Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Culture Wars, the Bible, and the Gay Agenda

Culture Wars, the Bible, and the Gay Agenda

The pace of change is accelerating in our world.  Every year, every month, every week it seems the ground shifts under our feet.  From a Christian, Bible-believing perspective, the past forty years have seen a succession of issues that have been at the fore-front of this transition.  The current hot topic is homosexuality.[i]

With the events of recent weeks (particularly the Supreme Court decision of June 26), the gay community is celebrating another victory in their quest for mainstreaming the homosexual lifestyle.  This is a huge shift.  Beginning with the gay liberation movement in the 60's, there has been a steady growth of pressure toward acceptance and approval of the gay agenda.  Particularly concerning same-sex marriage, public opinion has dramatically shifted in a relatively short period of time.  Even the President of the United States admits this, saying that his own personal views have "evolved."  In his run for the Senate in 2004, he opposed gay marriage.  Then, in his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope, he cited his own personal faith as a reason for opposing same-sex marriage.  Now, he says that those positions were "on the wrong side of history."  In many ways, the trajectory of President Obama's views on same-sex marriage has paralleled the views of our nation or so it seems.

At the center of the controversy is the Bible itself.  What does the Bible say about homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and same-sex marriage?  There are 11 passages of Scripture that speak directly to homosexuality.[ii]  There are numerous others that deal with gender identity, marriage, and sexual morality.  The plain truth is that uniformly the Bible calls homosexual activity sin.  It is described as unnatural and the result of a distortion within those who practice it.  Though this may seem harsh or unfair to some, it is the clear teaching of Scripture.

I am aware of the numerous arguments that seek to interpret the Bible differently.  The "clobber passages" have been subjected to intense efforts to modernize them or minimize them.  But they still say the same thing.  Homosexual activity is not the will of God, but instead rejects God's creation plans and is an outgrowth of the sinful fallen-ness in man's heart.

Openly gay British actor Ian McKellen (who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies) is a good example of the view of many concerning what the Bible says about homosexuality.  In a November 2009 interview with Details magazine, he said that when he stays in a hotel he promptly takes the Bible out of the nightstand and rips out Leviticus 18:22.  That verse says, "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."  Our culture is, in similar fashion, seeking to tear pages out of Scripture.  Passages such as Romans 1:21-27 and I Corinthians 6:9-11 speak clearly.  Ultimately, the question is not what the Bible teaches, but rather will we pay attention to the Bible at all.

The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah have existed throughout human history resurfacing periodically to seek free and full expression.  With the flourishing of neo-pagan modern media, we are witnessing a re-birth of ancient Greek and Roman decadence.  All who seek to resist this resurgence are demeaned, demonized, or even hated. 

Indicative of this view are the attitudes expressed by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion on the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down the 1997 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  That legislation had defined marriage as between a man and a woman and gave the states the right to refuse sanctioning same-sex marriages.  In essence, all who supported DOMA are called hateful bigots, and enemies of the human race.  They are accused of being motivated by a "desire to harm a politically unpopular group."

These are disturbing attitudes.  They indicate an increasing divide that has been called a CULTURE WAR.  In this war, the two opposing sides throw invectives and accusations at each other.  Both seek to caricature the opposing side in the worst possible light.  The pro-gay factions describe conservative Christians as hateful bigots, narrow-minded relics of the Dark Ages, and hypocritical religionist with superiority complexes.  At the same time, conservative factions have described homosexuals in hate-filled terms such as "faggot", "queer", "perverted", and worse.  I am sad to say that, at times, many in the Church have used these terms and displayed these attitudes.

There must be a biblical, Christ-honoring ground on which we can stand without deepening this vicious divide.  Compassionately and courageously, we must seek to be "blameless and pure, children of God in the midst of an increasingly god-less society." (Phil. 2:15)

So, where should we stand?  Let me suggest the following as a beginning point:

1.      Scripture declares homosexual activity to be sin.  We cannot remain faithful to God if we back away from Scripture.
2.      Before God, no one sin, including sexual sin, is worse than another.
3.      Homosexual sin can be forgiven just as any other sin.
4.      The Cross of Christ provides the power sufficient to transform sinful sexual attractions.
5.      It is always the duty of Christians to love and accept the sinner while ministering to the sin.
6.      Disagreement with one's lifestyle does not constitute hatred of the person.
7.      Freedom of religion means that we are allowed to believe the Bible without having our faith classified as a "hate crime."
8.      Acceptance of homosexuals should not morph into mandated approval of homosexuality.

There is much more that should be said and must be said.  May Jesus help us to represent Him well.  I am reminded of the story from the John 8 where the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in sexual sin.  Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and he spoke to the woman.  He told the Pharisees, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first" (John 8:7).  In essence, Jesus is saying, "STOP THROWING STONES AT THE SINNERS."  But, He also says to the woman, "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).  He calls out to those caught in sexual perversion and sin and invites them to purity.  He says, "YOU CAN BE FORGIVEN AND BREAK THE PATTERNS OF DESTRUCTION."

The chaotic environment surrounding homosexuality can become the backdrop in which the church can shine more brightly than ever.  The world at its worst needs the church at its best. 
To that end may we be missionaries of Gods God sent into a world full of guilt and shame.

[i] Other issues have included abortion, feminism, ecology, freedom of speech/expression, freedom of worship and a host of others roughly following the conservative vs. liberal divide.

[ii] The passages of Scripture that directly address homosexuality:
1.      Genesis 18:1-11
2.      Leviticus 18:22
3.      Leviticus 20:13
4.      Judges 19:16-24
5.      I Kings 14:24
6.      I Kings 15:12
7.      II Kings 23:7
8.      Romans 1:18-32
9.      I Corinthians 6:9-11
10.  I Timothy 1:8-11
11.  Jude 7

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