Sometime around Father's Day 2011, a brightly-colored rainbow flag was raised in front of the Federal Reserve building in Richmond, Virginia recognizing June as "LGBT Pride Month" (LGBT: lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender).
I had just dropped off my son at school and was driving into downtown when I saw it. Until that moment, I wasn't fully aware just how much momentum the pro-homosexuality movement had been gaining in the United States. It wasn't until much later that I would find out why.
The flag-raising at the Fed came on the heels of Barack Obama's endorsement of LGBT Pride Month. The Richmond city council had also issued its own proclamation making June officially LGBT Pride Month for our city. The leaders at the Federal Reserve had apparently flown the colors of the gay pride movement at the request of an employee group.
What's obvious is that pro-homosexuality statements and actions are occurring more and more in today's world. It shouldn't be surprising to see a Christian response to the contrary, but shock and amazement seem to be the default response whenever a Christian raises some concern. It's unfortunate that there is a palpable tone of spitefulness in many of these so-called "Christian" reactions. Rants, protests, and angry sound bites seem to garner the lion's share of attention in our 'round-the-clock news watching world. But all these fail miserably to convey a truly Christian viewpoint. So, here's a humble attempt at telling the truth graciously.
Why Do I Even Care?
Like any father, I wonder what kind of world my kids are going to inherit. I have two sons (12, 4) and a two-year-old daughter. While I may not be able to change the world, I do want to help my children understand the truth of Scripture. And therein lies the rub. Some professing Christians are now attempting to argue from the Bible that homosexuality is acceptable. This is incredible. And it concerns me more than any rainbow flag.
Christians certainly need to pray, be humble, kind, and serve the less fortunate. But Christians also need to accurately interpret the Bible and graciously explain it to others. Those of us who are U.S. citizens have been blessed with the freedom (for now) to speak and exert influence in the public marketplace of ideas, and we do so without fear. Some of what I write may impact the general reader here, but my purpose in this article is to lead a discussion among professing Christians about what the Bible teaches regarding homosexuality.
So, What Does the Bible Teach About Sex?
The historic Christian view according to accurate biblical interpretation (please read on) is that sex outside of the sacred bonds of male-female marriage is forbidden. You may not like this view or agree with it. I may not like or agree with yours. But name-calling by either side is counterproductive and distracts from fair consideration of the issues.
As fellow human beings, we uphold and defend each other's right to freedom of speech, including humane disagreement. All people are created equal, but the same cannot be said for all ideas. Some are better than others. Professing Christians who engage in hateful rants do a very poor job of representing Christ and they do not speak for me. Neither do they speak for millions of ordinary Christians who unfortunately often get lumped in with the lunatic fringe of Christendom. Ordinary Bible-believers shouldn't be labeled as ‘haters' for simply being true to the same historic Christian faith that led to the abolition of slavery, for example (contrary to the one-sided claims of men like James Cone).
Time Out for a Quick Disclaimer:
In recent years, it has become unpopular to question the LGBT claim, "God made me this way." Such a question is being defined as "hate" by some. (And we're not supposed to recognize this accusation of being a "hater" as a fallacious stratagem that undermines fair and productive dialogue.) However, there are good grounds to question such a claim, and I do so without malice.
But in light of this widely used tactic, I offer the following disclaimer to the reader:
If you are hide-bound by the dubious assumption that certain people are irrecoverably and genetically destined to act out same-sex impulses, and you habitually label as a 'hater' anyone who dares to question the belief that LGBT behavior is unavoidably mandated by one's DNA, let me be kind and save you some time.
There is a truthful explanation for why people engage in LGBT behavior, but you probably won't like it. You could continue reading this article, but it may do little good. On the other hand, there are probably more than a few readers who are genuinely interested in understanding why Christians so strongly oppose (or ought to oppose) the homosexual agenda.
If this openness to understanding describes you in the slightest, then read to the end and please add to the discussion with your comments. (Non-readers, please withhold your comments. Freedom of speech means that you're free to write on your own blog or website. This article is an invitation for fair-minded readers to take part in a productive conversation.)
So Then, What Does the Bible Say? (And why should I care?)
Notwithstanding the abysmal image projected by the aforementioned professing Christians, homosexuality is not some kind of "special sin" that God can never forgive. All sins separate people from God. Christ died to free people from sin. To be a Christian is to be a forgiven person. And, yes, even as a Christian, I have to admit that I am still tempted to sin and I still commit sin. But the fact that I acknowledge my need for ongoing confession and spiritual growth does not logically lead to the place where an entire advocacy group must be formed on my behalf to convince the world that being say, short-tempered, is okay. It isn't being judgmental to simply repeat what the Bible says is Christian activity and what isn't. Sin is defined by God in His Word. We are meant to read God's Word and understand it.
Furthermore, no Christian should ever want to identify personally with a sin for which Christ died. The hyphenated coupling of the word "Christian" with activities for which Jesus Christ died is a recent phenomenon that has no justification in either Scripture or church history. Understood this way, the term "Gay-Christian" makes about as much sense as "Murderer-Christian," or "Adulterer-Christian." Sin is not a label. It's what we've been freed from.
If it helps take the churchy, religious edge off the word sin, what the Bible calls "sin" can simply be thought of in common sense terms as destructive behavior that promises fulfilment but doesn't actually lead to fulfilment. Sin is the lack of conformity to God's holy requirements in the Bible. It begins with a false view of God, which then breeds disregard for God and, ultimately, gives birth to attitudes and actions contrary to God's moral will (1 Thessalonians 4:3). But sin also has a destructive effect upon the sinner. Sin leads to a hollow, unfulfilled human soul.
To anyone who prefers to live by his or her own rules, Christianity, particularly the Christian view of sex, is highly offensive to begin with. It makes a discussion like this tense already. So, when people act or speak in a graceless, mean-spirited way it only makes matters worse. What we're after is a healthy exchange of ideas. And that happens when both sides agree to follow the truth, no matter where it leads. We're all aware of the benefit derived from a caring physician who gives a truthful diagnosis. Let's keep that image in mind as we look together at this issue.
Some diagnoses come as a shock, but the faithful, historic interpretation of the Bible calls homosexuality a sinful, self-destructive act. Yes, I realize this contradicts the sin-enabling view popularly offered under the guise of "compassion." But such a view is wrong and not to be trusted.
The New Testament plainly lists homosexuality right alongside lying (1 Timothy 1:10), robbing, being greedy, swindling (1 Corinthians 6:9), gossiping and committing murder (Romans 1:25). Such broad lists like these are meant to convey one thing: we all have a sin issue. It's bad news for everyone. But it's not just bad news that affects individuals. Sin impacts society as a whole. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people," says Proverbs 14:34. In other words, any society that condones destructive, sinful behavior (as Scripture defines sin) is a society that will weaken and decline.
So, Does the Bible Need to Be Revised?
The bad news for those who engage in homosexuality does not go away simply by the spurious claim that somehow the Church has "misunderstood" these texts for centuries, only to be corrected by later revisionist scholars in recent decades. These New Testament Scriptures prohibiting any sexual sin outside the sacred bonds of male-female marriage are clear. Jesus said that Scripture stands permanently. It cannot be broken (John 10:35b). God's Word, the Bible, is the binding authority over all people in all time periods, whether or not people acknowledge Scripture's authority in the here and now or not. (Everyone will one day according to Philippians 2:10-11, et. al.).
For readers who are for the first time seeing Bible verses that condemn homosexuality, they aren't quoted to be inflammatory. Rather, they are cited to make clear what Scripture actually says. Biblical standards of right and wrong have stood the test of time. You can ignore them at your own peril, but changing them isn't a valid option.
Since When Did It Become Christian to Endorse Sin?
Feelings of same-sex attraction are often unwelcome and spontaneous for those who are tempted to engage in homosexuality. It is not sinful to be tempted. It's sinful to yield. This truth about temptation applies to everyone, regardless of the sin. Those saying that homosexuality should be affirmed in the name of Christian love contradict the Bible.
When President Obama "made history" in 2011 by endorsing same-sex couples, he cited supposedly "Christian" reasons for doing so. Obviously, it is not a Christian virtue to hate people who sin. Christians are not against people who practice homosexuality (just as Christians are not anti-liars; we simply affirm that lying is wrong). Likewise, Christians are not against the people who become ensnared by homosexuality. But Christians do oppose sin (Psalm 119:118, 163), and we must kindly disagree with the president's misguided view.
People who use the Bible to argue that accepting homosexuality is how we are to 'love our neighbor' wrongly omit the first half of what Jesus said in that context. Jesus actually said, "The great and first commandment is 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'" (Matthew 22:34-40). In other words, love for one's neighbor is bounded by one's primary allegiance to God. How can one claim to love God, yet despise what His Word says about homosexuality and disregard His design for marriage?
Who Gets to Say What the Bible Says?
Those who use the Bible to persuade others actually put themselves in a dangerous place. They presume to speak for God as one of His spokespeople. (And, yes, I include myself here.) According to James 3:1, such people are considered "teachers." Teachers are subject to strict judgment both for their character and for how well they handle Scripture. Unfortunately, biblical literacy is at an all-time low, even in churches today. The naïve give equal weight to every opinion on or about the Bible, and are apparently unable to discern the many illegitimate would-be teachers who are out there sowing confusion.
An authoritative teacher of the Bible possesses certain observable character qualities clearly spelled out in Scripture. Titus and 1Timothy tell us they are to be...
“…above reproach, the husband of one wife… He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:5-9
“…above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:1-5).
Interestingly, one of the telling characteristics of a true teacher is his commitment to monogamous male-female marriage. If someone wants to argue for same-sex marriage on secular grounds, that is one thing. But to argue for same-sex marriage on biblical grounds and in the name of Christianity is not only absurd, but the one who does so — whether clergyman, farmer, judge, or president — puts himself personally under God's condemnation as a false teacher.
Remember, what God forbids He forbids from a loving heart. He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins (John 3:16, 2Cor. 5:21). He seeks to rescue us and bless us. In the Bible, God exclusively blesses male-female marriage (Mark 10:6, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Timothy 1:9-10). He condemns all sexual activity outside of that sacred relationship. When you engage in sexual activity outside of male-female marriage, it not only brings God’s judgment upon you but also brings about emotional harm (and sometimes physical harm or disease), regardless of whether it's consensual, and regardless of whether the harm or the offense toward God is ever realized or acknowledged.
God is all for sex in the context of a loving, male-female marriage. He designed it. The joy and companionship found in Christian marriage will never be rivalled by any alternative. (For more on this, see Timothy Keller’s 11/14/11 address at Google NYC, or read his book, The Meaning of Marriage.) Sex is a powerful, wonderful expression of love that also demonstrates His creative genius. God isn't against sex. Christians aren't prejudiced prudes. God is against the wrongful use of sex because He has our best interests at heart. It is the curse of sin that warps our minds and leads us to re-define happiness according to our own desires. We want happiness as we choose to define it. But God isn't a willing recruit for anyone's personal agenda. Instead, He wants to rescue us from ourselves.
The Core Issue: What's Your View of God?
At the core of the topic of human sexuality, as with all topics, is either a sound understanding of God or a flawed understanding of God. People may say that morality can't be legislated, but that simply isn't true. Indeed, some view of God (conscious or not) undergirds every political decision and law that gets passed. This is not always apparent, but is especially visible with issues surrounding the LGBT agenda. Unavoidably, someone's view of morality is codified into human law, and the other views of morality are marginalized.
Rightly understood, the Christian view of sex is just as offensive to any unmarried teens and singles who are involved in premarital (heterosexual) sex as it is to a transvestite marching in a parade. God condemns all sexual expression outside of male-female marriage. So, the issue isn't just about homosexuality. The rainbow flag that flew at Richmond's Federal Reserve building simply provided the flashpoint for the broader discussion about marriage and sexuality. (Obviously, a brief article like this will not cover the issue exhaustively. This article and the hyperlinks embedded throughout are meant to provide a starting point for those seeking understanding.)
Shouldn't Christians Be Trying to Pass Laws Against Eating Shellfish Too? (No.)
Something should probably be said here about how the Old Testament fits together with the New Testament. Frequently, you'll see people struggling to make sense of the laws about not eating shellfish and not mixing different kinds of cloth when they also see a law against homosexuality in the same context (see Leviticus 18:22 and the surrounding passages). They seem to think that they can discount the prohibition against homosexuality since the other laws have been nullified (see Acts 10:9-15). This has been called by some, "playing the Leviticus game." Such Scripture twisting is all too common. The Bible actually is quite clear and consistent, despite those who misinterpret it (2 Peter 3:16).
One basic guideline for good Bible interpretation is that whenever an Old Testament moral principle is re-stated in the New Testament, it makes the moral principle binding today. The passages quoted above from Matthew, Mark, 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, Romans, and Hebrews are all in the New Testament. They are excellent examples of this basic principle.
Perhaps, because biblical literacy is so abysmally low, people don’t seem to realize that after the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ when the New Testament church age was ushered in, God abolished all of Israel’s dietary restrictions, ceremonial laws, and priesthood (cf. Acts 10:15, Colossians 2:8-23). (In other words, Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, but that's another article.) The New Testament upholds the prohibition of homosexuality, though the death penalty no longer applies to those who engage in homosexual acts. (Such strict punishment was only meant for the context of the theocracy of Ancient Israel.)
Establishing a Theocracy Is Not the Christian Goal
By the way, establishing a theocracy is not the Christian goal or ideal. Coercive human government (whether Christian or otherwise) is undesirable in the Christian view. An informed biblical worldview actually supports pluralism, democracy, and freedom. Christians do not aim to establish a theocratic government. But neither should Christians allow the coercive secularization of the government. Anyone claiming that Christian opposition to same-sex “marriage” somehow equates to theocracy is setting up a straw man.
Many people falsely believe that the Bible is just a human book. They claim that it's been changed and cannot be trusted.1 But such arguments have been answered time and again both briefly and at length. For those who honestly want to know God and understand the Bible, the widely accepted text How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart is a good resource. Two short articles that may also be useful are "Choosing a Bible Translation" and "Use a Coherent Method of Bible Study."
Is This Hate Speech?
The Richmond City Council, Federal Reserve leadership, and Barack Obama have turned truth upside down. Saying so may result in being wrongly accused of "hate speech" by the modern day thought police. But the truth is, to refrain from speaking out about moral decay is actually hateful, fearful non-speech. Each of us will face God in judgment. Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." And 2 Corinthians 5:11 says, "Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade [others]" (to do what?) …to "repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance" (Acts 26:20).
But as you read all of these things, here are a few points to keep in mind about genuine Christians:
- Christians aren't out to judge others as if we're somehow better in and of ourselves. We simply embrace God's unchanging standard of morality and dare to differ with those who would assault it, change it, or ignore it. Human beings are frail, fallen, and limited in knowledge. Rather than trust our own wisdom, we ought to seek truth from a time-tested source. The Bible can be trusted. It's the anvil of truth that has worn out the critic's hammer throughout the ages.
- Christians admit that they're sinners and point to Christ as the solution for broken people who, like us, have gone against God's healthy design for their lives. We're no better than anyone. The solution is not to ignore God's moral standard though. Nor is it ultimately helpful to try to change it by misinterpreting the Bible.
The Christian hope for homosexuals is not heterosexuality, but holiness. We're not trying to make gays straight but take them straight to Jesus, just as we would anyone ensnared by sin. Once they trust Him, He gives them His perfect righteousness, frees them from sin, and changes them from the inside out (Titus 2:11-14).
What about Tolerance?
As for tolerance, well, genuine Christians are all for living at peace with those they disagree with. Many today confuse the word tolerance with "acceptance" or "affirmation." People jump to conclude that anyone who refuses to legitimize homosexuality and/or endorse same-sex marriage is automatically a "hater." But that's not the case.
The historic meaning of tolerance is that we should live peacefully and respectfully together, though we disagree even in outspoken ways. One person aptly wrote: "Not tolerating someone for his narrow-mindedness is perhaps the epitome of intolerance." (The Atlantic, "Being Gay at Jerry Falwell's University.")
Christians are called to something more than mere tolerance. We are called to express the truth of the Bible clearly. We are to do so with love, having as our aim the rescue and restoration of sinners. That's what it means to love one's neighbor. An article like this may not speak to everyone effectively. And, certainly, no Christian is perfect. Still, we aim for biblical principles to guide us when discussing sensitive subjects with others who differ.
One motivation that compels Christians to engage with people is that the truths of Christianity are public and universal, not private and parochial. The historical record of Christ's life, death, and resurrection exists because it's true, not because it's a propped up religious myth. This fact has bearing on every life, acknowledged or not. Christians don't view their neighbors as mere flesh and blood, but eternal souls who will one day stand to be judged by their Creator.
As for so-called "homophobia," Christians don't fear homosexuals, but fear for them, just as we would for anyone in bondage to sin of any type. We know what awaits (Revelation 21:8) all those who will not turn from their sin and turn to Christ.
Jesus frees sinners who turn to Him in faith: His sinless life, His substitutionary death on the cross, and His rising from the dead emancipates anyone who no longer wants to be enslaved by sin. In Christ, there is no more fear of judgment or punishment for the sins we've committed (John 3:16, 3:36).
That's why Christianity positively declares that knowing Jesus Christ is the greatest thing in the universe. We are rightly related to the God who made us, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God's grace. We want everyone to know this joy. It can't be found in anything else on earth, only in Christ alone.
The Christian worldview not only makes sense of life, it includes the good news that God will restore all that sin has broken. In other words, the world we all want is coming — complete peace, justice, and human flourishing in the presence of God. You can be part of it, but not on your own terms. Christ forgives those who admit to being sinners and who call out to Him for rescue from sin's control. By trusting Christ, you can be transformed into a person who lives in a way that pleases God. If you have the impression that Christianity is a negative, judgmental religion, I'm sorry but you've gotten the wrong idea.
Bible-believing Christians are concerned for fellow human beings who struggle with homosexual desires. We seek their good. We affirm the dignity of fellow human beings who also bear the image of God. We all need the light of truth shined into our darkness. Jesus said, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness" (John 12:46). He said this knowing that people "love darkness rather than light" (John 3:19).
But instead of meeting God someday in condemnation, you can meet Him now in blessing. Wrong desires can be changed so that you begin to love the things He loves. Although, I have been personally guilty of numerous sins, I am forgiven because Christ died and rose again for sinners like me. Jesus Christ gives a clean slate and new desires (Titus 2:11-14). The same offer of forgiveness and transformation extends to everyone reading this with a heart to understand.
Uniting Around Common-Sense Morality Does Not Equal Making the U.S. Into a "Christian Nation"
Admittedly, in the U.S., a number of our founders were Christians in name only. Some were merely deists. Still, the historic Christian faith was the worldview that provided the moral underpinnings of this country, and that worldview has weighty implications for matters of public life. One implication of the Christian outlook is that the improvisational morality of our times is, quite simply, a farce. A shifting moral foundation upholds nations about as well as the Sahara upholds skyscrapers. It goes without saying that condoning homosexuality represents a seismic shift in the moral landscape of the United States.
The implications of the rainbow agenda go far deeper than most people surmise by taking a superficial view of it. (See the article, "Five Gay Marriage Myths.") Dr. Albert Mohler astutely observed that people must wake up and come to grips with what is at stake:
"Marriage is first and foremost a public institution. It has always been so. Throughout history, societies have granted special recognition and privileges to marriage because it is the central organizing institution of human culture. Marriage regulates relationships, sexuality, human reproduction, lineage, kinship, and family structure. But marriage has also performed another crucial function — it has regulated morality. Redefining marriage is never simply about marriage. It leads to the redefinition of reproduction and parenthood, produces a legal revolution with vast consequences, replaces an old social order with something completely new, and forces the adoption of a new morality. This last point is especially important. Marriage teaches morality by its very centrality to the culture. With a new concept of marriage comes a new morality, enforced by incredible social pressure and, eventually, legal threats.2
But What About Civil Rights?
Martin Luther King, Jr. is a man greatly admired, and deservedly so. It's been well-established that historic Christianity was the moral authority behind not only the abolition of slavery, but also the triumph of the Civil Rights movement. To the dismay of many, however, it has become common to hear LGBT advocates claim that they are "today's oppressed people group," as if people with same-sex attraction are the heirs of the Civil Rights movement. The moms and dads I know in the African American community, as well as many of its courageous and outspoken leaders, are deeply offended at the LGBT movement for hijacking the Civil Rights legacy and using it to impose their agenda.
The Bible clearly affirms the dignity and worth of all people, regardless of skin color. But the Bible condemns homosexuality because it is rebellion against the created order of male-female marriage (Romans 1:18-32). The Civil Rights movement was a welcome corrective to a pernicious evil — one that many professing Christians today are unfortunately still blind to, namely racism. Christianity is clearly opposed to racism, but does not uphold the gay pride movement in the least. As one African-American writer put it, "gay is not the new black."
Again, we are all sinners. We all have temptations that we struggle with. Some people struggle with homosexual desire. Others struggle with different sins. Honesty and humility about this is the pathway to peace. Coercing people to celebrate a lie will only prolong cultural conflict and make matters worse.
Tampering with the definition of marriage is like tampering with the atomic structure of hydrogen. The abomination of homosexuality will never be on equal footing with God's created order of male-female marriage. People of conscience will continue to firmly believe so. Some may call same-sex relationships "marriage" but such unions will never be acceptable under the Christian definition of marriage. Nor can they rival the joy and fulfillment found there.
Most people (not just conservative Christians) reject the notion of same-sex marriage when allowed to think about the matter in the privacy of a voting booth. Polls will probably always report a different story, as evidenced by Gallup recently. As hard as it is for some people to accept, millions of Americans just don't believe in so-called "marriage equality" and for good reason.
LGBT: You Make Up Less Than 2% of the U.S. Population, and Christians Really Do Love You
Genuine concern compels us to rescue people from drowning, not open the floodgates and drench the city. Apparently, the City Council and the leaders of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank thought that opening the floodgates was the right idea. They made a rash move to shape society with their bully pulpit. So, how does one respond to a bully? Well, I'm just a dad. And like most American dads, I don't have a clue how to remove myself from the Federal Reserve System. I realize there is big political power behind the LGBT movement. I’m probably supposed to be a good little passive sheep and silently go along with the program. After all, I don’t have a tall building or a presidential office from which to issue history-making public statements. I edit a website. I teach the Bible and lead music at a local church. I don’t know where this article will go, but I write it because my life has been forever changed for the better by Christ as I came to know Him in the historic Christian gospel. I write because people are misrepresenting Christianity to justify wrongheaded ideas about human freedom. I write because people don’t seem to fathom the danger of twisting Scripture and defying God.
For me, the growing moral decay all around serves as a daily reminder of Matthew 28:20—that Jesus Christ is with His true followers even unto the end. Worse changes may be blowing in the wind for America's children and grandchildren. But there will come a day of reckoning. The long view of human history is that the grand story doesn't end with prideful sinners pulling their Creator down from His all-powerful throne (Psalm 2).
A piece like this might not avoid the typical rebuttals like "'Love the sinner, hate the sin' is just a mask for bigotry," "Hate is not a family value," or "Common sense is the first casualty of ignorance," etc. People have the freedom to state such non sequiturs if they want. I defend their right to say as they please. I'm most interested in reaching those who have a heart to understand and who want to discuss what is genuinely in people's best interest. Those looking for a shouting match can count me out.
Christians don't hate LGBT people. In their confusion, LGBT proponents distort the God-ordained beauty of human sexuality and cannot rest until everyone applauds their behavior. How incredibly sad! Why must it be skewed as "hate" to disagree with, yet have sympathy for such tragic people? Flawed views of God cause them to think that He’s either non-existent or He's up in the heavens waving His rainbow banner of approval right along with them. Weighty chains bind their souls to empty promises of fulfillment that do not ultimately deliver. Only the short-sighted Christian cannot bring himself to pity or show kindness to a fellow human being caught in such deadly lies (2Tim. 2:24-26).
Christians: Focus More on the Gospel, Less on Political Action (and angry Facebook comments)
When biblical truth resonates and takes root, people escape sin's entrapment and begin living in true freedom as God defines it in Scripture. As a by-product, there can be a reversal of moral decline in a society. That said, saving society is not the Christian's primary calling. Telling people the gospel of salvation is.
Rather than over-emphasize political action, Christians need to major on compassionately proclaiming the gospel. The failed "Moral Majority" experiment of the 1970s-80s showed us that shrill debates and top-down legislation of Christian virtues doesn't lead to lasting change in the hearts of people.
This is not to say that it's unimportant for Christians to participate in the political process. We should be good citizens, not merely “values voters.” As citizens, we can and should call for biblical morality to be reflected in our laws. As mentioned above, someone's version of morality is going to be codified into law. Bible-believing Christians should be involved in their local communities as both good citizens and faithful proclaimers of the good news of salvation in Christ. In the end, the Holy Spirit uses no other means besides the gospel to "turn the switch on" in people's hearts and illumine the truth, beauty, and love of Christ. As we proclaim Him, we leave the work of changing other people's hearts in His hands.
So, enough with the angry blog posts, snarky comments, and viral video rants. We're not at war with people, but with spiritual forces of evil who are holding captive precious souls (Eph. 6:12, 2 Tim. 2:26). God reigns in our hearts, so let us be gracious in our demeanor. In other words, the gospel is offensive, but we don't have to be. Calling Christians to be people of both truth and grace is not a call to be soft on the Bible, or to alter the gospel so that it's more palatable to the masses. The gospel pointedly confronts blindness in those who are deluded that they can see. That's an offense we will never avoid.
This article first appeared June 1, 2011 on Christianity.com. Updated: October 6, 2014
1. On occasion, someone will point to a passage like 1 Corinthians 7:6 as grounds to say that Paul the Apostle often wavered between offering his own opinions and writing inspired Scripture. The spurious implication is then drawn that Paul's writings against homosexuality may also be viewed as non-binding. But in 1 Corinthians, Paul was neither denying inspiration nor saying that he was merely giving human opinion. Rather, he simply showed where he quoted Jesus from His earthly ministry (v. 10), and then he went on to write further revelation from God that had not been previously given. This was consistent with his ministry as well as the progressive way that inerrant Scripture was revealed until its completion at the close of the first century A.D.
2. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, "The Challenge of Same-Sex Unions," from Tabletalk (April 2012). http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-challenge-of-same-sex-unions/