Why Your Faithfulness To Jesus Doesn’t Matter (Apparently)

I was listening to an interview of a particular pastor today. I won’t share his name because, once I do, there is a fifty-fifty chance you’ll highly discredit what I’m about to say based solely on my reference of him. So he shall, for the duration of this article, remain nameless.

And that’s exactly what I want to talk about, actually. You discrediting me. Or how we might discredit one another based on that one thing – whatever that one thing might be.

Let me explain.

Several years ago I had a particular opinion on a particular subject (which shall also go nameless). I had many conversations with family members and friends about this particular subject and I expressed my feelings against it – quite expressively. I rubbed several people the wrong way simply because this particular thing had become my one thing.

As it turns out, the way I felt about this particular subject changed quite dramatically several years ago – so much so that I’m actually quite ashamed that I was once so adamantly against it.

Going back to the interview with the pastor – which was less of an interview and more of a debate that he was pulled into by another pastor. He was questioned on his support of same-sex marriage and, although I do not agree with his view on the subject, he did say something that spoke volumes to me. “…you have a particular conviction,” he said, “and all of the sudden your orthodoxy or your faithfulness to Jesus is called into question.”


We all have that one thing – a particular conviction on a certain subject – and for this pastor, his one thing is same-sex marriage. For you, it could be alcohol or abortion or dating or gambling or watching movies. It’s that one thing that you are convicted so strongly about, yet when questioned about it from someone who holds a differing viewpoint, instantly your faith in Jesus and your devotion to him gets called into question. All because of our one thing.

To me, the Bible is clear on many issues. Some things are non-negotiable. Some things are black and white. And some things, well, are not non-negotiable and they’re not black and white. They live in their own murky, little gray world that provides no answers to their enormous questions. And it’s in this place where things get messy.

If I can’t support same-sex marriage – because to me it’s non-negotiable – but it’s my friend’s one thing, where does that leave us?

Does his faith in Jesus come into question?

And, since I consider this a non-negotiable, do I get a free pass?

Or is this my one thing?

Does my faith come into question?

The pastor concluded his thought by saying:

“This is why so many people don’t want to be a part of the church.”

Well, as challenging as it might be, maybe he’s right.

Do you think our one thing is turning people away from the church?

POSTED ON December 5, 2013
  • Jimmy

    The title does not seem to fit the article?

    • The title was written because of this section in the article: “…you have a particular conviction,” he said, “and all of the sudden your orthodoxy or your faithfulness to Jesus is called into question.”

      Hence, this pastor’s faithfulness to Jesus was called into question because of his support of same-sex marriage. So, your faithfulness to Jesus doesn’t matter, to some people at least, because of your “one thing.” Hopefully that explains it.

  • jason fischer

    Yep I heard that unbelievable and if it was one thing then I would be more likely to give him a pass. But it’s quite a few more.
    Seriously though good point but I agree with Jummy that the title doesn’t seem to fit the article.

    • Please see my reply below.

  • Seminarian

    It seems to me that Mr. Lane is putting the cart before the horse. This quote by Rob Bell shows that because of his stance on same sex marriage his faithfulness to Jesus is questionable. Jesus has said that homosexuality is a sin. There should be no question on this point. Because Bell did question that, his faithfulness to Jesus needs to be questioned. Bell has since shown how faithful he is to Jesus by trying out atheism as it Christianity and atheism were t-shirts . We can’t just claim to be faithful to Jesus and then teach or preach whatever we want simply because it is comfortable for the culture in which we live. “Why do you call me Lord and do not the things that I say?”

    • Thomas

      Hmm, I would be interested as to what verse you are referring to when you say that Jesus says Homosexuality is sin. I resonate with the author, in that a pastor can be loving, gracious, and selfless, but as soon as s/he mentions they are accepting of homosexuals then they deemed “unchristian” or “in sin” themselves. When did our views on homosexuality become the litmus test for faith? On judgement day, I will reckon with a lot of sins ranging from not putting the toilet seat down for my wife to some much heavier stuff. Truth be told, I’m not to nervous about either. As an expastor, I remember times when I felt the pressure of a congregation wanting me to affirm their beliefs. Easiest thing in the world to convincing people of what they already know.

    • eric kurfman

      Seminarian, although Jesus never mentioned homosexuality by name, he did mention a few other sins, including, but not limited to, anger without a cause, lusting, divorce…

      The problem is when we draw a line in wet cement and then say everyone on THAT side is unsaved. Or at the very least a second-rate Christian. We ALL have incorrect beliefs. Everyone of us. Churches split, Christians break fellowship over predestination, interpretations of the trinity, drinking alcohol, voting, etc., etc., ad naseum.

      My Bible says repent, confess Jesus as Lord and believe He was resurrected from the dead, and you will be saved. After that we are on a journey, and as Bo mentions, our views can change. In fact, we have a word for things that never change: dead.

      If we truly applied “Why do you call me Lord and not do the things I say?” there would be a LOT of one-eyed, one-handed, (maybe, no-eyed, no-handed) Christians around. Myself included.

      And I think that is Bo’s point: What do we selectively apply as OUR one thing? If it wasn’t for the grace of God in Jesus Christ we would ALL be in a heap of trouble.

  • eric kurfman

    Well put. And so true. Sadly some of the comments give more evidence to support your theory, Bo. So many times we don’t even know we are doing it…”IF it was anything else we could overlook it, BUT because it is THAT we simply cannot!”

    Sadly, yes, our “onething” turns many people away from the church. Barna found the most commonly associated phrase with the word Christian is “anti-homosexual”. (www.barna.org/barna-update/article/16-teensnext-gen/94-a-new-generation-expresses-its-skepticism-and-frustration-with-christianity)

    Another word is “conservative”. Of course, even suggesting a Christian could be “liberal” will immeadiately shut down a lot of conversation. At least where I am from.

    Personally, I wonder how we ever got such a fight-to-the-death-for-morality “Alamo” complex from the ministry of Jesus. Some how Jesus’ compassion drew “sinners” and repelled those who were so sure of their righteousness.

    Any of us can become ensnared. Even those of us attempting to be more magnanimous. Self-righteousness is truly an easy sin to slip into…BUT it feels so…RIGHT.

    Keep up the good work.

Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors, a community that strives to offer help, healing, and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders, and author of Why Pastors Quit. As a media professional with more than 15 years of experience, he has developed marketing and brand strategies that have revolutionized churches and businesses, both large and small. Bo left full-time ministry after serving more than a decade in churches in Oregon, California, and Iowa. He is also a writer, filmmaker, woodworker, husband and father.