Pastors have a responsibility to teach the whole counsel of God and to help the people of God form a biblical worldview. With this conviction in mind, I will be leading a series on what the Bible says about marriage and sexuality. In preparation for that series, I wrote this letter to our church: ‘A Sexual Manifesto: Embracing the Church’s New Mission.’ Let me know what you think.
If you haven’t noticed, things aren’t the way they used to be.
It wasn’t long ago that the boys’ bathroom was for . . . well, boys. Homecoming queens had to use a razor on their legs (not their face). Marriage was legally defined as the union of a man and woman. And Christians had a place at the table in regards to influencing public policy.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, all of these givens are gone. With more people in Georgia supporting same-sex marriage than opposing it, the once influential Bible Belt is nor more. Christendom as we know it—or should we say, as we knew it—has collapsed. Welcome to the new America.
The Sexual Tsunami: Preparing For or Recovering From?
While many in the church are just now preparing for the coming sexual tsunami, we need to realize that the storm has already come and gone. There is no need to prepare, because the wreckage has been done. For decades, college campuses have doubled as incubators for sexual immorality. In the dorms, future world leaders have dabbled in all sorts of sexual misconduct. In the classrooms, theories about gender, sexuality, and human happiness have justified American’s reenactment of Sodom and Gomorrah.
What our country has seen in the last few months concerning the establishment of same-sex marriage, the erasure of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), and the proliferation of court cases which have taken away the rights of Christians to hold their sexual ethics views in public is but the aftermath of the storm. The storm walls have been broken and the levies have collapsed. American Christianity is now flooded with sexual confusion, exploitation, and abuse.
You may wonder what the church has been doing to combat this sexual insanity? I wonder too. I recall a few sermons on marriage, but nothing equipping me to think about how gender and sexuality are meant to glorify God. In short, the general message about sex coming from the church has been: Don’t do it!
Tragically, this message smacks of fear (not love) and denies God’s good creation. Human sexuality was God’s idea, and we in the church need to start talking about it.
With Crisis Comes Opportunity
For those willing to assess the damage of being asleep in the storm, there is a great possibility that the Lord will use our current situation to bring purity, holiness, and evangelistic power to the church. For far too long, we have balked at sexual sin. Fornication, adultery, and divorce have become accepted—or at least not addressed. Pornography has been overlooked. And Christians have not been equipped to lovingly counsel men and women struggling with same sex attraction.
So what is the solution? It’s not to be more punitive, nor is it to be more accepting. With the Spirit’s help, we must become more holy and more loving. You and I must admit that we are sexual sinners, and that this is not just a problem out there. It is a problem in our church, in our homes, in our hearts.
The message of the gospel is that Christ the spotless lamb of God died in the place of sexual sinners. Closet pornographers, neglectful husbands, and bi-sexual college students all have the same need—the death of Jesus to wash away our sins!
As a church we need to talk about this, and to consider how we are to shine as lights in the world. In the face of this sexual revolution, we need to find bold, biblical answers. Cultural Christianity is dead. Political lobbying, while necessary, is insufficient. Prayer must be unified with work. A Spirit-filled, sexual revolution is needed.
Christian Witnesses Must Now Be Sexual Ethicists
Instead of getting our sexual ethics from Miley Cyrus, or those who unsympathetically excoriated her recent antics, we must return to the pure word of God. We must realize that to be witnesses of Christ in this age, we must be become sexual ethicists and biblical theologians. Here’s what I mean.
- When you get a phone call telling you that your niece came home from college with her live-in girlfriend, what will you say?
- When your child is taught in school that some children have a mom and a dad and others have two moms, what will you do?
- When you discover that a man who had a sex change, now wants to join your church, what does repentance look like for him? Or is it her? Will your church stand together on the issue, or be torn apart?
These things are not hypothetical trivia questions. This is the brave new world that you and I inhabit. And unless we are willing to get serious about what the Bible says about sex, we can just plan our church’s funeral right now.
I don’t know about you, but I want to step up to the challenge, understand the issues, and announce the gospel to heterosexual and homosexual sinners alike. I want to say with Paul to those in our church: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Where We Are Going
Over the next few weeks, we are going to cover the basics of what it means to be made in God’s image, why God created sex, and how your sexuality is meant to glorify him. Additionally, I am going to preach on sexual sin, marriage, divorce, and the church’s responsibility to be a community of purity and holiness.
I covet your prayers. I invite your questions. And I ask for you to think with me about these difficult and urgent matters.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss