A brief open letter to Jack Hibbs, pastor of Calvary Chapel church in Chino Hills, CA.
You don't know me, and I don't know you. I had never heard of you before last night when, while driving to Trader Joes and flipping through the radio stations, I landed upon a Christian station broadcasting one of your sermons. I have been a devout Christian and faithful church-participant for over 30 years and am also nearing completion of my Master's degree in Theology--so I appreciate a good, well-thought-out and well-delivered sermon.
Unfortunately, the sermon I heard given by you--which was in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling about same-sex marriage--was none of these things and, in fact, stands as one of the most spiteful, misinformed and strident screeds I have ever listened to. "Surely," I thought, "I am hearing this out of context," so when I got home I looked up your church's website and found the sermon there and watched it. It was that second listening, in its entirety, which prompted me to write this brief message.
We may disagree--as many devout Christians do--on how we interpret the Biblical texts that pertain to homosexuality, but that is not my concern here. As one who affirms the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons into society and church, I disagree with many of my fellow Christians, and we do so in a spirit of mutual respect and fellowship. Conservative Evangelical Christians such as Matthew Vines, Justin Lee, Kathy Baldock, David Gushee and James Brownson (to name a few) have provided plenty of detailed and scholarly exegesis on the Biblical texts which offers a viewpoint different from your own. So I'm not going to rehash those theological arguments here.
What I'm more concerned about is the spirit in which you address these matters. It is certainly not a Christ-like spirit. It is proud and haughty. It is vindictive and mean. It is Pharisaical. It is ideological and fear-mongering. It smacks of Fascism in the guise of the Gospel. It is very, very ugly.
And it is rife with lies and distortions. For example, you claim that now that gay people can legally wed, "It is going to be like it was in the days of Lot: violent homosexuals knocking on doors threatening to sodomize people who disagree with them." Really?
I know that, as a Calvary Chapel pastor, you place great emphasis on a particular eschatological framework. Part of your eschatology includes a belief that in the End Times there will be a great apostasy; a great "falling away." I would suggest that this great falling away is indeed happening, only it is a falling away from grace and from love. And your behavior epitomizes this apostasy. You come in fear and anger and accusation, not in the name/character of the Lord.
I realize that criticism such as this will only feed your persecution complex. You seem to invite it and glory in it, believing that it is an indicator that you are following Jesus. I would suggest that in this too you are mistaken. Critical confrontation directed at you for your harsh rhetoric is not an indicator that you are being a disciple of Jesus, but rather that you are being an asshole.