The image of actress Drew Barrymore on her knees in front of Dylan Mulvaney – the grown man who “identifies” as a girl – perfectly captures the current moment in American history.
Every cultural institution in America, including historic civil rights organizations, understands that “rainbow is the new black.” The LGBTQIA+ community’s ever-expanding acronym is an accurate reflection of its political power, despite research that indicates only 7% of U.S. adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or something other than heterosexual.
This power is why every American institution has been thoroughly “queered,” from schools and libraries that have become a second home to drag queens to professional sports that are no longer hiding in the closet. The reason Pride flags are so ubiquitous in American society is that every conquering army raises its banner to signal victory over its opponents.
The final territory to be conquered in Pride’s march through the institutions is the church. It goes without saying that many churches have already abandoned biblical teaching on matters of sex, sexuality, and gender identity. The United Church of Christ has a coalition of churches that identify as open and affirming. These churches display Pride flags with more passion and prominence than crosses.
But there are other pastors who are trying to straddle the fence between biblical fidelity and cultural relevancy. A recent sermon by Pastor Mike Todd included his admission that he wrestles with things he does not understand (e.g., same-sex attraction) and that his default in those situations is to submit his opinions to clear biblical teaching. He stated that “God decided male and female” and that he wouldn’t perform a same-sex wedding, but his delivery led one popular Christian apologist to claim he was affirming things that the Bible condemns.
Todd hasn’t capitulated to the culture on LGBT issues, but you can tell a lot about a pastor’s theological vulnerabilities based on how he addresses certain sins. No preacher ever says, “I know and love the adulterers in my life,” but when it comes to homosexuality, the average sermon dies a death by a thousand caveats.
Andy Stanley, pastor of a megachurch in Georgia, has also been criticized by fellow Christians for what they believe is an increasingly affirming stance on homosexuality. His claims that some homosexuals he knows exhibit more faith and love than professing believers raised eyebrows in evangelical circles. So did his claim that Christians should not argue for the complete trustworthiness of the Bible.
Other pastors argue that Christians should align their priorities with what the scriptures emphasize. They don’t have the conviction to boldly deny scripture, so their goal is to get believers to stop talking about sexual ethics so much. The evangelical church has gone from “love the sinner, hate the sin” to reluctantly repeating what the Bible says or trying to find ways to take the sting out of its truth.
This may sound like the affirming thing to do for people struggling with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, but it’s not. Someone who identifies as LGBT needs to hear the same message from the church as any other person: We are all sinners in desperate need of a savior, and forgiveness and eternal life can be attained by turning from our sin and trusting in Jesus Christ.
This is the good news of the Gospel, and it is available to all sinners, regardless of whether they are murderers, thieves, idol worshippers, adulterers, or homosexuals.
Many people will recoil at the inclusion of a celebrated “identity” in the sinners’ hall of shame, but that reflects how radically American culture has changed over the past 30 years. The irony is that the people who reject God in favor of Darwinism don’t think or live in a manner consistent with their beliefs. Their promotion of homosexuality, transgenderism, and abortion have one thing in common: All lead to death. People who believe in evolution should be wary of any beliefs, behaviors, or lifestyles that make it impossible to propagate the species.
Every civilization, country, and culture must decide which values it will promote publicly, which ones will be practiced privately, and what punishments to mete out when what’s normally done behind closed doors is paraded in the public square.
Put another way: Every society has a closet. The only question is what beliefs and behaviors will be forced in and which ones will be let out.
Activists on the left understand this, which is why they fight so hard to control the range of beliefs and behaviors that are relegated to the private sphere. For decades, religious Americans lived “out, loud, and proud,” while gays and lesbians felt pressure to keep their sexual preferences private. Now the roles are completely reversed. Men engage in puppy play in front of children at Pride parades, while pastors argue for practicing “pronoun hospitality.”
A biblically faithful church will be honest about God’s judgment of sin as well as the salvation that is found in repentance and faith in Christ. A theologically compromised church will affirm people in their sin in order to look compassionate to the culture. One church is willing to endure ridicule for people to have eternal life. The other wants to maintain its reputation even if it keeps people on the path to eternal damnation.
Which one sounds more loving to you?