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When I first entered the ministry almost twenty years ago, I was a young, idealistic pastor ready to take on the world and to defend the Reformed doctrines of grace. Though I knew that Western culture over the past century was experiencing a radical change in the understanding of what it means to be human and how that plays out in our sexual ethics, I was not prepared for how quickly the sexual revolution would progress. Who of us entering the ministry in the early 2000s was prepared to face a sexual revolution that would overturn the God-ordained institution of marriage between a man and a woman? I felt more equipped to address the challenges that the Reformers faced from those who troubled the church from the inside on the important nuances of soteriology. It did not take long, however, before I as a pastor faced what seemed to be an insurmountable problem: the entire world’s demanding our submission to an unbiblical anthropology.

the sexual revolution

Ever since the Obergefell decision in 2015, when gay marriage was legalized in the United States, a flood of assaults have sought to overturn the creational sexual ethic that God established from the beginning for the good of the human race. We can no longer take it for granted that non-Christians around us agree on the basic definition of male and female. Our institutions have embraced concepts such as gender fluidity and call believers to declare their preferred pronouns and accept whatever view of gender is espoused by those around them. This is becoming no less true among historically robust Christian institutions as parents face sending their children to colleges that will actively seek to indoctrinate them with the new sexual libertinism. Homosexual behavior and premarital sex have for some time been normalized in the mainstream consciousness, and there seems to be no question that as we see the continual unraveling of all creational norms and the embrace of things that are contrary to nature, the next wave of sexual deviancy will demand the acceptance of nonmonogamous relationships and bestiality.

To this point, Christians have enjoyed, for the most part, marginal acceptance by society due to legal protections, but if things continue at their current rate, this time will soon be over. Full participation in the workplace and in wider society will require complete submission to whatever are the prevailing ideals of the moral revolution and the proposed reset of all creation norms.

Christians must be faithful in pursuing a holy sexuality as a crucial part of their witness to the world.

While our freedoms still remain, we have already witnessed in the church a growing temptation to compromise on biblical anthropology and sexual ethics. Many of the ideologies of the culture have already found a place in many quarters of the Christian church in an attempt toward cultural acceptance. Movements such as Side B Christianity have attempted to forge a middle way by adopting an identity in unnatural desire, such as being a gay Christian, so long as the desires are not carried out. I suspect that in the coming years, especially as freedoms wane, we will witness a much wider acceptance of sexual perversions as permissible “Christian” behavior, championed in the name of love.

a way forward

There have been many helpful assessments explaining the problem, but Christians are left feeling that we have little direction in how to handle a worldwide movement that is completely incompatible with the Christian faith. The most important question for Christians at this moment is how to remain faithful to Scripture on these issues without compromising the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

The Christian church must demonstrate the fearlessness of Daniel, who prayed three times daily when he was commanded to be silent. We must hear the call that God gave to Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9). Most importantly, Christians should follow their Lord, who demonstrated unwavering commitment to tell people the truth in the promotion of righteousness, even as the cross loomed in the background as a consequence. Remember, our commitment to follow Christ has always come with the promise of the world’s hatred (John 15:18).

The perennial question that Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), is of supreme importance. Christians who are truly committed to following Jesus Christ remain duty-bound to answer any challenge to their faith by holding, without compromise, the living Word of God as the answer for people living in darkness. Christians are called to be truth-tellers, and our situation requires telling people the truth about creation, anthropology, and the goodness of God’s created order.

Truth telling in our generation will be needed at the most basic points of departure from God’s creative handiwork, even to the point of preferred pronouns. Some have argued that answering a man or a woman with his or her preferred pronoun is a vocabulary choice. After Obergefell and Bostock codified these ideologies into law, however, it is clear that we are being called to serve an idolatry of false personhood that is contrary to what God requires of us in making us in His image. We cannot support this idolatry. God requires that we love Him and our neighbor by affirming how He created us, as male or female. Yes, this will require great wisdom in how we conduct ourselves before the world, but telling the truth is at the heart of the Christian’s purpose on this earth.

Further, Christians must be faithful in pursuing a holy sexuality as a crucial part of their witness to the world. In our efforts to remain uncompromised in the face of moral revolution, it would be wrong to be fixated on the bigger sins of the culture without considering what brought us here to begin with. God’s holy standard of sexuality reaches far deeper into our lives than is often appreciated. As the line of morality in the culture continues to be pushed further back, we forget that the one commandment that addresses sexual immorality begins not with homosexuality but with adultery. This means that for us to be uncompromised as Christians in the face of these new challenges, we must first honor God’s standard of sexuality in our own marriages.

This also requires training our children in sexual purity, speaking to them of the sexual perversions of pornography and premarital sex. In what ways do Christians need to demonstrate repentance so that the high standard of moral purity might be demonstrated before a world as a witness to a proper creational sexual ethic? This is why more teaching on anthropology and the sexual ethic must be given serious attention in the church. For too long, the church has been Victorian in addressing issues of human sexuality. The church offers little by way of answer to the world if our own sexual ethic is diluted with compromise.

In the coming years, we will see the sad consequences that the sexual revolution will bring to people’s lives. Hopes will be dashed, families will be destroyed, and emptiness will characterize life. The silver lining is that unique opportunities will be opened to us to set people free with the truth. If our eyes are open to see the misery around us, then our hearts should also be open to lead people to the Savior of the world. The gospel of the forgiveness of sins remains the great solution to our present darkness.

Christians, be faithful and uncompromising in your witness, even unto death, remembering that Jesus told us to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. The sexual revolution is no match for Him, for the battle has always belonged to the Lord.

Universalism and the Exclusivity of Christ

Marriage and Divorce

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From the June 2023 Issue
Jun 2023 Issue