Michael Anthony is pastor of a sizeable “evangelical” church in Pennsylvania. I have no doubt that Pastor Anthony is a fine man, a good husband and father, and a fine pastor.
But he is seriously confused on the issue of the Bible and sexuality, and displayed his confusion on the Fox News website, in a column entitled “Actions of many Christians today would 'frighten Jesus.'”
The absurd possibility that Jesus could be afraid of anything reminds me of a story I heard about a country church, in which an older gentleman claimed one Sunday to have received a prophetic word directly from God for the congregation. “God says, ‘Don’t fret none if you get scairt. Why, sometimes I get scairt myself.”
Pastor Anthony, Jesus does not get frightened. To paraphrase Gen. Mattis, nothing keeps him awake at night. He, in fact, keeps others awake at night, including all the demons of hell. The day will come when all those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will fall trembling in fear at his feet.
What keeps Pastor Anthony awake at night, apparently, is that prominent evangelical organizations and pastors are celebrating President Trump’s rejection of sexual deviancy in the United States military. Anthony had received an email missive from one of these organizations celebrating the Commander-in-Chief’s banning of transgenderism in the armed forces as “A Win!”
Trump’s unabashed embrace of biblical sexuality in our armed forces appalled this self-described “conservative, evangelical Christian.” The president’s affirmation of normalcy left him “reeling,” not to mention “peeved and grieved.”
He goes on to condemn those of us who support Trump’s action for “being very angry at sinners” (which we are not), and is apparently blindingly oblivious to his own anger at us evangelical “sinners” who take God’s view of human sexuality at face value and are pleased whenever it triumphs.
He is further appalled that a photo emerged of evangelical pastors laying hands on the president and praying for him - horror of horrors - in the Oval Office, and essentially called the whole lot of them Pharisees. He again seems willfully blind to the simple truth that these pastors were only obeying the call of Scripture to “pray for all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:2).
“We wonder,” he says, “why people are turned off by Christianity. I have news for us: it’s not Jesus who is offending people much these days. It’s us, his followers.” By which, of course, he doesn’t mean “me,” he means “you.” He reminds me of the child in Sunday School who was asked to pray after a lesson about the Pharisee and the sinner, and said, “I thank you, Lord, that I am not like that Pharisee.”
He again seems oblivious to the clearly stated biblical principle that the message of the cross is in fact offensive to the world, “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23). He seems to forget that Christ himself was apparently so lacking in “compassion” and “love” that they wound up crucifying him on a cross as a common criminal.
When it comes to the issue of transgenderism, I’m afraid that Pastor Anthony is up against the teaching of Jesus himself. Jesus said (emphasis mine throughout), “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4).
In other words, Jesus taught, there have always, from the very beginning of humankind, been two and only two genders, male and female, and this is the way God created us. Everyone from the moment of conception is either male or female, a fact confirmed by everything we know about DNA, about genetics, about biology, and about medical science. Bruce Jenner, for instance, was a male from the moment he was conceived and will be a male until the day he dies, regardless of his own mental confusion on the matter.
So the president’s policy on transgenderism is in alignment with the abiding nature of man according to God and Jesus himself. The way we show compassion to the sexually confused, Pastor Anthony, is not to celebrate or promote their confusion, or allow them to weaken our military, but to love them enough to tell them the truth and help them reconcile their view of themselves with the word of God and the best in biological science. It is to say to the sexually confused what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).
Perhaps it is Pastor Anthony who has “perverted the gospel” - to use his description of us - rather than those who are sticking with the teaching of Jesus himself.