We’re at a great cultural moment for the Church of Jesus Christ, and when I say this I mean the conservative Church. i.e. those who believe God’s word says what it says, and who refuse to let their faith be captured by the cultural torrents of the moment. This even includes conservative Jews who embrace Scripture. It shouldn’t surprise us that sexual ethics is at the heart of this cultural challenge. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s was a sea change in Western culture, and homosexuality and gender issues are simply the logical conclusion of this change. (See the wonderful book Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution by Mary Eberstadt to see just how convoluted and inverted values and morals have become over the last 50 years or so.)
This piece at Touchstone by Brian Patrick Mitchell, “Gay Christians? The Grave Danger Coming Out Poses to Christian Churches,” is a sobering reminder of what is at stake in the current cultural battles. In case you are not aware, there has been a growing number of people who self-identify as “gay Christians” who are committed to celibacy. On the face of it this seems like a welcome change; better this than debauchery, or changing the definition of marriage. But after reading Mitchell’s well thought out and argued case, there is a definite downside to accepting the “gay Christian” label.
I’ve always thought and am thoroughly convinced that a large number of people who accept the homosexual label and lifestyle do so because of cultural reasons. Culture is one vast plausibility structure; what appears and seems true to a person is mediated by that culture. American culture today and for several decades has said that homosexuality is just as normal and right and good as heterosexuality, a natural expression of the sexual urge, and that to not embrace the homosexual passions and act on them is to deny your authentic self. And of course, repressing sexual urges is uniformly bad, right? So when a young person begins to have same-sex attraction everything in the culture says, go for it! Be true to yourself! That person instead of fighting these unnatural and sinful passions, embraces them and their entire identity is built around them. It just seems right to them. Mitchell believes acceding to the “gay Christian” label destroys the Church’s ability to fight against this sexual sin and the culture that promotes it.
He outlines an approach that recognizes the biblical norm of heterosexuality, of “male and female he created them,” and explains how Christians can live a counter-cultural message and actually help those struggling with this sin:
This biblical and traditional approach to sexuality edifies everyone, especially those afflicted by homosexual passion. Strong public sanctions against sodomy confirm the norm of heterosexuality, reinforcing the distinction between male and female and eliminating any uncertainty as to the proper sexual use of the human body. Intolerance of homosexuality actually strengthens those afflicted by homosexual passion in their struggle against temptation by impressing upon their consciences the enormity of the evil, giving them even more reason to “put off the old man with his deeds.” It teaches them self-control by minimizing opportunities for temptation and making indulgence unthinkable.
It also encourages them to live heterosexually as much as possible. For the young person just beginning to experience same-sex attraction, this means struggling against the attraction, adopting the manners and courses of life appropriate to his sex, directing his romantic attentions toward persons of the opposite sex, and often even eventually marrying, begetting or bearing children, and otherwise living in every way as a normal (yes, normal) man or woman.
Needless to say this is as politically incorrect as a person can be circa 2015 America, but the Bible could not be more clear, regardless of what is claimed, that God’s design for sex is exclusive to men and women within the context of marriage. Well meaning Christians who in the name of love and tolerance are not willing to call a spade a spade, or a sin a sin, should engage Mitchell’s argument to see if they are not actually causing more harm than good.