Last month a Michigan man named Bradley Fowler initiated a $10 million dollar lawsuit against Nashville-based Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. This month he extended his legal action by suing Zondervan, based in Grand Rapids, for $60 million. When someone seeks a combined $70 million in damages, that has a way of grabbing my attention.
At first I wondered what provoked such an aggressive lawsuit. You know, was he an ex-employee who experienced discrimination? Did he suffer a job-related accident? Nope. Turns out both companies publish Bibles . . . and Bradley doesn’t like something these Bibles have to say about his behavior. Specifically, Bradley claims their Bibles have caused him emotional pain and demoralization.
Before going into details about his particular area of discomfort, let me say that I’m not comfortable when God – speaking through the pages of the Bible – convicts me of the areas where I’ve sinned. Maybe I’ve wronged my wife Jean in some way, or spoken harshly to my boys, or been impatient with a coworker. Regardless of the specific sin, when God puts his finger on something in my life, conviction isn’t fun. Why?
Conviction means that God isn’t pleased with something in my life. And when something isn’t right, I must repent, change my ways, make amends, right a wrong, apologize, pursue forgiveness, mend fences, or clear the air. Yes, conviction reminds me that I need a savior. And without the conviction of sin that reading the Bible offers me, I’d never change by embracing what Jesus has done on my behalf.
Back to Bradley’s $70 million dollar lawsuit.
He claims that because the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, he experienced periods of “demoralization, chaos and bewilderment.” Bradley’s especially upset because homosexuality is listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9 as a sin that prevents him from entering “the kingdom of God.” Of course, a more careful reading of verses 9 and 10 make it clear that God isn’t singling out homosexuals. See for yourself:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Did you notice that greedy people are on God’s list of the “wicked” who “will not inherit the kingdom of God”? Should greedy people join the lawsuit for emotional distress? What about “thieves” or “adulterers”? What Bradley is missing is the good news that comes in verse 11: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
God knows none of us–whether homosexual, straight, living in adultery, or just obsessed with greed–can enter heaven apart from a savior and a change in that person’s life. While I pray that the court tosses out this frivolous lawsuit, I also pray that Bradley allows the conviction he may be experiencing to drive him to a Savior who loves him just as he is.