Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Atlanta on Sunday addressed the controversy surrounding the church’s conference about supporting parents and LGBTQ+ children. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, had argued that the event marked Stanley’s departure from a biblical understanding of sexuality, which sees marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman for life.
“As a theologian, I just feel a responsibility to say that what this represents is a departure from historic, normative, biblical Christianity,” he said. “It just doesn’t get any more basic than this, but I do recognize the gravity of the words I’m using when I say that what we see here is a departure from historic, normative, biblical Christianity. I say that because I believe that’s exactly what it is, and I believe Christians ought to take note of it.”
Stanley responded that he never subscribed to Mohler’s version of biblical Christianity.
“This version of biblical Christianity is why people are leaving Christianity unnecessarily,” Stanley said. “It’s the version that causes people to resist the Christian faith, because they can’t find Jesus in the midst of all the other stuff and all the other theology and all the other complexity that gets glommed on to the message’s bottom line, that version of Christianity, draws lines.”
Stanley went on to explain he supports the view “biblical marriage is between a man and a woman” but applied qualifiers to that statement, making his exact stance on the matter somewhat unclear. He said some who struggle with same-sex attraction “are convinced that traditional marriage is not an option for them” and, as such, commit “to living a chaste life.” However, he continued, “For many, that is not sustainable, so they choose same-sex marriage — not because they’re convinced it’s biblical. They choose to marry for the same reason many of us do — love, companionship.”
Although Mohler has not yet addressed Stanley’s latest statements from the pulpit, other Christian leaders have responded to the pastor’s explanation for his conference. Denny Burk, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, wrote that Stanley’s view is “anti-Christian, because it tells unrepentant sinners that they can inherit the kingdom of God — a message that the Bible roundly contradicts.”
Stanley has faced criticism for several theological stances in recent years, including his view of the Old Testament, from which he argued Christians should “unhitch” themselves.