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I was not a little intrigued to read an article by Jonathan Elliott entitled “I’m gay, liberal, open-minded – and a convert to Christianity.”

Within Mr. Elliott’s circle of friends, claiming to be a Christian seriously raises eyebrows: “My conversion has made me the token ‘church guy’ in my friend group. I can’t tell you the number of awkward conversations I’ve had over the last several weeks about Charleston, the Duggars and the scariness of the uber-awful Quiverfull cult. Whenever something even vaguely religious enters the news cycle, my friends inevitably find ways to lean on me as the church expert, from the sudden disappearance of 7th Heaven in the wake of Stephen Collins’s sexual misconduct, to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and whether anyone would want pizza at a gay wedding anyway.”

Okay, so Mr. Elliott is not a conservative. I get it. Many think that we Bible-believing Christians deem that only those with conservative views and vote Republican can be Christians, and perhaps some conservative Christians do think that. A liberal can be a Christian. A person with a socialistic view of government and economics can be a Christian.

But is Mr. Elliott really a Christian? A Christian is one who has turned from his sin and turned to God through faith in Jesus Christ, looking to the work of Christ on the cross as satisfying divine justice due the repenter’s sin. The apostle Paul speaks of Jesus as the One “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul writes, “For our sake he [God the Father] made him [God the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus himself commanded, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

By biblical standards, Mr. Elliott cannot be considered to have converted to Christianity. He may have converted to a church that does not believe the gospel, and his church doesn’t, but he is no true follower of Christ. Mr. Elliott writes, “I’m still the person I was before I became a Christian, and a baptism isn’t a brainwashing. This change in my life didn’t turn me into a raging nutball – at least, I’m no more of one than I ever was.” The Scriptures, though, declare, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

For Mr. Elliott, a diabetes diagnosis led to a good deal of introspection, and his therapy sessions for coping with his disease were “rooted in a belief in a higher power.” He spent two years checking out some twenty congregations of differing denominations and settled on one which displayed “the openness, diversity and the clear sense of tradition I sought. It was also strongly inclusive of the LGBTQ community, and welcomed both women and men as clergy members.” Mr. Elliott found a church that basically reflected his beliefs. Sin and righteousness and repentance and faith in Jesus had nothing to do with it.

And that is sad. I’m sad for Mr. Elliott because he has accepted with satisfaction and a bit of self-congratulation a false gospel instead of the true one. He has deluded himself into believing that he is at peace with God when nothing could be further from the truth. His “conversion” was to reinforce his beliefs with a dose of God mixed in. God is little more that a “higher power” in whom one believes.

And yet Mr. Elliott is not alone. Millions are like him. Conservative folks may respond with, “That’s right! Those progressives never really come to the truth.” Sorry to burst one’s bubble, but many conservatives never really come to the truth, either, at least not about Christ. They confuse conservative values with Christian discipleship. They are for the display of the Ten Commandments and against same-sex marriage. They are dismayed over the removal of God from the public square and yearn for an America long gone, but they have not recognized themselves as condemned sinners who have violated God’s righteousness and stand in dire need of a Savior and redemption. I fear that hundreds of thousands of conservative Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists and others are no closer to the kingdom of God than Jonathan Elliott. They may hold traditional moral values and may even follow them scrupulously, but they have never truly repented of their sin and fled to Christ for forgiveness and his righteousness. There is no real love for the Lord in their hearts.

May God be pleased to grant both them and Mr. Elliott repentance and faith.

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Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has been an inspiration to many with his vocal Christian testimony and laudable charity work. On more than once occasion, secularists have been appalled at the coach’s display of religion, while many Christians have found it refreshing, especially in this day.

Things took a turn, however, when the Palmetto Family Council (PFC) announced in May that Coach Sweeney was going to be honored for his Christian testimony and the work of his “All In Foundation.” The reaction from the radical left was immediate, predictable, and intense. Cassie Cope, writing for The State, reported that “Jeff Ayers of S.C. Equality, a gay rights advocacy group, said he is disappointed Swinney accepted an invitation to appear at a fundraiser for an organization that has been outspoken against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. ‘It’s sending the wrong message to the LGBT students, and faculty and supporters of Clemson.’”

Such a reaction from a homosexual advocacy group was not unexpected, but a similar one from a South Carolina legislator was. Todd Rutherford, South Carolina House Minority Leader from Richland, was apoplectic that Swinney would accept the PFC award: “I cannot fathom why Coach Swinney or anyone else would knowingly assist a group whose mission is to fight against equal rights and equal treatment of others. As a state employee, national figure and role model to kids all over the state, Coach Swinney should send a message that he has zero tolerance for discrimination and cancel his appearance.”

So there you have it. A group that promotes the family, opposes abortion, and stands for the historical, not to mention biblical, view that marriage is to unite a man and a woman is charged with “discrimination.” That a Democratic politician holds such a view is no longer surprising. Indeed, that is the national party’s obsession. That a Democratic leader in South Carolina would make such a public statement reveals a culture more depraved than we had imagined. Something about calling evil good and good evil comes to mind, Mr. Rutherford (see Isaiah 5:20).

All of that, however, is beside the point. Coach Swinney, a man who had been honored for his courageous stand for Christianity, quickly caved to the pressure, stating, “I had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy.” I’m sorry, Coach, but everything in America that is seen as standing for traditional morality is deemed a political offense by the collective voices of depravity.

Coach Swinney, widely considered an honorable man, raised the white flag when the LGBT crowd objected. It was a time to take a courageous stand for biblical truth. The coach failed the test.

Coach Swinney’s giving in to the LGBT bullies has been roundly and rightly criticized. We need remember, however, that we all face such tests, and we shall face them more often as that which was only recently deemed depraved is now deemed normal by most and even divinely blessed by some. The charge of discrimination will grow louder against those who stand for biblical morality. Will we stand or surrender? I don’t bear any animosity towards Coach Swinney. I can only imagine the pressure that a man faces when he enjoys a base salary of some $3.3 million at an institution that would be very much on the side of leftist morality. I know what I hope I would do were I faced with his decision, but I’ll never know exactly because I’ll never have so much money on the line and be in his situation. Nevertheless, anyone who so caves to the LGBT pressure is wrong, whether it’s Coach Swinney or you or me.

Unfortunately, such decisions are not mere matters of opinion. When we fail to stand for what the Scriptures clearly teach, and the Scriptures are clear about homosexuality, we deny the God of those Scriptures. The words of Jesus are haunting, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:32-34 [ESV]). We can’t have it both ways: affirming Jesus on the one hand and denying his Word on the other.

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