Friend, we simply disagree. We are so very pleased to associate with Stephen, a faithful Jesus-man, a Master of Divinity student in our church’s seminary, and a future pastor in Jesus’ church…our church. Stephen, who is saying “No” to his flesh, and for the sake of Jesus — how courageous! How bold! How faithful! How much Jesus must smile at Stephen, yes? For he is following Jesus in the cruciform way — at a cost that many of us, I daresay most of us, will never quite understand. Yes, Stephen’s Christianity costs him something. What does following Jesus cost us? It’s a question worth asking ourselves, yes?
The Apostle Paul warned that in the Christian church, some would have “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in malicious talk and evil suspicions” (1 Timothy 6:4). So, when we decided to invite Stephen Moss, a same-sex attracted seminary student living chaste, celibate, and faithful for the sake of Jesus, to be the featured speaker at a forum sponsored by our church, we knew that we, and also Stephen, might get sucker-punched a time or two.
Whenever a larger church like ours clarifies its approach publicly on culturally contested matters, criticism will come from certain places. For us, this has come in the form of multiple attempts by a particular man and a few of his friends to publicly prosecute us in the court of public opinion. He has done this by taking our words (specifically, mine and Stephen’s) out of context and forming a narrative that paints us in a bizarre and inflammatory light, also accusing us of unfaithfulness to the Lord and his truth. I was notified a few times yesterday that he published this post as his latest attempt to stir things up. Because this man’s post is reaching our church members and also the broader church through social media, and especially because the good name of our friend Stephen Moss has been put in a false and hurtful light, I felt that the best way to respond was to post — now for the second time — the following “Open Letter” to our critic. I pray that somehow in the sharing, those who seek clarity and truth will understand our heart on the matter…and more importantly, the heart of Jesus. As for those who do not seek clarity and truth, but rather seek controversy and quarrels, they are the Lord’s concern and not ours.
What you have referred to as my/our “refusal to listen” is actually just an inability (not a refusal…an inability) to agree with you. Knowing that my own heart is capable of deceiving me, I listened very closely and with care to the things you said about us. I just don’t see any merit in them. We have opposing views about how to minister to Christians and others living with same-sex attraction.
Would you allow me to begin with a question?