Rev. Joyce Hollyday, an associate conference minister for the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ and co-pastor of Circle of Mercy congregation in Asheville, North Carolina, is an advocate of “diversity” and “pluralism.” She doesn’t just mean ethnic and cultural inclusion within the body of Christ following Paul’s admonition that there is “neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). She has in mind moral inclusion–“inclusion of all people, regardless of rage, age, ability, economic circumstances, or sexual orientation.”[1] She criticizes CBS and NBC because the networks refused to air an ad that declared, “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” NBC called the ad “too controversial,” and CBS considered it “unacceptable for broadcast.” Why? Hollyday says “because it assumes acceptance of gay and lesbian couples and, according to CBS, implies support for gay marriage.”

She believes she has Jesus on her side on this issue: “For us, there is far more to ‘moral values’ than most current commentary acknowledges. For us, following Jesus means we are called to mirror his compassion for the poor, his inclusion of the marginalized, his pursuit of peace and his proclamation of justice.” For Rev. Hollyday, the “marginalized” include those who practice sodomy and believe homosexual marriage is a biblical moral norm. Jesus and the Bible in general do address the poor and the issue of poverty, but not the formation of a government-controlled and administered welfare State. The Bible also talks about peace issues. But when there are people whose definition of peace means our extermination, I don’t believe the “turn the other cheek” ethic applies.

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

Rev. Hollyday reads the Bible with one eye covered. Yes, Jesus did minister to the “marginalized,” that is, He ministered to sinners of all types. He never turned anyone way. It’s true that Jesus sat down with sinners, prostitutes and tax-gatherers. But for what purpose? Rev. Hollyday seems to imply that Jesus was not bothered by their lifestyle choices, that He had manifested a “live-and-let-live” ethic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there were those who criticized Jesus for being in the same company with these social outcasts. But notice how Jesus responds to His self-righteous critics: “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13). Adulterers, prostitutes, and homosexuals are sinners. There’s no other way to read the Bible.

Liberals continually tell conservatives, by under-quoting the Bible, that Jesus said, “Do not judge.” The in-context version is “Do not judge lest you be judged yourself. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1B2). Jesus was not rejecting the act of judging. He was calling on those who judged to be consistent, to use the same standard for everyone, including themselves. Jesus judged on a regular basis. He described those He sat down with as “sinners.” They had a spiritual illness that needed a spiritual remedy that only Jesus could administer. He didn’t call for a new government program or higher taxes to solve personal and social problems, and He didn’t accept any excuses for their sinful behavior.

Liberals fail to recognize that there is nothing wrong with “righteous judgment” (John 7:24), the very thing Jesus was doing and enjoins His followers to do (e.g., 1 Cor. 5:1B2). Jesus expected the people He encountered and forgave to make a lifestyle change. Jesus intervened in the execution of the woman caught in adultery because of the misapplication of Matthew 7:1B2. The woman’s accusers were not applying the law to themselves, a clear violation of the law (Deut. 17:17). She had been caught “in the very act” (John 8:4). Where was the man? It’s obvious that the woman was used to set up Jesus, and the guilty man was probably one of their own. Jesus called them on their duplicity. Even so, Jesus did not let the woman off the moral hook. Notice what He said to her after He took on her unrighteous and hypocritical accusers:

And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

How would Rev. Hollyday have acted in the same situation? What instructions would she have given to the woman caught “in the very act” (John 8:4) of adultery?: “From now on make sure your partner wears a condom and please get checked regularly for HIV. I’m not here to judge your lifestyle choice. What takes place between consenting adults is none of my business. Go in peace my child.” The reason Jesus was not a liberal is because He believed in sin, labeled it as such, and expected people to change their so-called lifestyle choices when their sin was pointed out to them. Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman and her immoral lifestyle (John 4:17B18, 39). And He would have done the same with homosexuals.

Joyce Hollyday, “Hard to fathom exclusion of ad promoting inclusion,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution (December 3, 2004), A23.