Same Sex Attraction and Mortification: Article Up at the World Reformed Fellowship
The World Reformed Fellowship published my 10 Theses on Same Sex Attraction and Mortification (it only was made visible yesterday to the public, though published in December). This a slight variation on the version of the theses I published last summer. My hope is to build common ground across denominations who may disagree over whether people need to repent of their same sex attraction. The category of mortification is much more helpful and allows more consensus building.
I left a comment on the article on the WRF blog site. But I forgot to mention an important issue. That issue is how should Christians approach the subject of LGBT rights in society. Should we try to marginalize those in that community in society through laws and/or cultural transformation or should we see those in that community as our equals in society.
The reason why I bring this up is because, from what I’ve seen, the insistence by many religiously conservative Christians on marginalizing the LGBT community in society has put other fellow believers into the position of choosing between either defending Biblical sexual morals or promoting and defending justice and equality for those in the LGBT community. That insistence has made many fellow Christians to believe that they must choose either one or the other position.
In addition, we need to ask whether the insistence on marginalizing the LGBT community in society has caused a great deal of criticism of the Gospel by many unbelievers. Here the issue is whether that criticism is unnecessary.
Again, it is the insistence that we marginalize the LGBT community in society that leads us to that exclusive-or choice. I have my own view but it is not pertinent to state it here. Would appreciate feedback on this. Thank you.
A lot hangs on what “marginalizing” means. Is lack of affirmation marginalization? Is teaching LGBT practice to be sin marginalization? Codifying the sexual binary into law? Repealing same sex marriage? You can see a gay man as your equal without agreeing that he should have the right to marry another man. You can see a transgender person as your equal without agreeing that they be addressed with pronouns differing from their biological sex.
I do think that too often cruelty against LGBT has characterized conservative Americans: mockery, assault, preventing close same-sex friends/partners from being with them in the hospital.
I appreciate your stand against personal cruelty against those in the LGBT community. But that doesn’t address the issue of marginalizing the LGBT community in society. So let me draw an analogy here.
Suppose Christians were no longer allowed to have public worship services. They could worship in the privacy of their own homes, but they could not meet in public to worship God. And suppose that ban on public worship by Christians was done because the public was persuaded to believe that the ban on public worship by Christians was necessary because of the threats that such worship posed to society. Thus, there was a stigma attached to being a Christian in the minds of many in society. Would the existence of such a ban and that public belief about Christians be a marginalization of Christians?
We share society with unbelievers. Marginalization is when a group of people become, or I should say are made, significantly or even fully invisible to the public. If we would call the above hypothetical situation a marginalization of Christians, what should we call what many of us religiously conservative Christians are trying to do the LGBT community by the way we expand calling homosexuality and transgenderism sins into threats to society? What do we call forbidding any homosexual from marrying the partner the partner of their choice because we say it threatens marriage? And what do we call codifying the sexual binary into law especially when we have thousands of babies born sexually indeterminant each year? And what do we do to those who have gender dysphoria because the structure of their brain does not match the biological sex that we can observe in those people? BTW the structure of the brain in females is different from that in males.
Why must preaching against homosexuality and transgenderism, as we should because of what God’s Word says, include the marginalization of the LGBT community in society?
I think the deeper question here is the relationship of the government to Christianity and the relationship of the marketplace to the faith. What principles shape the laws of the land is, as you know, a hotly debated topic. So why strive for a society that does/does not recognize gay marriage? It all depends on how much and in what ways we believe that God’s word/natural law should inform our society.
There are complicated questions, of course, like the ones you raise. My general sense (I haven’t given this enough thought to have a confident answer) is that requiring Christians to affirm (whether by word or action) social deviations from God’s word is wrong. Next, Christians should not affirm deviations from God’s word. And society is better off the closer it adheres to God’s word. Prudentially, the push for those things depends on a myriad of factors, such as the overall culture, state of the law, risk to the church, shape of the legal system, etc.
I don’t want to overstay my welcome on this article so this will be my last comment. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. Thank you very much.
I agree that the subjects we are covering here are the relationships Christians have with government and with the marketplace. A key issue there is not just what sources we use as guides, but how we use them as well. This is an important point because of the contextual differences between today’s situations and those from Church history. The contextual differences include differences in forms of government and in terms of how the Gospel has spread throughout the world.
How we define those relationships should be based on Biblical principles while keeping an eye out for what practices we have that unnecessarily offends unbelievers. Here we should remember that many of our heroes from Church History thought about the relationships that Christians have with government and the marketplace from the context of Christendom.
As for your concern that Christians must not be required to affirm social deviations from God’s Word, I think the freedom of religion approach serves as a useful analogy. In supporting freedom of religion, we are not affirming other religions. Rather, we are recognizing the rights of people to choose differently than we do. And that concept of recognizing the rights of others reveals how we wish to relate to others.
If we conflate the recognition of rights with affirming sinful choices, we will be compelled to seek a place of supremacy over others in terms of determining the laws of society. We will be sorely tempted to lord it over unbelievers. And we will be perceived as pretentious moral tyrants of varying levels which could easily cause unbelievers to see us as being enemies of their freedoms. In addition, politicians seeking to be tyrants will more easily be able to manipulate us using culture war issues. That is what we see with Putin in Russia and DeSantis in Florida.
In addition, if we insist on seeking that place of supremacy over the unbelievers in determining the laws of society, we will be showing that we do not have faith in the preaching of the Gospel to change the hearts of people. We will also show ourselves as being xenophobic. Neither of those self-revelations serve well the reputation of the Gospel.
Thank you for the conversation. Just because I will not add another comment doesn’t mean that I am not interested in your response to this comment–though I understand if you decide not to respond.
I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. I don’t think I have much to add; I’m pushing about against the boundaries of what I’ve thought though well enough to have a helpful answer.