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Have-it-your-way Christianity

Rick Warren is a nice guy.

I want to make that clear.

I think he wants to do what is right, but he just doesn’t know how.

I’m not picking on Rick Warren because I think he’s an evil person. But as the man designated by the world as “America’s Pastor,” he bears a special and ominous responsibility to represent biblical values – clearly, passionately and assertively.

In this regard, he let us down last week – big time.

I previously wrote about his appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live” last week in which he equivocated on the same-sex marriage issue and sought to minimize his activism in the fight against Proposition 8 in California.

Just as a reminder, here’s what he told King: “You know, Larry, there was a story within a story that never got told,” he said. “In the first place, I am not an anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist. I never have been, never will be. During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never – never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going. The week before the – the vote, somebody in my church said, Pastor Rick, what – what do you think about this? And I sent a note to my own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is – really should be defined, that that definition should be – say between a man and a woman.

Does Rick Warren’s spiritual agenda include New Age elements? Find out in Warren Smith’s “Deceived on Purpose”

“And then all of a sudden out of it, they made me, you know, something that I really wasn’t,” Warren continued. “And I actually – there were a number of things that were put out. I wrote to all my gay friends – the leaders that I knew – and actually apologized to them. That never got out. There were some things said that – you know, everybody should have 10 percent grace when they say public statements. And I was asked a question that made it sound like I equated gay marriage with pedophilia or incest, which I absolutely do not believe. And I actually announced that. All of the criticism came from people that didn’t know me. Not a single criticism came from any gay leader who knows me and knows that for years, we’ve been working together on AIDS issues and all these other things.”

Warren was trying to have it both ways – pleasing the church and pleasing the world. I find this kind of “have-it-your-way Christianity” repugnant, to say the least.

I knew Warren didn’t speak out on Proposition 8 until the last minute – not wanting to offend anyone with talk about legalizing sin, what the Bible calls “abomination” and behavior I believe every human being in the world recognizes, deep down in their souls, to be wrong. But Warren wasn’t exactly honest with Larry King and his audience last week when he contended he only wrote an e-mail to his supporters about Proposition 8.

His personal and official endorsement of the initiative during the campaign is still available on YouTube. What a different story he is telling now than he was telling then.

He concludes that message by saying: “I’m going to be sending out a note to pastors about what I believe on this issue, but everyone knows what I believe.”

No, I’m still confused about what he believes – more than ever. And that’s the problem.

Our culture is falling apart.

We need strong Christian witness like never before.

We need inspired biblical teaching.

We need to be reminded about sin and its consequences.

We need to be told what happens to nations that turn away from God.

We do not need equivocation and compromise. And we do not need the Gospel of man preached from the pulpits of America’s churches.

There is a biblical standard for right and wrong.

We can choose to follow it and bring truth and light to the world.

Or we can ignore it and do what is right in our own eyes.

We expect the world to choose the latter, because that’s what the Bible predicts.

Our expectations should be higher for the church – much higher.