"The reason that's the case is because we don't see the church as a family," said Dr. Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Friday.
"We see the church as a gathering of people who share the same ideas and it is very, very easy for you to get amen's and applause by standing up and denouncing sins that are not immediately present in your own congregation," he said.
The Southern Baptist pastor made the observation as he addressed attendees at the "Connecting Church and Home" conference in Louisville, Ky., which is aimed at calling back Christians to a biblically and theologically grounded relationship between the church and home. During the opening session, Moore noted that American evangelicals are unified but around "entirely wrong things."
"We unify around the things that unify us in the flesh rather than being unified together in those things that unify us in the spirit," he lamented.
He called attendees to look at the difference between the way conservative evangelical churches speak to the issue of divorce and the way they speak to the issue of homosexuality.
Though both issues are addressed clearly in Scripture, evangelicals "speak in very muted and ambiguous terms" when it comes to divorce, Moore pointed out.
"We say we do that ... because divorced people are hurting and they need grace and mercy. Do you not think homosexuals need grace and mercy?" he posed.
"The reason we speak that way is because the people in our congregations are not watching divorce parades in San Francisco and shaking their heads in disgust and we have far more out-of-the-closet divorces than out-of-the-closet homosexuals in our congregation, at least that we know about. And out-of-the-closet divorces are the ones that are tithing and paying the bills and so we speak to them in a very different way than we speak to others on the outside."
"That is a scandal," Moore stated bluntly.
He reminded believers that the blood of Jesus is for all sinners, including them.
The Gospel message, he said, has to be "spoken clearly to ourselves."
"You are not showing him (man who walked away from his family) grace ... by just putting him in the singles again Sunday School class. You are showing him mercy and grace by saying 'what you have done is a grave evil that deserves the everlasting condemnation and curse of God but Jesus has born the curse of the law including for your abandonment of your family and if you are ... found in Christ there is no condemnation for you,'" Moore explained.
The Louisville pastor urged believers to not only be honest without judgment to those on the outside about what Scripture says but to also learn to say "we are sinners ... worthy of the same condemnation you are and we believe in a Gospel that is able to save you with the exact same shed blood and the exact same empty tomb that saves us, so come on in here and hear this."
During the nearly hour-long session, he admonished fellow believers about the nature of the church as a spiritual household and the need to act like a family.
"There are no individuals in your congregation," he stated. "You have brothers and sisters in your congregation. They're in your home.
"We gather at the Lord's table, we take that cup together, we eat that bread together, we welcome one another into the family because we are a spiritual household and that is showing those who have no other family what it means to be not individuals but part of a home."
Moore, who has been speaking in churches across the country about the call to care for the orphan and the widow, urged Christians to reach out to the spiritually orphaned and spiritually widowed persons.
But he cautioned against ministering as those who are "taking all of the rightness" that they have and "repairing the brokenness" of others.
"Instead, prepare yourself for the fact that God is probably if you are humbly and with the power of the Spirit ministering to those who are in crisis going to flip the whole situation around so that you in your sweet little intact homeschooled appropriate gender role complementarian family are going to be ministered to by the woman who's been divorced four times," he said.
"We have to crucify our self-righteousness even when our self-righteousness is wrapped up in our mission," he exhorted. "We have to learn to stop using all the Christian lingo that we used in order to indentify the insiders and the outsiders.
"And we have to stop seeing ourselves as the healthy people who are here waiting for the sick people to get here and instead start seeing our own brokenness and being able to say to those who are fatherless 'there is a father to you, he is a father to us, we are as broken and as alienated ... and as beaten up as you are. But the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin."
The Connecting Church and Home concludes Saturday.