Pastor and author Alistair Begg has ignited a social media debate within the faith community for advising a Christian grandmother to attend the wedding of her grandson to a transgender person.
Begg is senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio, and is heard daily on his radio program, Truth For Life.
His advice to the grandmother came with several caveats.
“We field questions all the time that go along the lines of ‘My grandson is about to be married to a transgender person, and I don’t know what to do about this, and I’m calling to ask you to tell me what to do’ — which is a huge responsibility.
“And in a conversation like that just a few days ago — and people may not like this answer — but I asked the grandmother, ‘Does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life?’ ‘Yes.’
“I said, ‘Well then, okay. As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘what?’ She was caught off guard.
“I said, ‘Well, here’s the thing: your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, ‘These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.’”
Begg added, referencing his advice, “We’re going to have to take that risk a lot more if we want to build bridges into the hearts and lives of those who don’t understand Jesus and don’t understand that he is a King.”
Begg’s book The Christian Manifesto examines Jesus’ sermon in Luke 6, which is sometimes called the “Sermon on the Plain.” The book, according to a summary on Begg’s website, “navigates us through the challenging instruction Jesus gives about forgiveness, integrity, obedience, and blessedness that turns our value system upside down.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
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