The Western church presently lives in a time of much sexual confusion. Rev. Christopher Gordon has produced a helpful tool to assist Christians in becoming well-grounded in the biblical teaching on human sexuality. The New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality uses the time-tested method of catechesis to teach essential truths from God’s Word regarding sexual issues. The editors of Tabletalk interviewed Rev. Gordon shortly after the catechism was produced, as we believe it is a good tool for Christians to use as they endeavor to obey God’s Word.
Why did you write The New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality?
As a pastor, I was experiencing firsthand how the sexual revolution was affecting parents in the shepherding of their children. I took for granted that the most basic truths of creation and how God made us as male and female were understood, and I was alarmed at how these things were now being challenged in the Christian community.
Imagine a parent who has a young girl who comes home one day and expresses that though she was born as a female, she is convinced that her gender is male. This scenario is possible due to cultural peer pressure and social media influences that have mainstreamed the idea that someone’s inner desire to be the opposite sex is sovereign over their God-assigned biological sex. It doesn’t help that some Christian counselors are willing to recognize this distinction and, after a series of psychological tests, encourage gender reassignment therapy. These are the scenarios I was facing as a pastor.
Further, covenantal children now face living in a world where homosexuality is normalized and celebrated. Sadly, it is not uncommon, even for those who attend Christian schools, to see on a daily basis their classmates pursuing relationships with those of the same sex. Our Christian institutions seem to be governed by fear on these issues due to the societal consequences of exposure, and the biblical standard of holy sexuality is often marginalized in embarrassment because it feels so radically outside the new cultural norm.
Since Christians are not talking enough about God’s holy demands in the arena of human sexuality, our children are left with the impression that we have no right to make any judgments on these issues. They are confused as to why sexual preference really matters if, as it is assumed, the pursuance of happiness in sexuality is a personal matter and does not harm anyone else.
I wrote the catechism because Christians, especially parents, need clear, concise, biblical help on the core issues regarding human sexuality, that the next generation may be instructed well in God’s good, creational sexual ethic.
How is the book designed to be used?
The catechism is intended to be used devotionally around the table, providing an opportunity for parents to talk with their children about the issue of human sexuality. The catechism is also intended to provide opportunities for Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and sermon series for pastors in helping Christians enjoy the creational sexual ethic that God established from the beginning for our good.
What do you hope the book will achieve?
We cannot afford to take for granted in the Christian community the most basic distinctions with regard to creation, biblical anthropology, and how God made us as men and women. I hope the catechism will help Christians appreciate a biblical anthropology in the pursuit of God’s creational standard as something that glorifies Him and is good for the orderly development of society and of the human race. I also hope the catechism will be used as an evangelistic tool to give to those who are confused about the sexual revolution.
What can churches do to help their members navigate the times and maintain the historic Christian sexual ethic?
For too long, the church has been Victorian in our approach to sexuality. The culture has not been silent in its attempt to catechize us in its rebellion against God’s creational norms. Yet the church’s response has been weak compared to Satan’s vicious assault on marriage and sexuality.
The church has always corrected error through robust instruction in the truth of God’s Word. Churches need to devote serious attention to these issues, providing parents with resources to understand the sexual revolution and its consequences. Churches should be offering classes to help instruct parents in the training of their children. Further, great efforts should be given to instruct our young people and talk with them openly about the dangers of pornography, premarital sex, and God’s will for sexual pleasure as good and proper in marriage.
As we see the worst forms of sexual deviancy characterize our culture, I think what is most needed is to help Christians with starting points. Is the church holding the institution of marriage with great honor? Have we taken lightly the implications of the seventh commandment in addressing adultery? How are we helping couples grow in their marriages to love as Christ loves the church? In other words, we need to go back to the basic design of marriage and the family and ask how we are demonstrating to our children, and before the world, how high we hold God’s holy standard for human sexuality. The catechism is aimed to help with these issues.
What does identity have to do with sexuality?
Who we are as image bearers of God is not to be defined by our sinful desires. Nobody questions that we have desires as humans and that these desires are pursued in an attempt to find meaning, identity, and happiness in life. Everyone has an identity as created as male or female in the image of God. The culture is desperately attempting to convince people that the pursuit of sinful desires in human sexuality defines happiness and constitutes an identity. This is why any challenge to people pursing sinful desire is viewed as a direct attack on their person.
As fallen creatures, we need a new identity through the restorative work of the Spirit in our union with Christ. This means that any form of sexual impurity belongs to the old man. As new creatures in Christ, we are to take every thought and action, in mind and body, and make them obedient to Christ. Our sexuality according to the lusts and desires that characterize the old man is not our identity. Our identity is renewed in Christ as we glorify God in how He made us as men and women.
Which biblical doctrines are important for churches to recover if we are going to properly understand the biblical sexual ethic?
This is a crucial reason that I wrote the catechism. I work though the categories of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, addressing the fundamental doctrines of the Heidelberg Catechism and applying them to the current challenges of human sexuality. The basic biblical doctrines under the original catechism’s headings of guilt, grace, and gratitude need fresh application to the current sexual revolution to help people celebrate a creational sexual ethic.
What advice would you give to parents who are seeking to help their children understand the biblical sexual ethic?
Parents, I can’t emphasize enough, please talk with your children about these issues, uncomfortable as these issues might be. Ask them directly about pornography, explaining its detrimental effects on the brain. Help them see in your marriages a healthy love that inspires them to the goodness of God’s design. Help them desire a life of repentance.
But please don’t forget to help them understand the gospel of Christ and the forgiveness of their sins, since there is a lot of guilt with sexual sin. Let your children be inspired by your faith in Christ and your desire to pursue a holy sexuality.
Why is catechetical training an effective way to pass on the truths of the faith?
At the time of the Reformation, catechetical training was one of the most effective means of spreading the truth for those who needed help in the basics of the Christian faith. This catechism was written with the goal that the church would help the next generation with the unique challenges they are facing in a sex-crazed culture. Our children have questions. Hopefully, I’ve written some of them out for you to help answer their present struggles.
I pray that the Lord will use this effort to equip a new generation to appreciate, with great value and love, the biblical sexual ethic that God established from the beginning for our good.