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In the religion news headlines this week is the story of a pastor who has decided the Bible condones homosexuality. His church, it seems, has determined to see how they might live in a tension between those who agree and disagree. Dr. Mohler has a reflective piece on the situation. It is likely not a coincidence that the pastor in question has a son who has recently come out of the closet.

I am reminded of the Christianity Today report from a few years ago that post-evangelical provocateur Brian McLaren had officiated the same-sex wedding of his son. Denny Burk had some good reflections, as did Carl Trueman.

There are some obvious “talking points” to engage in here, about the trajectory of these mind-changing pastor’s hermeneutic, slippery slopes and all that. But I am reminded again of these strong words from our Lord:

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

– Mark 3:31-35

Jesus is providing a foundation and a watershed at the same time, a connecting point for his other provocative statements about letting the dead bury the dead (Luke 9:59-60), bringing division to families (Matt. 10:34-37), hating mom and dad on his account (Luke 14:26), no marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:30), and how his mom ain’t so special (Luke 11:27-28). We also get some grounding for Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:29.

Confronted with the well-meaning concerns of familial loyalty, Jesus will not take his eyes off the cross before him. He knows God is building a new family, one that is eternal, one that is centered on God as Abba and the Son of God as the good older brother, the finally worthy of the honor who in his gospel is not ashamed to call his brethren brethren (Heb. 2:11). So the warnings are strong, the wording is harsh. Jesus doesn’t hate his family. But he loves his Father and the will of his Father more. He wants to honor the will of God more than he wants to satisfy the will of his family.

This is a good word to all of us familyolaters. We take what most of us consider the most important thing in our lives and give it the weight of our worship in a way that is both dishonorable and unsustainable. And we end up living “Thus saith the family” rather than “Thus saith the Lord.” I know personally what happens when one worships his wife: he harms her. I know what happens when we make our children the center of our universe: we harm them. That is true hatred. Trading in the cross for the thin gruel of temporary satisfaction, appetites, compulsions, is the worst thing you could do to somebody. And when it comes down to seeking one’s happiness over their holiness, we aid and abet the theft of their eternal joy. This is what Danny Cortez and Brian McLaren have done.

I hope for the grace not to follow suit at a million different turning points, big and little, as my kids grow up. I know the temptation will be great.

Christ would have us focused on him, loving him above all else. And when all else, including our beloved families, asks us to betray Christ and his word in order to instead serve them, we face Abraham’s excruciating dilemma. But pledging our hearts to heaven, we will not look back to Egypt or Sodom, trusting that true mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters are those who follow Jesus and that obeying God is worth any cost, including hurting the feelings of those we love.

What I mean is, when our children ask for stones, let’s defy them and give them bread instead.

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12 thoughts on “When Our Sons Ask For Stones, Let’s Give them Bread”

  1. JohnM says:

    Well said. Familyolaters is a term that has occurred to me as well. Probably not the churches deepest problem. But one of them.

  2. Andy says:

    I forget how the old quote goes but the overall thought is that I would give anything for you except for my soul. Unfortunately, that is what we see sometimes in the compromises people make for others that are against the gospel.

  3. Colin says:

    So when our gay or lesbian children ask to support their sexual orientation (stones), we should stalwartly reject their request for support and ask them to repent instead (bread)? Talk about turning a passage on its head.

    It would make far more sense not to contort it and use Jesus’ original order, “So when our gay or lesbian children ask to support their sexual orientation (bread), why would we stalwartly reject their request for support and ask them to repent instead (stones)?”

  4. Cedric says:

    Yeah, Colin, your view might make more sense if it weren’t for the clear teaching of Old & New Covenant Scripture, and 3000+/2000 years of Synagogue/Church Harmony on the issue of same-sex relations.

  5. Kenny says:

    You are committing a logical fallacy. supporting my son does not equal supporting his sexual orientation. This does not mean that I drive my son off and have nothing to do with him, but it does mean that I do not lie to him and tell him that homosexuality is not a sin. Would it be more loving if I lied to him and gave home a false hope? or lovingly honest with him and pointed to the fact that his only hope is found in repentance and faith in Christ? What good is it if I support my son’s lifestyle in this world, and he loses his soul? This is no trifling matter.

  6. Isabel says:

    What a great article. Its difficult but very rewarding to follow the God who made everything. Especially since that means choosing him over everything we’ve found in our lives to be most comforting. In these cases – supporting family members sin and folly so we avoid their wrath. This certainly doesnt mean we cant love them(share the gospel). God also commands us to love our neighbors. But this doesnt include compromising our faith…

  7. John says:

    “Confronted with the well-meaning concerns of familial loyalty, Jesus will not take his eyes off the cross before him. ” Well said. I’m so thankful that he gave me bread in spite of the times I was looking for stones. We, as Christians, surely need to be reminded to keep our eyes on the cross and the One who calmed the storms. Thank you for this contribution.

    And to this comment:

    “It would make far more sense not to contort it and use Jesus’ original order, ‘So when our gay or lesbian children ask to support their sexual orientation (bread), why would we stalwartly reject their request for support and ask them to repent instead (stones)?'”

    If we are looking to define bread & stones, the Bible very clearly does that. There is no question as to how the Bible addresses homosexuality, and overlooking sin in our own children is no more giving them “bread” than is allowing them to play on an interstate highway. Just because someone doesn’t recognize a stone as a stone, doesn’t make it bread. But if one is claiming Christ, and claiming His Word, then the Bread is also clearly defined. The order of the stone or bread is not the contortion in this issue–it’s the ease and quickness with which Christians are redefining the stones (At the expense of those who need the Bread.).

  8. Flyaway says:

    Excellent post! We must give our families the choice of following Jesus and serving Him or not. Once we have given them the choice then sometimes it is time to keep silent. I told my cousin’t daughter that Mormonism was not Christianity. My aunt was very angry with me. I have kept silent since. But the sister of this cousin has not. I continue to pray for her family.

  9. Luz says:

    Love them but with love we have to tell the truth reject it we must must not deviate from the truth the price they will pay is hard but they will pay we have to (Be still and remember He s God )

  10. Lulu Renteria says:

    Soon pastors will embrace this TREND , SO THE FLOCK…will follow them instead following JESUS WORDS… the same happened when some pastors married ALREADY MARRIED COUPLES …while a spouse still living, INSTEAD OF PRAYING FOR A RESTORATION OF THE ONE FLESH UNION-CHURCH–we are SALT AND LIGHT MATHEW 5.13 and embassadors of Reconciliation whatever the SIN comes JESUS CAME TO UNDO EVIL…1JOHN3.8

  11. Lulu Renteria says:

    Jared C. Wilson, God bless you, JESUS in your heart gave you the courage to answer in true love

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Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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