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Alistair Begg Gay Weddings

Alistair Begg Encouraged Grandmother to attend Gay Wedding

A recent American Reformer article entitled, “The Desperate Decay of Doctrine in American Evangelicalism” spoke about the generational compromise within evangelicalism. In an article otherwise fixated against Tim Keller, there was a singular bullet point on Alistair Begg.

In the realm of megachurch pastors, Alistair Begg is largely unknown for controversy and is often viewed as one of the good guys. Begg is a Scottish pastor who presides over Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio and oversees the Truth For Life ministry. The comments on Begg require further investigation and greater scrutiny, as the brief point at American Reformer only summarized the errancy. Since Begg rarely (if ever) receives coverage from discernment outlets, this is perhaps why an overlooked interview from September 2023 must be addressed several months later.

When promoting his recent book, The Christian Manifesto, Alistair Begg and Bob Lepine sat down to have an audible discussion that primarily focused on the Sermon on the Plane (Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount). For a thirty-minute interview, only the last five minutes are profoundly noteworthy, which is where the comments are made. The interview can be accessed via YouTube but Truth For Life provides their transcript of the statements, so there is no ambiguity to what was stated.

Bob: I think every pastor who preaches, every author who writes a book like this, comes away thinking, “I hope my readers or my listeners will think differently as a result of their interaction with this, will feel differently and will act differently. As you think about this book and your prayer for this book, what do you hope will be different? How do you hope people will be different after they have read this book and they’ve meditated on this sermon?

The question being asked pertains to the overall takeaway from Begg’s book. The question is not in any way a gotcha. It is worth noting that the book’s Amazon description for the book states, “Encourages Christians from Luke 6 to live a countercultural life and experience true blessing.”

Alistair: Well, first of all, you know, I hope that I will be different. The old song that we never sing—you know, “It’s not my brother nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer”—I mean, that is foundationally the case. And so I hope that that would be multiplied. I hope that our church family, those who choose to read this book, that it might have an impact among us. Because learning to say, “I’m sorry,” learning to say, “Please forgive me,” learning to say, you know, “I’m not at my best at the moment; can you come alongside me?” learning to say, “Yes, I know that these people believe a very different agenda, that their lifestyle is orientated in another direction,” and learning to say, “But I have no basis upon which I could argue that I myself would not be where they are were it not for the amazing grace of God, were it not for his compassion towards me.”

Begg’s answer begins with a call for humility and introspection but then alludes to the issue of homosexuality. 

Alistair: And in very specific areas this comes across. I mean, you and I know that we field questions all the time that go along the lines of “My grandson is about to be married to a transgender person, and I don’t know what to do about this, and I’m calling to ask you to tell me what to do”—which is a huge responsibility.

And in a conversation like that just a few days ago—and people may not like this answer—but I asked the grandmother, “Does your grandson understand your belief in Jesus?”

“Yes.”

“Does your grandson understand that your belief in Jesus makes it such that you can’t countenance in any affirming way the choices that he has made in life?”

“Yes.”

I said, “Well then, okay. As long as he knows that, then I suggest that you do go to the ceremony. And I suggest that you buy them a gift.”

“Oh,” she said, “what?” She was caught off guard.

So a grandmother he had a conversation with, presumably in 2023 near the time of the interview, came away shocked by Begg’s answer to her inquiry. The question being posed is not theologically complicated, but emotionally costly. Rather than inform the grandmother that she should have nothing to do with her sexually immoral grandson (1 Corinthians 5:9), he advised her to do the exact opposite. Sadly, too many pastors compromise on this issue when it hits home.

He responds that she should attend so long as the grandson understands her position. This is fundamentally no different than the countless other compromises on whether or not to attend a gay wedding. In fact, it is objectively worse than Russell Moore’s “I would not attend the wedding. I would attend the reception.” as Begg compromises on both. One cannot attend without affirming. And buying a gift is also a gesture of approval towards the sodomitical union. Given the purpose of his book, how is being like all the other worldly people at a gay ceremony in any way countercultural?

Alistair: I said, “Well, here’s the thing: your love for them may catch them off guard, but your absence will simply reinforce the fact that they said, ‘These people are what I always thought: judgmental, critical, unprepared to countenance anything.’”

And it is a fine line, isn’t it? It really is. And people need to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. But I think we’re going to take that risk. We’re going to have to take that risk a lot more if we want to build bridges into the hearts and lives of those who don’t understand Jesus and don’t understand that he is a King.

So what if the world believes Christians are judgmental? Merely having the standard comes across as judgmental. Refusal to affirm is tantamount to hatred in their minds. There is no circumventing this reality. They hate believers because they hate God (John 15:18). Begg makes Christians out to be the villains for upholding Scriptural commands not to associate with the sexually immoral. This is fundamentally no different than the debate over “preferred pronouns.” No wonder an old woman was dismayed by his words.

Even the words “build bridges” are the same rhetoric used by Big Eva types who would compromise with the world on issues no prior generation of Christians would have entertained. All it does is make pastors become their cities, like Tim Keller becoming like New York or Lot becoming depraved because of Sodom.

Jesus did not instruct us to build bridges but to be salt and light. He instructed contrast, not conformity. Holiness, not worldliness. Alistair Begg wonders why people do not know the King. Pastors who spent decades making these sorts of statements are why.

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27 Responses

  1. What a sad, irrational answer Begg gave. He says we should be countercultural and then advises the grandmother to participate in the cultural celebration. His answer makes no sense—just another example of the AndyStanleyesque compromise of many modern evangelical leaders.

    1. In Corinthians 5:9, Paul is addressing the church, not unbelievers! I refuse to write off Allistar Begg, because of this one comment. And his reasoning, makes sense. Maybe he (Begg) has hit on something, because surely the way we have been approaching culture, and homosexuality is not working! Jesus, is our example. And Jesus hung out with, and ate with sinners.

      1. Prof. Rosaria Butterfield and Becket Cook would strongly differ on this. Having been saved by Grace, out of homosexual lifestyles, both have expressed the idea that much of the church now has placed targets on their backs, and that, far from being supported, many from their background are being told that sin is not sin and that the lifestyle should be affirmed.

        This is NOT ‘hanging out with and eating with sinners’. It is telling sinners that their sin is unimportant, and by that doing them a great disservice (and yes, I have listened to Alistair’s interview, so I know the caveats he imposed — they are not appropriate).

        I highly recommend Prof. Butterfield’s latest book, ‘Five Lies of our Anti-Christian Age’ for a carefully measured discussion of this. These accommodations with sin rob the Church of its correct position, which is fearlessly speaking the truth to a Godless world, that men might hear and be saved.

        Alistair’s ministry has been central to my own Christian life of recent years. I listen to his daily podcast (I usually try to listen to an entire sermon – Truth for Life tends to split them into 20-minute chunks). This statement really shocked and surprised me, and I’m now waiting for scornful family comments (common now, because have a high view of Scripture), along the lines of, “You said you really liked AB’s teaching. Now you don’t agree with him? Your view on homosexuality, transgenderism, etc., is just petty prejudice.”

        I’m not sure what I will say to that, but I’m not prepared to write off Alistair just yet. I continue to pray that he retracts this and apologises, and continues his evidently Spirit-filled ministry. So many Biblical figures, in both the Old and New Testaments sinned and repented and continued to be used and blessed by God. I pray Alistair is no different.

  2. Poopy another one bit the dust, now I’m down to Grace To You, Answers in Genesis, Alpha & Omega, and Ligonier Ministries…

      1. Maybe I should give a little bit more grace and not be too harsh. Like what my pastor have said, we would either be all wrath or all grace if we were to play God.

    1. I refuse to “write off Begg”, because of this one comment. 1Corinthians, is talking about the sexually immoral, IN THE CHURCH! Jesus hung out with, and ate with sinners! Begs statement about what the homosexual community thinks of us, actually makes sense. And obviously, what we have been doing, is not working!

      1. When Jesus associated with sinners it was to call them to repentance, as a function of ministry, not to give affirmation and approval of their sin. He did have fairly close ongoing relationships with former sinners who repented and turned from their sin, but not with any who continued in sin, that I can recall. To say He was just “hanging out”, as if with His buddies on an ongoing basis, is not accurate. He did not at any time, in any way, give approval of sin. That in and of itself is a sin.

        1 Cor. 5:11 begins with “but now”. I.e., they were being told to handle it a different way since it had infiltrated the church (as it has now), and a more strict way than before, irrespective of whether or not it might mean they would “go out of this world”, which in my view alludes to commerce and the ability to buy food and other goods necessarily to survive. I believe the phrase “not at all” in verse 10 basically means as little as necessary – i.e., not completely, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to buy food and survive. If you look at the original Greek (ou pantós – Strongs 3843) , it could be translated “not wholly” or “not completely”. The KJV translates it “not altogether”. In other words “as little as possible” was implied before, “but now” an even more strict approach was required. Greece and Rome at the time were overrun with all manner of sexual immorality. Granted verse 11 says “who bears the name of brother”, but there are many scriptures that relate to not giving approval of sin, and many types of sinners that we are not supposed to associate with.

        It has a lot to do with the message you send. What statement are you making? Are you giving approval or endorsement? If they’re wearing a bunch of rainbow garb, or otherwise making a statement and sending a message, even a smile or wave hello in the morning, much less speaking, could constitute approval. If they’re not sending any such message and you talk to them, then you may not even know.

        Going to such a “wedding” would be worse. Attending a wedding is to witness and to give explicit approval, both of which are often explicitly stated during the ceremony – that all are witnesses and that none present objected. Attending such a “wedding” would be to give explicit and public approval. And as far as that goes, privately speaking with one of the participants to clarify your intent would be even worse. If the argument is that attending is acceptable as long as you make your disapproval clear, then you’d need to explicitly and publicly make your disapproval known to any and all who witnessed your public presence.

        I don’t know how you could possibly attend a “gay wedding” without giving approval. The abominable service itself is a wicked sin, in direct rebellion against, and mockery of, God’s design for, and institution of, marriage, which you would be participating in yourself. The entire charade is prideful nose-thumbing at God.

        Aside from all that, we must respect one another’s conscience. If it bothers a brother or sister in Christ, then don’t mess with them. (1 Cor. 8:9-13, and several others talk about the importance of a clear conscience). And the fact that she asked him his opinion is evidence enough that she was already questioning whether or not to go. Her conscience was already telling her not to go. She just wasn’t listening. And Mr. Begg just tickled her ear.

        I’m no theologian, and I may be wrong, but that’s how I see it.

      2. First priority is to not sin against the Lord.
        Second is to not sin against your brothers and sisters in Christ.

        We should think about not only whether or not our actions and words would constitute affirmation and endorsement of sin, but also how it might affect our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must love our brothers and sisters in Christ, long before we love the wolves. So think about how it’s affecting all believers, including those with strong conscience. Be careful not to sin against them. And rather than pushing the limits, stay well back of them. If there’s any question, then choose that which is farthest from sin, most honorable to the Lord, and least damaging to your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you have to err, the err away from sin, not towards it.

        If you advocate for fellow believers to violate their conscience, then you are sinning against them. So we all need to be very careful what we say and do.

      3. As to what works and what doesn’t, only God knows. That’s not our question to ask. That’s His domain. He is the all-knowing Creator.

        The commandments of God are not grievous …

        “2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” – 1 John 5:2-4

        His commandments are the epitome of love. Our job is to obey. And that’s how we know we’re loving one another (v 2). The results are up to Him.

    2. I know and follow them also but have not hear of Alpha & Omega. Can you tell me where to find them? Thank you.

  3. It’s disappointing to hear this but not completely surprising. A lot of these pastors will capitulate to the culture in some way or another. Begg said in one of his devotional emails when speaking about David and Bathsheba that his adultery that it could be considered power rape or something along those lines. I was surprised to hear him say that because that’s the Me Too liberal catch phrase. Once someone says things like that it makes my ears twitch and my radar go up.

    1. I’d say on that point he wasn’t entirely wrong. God’s word often holds men, being created bigger, stronger, and in leadership, more responsible, and where sin is involved, more to blame.

      One example is how they were to determine adultery vs rape in Duet. 22:23-27. If it occurred in the city and she didn’t cry out, then they were both guilty. But if it occurred in the country where she couldn’t be heard, she was automatically deemed innocent, as if she had been raped. But the man involved was guilty in either case.

      This is nothing like the #MeToo mess, where proof of guilt isn’t required. But it is also important for feminists to understand that God’s commandments are not anti-woman. In many ways, they’re pro-woman in that men bear most responsibility and, when applicable, blame for sin. Many on either “side” won’t like to hear it, but that is what scripture says. And this perspective is the other side of “patriarchy” they would prefer to ignore. From a scriptural standpoint, by God’s law, David was indeed more to blame than Bathsheba. That doesn’t absolve her of her own sin. But he was more to blame, and for the murder of her husband, of course, he was entirely to blame.

      1. It’s also not like the #MeToo mess in that it doesn’t absolve women of any and all wrongdoing. In the first case, where she could’ve been heard but didn’t cry out, she was just as guilty.

      2. It never talks about a woman taking a husband. It talks about a man taking a wife. Femists will read into that a notion that women were just mere “property”, but that is not what it means. It means that the responsibility was the man’s to bear. There are examples of that in the same chapter, such as the next few verses, when a man “takes a wife” in the manner of common-law marriage, rather than going through the betrothal process, he was not allowed to ever divorce her, and he had to pay. Though it was consensual, she bore none of the responsibility for it. I may not quite be understanding this particular scripture correctly, but the point would still hold.

        What’s happened over the past half century or more is that men and women both have rebelled against God’s design. We could argue about which came first. But it’s like a man who’s wife decides she wants to be the breadwinner, he just throws up his hands and says alright well if you want all the responsibility then you can have it. Or vise versa, if a man fails to do what he’s supposed to be doing, a woman throws up her hands and does it herself. There’s a destructive back and forth involved. And both “sides” can be wrong.

        But by the law, women are indeed given a bit more benefit of the doubt when it comes to sexual immorality, which of course makes sense given that men are created bigger, stronger, and with an inherent measure of authority, whether in a position of authority or not. As I see it, God’s law limits the worst in men just as much as it limits the worst in women.

    2. The power differential=rape take is a totally wicked, totally unbiblical and totally counter-factual. Women are much more attracted to specific men the more those men surpass them in power. They sure aren’t attracted to men who can only beat them in arm wrestling 50% of the time.

      1. Partly right, but what’s counter-factual is the implication that men who women would normally be attracted to could not possibly commit rape. Only men who women are not attracted to could possibly ever be guilty of rape. That’s pretty much were such reasoning wrongly leads. To a certain extent, rape is always a matter of power differential.

        Those scriptures in Duet. are clear enough, and I’m sure there are more. Generally, if she can’t do anything to stop it, then she is to be deemed innocent. That’s the determining factor, as to how we imperfect human beings who have no way of knowing exactly what happened, are to judge it. Not by the man’s attractiveness to women, position of authority, etc.

        In the case of most of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo allegations we’ve seen, the woman could have done something to stop it, and is therefore just as guilty. In most cases it happened “in the city” so to speak. And the church has not followed the prescriptions of scripture for diligently determining whether the women are innocent or guilty in each case, based on whether or not it was consensual, but has rather deemed the women innocent in all cases.

        It’s a subtle difference but a very important one just the same.

      2. Women seek out such men because they have an innate desire to be taken care of. It’s the way God designed women. They’re looking for a man who can fulfill his side of things, according to God’s design, to take care of them and their children. Many of them wont admit it, but it’s there. It’s there because God put it there.

      3. I think you should read the full passage for yourself. I think you should pay particular attention to the metaphor God chose to describe Bathsheba. There was someone who said no to King David and King David had him murdered.
        Frankly, your attitude is alarming. I hope I never have the misfortune of encountering you in a dark alleyway.

        1. Ma’am, it’s not a matter of attitude. It’s a matter of what the scripture says. I assume you’re referring to me, because I’m the only one here who brought up the issue of whether or not a woman says no.

          Most of the #ChurchToo women had ongoing, consensual relationships with the men, and are therefore just as guilty. As I said, each case should be dealt with on an individual basis, to determine whether or not it is deemed adultery/fornication, or for all practical purposes rape.

          Duet. 22:23-27 does given women the benefit of the doubt. But there’s nothing in any scripture anywhere that essentially says women can never be guilty of sexual immorality.

          If you were to have consensual relations with a stranger in a dark alley, such that there were nothing you could do to stop it, then you would be deemed innocent, even if it were consensual. In other words, if nobody can know whether or not you said no, then you’re deemed to have said no. That’s a tremendous benefit of the doubt given to women. It’s huge. And if that’s not good enough for you, I don’t know what to tell you except to take that up with the Lord. Nobody here wrote that scripture. God did.

          Uriah did not say no. He didn’t know about it. David had him killed before he found out. 2 Samuel 11:4 says “she came to him”. As far as I know, there is no scripture that says she objected, nor is there any scripture that says anyone said no before the fact. But that’s largely irrelevant, considering your implication is that a woman cannot be guilty of sexual immorality as long as anyone, anywhere says no, even if it is entirely consensual as far as she is concerned. That makes no sense. If a husband says no, but his wife goes and commits it anyhow, then she is guilty of adultery. Seems fairly straightforward to me.

          Women can be guilty of sexual immorality.

          And I’m not exactly sure why that’s even up for debate.

        2. All are born into sin, with the capacity to sin. That includes both women and men.

          If it’s alarming to you that women are not seen and treated as perfect gods incapable of sinning, then you need to give that some consideration. It could be the Holy Spirit is convicting you, and some repentance is in order.

          Women are imperfect and plenty capable of sinning just the same as men.

        3. The Bible is much more strict on men. If a man is engaged in any sexual activity outside the bounds of God’s design for marriage, he is guilty. No question. He’s automatically guilty. Period.

          If there are consensual relations, and she is not betrothed or married, then he is deemed to have married her, and is never allowed to divorce. Which means he cannot engage in any relations with anyone other than her for the rest of his born days, without committing adultery.

          So for men it’s either automatic adultery or automatic marriage. No ifs ands or buts, no gray areas. That’s it. He’s either deserving the death penalty, or he’s married.

          The only question is whether or not the woman is guilty. First, according to Duet. 19 we are to inquire diligently to determine whether or not the accusations, if there are any accusations, are true. Then if impropriety did occur, we go by Duet. 22, and inquire diligently to determine whether or not it was consensual. If it was, she’s guilty also. If not, she’s to be deemed innocent.

          In every #ChurchToo case, where impropriety is proved to have happened, the man is guilty. That’s automatic. He’s guilty. Period. There’s no debating that point. It might be argued otherwise by secular law in secular courts, but by God’s standards he’s automatically guilty.

          God’s word doesn’t tickle the ears. It convicts.

  4. The Dissenter says: “he’s been sliding for a number of years.” I don’t know, because he never appealed to me enough for me to be listening. Maybe others can fill in more details.

    Congrats for breaking this crucial story!

  5. ask mr. begg is he would be happy to be so non-judgmental to officiate such wedding? hmmmm, also ask mr. begg if jesus were to have the ‘privilege’ of spreading his off-guard love, would He attend such a wedding, and maybe, upgrade the reception wine selection.

  6. Fava writes about compromise by Begg, but gets no further than his article’s title before being compromised himself. By using the word “gay” (an abuse of language in the sense of not clearly calling a thing what it is), doesn’t Fava acquiesce to and become complicit in the homosexual community’s choice of terminology, allowing them to set the terms of discourse? This does not affect the validity, or not, of Fava’s remarks about Begg, but this compromise does make his article something of an instance of pot kettle black.

  7. I stand with Alistair Begg. We can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I’m sure Alistair is not condoning homosexuality, he never has and probably never will. He is one that loves the sinner but hates the sin. Why would he have to repent for something like that, after scripture tells us to love the sinner ? We must continually be ready with the answer of truth to a lost and dying world, whether they be gay or heterosexual, lost is lost, and we, as God fearing people have the responsibility to speak the truth to the lost. I respect Alistair Begg, I have listened to his preaching for twenty years or more, there is nothing that he says that is ever contrary to scripture. On the other hand, I am sad that there are people out there who make a living conjuring up garbage just to draw attention to themselves under the guise of trying to expose false teachers.

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