Everyone should be welcomed into churches, but no sinful behavior should be affirmed, a prominent Christian blogger has said.
Trevin Wax, writing for The Gospel Coalition, reminds Christians that we are all born sinful, rather than basically good, and that we all "fall short of the glory of God."
He said that some Christians believe it would be better to downplay human sinfulness to avoid causing unnecessary offense, but said this "severs the root of what makes grace so powerful."
Wax wrote: "In a culture that thrives on self-affirmation and self-determination, 'showing grace' now means accepting someone else's definition of their own righteousness.
"Our age of expressive individualism leads us to find meaning in the identities we've constructed for ourselves, and then to expect (no, demand!) that others affirm our self-construction and give us their blessing."
He said this new concept is often applied to sexuality, with churches judged on their ability to be 'welcoming and affirming'.
Wax notes that this tends to mean: "Do you welcome LGBTQ people and affirm their sexuality?".
'Love the Sinner'
He says churches that hold to the biblical basis for marriage will say they welcome all people, but do not affirm sexual practices outside of marriage—which he says is an updated version of "love the sinner, hate the sin."
"But LGBTQ advocates say it's impossible to split up that phrase. Unless you affirm people's sexual self-identification, you cannot truly welcome them because, by default, you have denied their dignity as individuals."
Wax points out that the church exists "not to affirm ourselves, but to adore the King who loved us and gave himself for us when there was nothing good in us to affirm.
"The more we affirm ourselves, the less we adore the King for his grace."
He adds that people cannot cordon off areas of their lives and demand that God respect their individuality, "whether in regards to sexual behavior, or how we spend our money, or how we engage others."
The Prodigal Son
"It is because God loves us that he refuses to affirm us in our sins."
He concluded: "The Father runs to the prodigal. He entreats the older brother to come inside. He doesn't affirm the prodigal in the pigsty or the older brother in his pasture of pomposity, but he does open his arms to both his sons.
"And that's why, just like our Father, the church should welcome everyone and affirm no one."