Many pixels and keyboard taps are being put to use today with the news that Atlanta pastor Louie Gigilo will, in fact, not be giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural on January 21. Giglio had originally been tabbed by the planning committee to give the prayer, having allegedly come to their attention for his “leadership in combating human trafficking around the world.” Now, however, just a day or two after we found out he had been chosen to deliver this prayer, he has been booted from the program, withdrawn himself, or both, depending on who you read, based upon a sermon 15 or so years ago in which he called homosexuality a sin and said Christians must be prepared to be called a “homophobe” or “intolerant” in order to stand up for truth.
In fact, MSNBC’s report on Giglio’s withdrawal makes the pastor sound prescient given the anchor’s remarks and those of the reporter (HT: Denny Burk):
There are already, and will continue to be, good thoughts on this development by others, but here are a few thoughts of my own:
- Whether Giglio was “booted” from the program, whether he withdrew on his own, or whether it was a mutual thing where both are kinda true (as I suspect), what is clear is that the White House cowered once again to the homosexual lobby. It was already abundantly clear, but is ever more so by the day, that the Obama Administration is fully on board with the agenda of homosexual groups seeking uber-rights and the destruction of any official government recognition of marriage. The President has already abdicated his constitutional responsibility to uphold the laws of the land by ordering his Justice Department not to prosecute cases which violate the Defense of Marriage Act, passed and signed into law in 1996. During the 2012 campaign he made further public what was already winked and nodded at, that he supports so-called “gay marriage.” Now he is excluding a Christian pastor from his inauguration program on the basis of his views of homosexuality alone. And make no mistake about it, this is the President’s decision, not simply the work of a committee. So it is abundantly clear that the Executive Branch of the federal government is not fulfilling its biblical mandate to uphold that which is good (Rom 13). Instead, it is calling evil good and good evil (Isa 5:20). I know this isn’t “breaking news,” but it’s just another example.
- I’m not accepting the premise, by the way, that Giglio was chosen because of his work regarding human trafficking. It just seems too convenient that the announcement of his participation in the program came right on the heels of Passion 2013, an annual event he has engineered which gathers college-aged men and women for teaching and music. This year’s event, just last week, drew some 60,000 to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist, but his selection in the first place smacks of a political agenda to further endear the Obama Administration to a target demographic, even if they are “Christians.”
- Finally, I do not know much about Giglio. What I do know makes me a little wary, and I’d think twice before sending my son or daughters to Passion; however, I think that by withdrawing himself, as his statement indicates he did, he whiffed on a pitch right down the middle. Given the immediate outcry from the homosexual community and the media, this was a wonderful opportunity to stand publicly for biblical truth. As Steve McKoy tweeted, “The homosexuality issue is the culture’s way of trying to shut us up. And if we shut up, shame on us.” We, as Christians, are supposed to expect opposition — virulent, vehement opposition — when we believe, live, and proclaim that which is true. And that doesn’t just have to be the gospel proper, but moral issues like homosexuality, marriage, human trafficking, racism, etc.If the Christian voice has a chance to speak it absolutely should, so I’m disappointed that Giglio withdrew, in his words, because he and his team “feel it best serves the core message and goals we are seeking to accomplish to be in a fight on an issue not of our choosing.” I understand wanting to keep your eye on your specific ball, but sometimes as a Christian the fight comes to you. And what does it say about your willingness to stand up and be counted when you withdraw from one fight for truth to supposedly fight a different fight? I dare say they end up being the same fight in the end, and the homosexual lobby and the Obama agenda won this round when Giglio bowed out.Peter commands us to give a defense for the hope within us, with gentleness and reverence (1 Pet 3:15). Giglio had a chance to do that. Why didn’t he? Did he want the scope of his ministry to suffer? Did he want his super-conference Passion to suffer? These are questions for Giglio to answer, but I can’t help asking them.Jesus told His disciples, the night before He went to the cross:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
Jesus is hated by this world. Truth is hated by this world. And that means you and I will be hated by this world if we love Jesus and stand for and proclaim truth. We slaves are not greater than our Master, our Lord. I wish Giglio had lived more by the tone of his sermon from fifteen years ago that supposedly started this controversy and stood firm, not bowing out but having to have been removed from the program. I wish there was no ambiguity about this.
Giglio’s statement says he withdrew. I wish he’d have instead been called a “homophobe” and “intolerant,” as he still will be anyway, instead of choosing not to fight this particular fight because it’s not the one he wants.
It’s all the same fight when the truth, as revealed by the word of God, the Scriptures, is at stake. One thing is for sure: Biblical Christianity is not welcome in an Obama-nation. What remains to be seen is if “Christian leaders” are willing to put their broad base appeal on the line for the glory of God.