Should the Church Promote Deeds of Darkness for Missional Purposes?

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. -Ephesians 5:11

When has idol worship in Israel ever been permitted?  How about encouraged?  How about for “Missional” Purposes?

If an explicitly blasphemous event is held on property owned, managed, serviced by a church should Christians be concerned?  What if the justification is that “we are trying to reach the culture and love people in the culture and win a hearing with them?”

How about if the Event on PCA Church Property is:

  • called “Celestial Bodies,” (and here)
  • held in a ministry and building called “The Chapel,”
  • the headline act is a man named “Eldraco” (the Dragon)
  • who is advertised in front of a stained glass Image of Christ (not in the venue)
  • The other acts are all celebrating aberrant Gender & Sexual Identities
  • Event Culminates in a simulated worship experience called “a Euphoric Dance Party”
  • served by elders/members of the Church including providing free alcohol for the event

No, you’re not reading the Book of Revelation, nor Exodus 32, nor Mark 14’s “abomination that brings desolation.” Or are we?

For most Christians for most of history the answer to this question has not been complicated.  We cannot control what happens in the culture but we certainly can protect what happens on our property. Yet for some in the PCA with a heart to reach the lost this is not the case. And the PCA is undecided as a denomination as to what is ok with regard to property usage and church involvement and what isn’t.

2 years ago “The Chapel,” a ministry run on the Church Property of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis (And featured in the PCA’s magazine), hosted the Transluminate event which was advertised as “A celebration of transgender, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid artists.”  Due to complaints about this event throughout the denomination, the Missouri Presbytery investigated Memorial PCA and issued this statement.  It is unclear, however,  if this statement says events like Transluminate (or Celestial Bodies for that matter) are off limits for Church Property. The statement would suggest or imply that the issue is not that Christians facilitate these events but rather the issue is that the Church was publicly associated with the event. It seems Memorial PCA has since distanced itself from public promotion of “The Chapel” ministry which is made up of elders and members from Memorial, even as it still occurs on their property and facilities and is on their website.

Is that all that is required?  From conversations around the PCA it seems the pastors in the denomination don’t have a unified position.  It seems most would agree such events shouldn’t be endorsed by a PCA Church but that doesn’t preclude Churches from doing ministry and outreach at such events.  However, isn’t it different when its on Church Property and only exists because the Church attracted such an event?

Also, how does Westminster Larger Catechism questions 138 & 139 apply to these questions?

The Duties required and forbidden in the seventh commandment:

Question 138

The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labor in all our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto.

Question 139

The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks; impudent or light behavior; immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life; undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancing, stage plays; all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.

What about Ephesians 5:11?  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Supporters of efforts like “The Chapel” would say they aren’t doing these things themselves but witnessing to those who are.  But Ephesians 5 says to say to expose these things so people can walk in the light.  Are these things being exposed or promoted?

It is evidently unclear in the PCA what is permitted for missional and outreach purposes.  Of course many of us disagree as this article by PCA Pastor Todd Pruitt writes in Reformation21.

Please pray for the PCA. God will not be mocked.

While the line may not be obvious to some for how Christians can serve and witness in the world, it should be clear that hosting an event on church property  in “The Chapel” with a “Dragon” and “Celestial Bodies” with the face of Christ in the backdrop, and where Romans 1 anti-Worship is celebrated should be off limits to PCA Churches, Pastors, and Members.

I close with Ephesians 5:1-14

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

God help us. AMEN.

Note: I have contacted a Member of Memorial PCA’s session and am waiting a reply.  If I receive one, I will update this here.  I decided to publish the article in the meantime because this event is public and therefore can be addressed publicly. Additionally, my article contends that the PCA is undecided in these matters and therefore this doesn’t constitute charges but rather is a call to our brothers to change how we view things.


George Sayour
George Sayour

George is Senior Pastor of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian
Church (PCA) in Lexington, NC. When he's not pastoring or writing, he's fishing, kayaking and spending time with his family.

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