An article in the latest issue of the Atlantic Monthly describes how churches affiliated with Unitarian/Universalist and Episcopal denominations have embraced same-sex relationships.
But the embrace isn’t limited to liberal churches. For many younger evangelicals, “you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.” Others take it one step further and say things like “Is homosexuality a sin? I. Do. Not. Care.”
As Erick Erickson of Red State.org put it, younger evangelicals “want the world to like them and to think them a part of the world.” For them, remaining silent about these issues is part of what it means to love your neighbor.
Well, Al Mohler begs to differ.
In a recent piece on his website, Mohler asked, “Can we count on evangelicals to remain steadfastly biblical on [the issue of homosexuality?” His reply: “Not hardly.” He noted survey data showing “a significant loss of conviction among youth and young adults” on the issue.
It’s hard not to understand what’s behind the loss of conviction. Outside of the church, the cultural signals all point in the same direction. Whether it’s schools, mass media or peers, the message is the same: “homosexuality [is] a fully valid lifestyle,” and anyone who insists otherwise is a bigot and not entitled to respectful consideration of their views.
Thus, says Mohler, it is imperative that churches “teach the basics of biblical morality to Christians who will otherwise never know that the Bible prescribes a model for sexual relationships.”
Doing this requires the courage to swim against a very strong and unjust cultural tide. As Mohler writes, “Christian leaders must set an agenda for biblical confrontation, and not shrink from dealing with the full range of issues related to homosexuality.”
Of course, doing this will almost certainly result in being called out for lack of compassion. But as Mohler rightly points out, “true compassion demands speaking the truth in love.”
The problem is that just as those seeking to be compassionate often lack the courage to speak the truth, those willing to speak the truth often lack compassion. According to Mohler, we must reach out to [gay people] with “a sincerity that makes that love tangible.”
Well, what would such a sincerity look like? For starters, it would make it clear that same-sex attraction itself is not a sin — acting on that attraction is what is sin. By and large, we cannot help to whom we’re attracted, but we can help what we do about the attraction.
Which raises another point: We need to embrace, in both word and deed, the truth that all Christians, regardless of sexual orientation and regardless of marital status, are called to practice chastity.
Chastity is not the renunciation of sexuality but “the right or reasonable use of it.” It is just as possible for married people to be unchaste as for unmarried people. Think about divorce and remarriage, which Jesus called adultery, or about flirtatious behavior, or the use of pornography.
While our persistent failure with regard to chastity doesn’t give us license to ignore the issues of same-sex marriage and homosexuality, it helps explain why people think we’re motivated by something besides a love for the truth.
Of course, presenting the whole truth about unchastity, heterosexual or homosexual, requires even more courage than merely speaking out about homosexual behavior. But both are sins and we should care.
Come to BreakPoint.org, and I’ll link you to Al Mohler’s excellent article on truth and love.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: June 11, 2013