Recently, our friends at Recycle God’s Love and The Drip Café, were in the news as a result of the choice of wording regarding homosexuality stated on their website under the heading of “What We Hold True.”
The statement in question said, “This organization is opposed to homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. Additionally, this organization holds that a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to God’s Word and purpose for humanity (1Timothy 1:10). The Bible instructs that it is a sin that leads to death. Moreover, this organization is instructed to love those living such lifestyles, while abhorring their sin. 1COR 6:9 says the following: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.” Members of the church are forbidden to practice such sin. Any member found to be in such sin and unrepentant shall be subject to dismissal.”
This statement sparked a wildfire of controversy, prompting many in the LGBTQ+ community to protest a new coffee house operated by Recycle God’s Love called The Drip Café. The issue with this statement is that while it’s biblical, the passages quoted in it do not necessarily apply to church “membership.” If you are interested, here is the news story that appeared on Denver 7 News. Recycle God’s Love has recently updated the phrasing of this paragraph on their website. To see their revised statement of faith, click here.
Recently, we received an email from a gay man who I will refer to as “Dan.” Who asked the following question.
“As a gay male I grew up at a Calvary Chapel and the behavior of The Drip Café is disgusting. Do you as a fellowship support this?”
Because many of us are having to answer similar questions ourselves, I thought it would be helpful to post my response for you to have an example of what it looks like to attempt to have a balance of showing love and compassion, while standing for the truth of God’s Word simultaneously. Here is my reply to “Dan.”
My name is Paul Boutan, I’m the pastor at Calvary Brighton, first let me say, thank you very much for reaching out with this question and allowing me the opportunity to dialogue with you.
Today on FaceBook I saw a post that caught my attention and it said,“I love you. Before you say, ‘You don’t even know me.’ Let me say, “If there are people who HATE you without knowing you, then it’s possible for me to love you, even though I don’t know you.’” Likewise, Dan though I do not know you, I want to say that I love you. In fact, my love for Jesus compels me to love you, because He Himself loves you. I am sorry for the hurt that many of my fellow Christians have caused the LGBTQ+ community.
Rather than tell you about the things that I am against, I would like to tell you what I am for.
1 John 4:8 tells us that“God is love.”He doesn’t just have love, or simply show love, but love is His identity, love is who HE is. Therefore, it stands to reason that if He is in my life, then that means His love is in me as well. Jesus once told His followers,“By your love for one another they will know you are my disciples”(John 13:35). I want to be known by His love.
John 3:16 famously says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When it says, “He loves the world,” this means everyone in the world whether they are straight, LGBTQ, Black, Latino, Asian, rich, poor, or those experiencing homelessness, literally everyone in the whole world is loved by God. This is interesting because the next verse goes on to say, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jesus’ mission when He came to the earth, wasn’t to judge and condemn people who have sinned. His mission, motivated by love, was to save.
In my understanding of the Bible, we are all on level ground. In that we are all sinners, we all need to be saved, and we all need to be loved. This is true of everyone regardless of our race, gender, or sexuality.
In Romans 3:23 it says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” From the original Greek language that this was first written in, the word“sinned”was used in the sport of archery. In a competition they would put a small mark on a tree. The archer was given one arrow, and from a considerable distance, he would only have one chance to hit that mark. There were no points for getting close, you either hit it, or missed it. Now the“mark”humanity is aiming at is God’s absolute 100% perfection, we either hit it, or miss it, there are no points for getting close. With that in mind, the original Greek could be rendered this way, “for all have missed the mark of God’s absolute perfection and fall short of the glory of God.” Because none of us are absolutely perfect, we all live lifestyles that fall short of God’s perfection. That is why we need to be “saved.” The good news is that’s why Jesus came. He came to save anyone who has sinned, or has “fallen short,” anyone who has missed the mark. This is true for every person and every lifestyle, it’s true for gays, lesbians, straights, trans, and any other lifestyle under the sun. We have all missed the mark of God’s perfection. We all need to be saved, and we all need to be loved, and the good news is that’s what we receive in Jesus.
Therefore, in my church Calvary Brighton, anyone and everyone is welcome, because as I said, we are all on level ground. We all equally deserve to be treated with love, compassion, dignity and grace. However, having said that, I want to make sure that if you ever visited my church you wouldn’t feel like there was a “bait and switch.”
John 1:14 says that Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” Therefore, I believe any church that has Jesus in it, should be a church that has a healthy balance of both grace and truth. With that said, some may say that I am “non-affirming,” in that I cannot affirm that same sex sexual activity is something that is biblically blessed and approved by God. However, I also feel the same way about a whole host of “heterosexual” activities, that the Bible identifies as “sinful” or as practices that “fall short of God’s perfection.” There’s a well-known Bible passage that many Christians have weaponized to attack gays with. That passage is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, where it says that practicing homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. Conveniently, many Bible-Thumpers leave out the rest of the lifestyles listed in those verses because they do not support their narrative. But the rest of the lifestyles mentioned in this passage include many heterosexual activities such as, “adultery, prostitution, and pornography.” Additionally, other lifestyles like alcoholism, verbal and physical violence and abuse, stealing, those who are motivated by greed, those who take advantage of others. All I can say is that I am equally “non-affirming” in that I believe the Bible does not affirm any of these as being God’s ideal. However, God deeply loves everyone regardless of the fact that their lives fall short and miss the mark of God’s perfection. At my church we seek to be loving to all people, while affirming the truth of God’s Word the Bible, or as John 1:14 put, to be “full of grace and truth.”
Now regarding our relationship with The Drip Café and Recycle God’s Love. We love their heart and their compassion for those who are experiencing homelessness. We have partnered with them in their various community outreaches to the poor and needy by giving food, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, manicures, and even free dental care to those who are often neglected and forgotten in our society. So, when you ask if “I support this?” That’s a tricky question to answer. Because on the one hand, “Yes” I support showing love, compassion, and kindness to the disadvantaged and destitute. I also believe in showing love, compassion and kindness to you and the LGBTQ community. While I haven’t spoken directly to Jamie Sanchez about this, I have personally witnessed his ministry Recycle God’s Love inclusively show love and kindness without discrimination to everyone who comes through their doors, including those from the LGBTQ+ community.
Dan, once again, thank you for reaching out to me and giving me this opportunity to share my heart with you. I’m aware that some of my opinions may differ from yours, but I hope that you can sense the true spirit of love and compassion that I have for you and for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. If you ever do come to Calvary Brighton for a visit, please be sure to introduce yourself to me. In fact, I would love to get to know you over lunch (my treat of course).
Sincerely, from a heart motivated by God’s love,
For those looking for excellent resources to help you navigate the tricky waters of having loving yet biblical discussions with the LGBTQ+ community you may want to read: