creator, only consideration about the possibility of offending creatures. God help us. Brown was pretty fired up about this point.

In the famous battle between David and Goliath there was Goliath, the enemy to God and his people; David, the young under-sized boy; and the cowardly Jewish army. Too often American evangelicals look like a cowering army instead of a zealous David. There is opposition to God and his Word. How can we just hang our heads and give up?!

Second, there is back story to Brown’s public appearance. The coach has received some pretty intense public chin-music from Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska. Many local experts are opining that Perlman is fed up with the coach’s exploits. In other words, Brown might get fired over this incident. The university may regard Brown as a liability. In other words, the University of Nebraska, in the name of tolerance, would be intolerant of his so-called intolerance. If that sounds like an postmodern end-around, you heard correctly. The modern understanding of tolerance pivots on the fact that you must tolerate everyone’s views except those who disagree with this premise. This is not only intellectually but also morally problematic.

To make matters more complicated, in a few days the Lincoln City Council will consider the same ordinance. Everyone wonders if Coach Brown will speak out against the amendment, as he did in Omaha. “I’m praying about that,” Brown told me. “I want to draw as much attention to Christ as I can. I also want to think about the best ways to do that.” If for whatever reason Brown doesn’t go, he should not worry about being called a coward. If he does go, may the gospel be made clear in all of its grace-saturated glory.

Obvious Tension

Christians living in a secular world have endless opportunities for gospel engagement. Where and when do we go? Furthermore, how do we speak out against moral issues in an increasingly secular culture? I can’t pretend to answer these things once and for all. There is an obvious tension here the seems to pit faithfulness against pragmatism. Christians need to pray for wisdom and boldness as we endeavor to be clearly declaring and demonstrating the gospel.

Unlike Nebraska weather, this priority never changes. May God be pleased to use Brown and the rest of us to advance the gospel.

  • James Rednour

    “If he does go, may the gospel be made clear in all of its grace-saturated glory.”

    I’m sorry, but the gospel has nothing to do with homosexuality as much as evangelicals want to claim that it does. Jesus never spoke a word about homosexuality, but he has a lot to say about judgementalism. If Brown speaks out against homosexuality that is his prerogative, but homosexuality has nothing to do with Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of a sinful world any more than any other sin. Singling out homosexuals might win you brownie points at the next Southern Baptist Convention, but it is a sure way to continue to lose the ear of the next generation.

    • Melody

      He didn’t single them out, the council did. And Jesus did speak against sexual immorality.

      And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23

      Don’t you think sexual immorality and sensuality covers it?

    • taco

      homosexuality has nothing to do with Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of a sinful world any more than any other sin.

      So in your view:
      1) homosexuality has nothing to do with Christ’s sacrifice
      2) the world is sinful
      3) Christ died for a sinful world
      4) homosexuality is no different than any other sin

      So you admit homosexuality is a sin but that has nothing to do with Christ’s sacrifice but Christ died for a sinful world. So what did Jesus die for in your view?

      • James Rednour

        I clearly stated “homosexuality has nothing to do with Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of a sinful world ANY MORE THAN ANY OTHER SIN. The problem is that we are talking about a law that prevents people from being fired for being gay. Do you think it is a good idea to fire a person because he is gay? What’s the point of speaking out against such a thing.

        And actually, I do NOT think that a monogamous, homosexual relationship is sinful if two people are bound to each other for life before God which is why I support civil unions for homosexuals. If God created a person as a homosexual (and homosexuality is NOT a choice or an abnormality for the vast majority of gays despite what evangelical Christians want to believe), then why should two consenting adults not have the same opportunity to pursue a relationship together? Why is it any of your or any other Christian’s business?

        The church is free to marry or not marry whomever they wish, but the government has no right to deny people certain rights because of their sexual preferences. Ron Brown seems to think that it should. That’s why he is out of bounds.

        • JBreyer

          Leviticus 18:22 “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman. That is detestable.”
          I don’t believe God makes us detestable. We choose to engage in acts that He detests.
          Why do we sin? Because we want to. Not because He makes us.

    • Thomas Aquinas

      Why is Jesus speaking of something relevant? For in that case necrophilia and pedophilia ought to permissible because he never spoke of it.

      The fact is that Jesus did speak of sexual relations. He extolled the life of celibacy, and when the nature of marriage came up he spoke of one man and one woman, maintaining the OT polygamy was tolerated but not commended.

      • James Rednour

        You are a sick person to compare homosexuality to necrophilia or pedophilia. All of the homosexual Christians I know (and I know several) have a better grasp of the Gospel and Christ’s redeeming love than you do. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

        And we wonder why the world looks at us and calls us bigots. Here is Exhibit A.

        • Melody

          If the homosexual Christians that you know are practicing homosexual sex then it is a perversion just like any other perversion.

          You have no right to twist that person’s words and try to make them sound like something that they are not. That says VOLUMES about you.

          What you all keep ignoring is that Jesus said plenty about homosexuality in the Old Testament. You just want to play Thomas Jefferson and pretend that He didn’t come into existence until the red letters.

        • Rob

          If you claim to be a homosexual Christian then you have little to no understanding of the Gospel at all. If you did you would seek to apply Christ’s redeeming love to free yourself from bondage to a sexual perversion which is robbing you of your joy and Christ of his glory. You would not seek to continue to live a lifestyle for which Christ died to redeem. Yes you may fail at times but that’s worlds apart from normalizing clear sin. Homosexuals love their lifestyle more than Christ which is a problem because he is unflinching in his call for absolute allegiance which is the only way to eternal life and everlasting joy.

    • Trevor

      1 Corinthians 6:9-10″ 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.”
      1 Timothy 1:8-11 “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
      You can choose to believe that homosexuality is okay, and that it has nothing to do with the gospel, but God (who wrote the entire Bible, not just the words in red) clearly spoke out against it along with other sins, and Paul calls it contrary to sound doctrine. I do not think you would claim to be more knowledgeable about God’s will than Paul correct?

  • Morgan Guyton

    I used to be a high school teacher, and the only time my students self-identified as Christians in my class was when we had to read a Langston Hughes poem and they heard he was gay and they didn’t feel like doing the assignment so they said it was against their religion. Many young Christians see being anti-gay as the core of their identity along with perhaps anti-cussing and anti-drinking. There’s no concept of grace; it’s pure legalism. You’re right to point out that promoting the core of gospel is the solution, but I wish you were less timid in making that suggestion. The fruit of the evangelical church’s witness right now is pretty rotten. It makes me wonder if people really believe the gospel they say that they do or if describing the gospel the right way is just one check-box on the list of check-boxes.

    • Danny

      pot meet kettle.

  • Dan

    The gospel has a lot to do with sin. Seems to me that homosexuality falls into that category. If the gospel is seeing sinners (unbelievers) come to Christ don’t we have to clearly say what sin is? And doesn’t that include homosexuality among all types of sin?

    • James Rednour

      Dan, do you believe people are born gay? If so, why did God create them in such a way that they will never be able to experience true intimate love with another human being? Or are you a proponent of James Dobson’s gay-cure?

      • Rob

        People are born sinful…and sometimes that manifests itself in homosexuality. Your worldview is distorted. Pray tell where did you come to the conclusion that homosexuality is natural? I assure you you won’t find it in the Bible. True intimate love isn’t about satisfaction of lust regardless of sexual orientation. True intimate love is rooted in abiding communion with Christ and seeking to display his magnificent worth to a world that hates Him.

  • Dean P

    I do think that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery after her accusers walked away and he told her he no longer accused her “To Go And Sin No More.” It would seem that this command would apply to all sins once Christ had forgiven them. Why would Jesus ask anything differently from someone who is homosexual?

    • Danny

      Wait, didn’t the town council bring up the issue?? They aren’t saying it’s not sin they are glorifying and protecting it beyond conventional marriage.

    • M Burke

      You mean the story that is not found in any place in any of the earliest surviving Greek Gospel manuscripts? That story of adultery? I don’t think you should build doctrine on spurious passages of Scripture.

  • Josh S.

    Jesus asks no one anything. He commands them. Sin is sin is sin. Go and sin no more. That is a command, not a suggestion. Jesus demands all-out radical obedience. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.

    I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

    And no one is required to win the ear of any generation. We are required to be faithful to the Truth. To preach Christ and Him crucified. Many will not like the message of the truth. Men love darkness because their deeds are evil. Anything that makes manifest is light. I sowed, another watered but God gives the increase. A sower goes out to sow… All these illustrations and examples given in the New Testament record attest to the fact that our mission is not to save anyone. Salvation belongs to the Lord. All sin, homosexuality included, must be brought to the light of the glory of Christ and to the blood of His cross. You stand on the truth, no matter who listens.

    • Jon

      Amen Josh S!

  • P Ashhurst

    I have enjoyed reading the article and comments, agreeing with much that has been written – from both perspectives. Clearly homosexual actions are sin, and products of a sinful orientation – as are all sins (e.g. premarital sex). However, the question of whether something is sin or not is separate from what appears to be at stake here: how should society treat people?
    Are we going to endorse legislation which provides protection for all people? Or are we we going to argue that sinners of certain types not be allowed the same legal rights as others? If so, where shall we start? Adulterers? Liars? People who don’t love their parents?
    This is not a covert argument in favor of gay marriage. This is an argument for Christians to support fairness in society. Anti-discrimination is not the same as saying something is good. Wake up America – the log in our own eye may not be homosexuality, but it’s equally as abhorrent to God.

    • Melody

      As long as you don’t believe that children deserve their God given right to two parents then that would be a definition of fair. Perhaps the real problem is when men decide that they have a better definition of fair and that they can design the human race to work in a better way?

    • Hannah

      Actually Ashhurst, anti-discrimination IS the same as declaring something good in public policy. Anytime we write laws we are effectively saying that “this is appropriate” by giving incentives and “this is inappropriate” by imposing fines, punishment, etc. Laws are by nature moral judgements and those judgements are always based on the morality of the people who write and pass those laws.

      In this case, the anti-discrimination actually goes far beyond simply saying “we think discrimination is wrong” because it only gives specific classes of people this protection instead of ALL people. Your point about either “providing protection for all people” or “sinners of certain types not be allowed the same legal rights” is interesting because this type of law REMOVES PROTECTION for some people by its very nature and ELEVATES other classes of people as deserving “more protection against discrimination.”

      I find it interesting that advocates for anti-discrimination laws for GLBT people care very little about the same protection for people who are overweight or have shy personalities for example. Aren’t these people also discriminated against in the workplace? If they care so much about equality, why aren’t they fighting for laws that actually protect everyone regardless if they’re a part of some special class?

      Why then do we do have these laws in the first place? Because race, age, gender, and disability are ALL morally neutral characteristics of people. It isn’t wrong for someone to be old or young, black or white, male or female. We protect these in our anti-discrimination laws BECAUSE they are morally neutral, or “good” qualities people have that should not impact their employment, housing, etc.

      The reason why this is so controversial is because many people believe that whom people have sexual relationships with DOES have moral bearing, and as such they choose to hire a specific type of person who lines up with their beliefs. This isn’t true just of Christians; owners of gay bars, clubs, etc. are obviously more apt to hire homosexuals. These laws would criminalize them as well for preferring people who share their beliefs about sexual conduct.

  • david bartosik

    unbelievably encouraged by his life and story and cannot wait to see how it unfolds as he continues to proclaim gospel and fight a simplistic change in morals.

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  • Steve Cornell

    We should at least be informed about the way the public has been manipulated regarding the radical homosexual agenda to redefine marriage. I see seven tools being used. The seven points below survey the deceptive distortions of truth used to change the way the public thinks about sexuality and marriage. By exposing this agenda, I do not desire to offend or hurt others, but to encourage more rational dialogue.

    1. Using the language of civil rights: For several decades we’ve heard increased association of gay rights with battles for racial and gender equality. A desire for homosexual sex (we’re told) is an inborn condition, not a choice. Although based on a false comparison and without scientific support, the aim is to get the public to view gays and lesbians as they would people of race. If successful, those who morally oppose gay marriage will be viewed as hateful racists who oppose the civil rights of an oppressed minority.

    2. Using accusations of hate and irrational fear: The goal has been to convince the public that opponents of gay marriage are bigoted hate-mongers with irrational phobias. They are homophobic and full of venomous prejudice. People are not permitted to see things differently. They are not free to choose a moral position on homosexual conduct. The agenda is in overdrive to portray anyone who does not endorse the gay lifestyle as irrational religious fanatics who destroy civility. Supporters of traditional marriage are presented as dangerous people who cling to bigoted ancient laws of a by-gone era.

    3. Exposing heterosexual hypocrisy: Attention is drawn to marriage as a failing institution among heterosexuals. This is partly done to make Christians appear to be hypocritical for opposing gay marriage when they have their own marriage crisis. It’s simply an effort to silence opposition to gay marriage. It also assumes that gay marriage will improve the marriage scene.

    4. Using the language of justice: In a twisted way, radical gay activists portray opponents of gay marriage as perpetrators of injustice. They are accused of inequity for denying loving people the opportunities to have the same rights and freedoms others enjoy. The laws that protect all citizens are sufficient but gay activists demand special laws for their lifestyle choices.

    5. Using the language of religion: Connecting gay rights to religious freedom and claiming God’s approval of gay relationships is another tactic. They scold us for failing to understand that religion is about love and tolerance. Although every major faith for most of history denounced homosexual behavior, they suggest that it’s the view of a fringe group of fundamentalists. They even deceptively portray Jesus as favoring gay marriage based on a supposed argument from silence (see: Matthew 19:3-9).

    6. Playing the victim card: Every crime or death that can be connected in any measure to opposition to homosexuality is used to demand special laws to protect them from violence. They want us to believe that all opposition to gay marriage incites hate and violence, even causing suicides. This has played on the gullibility of Christians and silenced too many of them.

    7. Using judicial coercion: Since State after State has approved constitutional amendments protecting traditional marriage, radical gay activists bully Americans into acceptance of gay marriage by judicial force. In Massachusetts four justices unilaterally imposed their acceptance of gay marriage on the entire state (even though surveys indicated that the majority of residents did not favor gay marriage).

    All of these tactics have been used to pressure the public to accept and celebrate homosexual lifestyles as normal.

  • Brandon Levering

    Very thankful for Ron Brown’s ministry. It was through his preaching that I came to Christ 16 years ago.

  • Eric Gambardella

    I work with InterVarsity at a small public campus in Virginia. Our school had this same issue a few years ago. I am committed to the gospel, both its smooth sides and course and sharp edges. I believe that any and all forms of adultery are sinful actions–including all ‘homosexual behavior.’

    But I also have this honest question, Erik. Whenever these ‘anti-discrimination’ things are brought up and the troops are rallied from each side, I ask for clarity and I have yet to really get any. I don’t know if it’s because people have no answers, or because I ask the question after the smoke of the polarized blitzkriegs has made it impossible for my question to be heard. My question is: Even as a Christian who is opposed to any and all sin (but especially the sin of people who claim to be believers–1 Cor 5), why must I be opposed to a public university adding ‘sexual orientation’ to their anti-discrimination policy? When it comes to admissions I think it would be horrible to discriminate on this basis (along with race and gender).

    Is it fear of the slippery slope? (Folks pointing to Vanderbilt and the Supreme Court’s decision to support all-comers policies.) Is it because the policies being discussed speak about more than admission to the school?

    Can I get some clarity? I would love for my school to be full of admitted sinners of every stripe–they are my mission field.

    • Hannah

      Eric, I think there is a HUGE difference between a school have an open admissions policy and a city council FORCING every school, business, non-profit, church, and individual to agree with this standard of morality–namely, that homosexuality is as morally neutral and “good” as someones race, age, gender, etc.

      I think the problem at a school isn’t so much about students, but about how they treat employees who disagree with their coworkers position on this issue. A business or university deciding on their own to add these classes to their policies can lead to legal complications if they enforce it by marginalizing or firing religious employees. Protecting religious freedom and protecting LGBT rights are basically impossible to do at the same time, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more cases come before our court system highlighting this disparity.

      The main problem with this type of law isn’t that we should allow discrimination, it’s that the government takes sides on a moral debate and forcibly silences anyone who believes differently. Now THAT’S a problem.

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  • Danny

    I think the rift goes beyond the Gospel and homosexuality. What Christians fear is criminalization of the type of speech in which Brown engaged. We have a few folks who think ahead and see this coming as it has already gone down in Canada.

  • Vivian Allen

    Love his comment about the gospel not being to make homosexuals into heterosexuals. It’s great to remember that we don’t have to be sinless to be forgiven and saved from our sin. Jesus came to heal the sick, not the healthy. Thankful for the gospel being promoted even in our inability to figure this whole issue out. Such grace!

  • Burton

    I have to admit I feel torn on this. On the one hand, scripture is clear that homosexuality is sin. Some people believe otherwise, but they have only come to that conclusion because they want to (via cognitive dissonance from society and a desire to be liked).

    On the other hand, when I look at scripture, Jesus seemed remarkably unconcerned with the course of civil government and much more concerned with the people themselves. He met people’s needs, healed them, and preached the gospel to them. When people tried to drag him into politics, he always seemed to not really care about government politics, outside of showing respect and obeying.

    With that being said, I would be lying if I wasn’t encouraged by his faith. What faith God has given this man, and I wish I was as bold as he is. If I was going to find myself on one end of the spectrum, I would much rather it be that people mock me, ridicule me, and think I’m crazy for my faith, than be the cool, loved by the media, soften hard truths style of Christian that so many pastors find themselves drawn to.

    There’s a quote from the movie, “The Kingdom” that in many ways embodies Mr. Brown’s spirit, and I think every Christian would do well to act, regardless of the consequences:

    “Westmoreland made all us Officers
    write our own obituaries during
    Tet, when it looked like the Cong
    were going to end it all right
    there. Once we clued-in that life
    was finite, the loss of it no
    longer scared us: the end comes no
    matter what, it’s just a question
    of how you want to go out: on your
    feet or on your knees.

    After that, we went out and pulled
    triggers until barrels melted. And
    Vietnam lasted another seven years.

    The lesson extends to this career:
    I act, knowing the end of this job
    will come, no matter what. You
    should do the same.”

  • Eric Gambardella

    As a side note, can we put a moratorium on calling “homosexuality” a sin? This is an extremely unhelpful, unclear, and divisive statement. The bible teaches that actions (be they thoughts, motives, words, or behaviors) are sins…not “ity’s” of any sort.

    • M Burke

      Why not say, instead, “the Bible calls all sexual activity outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage sinful, this includes homosexuality and adultery…”

    • Rob

      that still doesn’t change the fact that homosexuality is a sin…

      • Eric

        No. Homosexuality isn’t a sin. Adultery is a sin. Homosexuality isn’t something that can be committed. I have met many people in the LGBT community that are extremely confused by the “homosexuality is a sin” language, because “homosexuality” is a GIANT umbrella. Is having a same-sex attraction a sin? No–no more than an attraction to any other lust or greed. Giving in to that desire is a sin, but the desire is not. We can and should as Christians play a hard line on calling any and all adultery for what it is–it is sin, God disapproves of it, and God’s wrath will be poured out on any and all sin that is not nailed to the cross. We MUST also work much harder than we have been at being as gracious and gentle and clear as possible when we articulate what we believe. “Homosexuality is a sin” is about the most unclear and ambiguous statement that can be made in this regard, and often does more harm than good in the lives of those we want to see transformed by the gospel in heart and body.

      • P Ashhurst

        Well put, Eric

  • Jim

    I’ve met with Ron Brown many times back when I worked for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is humorous, intelligent, friendly, and above all passionate about seeing people’s lives transformed by the Gospel. Lest anyone claim that he is a legalist or a bigot, I can tell you firsthand that he is most certainly not. Speaking out about sin in the absence of a message of grace is most assuredly legalistic, but Ron’s convictions sprout from a desire to see people turn from sin and towards Christ. It’s a heck of a lot easier to sit back and watch as people hurdle towards death. Much more difficult to compassionately proclaim the Gospel and warn people of their need to turn from sin- it takes energy, God’s grace, and the knowledge that a whole lot of people won’t like you.

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  • anish

    Praise God for Ron Brown

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  • jason townley

    I agree with Ron Brown ,i to am a bold Christian you can ask anyone who hangs around me when im in public i will bring GOD,into every conversation and the bible. But i also believe a person needs to be strategic and smart in ways they try to get GODS divine word out you can actually hinder others by going about it the wrong way, way like how during freedmen he was talking about that teacher that got fired for trying to teach about jesus , Ron was telling us we need to be like that teacher. I believe that wrong that teacher was hired to teach math not to preach, yes he can bring GOD into conversation but shouldn’t preach, because now that teacher is making it hard for a organization like the 7 project and talk about making good decision during the day, then at night hold a rally. and bring good christian speakers in with pastors to do the preaching completely legal. that is the best way to go about reaching students. and making a good name for us bold Christians.

  • P Ashhurst

    Melody & Hannah, I appreciate your thoughtful replies. I’d love to write a long post addressing each point, but I suspect that would test everyone’s patience too much. Perhaps it would suffice to say that I completely agree that homosexual activity is wrong, and that gay marriage is completely against God’s plan and surely will bring pain and suffering to those involved.
    Where I disagree is in how we represent Jesus to the world. Yes, the world will use the anti-intolerance crusade to condone unbiblical behavior (as it always has). But standing up and saying laws to protect a group (any group) are wrong is inappropriate. To the world, that says that we don’t think gays should be protected against violence and other forms of abuse, because they don’t deserve it. Argue against gay marriage if you wish, but let’s be careful not to argue for intolerance.
    Last point: one protection firmly guarded by law is the right to not be harassed for your religion. That means we can have these discussions without fear of prosecution. It also means Moslems can do the same. Now, Islam is not of God – far from it. Yet we rightly applaud the laws that protect Moslems.
    Let the world play it’s evil games. Our job is to represent Jesus – the one who saw into people’s hearts, saw the sin and pain, and forgave and loved them. It’s not our job to stop unsaved people sinning; it’s our job to lead them to the one who will save them from sin and death.

    • Melody

      Jesus did not refuse to speak the truth while He was loving. I did not see anything in the article that said that Ron Brown was hateful. What I have seen is several professing Christians willing to leave him to stand alone no matter what his fruit or faithfulness to gospel and Christ. The only people that think that he is hateful are the ones that hate the truth. If you ignore and condone the sin then why would they ever need your Savior? Yours, not theirs because their lives are just peachy without Him.

    • P Ashhurst

      Melody, I totally agree that Jesus didn’t hold back on the truth. And I don’t think Ron Brown is hateful. At the very worst, I am only arguing that he is misguided. I think it is a misconception to think that if we don’t oppose legislation of this sort, then we are soft on homosexuality. And I believe that opposing such legislation makes us ‘look like’ we hate gay people. I hope that clarifies my view.
      As to the latter part of your post, it is well taught by many teachers in this Coalition that the biblical pattern is salvation first, then comes how we should live. The Jews were saved from Egypt before they were told how God expected them to live (the law). The gospel pattern is the same: we come to Jesus, who promises salvation from sin and death; from that point it is “therefore, in view of God’s mercy, present yourselves as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1), and Jesus’s own commandment (our new law) “love one another as I have loved you”. Salvation first, then how we are to live.
      Everyone will be judged according to what they have done, and all who are not found to be trusting in the saving blood of Jesus will be eternally condemned. But even when I stand before God’s judgment seat I will be astounded at the sin in my life of which I had been unaware. God, in his grace, does not require that I see and repent of every sin in my heart. The Christian life is one of growth and maturing into a greater understanding of our sin and God’s love. As I grow I see more of my sinfulness, and I repent thereof, learning more of his love and growing more like Jesus in the process.
      Therefore, I believe the appropriate action is to love and care for homosexual people, as we are called to for all. We must teach that all people are sinful and that our creator has provided a way of salvation. We don’t hold back on the truth – the message is still “repent and put your trust in Jesus”. But it is possible that some may come to Jesus before they are convinced that they are sinning in a particular aspect: there actually are Christians who are actively homosexual, as there are Christians who haven’t realised that their workaholism or whatever is against God’s will. It is not important that they clean up their act in ways which match our expectation. What matters is that they come humbly to Jesus and seek his will in their lives. One day it will come to the crunch and they will give up their rebellion, or not. And what happens in that case is up to the Judge, who is just and true.

      • Melody

        You win arguments by talking people to death, don’t you?

        Ron Brown is living his life and answering to God in the way that he believes he is called. To judge him is wrong. He has done nothing wrong. John the baptizer did nothing wrong.

        Sin is treated in the way that people want to decriminalize drugs. If we pretend the behavior is “normal” and acceptable. Then the person speaking the truth of God’s words becomes the bad guy.

      • P Ashhurst

        Melody, I don’t know what I said to earn your abuse. I admit I wasn’t as concise as I would have liked to be, but that’s hardly something to abuse me for.
        As the discussion is apparently annoying you, I’ll bow out. Grace and peace to you in Jesus.

        • Melody

          I apologize. I admit that I got frustrated with how much it read like something from an attorney and I shouldn’t have said that.

        • P Ashhurst

          Thanks Melody. Apology accepted, and I’ll try to be less lawyer-like :-)

  • just some guy

    Maybe I’m a simpleton, but when people say something like “Jesus never said anything about __________”, I find it to be a head-scratcher. Even if he didn’t speak out specifically against homosexuality (as an example), other parts of the Bible clearly do. Isn’t the whole thing God’s word? Since when did red letters carry more weight than the black ones?

  • Kathy Holliday

    Ron Brown, I am so proud of you for standing up for what is right in God’s sight. God says very clearly that homosexuality it an abomination unto Him. He hates that sin, however, God loves the sinner and want Him to turn from his wickedness, repent, and live in Christ Jesus according to the truth of God’s Word. Ron, many people are praying for you. Thank you for speaking out for me. It is a sad, sad state of affairs when people call evil good and good evil. I am appalled by the way people are pushing God aside and living like there is not a judgment day coming. May God continue to bless you. I love you Christian brother, but JESUS LOVES YOU MOST.

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  • skatmanfu

    The bible also sanctions the owning of slaves.

    “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.”

    “Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.”

    “Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them”. (1 Timothy 6:1-2)

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