In the Gospel of John, we read this story:
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11″No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I have no doubt whatsoever that Jesus loves people. He loves people of all stripes. He loves ‘the church and gave himself up for her’:
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Yes, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ loved sinners and ate with them: tax collectors, ‘sinners’, prostitutes, Pharisees, fishermen, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Peter and Paul. I fully accept the notion that Jesus accepts us for who we are, but I add this caveat in the form of a question: Does Jesus, in accepting us for who we are, permit us to stay as we are or does he demand change?
It is this question that most struggle with, and many in the evangelical church refuse to answer the question. Instead evangelicals allow their theology to be dictated and determined by cultural phenomenons, icons, or superstars: What Mel Gibson says must be the Gospel! But is this right? Is this true? Are the superstars of myspace, youtube, megachurches, hollywood, washington, D.C. the prophets who determine the boundaries of evangelical biblical theology? When Tila Tequila speaks, should we listen?
This is a significant problem in the evangelical world just now. I don’t happen to think that MTV stars and myspace celebrities are reliable sources for Biblical theology or for ecclesiastical practice. In fact, I’m not even sure why it is news when one of them says something about God or Jesus or the Bible because normally it is absolutely, unequivocally, wrong. Such is the case with the supposed phenom of myspace, Tila Tequila whose story is being partially reported at Christian Post as some sort of eye opening, Jeremiah type prophetic revelation concerning God and His Word. I’ll will note but a couple of the more significant problems with Tila’s theology of ‘Love is just love.’
First, my disclaimer, that I have never met Tila, I’ve only heard of her just today, I don’t watch MTV because I only have basic cable, I’m not one of her ‘friends’ at her myspace (of which it is reported she has 2 million!), and I only visited her myspace (which I won’t link to) twice (reading her blog). Second, it should be stated up front that Tila is a self acknowledged bi-sexual who will begin hosting a show on MTV called ‘A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila’ in which 32 straight men and lesbians will compete for her affections (I guess). OK, here’s some thoughts.
Although acknowledging that the show would raise controversy, she wrote, “I just want to say that I am truly blessed to have had an opportunity to share with the world and teach the world that it is OK to be who you are! Gay or not! So thank you MTV for giving me this opportunity.”
Well, this is patently wrong. It is not OK to be who we are otherwise God would have found no offense, would not have declared his coming wrath against all ungodliness, and there would have been no place for the cross. Fact is, there is no sin apart from sinners and there is no room for sin in this world that belongs to God. This is, then, false doctrine. The story above from John 8 declares: I do not condemn you, but leave your life of sin. We are not free to remain in the stranglehold of sin that Jesus died to set us free from. No doubt we are loved; no doubt it is that we might be set free from sin and set free to serve God in holiness. Part of the reason He gives the Spirit is to sanctify us, that is, make us holy. If God were satisfied with who we are, why would he demand that we change? Strike one against Tila’s theology.
Second, she says:
“Growing up, I felt like I had no one to turn to in times of need, who would be there for me with open arms without judgment when I felt hopeless,” Tequila wrote. “I lived in a lonely shattered world and tried to commit suicide quite a few times from a very young and tender age starting at 11 [years] to 22 years of age.
“That is until I made amends with God,” she added.
Tequila said she didn’t meet God in a church, which she had avoided going to with her “‘gay’ problems.” And she didn’t meet the God worshipped by churches that preached condemnation. Instead, she said she made amends with “the God that I can feel and hear in my own heart.”
Well, I certainly feel for the girl who, according to the story, “built her celebrity status online with racy photos and videos, Tila merchandise and album singles.” OK. I wonder, then, if God accepts those who are interested in pornography, those who flaunt their sexuality in order to turn a profit, those who engage in activities that the Scripture clearly condemns? Still, there is sympathy. I feel for her that she was so lonely that she attempted suicide ‘quite a few times.’ Who wouldn’t? I’m sorry she met churches that only condemned and didn’t attempt to teach about forgiveness in the Name of Jesus. Sadly, I don’t think Tila made amends with the God of the Scripture, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. No, I’m afraid she did not.
Sadly, she says that she ‘didn’t meet God in a church.’ Where else is she going to meet God? God has appointed the church to be a kingdom of priests. So writes Peter:
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Where else is one to meet this God? Who else has such a privilege? Who else has God appointed for such a task of declaring his good news, of having ‘beautiful feet’, of preaching? (Romans 10) No one. That’s the whole point. For better or worse, God had chosen the Church to be the repository of His grace and good news. It is in the Church, which is made up of people, that God has hidden treasures in jars of clay. The Church has its flaws–no one can dispute that. But in spite of its flaws God continues to accomplish his Gospel work through that Church, the Body of Christ. Strike two against Tila’s theology.
Third, she said:
“I stopped feeling bad about myself because I was told that I was a ‘bad’ person for whatever reasons and opinions,” Tequila explained. “That’s when I turned my life around. I accepted me for who I am in all my glory. I accepted the fact that God would love me as long as my heart is good.”
I agree that God judges the heart. There’s another problem though. It is this:
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 “I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward everyone according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
There’s another problem: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The problem, clearly, is that we don’t have good hearts. Our intentions are never right. We are like those in the days of Noah whose hearts were only evil all the time. We can’t trust our hearts. Strike three.
Fourth, she said (all of these quotes are in the Christian Post story as written by Tila at her myspace site):
“The church should understand that they have a higher responsibility to teach the youth about unconditional love, and how we can spread the love, not why being gay is a bad thing,” she wrote.
This is simply not true at any level and it is quite presumptuous for a 25 year old soft-core porn star, mtv starlet, and myspace celeb to presume to tell the church what its responsibility is in this world. In fact, the only person who has a right to tell the church what the church should do, what the church should understand, and what the church’s responsibility is in this world is Jesus Christ–and He has in the Scripture. The church has no such responsibility to to teach the youth about unconditional love, spreading love. Nor does the church have a right to teach the youth things that are contrary to Scripture–especially when it comes to homosexuality. Sin is sin and Tila Tequila does not get to dictate the parameters of what is and is not: Scripture does.
The church has a responsibility to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and in that respect love is not necessarily unconditional. Love carries with it responsibilities. One, for example, is to submit to the Lordship of Jesus. It demands repentance. The sort of love God calls us to is a ‘believing’ love, that is, we must believe in Jesus–and all that he teaches. We don’t have a right to leave anything out of the Gospel. The sort of love we are called to is a ‘love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind’ love ‘and your neighbor as yourself.’ It is not a free-for-all-do-whatever-you-want sort of love. Strike four. (See I was kind, I gave her an extra strike!)
Something else that is missing from this report is any mention of Jesus. She said:
“[N]ow that I’ve endured all of that pain, maybe God put me on this path so that I would be able to share with everyone else who may be going through the same things?”
Or, perhaps God ‘put’ her on this path so that others might not go down the same path. Tila Tequila is a porn star (I don’t know if she makes movies or not, but her pictures are certainly on that track). And she is not someone anyone should be signing up to take theology classes from. She is not, and I don’t think she is claiming to be, in any way a Christian: not an evangelical, not a biblical, not a Catholic, Baptist, or anything else. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that CP even did the story. There is no mention of Jesus. A lot of talk about God, a lot of criticism of the church, a lot of criticism of Christians; no mention of Jesus. Strike Five! It is impossible to avoid what Jesus says about the God who sent Him to earth, about the God who loves, about the God who demands our perfection, and about the God who, through His Spirit, makes us perfect. It is impossible to mention God’s love without mentioning the sort of love that God demonstrates for people: sacrificial, holy love.
But this goes to show what can happen to a person’s theology when it is not in any way grounded in the Word of God. Our path, our direction, our theology, must come from Scripture. I feel badly for all those who have heard her mention ‘God’ who will now think it is OK to participate in her television and internet shows. My friend Jason Goroncy posted this from PT Forsyth at his blog the other day. It captures beautifully my point:
‘The great Word of Gospel is not God is love. That is too stationary, too little energetic. It produces a religion unable to cope with crises. But the Word is this—Love is omnipotent for ever because it is holy. That is the voice of Christ-raised from the midst of time, and its chaos, and its convulsions, yet coming from the depths of eternity, where the Son dwells in the bosom of the Father, the Son to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth because He overcame the world in a Cross holier than love itself, more tragic, more solemn, more dynamic than all earth’s wars. The key to history is the historic Christ above history and in command of it, and there is no other’. Peter T. Forsyth, The Justification of God: Lectures for War-Time on a Christian Theodicy (London: Independent Press, 1957), 217
We need to be well aware of the false gospels that are making the rounds. Tila Tequila is another example of someone who talks a lot about God, but knows nothing about theology–or Scripture. We do well to ignore her.
I have no doubt that God accepts sinners because if he didn’t, no one could be saved. However, I do also believe that God does not intend for us to stay that way or else he would not have sent Jesus to earth to die on the Cross. The Cross is proof enough of that. Go now, and leave your life of sin. Love is not ‘just love.’ Love is holy and it is clearly defined in Scripture by pointing us to the cross of Christ. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Love devoid of truth is meaningless. Tia Tequilas love, just from looking at her myspace, is anything but godly, and nothing remotely close to biblical. Again, we do well to avoid her definitions of ‘god’, ‘love’, and ‘church.’
Soli Deo Gloria!