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A Response to the Alistair Begg Statement Concerning Transgender Wedding Attendance

***Before reading this post, I want to set some background. I have come to respect Alistair Begg over the past several years. It has been his teaching, largely, that helped pull me away from the charismatic camp and into a Reformed theological mindset. I have reached out to him but, as of the day of this writing, have not heard back from him or anyone associated with him or his ministry.

This topic also hits very close to home for me. I have two sisters who are engaged in openly homosexual or transgender relationships. One of them has already been through a wedding to her partner and the other is planning to be married to her partner soon. While I do not condone their lifestyles, I love my sisters greatly and would do anything, within reason, for them. As one can imagine, this has caused a rift in our relationships.***

For those who are unaware, Alistair Begg, longtime pastor of Parkside Church in the Cleveland, Ohio area, has recently come under fire for advising a Christian grandmother who reached out to him to attend the wedding of her grandchild and the grandchild’s transgender partner. He gave this advice after she confirmed that the grandchild knew she is a Christian and did not condone the lifestyle or the marriage.

Since the audio clip of the interview in which Rev. Begg made this statement has become public, people have been quick to point the finger at him and call him to repent, recant his words, and even step away from ministry. What these people have failed to consider is the fact that Rev. Begg has made it perfectly clear throughout his ministry where he stands on the homosexual and transgender issue. He has stated numerous times, more than I can count from the sermons and teachings I have listened to over the years, that he knows that human sexuality is only blessed by God when it is a monogamous, heterosexual relationship between a man and a woman within the confines of marriage; anything else is abominable and sinful in the eyes of God.

The issue he addressed in the interview does not concern sexuality, it concerns displaying compassion to sinners, especially those sinners with whom we have close familial ties. While we, as Christians, do not condone their sinful lifestyle, our duty to them as family members does not stop because they have chosen to remain in their sin. Rev. Begg was not saying that this grandmother should invite the couple over to her house for afternoon tea, rather he was advising her that it would be more loving to go to the wedding ceremony, especially since they know you do not approve, than it would be to stay home.

He is telling her, in essence, to do exactly the kind of outreach that Jesus did when He ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus did things that were considered absolutely horrendous for a man, especially a rabbi, to do and that is why the religious leaders hated Him. Jesus allowed a sinful woman to break an alabaster box of fragrant oil and anoint him. He allowed a sinful woman to weep on His feet and wash them with her hair. He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He touched and cleansed lepers. He had a tax collector as one of His disciples. He went to the house of Zaccheus and ate with him. All these things He did as an example to us so that we might know what compassion looks like.

I remember a time when those who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were treated like animals by the rest of the world, yes, even Christians. I can remember sitting around as a child in the 1980’s and 1990’s when the topic came up and the adults around me said things like, “That’s what they get for being freaks” or “That will teach them for doing things like that.” I could not understand why the people who I was around, these adults who were supposed to be Christians, going to church every time the door was open, would completely throw compassion out the window because people were sick.

Please, do not misunderstand what I am saying. I firmly believe that homosexuality and transgenderism are sinful. I firmly believe that anything of a sexual nature outside the confines of a monogamous, heterosexual relationship, between one man and one woman, joined together in holy matrimony, is sinful. I also believe that everybody sins in some way. 1 John tells us that anyone who says they do not sin deceives themselves and makes God to be a liar.

For those who have only been watching how other ministers have reacted to Rev. Begg’s statements, I encourage you to go and listen to what he actually said. I also encourage you to go and watch the sermon that he preached entitled Compassion vs. Condemnation as it is a great reminder to us all of true Christian compassion and love.

For those who are taking small pieces of what he said in the interview and in the sermon mentioned above and continuing to call for his head on a platter, I encourage you to examine your own hearts. What advice would you give a grandmother who truly loves her grandchild and finds herself in a difficult situation, as this one did? Would you tell her to go to the wedding and be a witness to the couple of what true Christian love can be? Would you remind her that she is the light of the world and that she is to let her light shine in the darkness, especially within her own family? Or would you tell her to stay home and be found guilty of bigotry by an entire group of people, including her own grandchild, who already think that Christians hate them?

Which one would you do if you were in the same situation?

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Feb 15

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5, draws a line in the sand between how we (the church) should judge and deal with professing believers and nonbelievers. Paul clearly commands us to judge and discipline (if necessary) habitual sinners within the church and not to associate with them; however, we can't disassociate with sinners outside the church since, 1) we would have to leave this planet and, 2) they are the lost that we are called to share the gospel with. Good post, good read. I listen to Alistair semi-regularly as he comes on before MacArthur (who I listen to regularly).

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