Scott Tibbs
blog post
September 14 th, 2004

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Sherwood Oaks should carefully consider content of advertisements

----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs <>
To: Pastor Tom Ellsworth <>
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 10:47:36 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Pastor Ellsworth and Elders of Sherwood Oaks Christian Church:

I have noticed the advertisement in the Indiana Daily Student for your youth group, which has a Web site at;. I am concerned about the following text, which I copy-pasted from the Gathering web site on Friday morning. Allow me to quote what was on the site:

Did you know God is pro-choice? He gives all of us a choice. He doesn't desire to force himself and his ways on you. That is puppetry, not love. He is saying... "Hey, I love you so much and want a relationship with you. Come join me, just as YOU are!" It's the misguided religious types that make people feel like you have to be a conservative republican, wear a suit, a long dress, and 'fit in' to be a part of the Christian church club. The message of Jesus Christ is one that says, "I have a better way. A way of compassion and new life, all you have to do is come to me. Come with your tattoos, your long hair, your baggy or skimpy clothes, your mess-ups, your empty wallet, your old rickety car, it doesn't even matter if you are a democrat, independent, or liberal ...everyone is welcome in MY house just as you are."

Are you looking to connect with a group of people that is more concerned with changing the world for good than practicing empty and "safe" religion? Then come join us.

First, let me say that I appreciate the inclusive message you are trying to send, and it is certainly true that The Lord accepts anyone who will confess his sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

By Saturday morning, the portion of text with a line through it had bee removed from the Gathering web site. I appreciate that the text has been removed, though I question why it was there in the first place. The Bible clearly admonishes Believers to be modest in dress. With the "Brittney Spears" inspired clothing fashions so common on the IU campus, I think it inappropriate for your Web site to place a stamp of approval on "skimpy" clothing.

I also do not think the remark about being a conservative Republican is appropriate. It seems to me that you are taking a shot at conservatives with this remark. While the Bible certainly does not say anything about what political affiliation you must subscribe to, the Bible is clear on a number of moral issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Would the Lord smile on support for a political party that endorses abortion on demand and same-sex "marriage"?

Finally, and most importantly, I object to the phrase "God is pro-choice". While God certainly does give us the choice of whether to accept Him or not, I think your choice of phrases to describe this trait of the Lord is inappropriate. "Pro-choice" is a phrase nearly universally used to describe supporting legalized abortion. Over 1.2 million precious human lives are snuffed out every year in the United States alone, and well over 40 million unborn babies have been murdered since Roe v. Wade threw out state laws limiting abortion in 1973. I urge you to remove this phrase from both your advertisements and from your Web site.

Thank you for your time.

Scott Tibbs
Bloomington, IN

Update: September 16, 2004.

More on the Sherwood Oaks Christian Church's university ministry.

I agree with Sherwood Oaks that it is important to attract unbelievers to church. In fact, we are commanded to do so by the "Great Commission". (Matthew 28:19-20)

My concern is that not every method used to attract unbelievers is appropriate. For example, offering free marijuana cigarettes would certainly attract some unbelievers, but it is not something our Lord would approve of.

The statement about Republicans and conservatives, while I disagree with it, is the least of my concerns. I am concerned about the phrase "God is pro-choice", for reasons I explained in my letter to SOCC.

I find the deleted statement about accepting those in "skimpy clothes" troublesome because of Biblical admonitions toward modesty, the highly immodest manner in which young people today dress, and the sexual immorality in today's culture that is encouraged by immodest dress. I sincerely hope that the deletion of those words shows Sherwood Oaks recognized that including this was an error.


October 20, 2004

I wanted to point out a couple good posts over at Pastor Bayly's blog. A silly letter to the editor in the Indiana Daily Student is addressed here. The response from Eric Wilson is particularly good.

Pastor Bayly also reports some good news: Sherwood Oaks has pulled their "God is pro-choice" advertisement from the IDS. My letter to the elders of SOCC is archived at my web site.

I appreciate SOCC rethinking their ad and the implications it gave readers. However, I have not yet seen a statement from SOCC on the "skimpy clothes" remark that was originally included on their Web site. I still have the same concerns about that remark as when I wrote my letter. I hope SOCC recognized that the statement was inappropriate which is why they pulled it from the Web site.

By saying that Sherwood Oaks' invitation to "come in your skimpy clothes" was not appropriate, I do not mean to imply that Jesus would not accept those who dress in an immodest manner. Certainly, the only requirement for salvation is to put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. People who wear less clothing than many Christians consider appropriate should not feel that they are not loved by Christ.

However, The Bible has clear admonitions on modesty, and with the highly sexualized nature of our culture, "skimpy" clothing only encourages more of the sexual immorality that has so damaged two generations of Americans. Wearing "skimpy clothes" does not disqualify one from salvation; but walking with the Lord would bring a desire to avoid immodest dress.