ERLC Summit: How should churches talk about sex?

Meredith Flynn —  April 22, 2014

NEWS | Meredith Flynn

Nashville, Tenn. | There are few things that make the Gospel more offensive and more out of sync with culture than what the Bible teaches about sex. But the church has to keep talking about it.

J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told leaders gathered for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s summit on the Gospel and sexuality that the church can’t surrender the “high ground” in talking about sex, and also shouldn’t avoid hard topics like homosexuality. Greear also stressed that the root of sexual sin is idolatry, and the Gospel is powerful to deal with it.

“Our message cannot simply be, ‘Stop having sex.’ Our message has to be, ‘Behold, your God.'”

Encouraging leaders not to avoid hard topics, Greear said he had struggled two years ago with whether to speak publicly in favor of his state’s attempt to define marriage as between a man and a woman. He did and was met with harsh criticism, including one blogger who published the Greears’ home address.

For three weeks, Greear thought he and his leadership team might have made the wrong decision, he said. But now he has little doubt it was the right thing to do. Teaching his church to think “Christian-ly” about the issue was the goal; also, his church has seen several people come out of a homosexual lifestyle, accept Christ, and be baptized.

Greear’s message and the first day of the ERLC summit got a lot of attention on Twitter; by Monday evening, #erlcsummit was one of the social media site’s top trends. Posts from conference attendees were positive, but others watching from home or following the tweets expressed different views. The Twitter traffic seemed to increase when several leaders joined Greear on stage for a panel discussion on the Gospel and homosexuality.

There were light moments, like when Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins told pastors to reject “redneck theology” when talking about homosexuality. No more “Adam and Steve” jokes, he said. But the conversation was serious when the panel talked about what pastors should do when gay people or couples want to join their church, or how to counsel a Christian who still feels attracted to members of his or her same sex.

“There are things that are broken because of the curse of sin that you becoming a believer doesn’t automatically fix,” Scroggins said. That’s why pastors have to preach the second coming of Christ, he said, and the transformation of all believers who are in Christ. “In some mysterious way that I can’t comprehend, He is going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again,” Scroggins said. Breaking into a grin, he added, “Can’t wait to see these tweets.”

Watch the ERLC Summit online at




Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.