A few years ago our church in Philadelphia went through our first crisis: French-kissing homosexuals in the worship service.
One day after services a man in our church’s band approached me and said, “Dude, I just saw my first homosexual kiss!” I said, “Where?” He pointed to the auditorium and said they had been French kissing during the worship service. I said, “Really? I didn’t see them.” I looked for other staff members, but they said they hadn’t witnessed it either.
The next Sunday three people came up to me and said they had seen the same thing. This went on for weeks. It was like the homosexual version of “Where’s Waldo?” During the sermon I would slowly scan the audience looking for lip-locking visitors, but to no avail.
Eventually, for reasons I could never discover, our frisky friends left, but not before I received a nasty email from a woman visiting from another church that saw the couple making out. She asked, “Is your church the kind of church that welcomes homosexuals?”
That was a loaded question.
I emailed back and outlined our church’s belief that homosexuality, like all other sins, goes against what is clearly taught in the Bible. I also explained that we would welcome anyone, regardless of their background, to be a part of our church service, jokingly adding that we had a very strict policy against all French kissing during the service—homosexual or heterosexual.
I concluded my email by saying, “I have to be honest; I was glad to hear that two homosexuals felt comfortable enough to attend our church services and weren’t scared away by the adulterers, pornographers, tax cheats, liars and other messed up people in the seats around them.”
I knew this was a defining moment in the life of our church. It would either swing our church culture toward legalism or toward grace. Wanting to use this situation as a teaching moment, the following Sunday I read the woman’s email and my response in the middle of my sermon. When I finished, the entire room erupted with applause.
We now have a large, professionally designed sign placed at the front door of our church services so every visitor that joins us will see it: “No perfect people allowed.”
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