Christians are riled up that Louie Giglio, pastor of the Passion City Church in Roswell, Georgia, was dumped by Obama’s people to give the benediction at the President’s inauguration ceremony. I’m shocked that more Christians aren’t riled up that Louie Giglio agreed to do it in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe Giglio has a great ministry. This year’s Passion event turned out 60,000 young people who donated more than $3 million to help in the effort to abolish the pernicious sin and crime of slavery.
Why was Giglio dumped? I love this from the Washington Post:
“An evangelical pastor from Atlanta announced Thursday [January 10] that he would not give the benediction at President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony after a sermon he gave on homosexuality in the mid-1990s resurfaced earlier this week.
“In that sermon, the Rev. Louie Giglio called for Christians to ‘firmly respond to the aggressive agenda’ of some in the gay community and warns that widespread gay marriage ‘would run the risk of absolutely undermining the whole order of our society.’”
Resurfaced? Did it come ashore in a bottle? It didn’t “resurface.” Homosexual activists went looking for whatever they could find on Giglio to get him ousted. They knew that if they could find anything he said about homosexuality, he would be gone.
President Obama supports homosexual marriage. He’s pushing for a state-wide acceptance of homosexual marriage in his home state of Illinois.
How can a Christian offer a Christian benediction for a man who represents a worldview that is antithetical to the Christian faith he claims to be a part of and implements policies that could result in divine judgment?
Would the apostle Paul have given a benediction for Nero? Would Peter have done it for Herod? Would Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) have given a benediction for Adolf Hitler? Niemöller used his pulpit to expose Adolf Hitler’s radical politics even though “[h]e knew every word spoken was reported by Nazi spies and secret agents.”1
Am I being extreme? I don’t think so.
We are to obey the civil authorities. We are to pray for civil rulers to do the right thing (Rom. 13:4; 1 Pet. 2:13). But we are not required to stand up with them and grace their governments with a benediction. How can a “good word” be given for a civil ruler who supports so many unbiblical policies?
John the Baptist didn’t attend government functions with Herod and sanction his behavior with a benediction. He spoke out against his sin. He paid a heavy price (Mark 6:14-29).
We shouldn’t be surprised at the way Christians and Christian beliefs are dealt with by this administration. We’ve seen four years of it. Early Christians suffered under the religious oppression, first, of Judaism, and second, Imperial Rome. Ours is a prophetic task not an enabling one.
Nathan didn’t stand with King David and offer a benediction. David would have loved for him to do it. It would have given him religious cover for his sins. Instead, Nathan confronted the powerful king about his sin. Keep in mind that David was an accomplice to murder. Nathan put his life on the line in his prophetic word to the king.
The same is true of the priests who confronted King Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:16–23). The king had just “warred against the Philistines, and broke down the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod; and he built cities in the area of Ashdod and among the Philistines” (v. 6). The priests were defenseless, and yet they still confronted the king.
There’s one more thing that needs some comment. The following caught my attention:
“A Christian woman in Atlanta who asked not to be identified and who regularly attends Sunday evening services at Passion City Church in Roswell, Ga., says she was disappointed that Giglio removed himself and that his sermons rarely if ever focus on social issues.”
“Social issues” (life) are commented on all through the Bible—from abortion and homosexuality to political tyranny and economic subordination. Priests in the Old Testament were to instruct the king in the application of God’s law:
“If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case” (Deut. 17:8–9).
There are thousands of pastors across the United States who claim that their pastoral duties put them above politics. “Politics is dirty,” they say. They don’t address the subject because they believe the lie that religion and politics don’t mix even though the Bible says the civil magistrate is a “minister of God” who must make moral decisions related to good and evil (Rom. 13:4). Do these civil rulers get to determine for themselves what’s good and evil? Not according to the Bible.
Pastor Giglio should expand his work with young people. Fighting slavery is a noble ministry cause. There’s still slavery in America. Tens of millions of Americans, many of them Christians, are slaves to the State.
- Basil Miller, Martin Niemoeller: Hero of the Concentration Camp, 5th ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1942), 112.(↩)