Last week our student ministry (Sola) hosted a special event where we covered the topic of “The Bible and Homosexuality”. We ended the night with an anonymous text-in Q&A session, where I extemporaneously answered student’s and parent’s questions regarding homosexuality, transgenderism, marriage, and much more. You can find the audio to the Q&A session here.
Due to time restraints, I simply was not able to get to all of the questions, so I will attempt to answer the remaining questions that I did not already address in the lesson or in the Q&A in a series of blogs.
For Christians, what do you see as the future implications of the current societal movement?
Well, I’m going to guess this was written in by a parent, because you used the word “implications” and “societal”. I think that is a question, however, that we all need to be thinking about. I briefly referenced this when I was responding to the question about whether or not I would officiate a homosexual wedding, but I will go a little more in depth here. I think there are good and bad implications for Christians that come out of our culture’s rapid shift in not only accepting, but applauding homosexuality.
The Good: I think there are actually many good things for Christians that have providentially come out of this.
- First, I think that the LGBT movement has exposed the Church’s sin of homophobia. In the same way it is difficult for American Christians to be blind to their greed, it was once easy to be blind to oppressing homosexuals; it is easy for us to be blind to a sin when the culture supports it. Growing up, calling something “gay” meant that it was stupid and inferior – I used that language all the time, without any second thoughts. The Church and our culture no longer agree on homosexuality, and I think that has revealed for many Christians (myself included) that our condemnation of homosexuality in the past had more to do with our cultural revulsion of it, than our conviction from Scripture. It is heartbreaking to hear stories of how members of the LGBT community have been treated by Christians: thrown out of their homes, chased out of their churches, left with nothing but a terrible taste in their mouths of the Church. Christians should be the most loving and hospitable people to the LGBT community (to any community, really) and we reproach the name of Christ when we aren’t.
- Second, I think the LGBT movement has driven Christians back to the Scriptures. Like I said above, 10-15 years ago almost no one was talking about homosexuality, at least nowhere near the way they talk about it now. You could be a Christian and not think about the issue at all – that is just not possible any longer, and I think that is a good thing. As Christians, we are committed to letting Scripture, not our culture or our assumptions, shape our worldview. Historically, any time the Church has struggled with heresy (false teaching) or schismatic breaks, it has driven Christians back to a deeper level of rigorous study of God’s Word, often leading to a healthier, more robust Church than before. The Church now has an opportunity to dig deeply into God’s design for the roles of men and women, and His design for marriage, with a tenacity that probably wouldn’t be there before.
- Lastly, I think the LGBT movement is refining the Church. With the recent SCOTUS decision serving as a watershed moment, it has now become risky (and will only continue to do so) to hold to Scripture’s teaching on Biblical marriage. Now, probably for many of us, we are not being persecuted for holding to the orthodox view of marriage (except for the occasional internet argument); for the most part, a good majority of Americans actually still oppose same-sex marriage. But that is not where America is headed. Amidst millennials (my generation), there is nearly a 70% approval rate of same-sex marriage, and in time, millennials will be the driving force of our nation. In short, the Obergefell decision will serve as the hallmark that people will look back to as the beginning of a change in our cultural tides. And those tides are moving in such a way that those who oppose same-sex marriage are more and more being painted up as prejudiced, bigoted, and backwards. I do not know what the future will look like for Christians, but I do know already there are droves of Christians, prominent Christian leaders, Christian universities and churches who are changing their tune on homosexuality entirely – suddenly, they have just now figured out that all those Bible verses that seemed to condemn homosexuality, really support it, or are no longer applicable to us (what convenient timing!).
Here’s the main point: if you only stand by God’s Word when it is easy to, you don’t really stand by God’s Word at all.
Jesus promised that if they hated Him, the world would hate us (John 15:18; Matt. 10:22). Jesus also promises blessings when others persecute us, and say all sorts of terrible things about us (Matt. 5:10-12), but warns us we should tremble in fear when the world applauds us (Luke 6:26). Jesus isn’t saying that Christians should purposefully be obnoxious or strive to be hated (we are told to strive to live at peace with all, if at all possible, Rom. 12:18), but rather Christians should be obedient to Christ, no matter what the cost.
If we hedge our bets, cover our bases, play it safe, or start to say, “Well, I don’t know if that’s what that really says…” when things start to get dicey, then we have just revealed that our commitment isn’t to Christ, but to our own comfort. If you found out that your spouse only stuck by your side as long as you were rich and healthy, then wouldn’t you get suspicious that your spouse’s commitment isn’t built on “love” but “comfortable living” instead? Why should it be any different with Christ?
So, why is this a good thing? Because, this means that fair-weather Christians who were/are riding the waves of Christianity because it was culturally profitable for them, will fall away. When you prune the dead branches off of a tree, the tree proves to be healthier and bear more fruit – Christ affirms that this is what the Father does with the Church (John 15:1-2). Historically, when it has been more costly to associate with Christ, the Church has born exponentially more fruit than it does when it is culturally profitable. Why? Because there is no room for those who treat Christ like a good teacher or spiritual guide – either Christ is Lord and we follow Him no matter what the cost, or He isn’t and it isn’t worth it. I am excited to see how God will use this difficult season to refine His church and lead it to greater health and devotion to Christ; like an arrow notched on the bowstring, it must first be pulled back before it fires forward.
The Bad: There are several sad, and disheartening things that also come with the recent LGBT movement.
- First, it is sad to see the name of Christ be dishonored by self-professing Christians dishonor, contradict, or dismiss God’s Word. Scripture warns us of a time where men will refuse to listen sound teaching, and instead they will find false teachers who will tell them what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3). That time is now – and that is heartbreaking. Seeing so many twist, misquote, and completely brush off God’s Holy Word is not something we should take lightly – God’s fiercest anger in the Bible is often reserved for false prophets who refuse to give God’s people the truth, and instead tell them what they want to hear (Jer. 6:10-15). James warns people to be wary of becoming a teacher of God’s Word, because we will be “judged with a stricter standard” (James 3:1).
- Second, because we strive to “love our neighbor as ourselves”, we do not rejoice when our neighbor has plunged him or herself into deeper sin. “Sin” is the unraveling of God’s good design for creation, so we do not rejoice when we see those we love riding into what God says will destroy them.
- Third, while we trust God’s good plan to sanctify and refine His Church through times of testing, we still mourn the afflictions and sufferings that will come. I am never one to enjoy those who seem to always be “doom and gloom” whenever they talk about the future of our nation; I believe that God can ignite a wholesale revival in America, and around the globe, at any moment. However, it does seem that America is not headed in a direction that is going to be prizing the things of Christ – at least not His sexual ethic. And Christ’s followers need to be prepared for what that may mean for us. We need to be prepared to be insulted, slandered and mocked for standing by our convictions. We need to be prepared to lose tax-exemption status, face lawsuits, and be escorted to jail-cells. Do we know that is what is going to happen? No – not at all. Do we need to be prepared for it? Absolutely – Christ Himself tells us that we must “count the cost” of what it means to follow Him, being prepared to literally lose everything if necessary (Luke 14:25-33). And we need to be prepared to walk through that with an incredible amount of courage, love, gentleness, and generosity towards those who are attacking us. I admit, I do think that there will be a day when it is considered a hate crime to call homosexuality a sin, or refusing to perform a marriage ceremony. This is sobering to think about, but I don’t know if a “sobering” is necessarily a bad thing for the happy, bouncy, light-hearted American church today. It might just be exactly what we need.