I am writing this in response to multiple requests by those in my community.
After this last weekend, many Christians feel even more betrayed by Western Christian leadership in general, and Andy Stanley specifically. For those still unaware, Andy Stanley, who has perpetuated controversy in recent years with skeptical comments about the authority of Scripture, left little to the imagination about his true beliefs on sexuality when he planned his “Unconditional” Conference. Targeting compassionate Christian families with LGBT acolytes and activists, these well-meaning families, motivated to show love, put themselves under teaching that they believed came from a reputable source only to discover their families will experience additional grief.
Far from his father’s notoriety for obedience to Scripture, Andy instigates confusion over its historical interpretation and authority. His conference demonstrates a rebellion from foundational principles and tenets that give the Christian faith its Christian distinction. It seems his interpretation of “unconditional” isn’t referring to the unconditional love of God displayed in the sacrifice of His son for the redemption of sinful man, but instead a means of rebellion where God’s conditions for salvation are compromised — using limited lived experience and hyper-grace as the futile soil and tainted fuel to grow another sort of kingdom.
The authentic Gospel is mysteriously displayed in the physical traditional marriage God laid out at the creation of the Universe: one man, one woman, for a lifetime. His conference is a perversion of the Gospel itself and a mockery of the created order.
In contrast to Andy’s followers, the Overcomer (Church) subculture, and greater the universal Church, has a 2,000-year-old history of redemption from sexual sin and perversion. The Overcomer subculture has been strained by his theological understanding and poor church reputation in our communities. Made of ex-gays, non-gays and de-transitioners who have abandoned the culture and exchanged the temporary benefits of the flesh for God’s Kingdom, these Christians are known for faith-filled sobriety and a commitment to a regenerative Christian lifestyle.
Andy has taken the perspective of harmful Christian leaders who have betrayed this community in the past, advocating for one of two perspectives based on a similar foundation: Sexual orientation and gender identity are determined by God and are therefore permanent. Sadly, there are misuses of these truths: Either God sanctions the LGBTQ lifestyle or, God has marked LGBT people for death and judgment at birth. Neither one is biblical.
True responsibility lies in our personal choices. The “Unconditional” Conference was Andy’s public stand to promote homosexual marriage through those whom he platformed and create a false gospel marked by momentary relief and false peace. What will inevitably ensue are years of doubt, broken relationships, and unhealthy lifestyles.
Worse yet, Andy stirs controversy based on un-biblical ideas that put his church leaders in a compromised position. For anyone who is familiar with the downfalls of past sexual integrity ministries like Exodus International or Hope For Wholeness, this has bad leadership written all over it. Take a lesson from Christian Overcomers — there is a point at which the leader needs to be removed before worse things happen to those under his care. For those who merely sit under dangerous teachings of this type, excuses for participation are a terrible denial strategy — it’s time to walk away.
North Point has become “Andy’s Church” as opposed to “God’s Church” with many church members feeling betrayed in the wake of it. Let’s pray for his redemption.
For those who are interested in a sexual integrity ministry that has stood the test of time and unites families sustainably, there are many to choose from. Here are just a few Christian networks directing individuals and families to lasting healing and redemption: The Transformation Ministries Alliance, Changed Movement, Restored Hope Network, ReStory Ministries and Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit.
There is much hope for all of us, including Andy. If God can redeem people from LGBTQ identity, lifestyle, and now dogma, then with Him, all things are possible. He is truly unconditional.
Derek Paul is the Executive Pastor of Identify Ministries, Network Director of the Transformation Ministries Alliance, and Board Member of Voice of the Voiceless. You may find him at TMAcorp.org or IdentifyMinistries.org .