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The Not-So-Great Prop 8 Debate

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The crowd was big and getting bigger in front of the “No on 8” booth sponsored by the Gay/Straight Alliance Club at El Camino College.

There was a heated discussion going on, no… make that an argument, a shouting match, between the Pro-8 and the No-8 people. The gay sympathizers were loudly making their case; that was to be expected. The other side, unfortunately, was louder, unloving, angrily screaming insults at their “foe;” they were the “Christians.”

I had to do something….

Proposition 8 was an amendment that changes the California Constitution to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. [It] provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

The sentiments on both sides were very passionate; it would have been easy to get drawn in. But I was on campus to do only one thing: share the Gospel. The crowd was too large to allow them to bicker about temporal things, no matter how important, so I grabbed my preaching box and whisked it over to the outside of the now increasing mob and waited for my opportunity; there was no opportunity, so I made my own. “Excuse me, everybody, excuse me. May I have your attention, please?” No one answered.

“Excuse me! Listen up!” I shouted over the din. “I want to ask you a question: How many of the “no” people have been convinced by the “yes” people?” No hands were raised. “How many of the “yes” people were convinced by the “no” people?” Same result. “I want to talk to you about something more important, if you’ll only give me a few minutes.” The crowd quieted down. A little. An anonymous “Shut up!” was screamed. They’re always anonymous, but now I had the attention of the students.

I asked who would go to Heaven and who would go to Hell. I also asked who thought they were good enough to get to Heaven. A few hands shot up. “You !#@%$!!” another man, this time from the “no” side, bleated.

I took them through the 10 Commandments, showing how each would be found guilty for their own sin on Judgment Day, which would land them in Hell. I explained the grace and love of Christ, demonstrated by His death on a cross. A kid from the ‘yes’ side interrupted, “You’re a pastor, right?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You need to tell these people that they are wrong. You need to tell them that they are wrong.”

“That’s not what I’m here for,” I replied. “I’m here to preach the Gospel.”

“You’re not doing your job. You need to tell them that they are wrong!”

I admit that I got a little excited at this point. “Are you a Christian?”

“Yes, I am.” The others around him nodded.

“You need to be nice! You need to be nice!” I admonished. “You need to go over there to that booth and apologize for fighting and arguing and not acting like a Christian. Tell your friends here to get some cookies, take them over to the gay group and say, ‘I’m sorry for being a jerk.'”

“You’re not a very good pastor,” he accused.

At this point a police officer stepped in and asked if I had a permit to be on campus.

I did!

After looking it over, he asked for my driver’s license, which I also had, then he walked away. Curiously, when the shouting match was taking place between the students, the police were content to just watch, but when I stood up to preach, that’s when there was intervention. Hmmm…

Did anyone get saved that day? No, but God’s Word was preached. I am only called to be faithful in sowing and watering the seed. Ridiculous, you say?

After things simmered down and the students dissipated, one young man came over to me, privately, from the “no” group, and asked this question: “What does the Bible say about homosexuality?”

The door cracked open. Just a little.

(Note: On Nov. 18 I’ve been invited to speak at the El Camino Gay/Straight Alliance Club. Note update: I just received an email from the president of this club saying that in light of the recent passage of Prop 8, many of the students don’t want to talk about religion. I replied that I was bummed because I bring a message of  love and peace and forgiveness. We’ll wait and see…)

R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) said:

Don’t unnecessarily antagonize your audience. I heard of a man addressing a Roman Catholic audience in the open air and [preaching against] the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. That man did not have good sense. Another man attempted a prohibition discourse immediately in front of a saloon. He got a brick instead of votes.

21 Comments

  1. A great post! I want you the same courage and insight of what to do in situations that you have!

  2. COOKIES!! What kind of a Pastor are you! I suppose you’ll be saying we’re suppose to be NICE to all sinners. I thought God a WRATH toward all unrepentant sinners. You’re messing with my theology, man. Next you’ll be saying we’re suppose to be meek and mild and hang baby lambs around our necks. What happend to following the LION of the Tribe of Judah, the King of Kings, thw might WARRIOR leading Angelic Hosts who killed tens of thousands in 1 night. I think you’ve been spending too much time with the Brownie Scouts, you need to hang more with Val Scott and the Goth Guys.
    PS: See you Sat at the USC vs Cal football game. That’ll be some kind of rumble, No Cal vs So Cal. I can feel the testosterone rising already.

  3. I learn so much from you and the guys on WOTM. It seems like it would be easy to participate in the shouting and name calling, but you guys always keep your cool and behave nicely to all sides. Very gutsy also to interject the Gospel while that was going on, but no matter each person’s view, they heard the Gospel. I think it is ok to repremand someone when warranted. People need more accountability.

  4. Your awesome Steve! The short “give your enemy cookies” sermon was fantastic and I am sure it is echoing in the minds & hearts of all who heard it that day.

  5. Good going, Steve. And great advice. Even if you did what that Christian man told you to do, the NO side would have dissed all the same. The fact that you are a pastor would not have changed anyone’s mind about their position. But both sides heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and that’s all that matters. I hope you were even able to convict some of the “Christians”.

  6. Good job Steve…

  7. Wow! You are probably the bravest person I know. Kudos to you and praise God for your courage and your persistance even when it looks bad. Thank you for the encouragement Pastor Steve.

  8. Steve, I am blessed more and more by the discernment that you exercise in your witness. I think more open air preachers should stick to the gospel over the other distracting issues of the day.
    Not to say that we should not address the issues… we definitely should but I believe we need to be addressing fellow Christians, not the world that is under the sway of the wicked one.

    God bless you as you continue to be led by His Holy Spirit!

    P.S. If Christians were doing their job in fulfilling the Great Commission, prop 8 would never have had to be passed in the first place. Desperate times call for desperate measures I suppose

  9. Steve, I hope you get a chance to share more of the gospel with the club. What even most Christians do not understand is that we are not in this world to condemn it, but to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We are all sinners and therefore can not judge one another: only Christ and God can judge. Jesus visited with sinners where they were at, lifting them up to his level via the good news. The Holy Spirit is quite capable of convicting the wayward but searching heart of sin. It is not a matter of “being nice to all sinners”, but realizing what our true role is as reps of God’s heart. What we think and feel about sin is of no consequence. To God, sin is sin and separates us all from him. What we are to do is completely let go of our own will and become God’s instruments for spreading the gospel. It is not about “being nice” to sinners, but about our focus being on Christ and spreading his good news as he directs. If we truly stand strong in the Love and Truth of God, he can and will use us to win others to Christ.

    Where our sharing of the word of God is concerned, we are not to be bulls in a china shop, for the Bible states in so many words that heaping good upon he who is evil will eventually break down that evil and win that person to God. I don’t see how someone can know how and where Christ was born and how he lived his life, and gather from that that we are to force our beliefs on others, brow beat them if they do not accept and condemn them for any visible sin they have. One need only study how Christ trained the disciples to get the idea of how we are to treat others and respond to negative feedback. There is a stark difference between standing strong in the word, in God in Christ or just doing what comes to our own natural mind. I totally agree with Steve that the “Christians” who roiled against the gays should apologize. Yes, the wrath of God rises for unrepentant sinners, but it is GOD’S wrath, not ours!

    BTW – we fight not against flesh and bone, but against the powers/principalities in high (spiritual) places. Prop 8 in and of itself does nothing to squash the immorality that is the object of its intent. It works only at a legal level. The real battle is spiritual. Our job as Christians is outlined in Eph 6:10-20. Our first priority is to totally surrender all we are to God and Christ, so they can readily use us in this ongoing spiritual battle.

  10. I’m truly humbled and appreciate the very kind words that everyone has written. Thank you for your kindness.

    Whenever I see a crowd, I truly feel as if I have no choice; I’m compelled to preach. Who knows what God will do, right?

    Blessings!

  11. I’m praying for your talk at El Camino on the 18th. Maybe a few people will learn, from a loving perspective, that Christians can never go against what God commands of us and that our approval of Proposition 8 is just about submitting to God and standing up for the covenant of marriage that He created. And maybe they’ll also learn for the first time that Christians are sinners, too, who repent repeatedly for the sins in our lives that God reveals to us.

  12. That was GREAT!

  13. Yes, Yes, Yes. Thank you for what you said out there. Thank you for trying to teach the Christians about Truth and Grace. We are to share the truth in Love. We have gotten such a rap for being full of hate for others and it shouldn’t be true of God’s people. Thanks for being a model for us. If anyone is interested Randy Alcorn has a great book out about Truth and Grace. It’s Jesus’ love, shown through us, that helps to lead people to Him.

  14. Congrats on being salt and light in an otherwise dark world. You didn’t finish the story though. What happened to the guy that asked what the bible said about homosexuality? If it’s like the crowd I run into they seem to know scripture better then I do. And the militant atheists online quote scripture better then I do. Trying the “WOTM” technique on them just makes them laugh and they call me ignorant, etc. It’s about that time that I remind myself of Matthew 7:6 and move on.

    But props for you for at least attempting to break up a hostile crowd with the love of Christ.

  15. Praise God…thanks for the post…how awesome-the Gospel is MIGHTY TO SAVE!

  16. Great work, Steve! Keep up the good fight!

  17. Awesome to hear these things. It is such a heated thing right now. I hear you in that homosexuality is not the only sin, because none of us are good enough to go to heaven. I hope the seeds are planted and all of that. When we go out, we say the same thing, no one may get saved on the spot but seeds got planted. God blessed you with that act of courage.

  18. Hey Steve! Thank you so much for re-posting this! I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I plan on going to the City next weekend to do some open air. This article was EXTREMELY helpful. Please pray for safety and open opportunities to minister… 🙂

  19. To any closeted LGBT folks out there:

    There is nothing wrong with your sexuality, any shame you feel is just a cultural thing, you can let it go and be loved for who you are.

    • Yes, you can be loved for who you are as long as you live in this world, and given the current climate in our country, yes, you will not feel much shame in this liberalized culture that has rejected God.

      But, if you want to be loved by God and forgiven of your sins, like the sin of lying (if you’ve ever done that, then you are a liar), or stealing (ever done that?) or misused God’s name which is blasphemy, or looked with lust which Jesus calls adultery, if you’ve sinned even one time, including the sin of homosexuality, then you will be found guilty and end up in Hell.

      But God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ, suffered and dies for all your sins, was buried for three days and rose again. If you, Tommy Wou, or any other person reading this puts your trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross and turn away from your sin, then God will forgive you.

      While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

      Please Tommy, consider this. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them. Please reply back.

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