Big Tent? Be Careful for What You Ask

FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS

volume 18, number 6, February 7, 2019

So He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” -Psalm 106:15

                                 Big Tent? Be Careful For What You Ask

We are not told who the author of Psalm 106 is, but many scholars credit King David as its author. He begins by saying, “Hallelujah,” literally “Praise the Lord.” Israel is to give thanks because the Lord is good. The Psalmist is asking for God’s favor, but he acknowledges that he and his people have sinned exceedingly against the Lord. Only three days after their mighty deliverance at the Red Sea, they grumbled at Moses, demanding that he provide them water to drink. But verses13 and 14 of Psalm 106 tell us that they forgot Yahweh’s mighty works on their behalf, and they did not wait for His counsel. Instead they craved or lusted intensely in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. In Numbers 11 we are told that Israel was tired of eating God’s gracious provision of manna, and they demanded meat to eat. They grumbled and complained against Moses and Yahweh, and Moses had had enough. He asks Yahweh to take his life. He is fed up with their rebellion and unbelief. He wants out. Yahweh gives them what they want—meat. God brought a vast amount of quail to them and men gathered, at the very least ten homers (one homer is eleven bushels) each. And while the meat was in their teeth, before it was even chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people who had been greedy with a severe plague (some believe it was cholera, but no one knows for sure). They called the place where the people were buried Kibroth-hattaavah the graves of greediness (Numbers 11:4-35). 

In their lustful greed, Israel asked for meat and God gave them what they wanted, but with it came leanness of soul. We see a similar event in 1 Samuel 8 when Israel lusted for a king and God gave then what they wanted, Saul, who ended up as a disaster.

Bottom line—be careful for what you ask. God may give it to you, but with it comes leanness of soul. 

For many years now we have been told by some of our PCA leaders that we must be a “big tent” denomination. By this they mean we should be very proactive in bringing non-Reformed people into our churches by discounting our theological distinctives. Perhaps, they tell us, we should not put too much emphasis on the finer points of our theology, that strict subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith is counter-productive, that men should be allowed “exceptions” to the Confession, that this is the way to grow the denomination. Not too many years ago we prided ourselves on being the fastest growing denomination in the United States and we boasted of how, for a relatively small denomination, we had a disproportionate number of well known and respected writers, much in demand preachers and theologians, radio and television preachers, leaders in business and commerce, and political statesmen who were counted as PCA members. 

We have craved notoriety and acceptance by the world. We want to be relevant. We have been embarrassed by our standards, that women cannot be elders or deacons, that we reject the theory of evolution, that we are seen as hateful because we have called homosexuality what God calls it, an abomination (Leviticus 18:22). We hear the world say, “Are you PCA people really serious? You mean that I, a woman CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, cannot be an elder in your church?” “Are you really going to go against all the science which utterly discounts your silly theory of six day creationism and hitch your wagon to Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis?” “Are you really going to discount the compassionate, well respected, Christian psychologist Dr. Mark Yarhouse who states that gender dysphoria and sexual orientation are inbred?” Some in the evangelical church are lecturing us, asking, “When will you realize that you PCA people are misinterpreting Paul in Romans 1:26,27? Paul was condemning heterosexual men who are engaging in sex with other men. He would never condemn men who are born with a same sex orientation.” In our big tent mindset, we seem to be more sociologically and psychologically driven than Scripturally driven.

So the result is that God is giving us the very thing for which we have lusted. We are in fact a big tent denomination, but with it, my friends, comes leanness of soul. 

On the issue of same sex attraction, we are being told by the folks at Revoice and Living Out that the church has long been mistreating homosexual people, that we must be more accepting of their lifestyle, that we are the problem. By becoming friends with homosexuals, by listening to them, by encouraging homosexual or transgender teens to become part of our youth groups, by opening our doors to same sex union couples, then we will earn the right to be heard by them. The church has had it all wrong, so they say. We are the ones who must change. Eventually, as we are told, we will be able gently to persuade them to become followers of Jesus Christ. 

Okay, so where will all this take us? Consider your church youth group, for example. So two or three gender confused teens or a couple of homosexual boys are part of your youth group. Do you think they will keep their perverse lifestyles in the closet? They will no doubt make their lifestyles known and because your youth have been told they must “earn the right to be heard”, that they must never judge, then a direct call to repent of sin and flee to Christ to be saved and transformed is most likely not going to happen in the youth meetings. Your youth will be adversely affected by the presence of homosexuals in your youth group. They will grow to accept homosexuality as the new normal. 

And then consider your church’s openness to homosexual couples. So, two homosexual men walk into church one day with their three adopted children. They make their way to the nursery to put their infant there and one of your ten year old girls is helping with the nursery that day. She may sense that two men bringing their infant to the nursery is odd behavior, but because your church is “big tent” she will eventually have her reservations mitigated and at the very least accept this behavior as an alternative lifestyle. After all, she may reason, at least these children have a home with two parents who love them. 

I think you know I am very committed to evangelism, but the church service on Sunday morning is not the place for evangelism. The church is the place for public worship and the training and equipping of God’s people so that they can go to the world and call people to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Leave the Lord’s Day worship and then go, as the apostles clearly did, to the world and reach the homosexual, out there in the world.    

Back to the Bible, my friends. Only until the Holy Spirit convicts, regenerates, and converts will there be spiritual transformation. Reducing theology to the lowest common denominator is a recipe for disaster. It brings leanness to the soul. 

  1.  W.S. Plummer notes that verse 1 and verses 47,48 of Psalm 106 are taken verbatim from David’s ode in 1 Chronicles 16:34-36, The Geneva Series of Commentaries, Banner of Truth. 
  2.  These exceptions now are many, including variations of the Framework hypothesis and an ancient earth view of creation, the ordination of women, at least to the office of Deacon, and the acceptability of “celibate”, non-practicing homosexuals into church membership.
  3.  Dr. Yarhouse is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) which, on the issue of same sex unions assures us that there is no difference at all between gay couples who rear children and heterosexual couples who do so. <apa.org> “Answers to Your Questions about Same-Sex Marriage.” 
  4.  Dr. Yarhouse has spoken numerous times at Covenant College on the issues of gender dysphoria and homosexuality. As one example see Chapel: Dr. Mark Yarhouse, Covenant College, October 12, 2016, YouTube.
  5.  I am not saying that we cannot make an evangelistic appeal in our sermons, nor am I saying that we can never have outreach events in the church, but the thrust of our Sunday pulpit ministries should be the building up of the saints for the work of service. 

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