April 30, 2017: Interview with Andrew Beckwith

Posted in Sermons
[Andrew Beckwith]
  • Presenter: Andrew Beckwith
  • Date: April 30, 2017
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

Pastor Roberto: Andrew you have chosen to be here with us today, we wanna know a little bit about you first of all as a person, and your walk with the Lord, let’s hear the human part of you and not just the issues you fight with.

Andrew: It is a joy to be here with you today and to worship with you, I grew up in west Newbury, Massachusetts, up in the north shore, my mother was a school teacher and my father automechanic, I was blessed with a very strong, loving family, and when I graduated in school I went to Gordon college and I appreciate your continued leadership within that institution, in Gordon. When I got married I went to law school, and then joined the marine corps.

So after that I was able to come back to Boston, I was stationed overseas, I came back to Boston with my family, I had two children at the time and I realized that Massachusetts was very different now as a father than it was for me as a child. For example, while I was away at law school and then the marine corps, it seems like the gay marriage law had come here to Massachusetts, and it was the law of the land.

Pastor Roberto: what propelled you, motivated you to leave your career which I’m sure was very successful as a lawyer, in the marine corps, and to just abandon it all to enter into such a harrowing, demanding ministry as the one you carry onwards, what motivated you to join this?

Andrew: It’s a long story but, in short, I felt I was called, specifically asked, but leading up to that, for example the church I grew up in, the episcopal church, has been totally taken over by a radical sexual ideology that is contrary to the Bible, so I’ve seen what has been done to my church, and I’ve seen all throughout our culture and I want to do something.

Pastor Roberto: Tell me a little bit about MFI does and some of these issues because I’m sure it’s not just sexuality, I know it’s an important element, but there are many other issues that you have confronted, I will do that in a moment in a more sustained sort of way.

Andrew: We have been around for over 25 years with a local associate for Focus on the family and we are part of a nation-wide network of forty state-filling councils that do the work that Doctor Chambers Thompson started, the national-level focus on the family and at individual state levels.

Pastor Roberto: They do that right, they represent all the church values at a legal level.

Andrew: We do that as well, we work to promote family values and by that we mean, the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, the dignity of natural marriage and really all of God’s design for human sexuality, and increasingly we work to defend in the legal ground religious liberty and church rights.

Pastor Roberto: This is not a work that is very popular even within the Church, even though you do such a extraordinary work on behalf of the Gospel and defending the viewpoint of the Church in the public square, I have found that it is not a very popular role many times, even within the churches themselves and within many christian circles.

Andrew: I was at a Church six months ago speaking about these issues, particularly the bathroom bill and transgenderism, and a woman came up to me in the Church, and said: I can’t agree with you on that, I think I want us to be happy.

And I said, I responded: madam, I believe God wants us to be holy and that’s different than happy, it usually leads to a deeper happiness and joy, but that’s what God calls us to be.

Pastor Roberto: let me read a little text from Charles Finney in the 19th century who said something that is very important for us to understand about the need of a moral voice in the Church and in society: “Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”

So this idea that the Church bears a huge responsibility for the state of our nation, I know it’s something that calls my attention, what would you have to say to that? our moral responsibility to form and shape the state of our nation.

Andrew: It’s absolutely true, I throw two quotes right back at you, one is John Adams who said that the constitution was designed for a moral and religious people, and is fully inadequate to any other, so our government is not designed to work unless there is a shared morality and faith amongst the people, and then there is the french philosopher Alexis Tocqueville who said that America is great because America is good, and she is good because it’s pulpits are filled with God’s righteousness.

Pastor Roberto: And you know, it is often difficult for us to imagine the journey that America has taken since the 18th century when our constitution was shaped and what the state of the society was at that point, and sort of the assumptions that the founders had when they put together the constitution, but now, of course, that has changed tremendously and so we have a different America.

We see this tension now between that America our founders had enviewed and often they didn’t say many things because they took it for granted, they didn’t put that into the constitution and into the law because, you know, who would have thought that today we would have to prove that marriage between a man and a woman is really what God wants, they took it for granted so a lot of silences were because it was simply inconceivable to them that it would be otherwise, now we need to work the land so much more actively you know? that is one of the reasons why.

Andrew: People often ask me: how did we get to this point of talking about transgenderism and men going into women’s bathrooms, and there is a Scripture in Mathew 19 where Jesus is responding to a tough question about sex, religion and politics, you know, the three things we are not supposed to talk about, at my job I talk about all three at once; so I looked at how Jesus answered the questions about divorce and He’s paraphrasing the Scriptures up there, and He’s saying: God created them man and female in His image, He brought them together, so the man will leave his parents and will join to his wife, and what God has put together let no man break apart.

I believe that what we are seeing in our society is we are unraveling the Scripture from the bottom up, so, a couple generations ago we had no fault divorce as that became the law of the land, so, instead of saying: what God has brought together let no man separate we say, we can separate it in any way we can, and then 13 years ago starting here in Massachusetts and a couple years ago nation wide, we said: a man can leave his parents and join to a woman or to a man.

Pastor Roberto: Massachusetts was the first state in the nation leading in that idea that a man and a man or a woman and a woman could be united.

Andrew: And now we are leading on the only piece that is left, and that is that God has made us male and female, we are saying that is not true, anymore, so we have turned away from God’s design, from marriage and family, and sexuality as a culture and a society. But God’s Truth, His law is still present in our churches and God has given us through His law, through His commandments the solution to all this sexual brokenness that we see outside these walls and the brokenness that is in our hearts because we live in this culture, so I encourage churches to talk about these difficult issues because if the people don’t hear the truth on this from you you are not going to hear it anywhere else.

Pastor Roberto: You know, you have mentioned two things that are crucial, I want to elaborate a little bit on that, number one, it always begins at the Church, if the Church abandons this Truth both in it’s practice and it’s teaching because I think it’s important that we, this is a reference to the fact that we need to keep our house in order, we need to preach in integrity, we need our own integrity, our call to holiness that begins in the Church listening to the Word of God, and number two, we really, we do what we do and we say what we say because we are under the authority of a text that is much higher, that is the Word of God, the Word of God has an understanding of how human beings are constituted, what is marriage, what is the human identity, why did God create a man and a woman, the creation narrative, and all the Scripture shows the same thing both implicitly and explicitly, and we who have embraced the view that the Scripture feeds us, we are simply forced to speak this Truth, it’s not that we relish it, it’s not that we love it but we simply do it out of obedience.

Andrew: God gave us His law as a blessing, He’s not trying to keep us from having fun, He’s our creator, He designed us, He designed things like sex so He knows how it is supposed to be used, how we are supposed to live.

And so we can see that God’s law is a blessing when we don’t follow it, we see that the opposite happens. For example, one of the things we do in Focus on the families is research, and we took all the most current senses in social science data on the importance of fathers to children, and put out a report on that. And what all the statistics show throughout all different kinds of population is that children do best when they are living in a home with a married father and mother.

What we have found that instead of following God’s plan we are following our own desires and children are suffering, this is a graph that shows based on when I was born, one of five children grew up without a momma or dad, now it’s one of three, and in the city of Boston it’s over 50% of children who don’t have a mom or dad.

Pastor Roberto: in many other cities for that matter

Andrew: And we see the consequences, the income levels are much lower, the academic achievement is much lower, the medical health, the chances of ending up involved in legal issues, so all these statistics show what we as God’s people know, that His law is a blessing to us and if we don’t follow it everybody suffers.

Pastor Roberto: It’s important that we have a balance in the family and our limits with our own desires, and that reminds me also of the fact that we need to have that same balance when we speak about these issues, I’d like to hear you speak about that, you know, the balance that we need to have in our conversation regarding these issues of sexuality, homosexuality, single-ness, raising our children, divorce and all kinds of stuff, how do we find the balance that we see in the Scripture of a cult of holiness and obedience, and sanctity, and at the same time God’s compassion and grace, and hope, and His willingness to walk with us the long walk of sanctification.

Andrew: It’s important and difficult to balance grace and truth and I think we need to remember that we preach God’s Truth and defend it when it’s under attack because we love our neighbors, and we know that God wants what is best for all of them, and that comes through obedience. And I think churches need to prepare themselves to be sanctuaries for refugees from the sexual revolution.

These numbers are the results of decades of telling our children they can do everything they want to do as long as it feels good. So in many ways they are victims of those lies just like the children.

Pastor Roberto: I want to interpret those graphs, what do we see in them?

Andrew: This is eight of the top ten cities population wise in Massachusetts, and it shows the percent of children who grow up without a mother and father that give them a home, I think Springfield is number one with almost two thirds of children.

Pastor Roberto: Springfield has a lot of latinos so that’s an interesting association there. I’d like you to speak a little bit about it Greg, I mean, I’d love you to bring a little bit of that pastoral insight into your own words, so please and translate it.

Andrew (after Gregory): In January I was asked to preach a sermon about abortion and the Pastor said: I want it to be a biblical sermon so use the Scriptures, so I went through the Old Testament and the Psalms, and so you are never sure how that is going to be received by the people who are hearing it, but at the end I was greeting people and there was a woman who came up to me, a tall, beautiful woman from Uganda, and said: I am pregnant and my boyfriend is trying to make me get an abortion but I won’t do it, I won’t do it, so maybe God used me to help encourage her.

Pastor Roberto: This morning we had the same format and I was encouraged by how many young adults and others came to me with great enthusiasm thanking us for having the courage to speak about these things, and my sense is that people are grateful to be oriented, you know? they want to be taught from the Word of God about these issues because they are confronting them out there in the culture in extraordinary ways be it in the university, the public school, the office, the factory, the taxi cab, and they want guiding, and they are grateful because Pastors and leaders are providing that insight to defend themselves.

Andrew: We definitely find as we talk about these issues in churches that people are grateful for being able to talk about these tough issues like abortion, assisted suicide, gay marriage, transgenderism in a safe space like the Church with other believers who are safe to talk about these things.

So I took several months and put together a small group, a sunday school group called Engage the base state and what it does is, it takes all these tough issues we have been talking about and goes through them in ten sessions, and starts with this idea of abortion, suicide, gay marriage, transgenderism, religious liberty, and what’s coming next is designed for people in the Church either homeless, a small group in this sunday school session to be able to engage on these issues that we are hearing about at work, in school, in the news, in movies, and be able to look at the biblical bases, and learn how the issues affect them in the real world.

Pastor Roberto: I know that you have another engagement in a few minutes in another part of the city, that’s what you do and there’s a lot of demand and need that you are feeling right now, but I’d like you to, as a final piece, and then maybe Greg and I can stay for a few short minutes just wrapping things up as you leave, we thank you for your time, give us kind of, just of a quick summary of what are the specific issues that MFI is dealing with right now and that we need to put in our radar, and I’m gonna talk about that also in Spanish about the need for them to go back there and get the materials, will you just give us a quick run of the land about what some of these issues are that you are dealing with right now in your agenda, and the agenda of the church as well?

Andrew: Absolutely and just to make the point, we have a complete translation of this instruction material into Spanish, probably in about two weeks, we have to get them printed, we’d love for this to be the start of our teachings in Spanish, we are very excited about that and we do have some resources in the back on some of these issues in Spanish.

One of the issues we are dealing with right now is the sex at men date, and what that is is a law that requires certain types of sex date curriculum in the public schools

Pastor Roberto: So some of these things are not just sex education, they are really much more in depth

Andrew: It’s about sexuality, it promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and even stuff that is wildly inappropriate, this is a fifteen years old book that we are talking about. I was a prosecutor and when I was at the marine corps I had a lot of sexual assault cases, they tell kids about sexual acts in these books that I had never heard about, but you wouldn’t know all that if you just read the bill so that’s part of what we do, the six thousand bills that are part of the religious lecture every session, and we try to go through as many as we can, and find the ones that are concerns of families, and people of faith, and we put it together in one page, an issue brief that you can get in Spanish back there so you know what these laws are, and you can call your rep or your senator and tell them to vote against them.

Pastor Roberto: But also the fact that parents can choose to opt out their kids from this program and they have the right to do that

Andrew: A lot of parents don’t know what their rights are when it comes to things like this in the school. I got a call a couple weeks ago from a woman from your church whose daughter was getting ready to have this type of education at her school and she didn’t know what to do, and the good news is that under Massachusetts’ law parents have the right to opt their children out of the sex education programs. Most parents don’t know that so it’s part of our education mission, to protect the families and their children.

We also work to protect the Church and the rights of the Church to preach the Truth and let out it’s faith. One of the last times I was here I was up in the fourth floor to educate Pastors and faith leaders about the lawsuit that we had to win to protect the churches under the first amendment from government forcing some of these new laws into the walls of the Church.

Pastor Roberto: There was this initiative to force churches to open their bathrooms to that just as any others

Andrew: What the state was trying to do was for example, if a ministry was here educating students and a man came in and used one of the women’s bathrooms the state would say: well you are doing something that is not a Church service and it’s public so it’s secular, so we get to say men can go to women’s bathrooms.

Pastor Roberto: But it would have affected even our regular services because as it has been said, once you initiate the public work now you become a public serving institution and therefore you lose that right.

Andrew: Very threatening, what the state didn’t understand is that everything you do, all your ministries are motivated by your faith so they are protected by the first amendment.

Pastor Roberto: So we have the sex education curriculum, we have the rights of churches to protect their spaces, and I know there’s probably a third thing, just give me one more maybe of those issues that you have, maybe the marijuana law and what is happening right now in Massachusetts, that would be a good thing that our families want to hear about.

Andrew: The last november there was a vote here in Massachusetts and it was decided that recreational, commercial marijuana would now be legal which means that there are pot shops selling marijuana, and marijuana cookies, and marijuana brownies, and marijuana gummy bears. So that’s not good for our communities, for our neighborhoods that marijuana is being produced and sold now as ten to forty times stronger than what was smoked you know, back a few generations ago.

So recreational marijuana, all these products that even our young children are consuming are being consumed maybe without even knowing it, the candies look just the same.

The good news is that citizens, towns can opt out of this law when it comes to pot shops, and we have some information on how you can do that, we are encouraging people in the Church to work with their city and town governments to let people know they can opt out of pot shops, and thanking for having me, I’m gonna leave now, Michael, I have to go to another event, for the last topic I’m gonna leave telling you about the bathroom bill repeal, so we talk about the church lawsuit and that sort of started because of the new law passed last year establishing that men can use women’s bathrooms and women can use men’s locker rooms, that’s going to be discussed on november of 2018, and we are working really hard to take that law off the books. The campaign is called Keep Massachusetts safe, we have some information about that on the back and we will leave as much as we can for ya.

Pastor Roberto: Let’s give Andrew a big gratefulness applause, a big handshake, and Michael Kane was up there as well handing the information.

Let’s pray for these courageous men and women: Father, in Jesus’ Name we bless this man, we bless his family, children, his body and mind, his spirit Father, keep him covered with the blood of Christ and give him grace, give him power, give him authority and give him wisdom, attitude and arguments that are incontrovertible and irresistible, that he may be able to represent the Gospel in a powerful way, amen.


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