The controversy surrounding Pastor Louie Giglio’s invitation to pray at President Obama’s second inaugural sounds a familiar refrain in the ongoing and escalating debate about the expression of orthodox Christian faith in public life.
Yesterday, after a sermon surfaced in which Giglio referred to homosexuality as a “sin,” the spiritual leader to young people around the world “voluntarily” withdrew from the upcoming program. In response, the Presidential Inaugural Committee offered the following reaction:
We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection, and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part because of his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.
Pastor Giglio is a friend and a good man, and it always hurts to see a fellow brother in Christ criticized, especially simply for teaching what’s in the Bible.
Despite intense pressure from the halls of government, academia, and the entertainment industry, we cannot re-write scripture to reflect our desires or shifting cultural mores. Instead, our desires are supposed to be tamed and shaped according to the scriptures.
My friend and Focus board member Dr. Al Mohler succinctly summed up the controversy in an excellent post on the developing story:
In other words, a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.
Let’s face facts. Those who are objecting to the words and beliefs of Pastor Giglio don’t really have a problem with Louie Giglio, they have a problem with the words and teachings of Holy Scripture.
It was only four years ago that then-President-elect Obama came under fire for inviting the theologically conservative Pastor Rick Warren to pray at his first Inauguration. At the time, Mr. Obama stood by the pastor, and Dr. Warren was permitted to participate.
How times have changed. If anybody needs evidence of the rapidly eroding moral and theological landscape of America, one need only consider the litmus test given all those who would would pray in public at government-sanctioned events. Biblically faithful Christians need not apply.
It’s natural, I think, for evangelical Christians to grow weary and irritated over such a glaring example of spiritual censorship. But it’s at a time like this, I believe, that it’s especially important to remember that we’re to ultimately set our eyes on eternal life in Christ, not the temporal frustrations of the day. Of course we are to engage and petition our secular authorities to follow the longstanding traditions and hard-won freedoms of this great country. At the same time, let’s not forget that “we are aliens and strangers” and “our days on earth are like a shadow” (1 Chronicles 29:15).
Come twelve noon on the 21st of January (the 20th is a Sunday), President Obama will place his right hand on the Bible, a Bible that is under fire in so many circles, but a Bible that from cover to cover and from the first word to the last, is tried and true.
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About Jim Daly
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S. He is husband to Jean and father to Trent and Troy.
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