Tackling the Confusion over Sexuality in Our Times
In Christian circles, a reference to the “men of Issachar” is generally understood to be an allusion to 1 Chronicles 12:32, which, in context, lists the men who aligned with David at the onset of his reign. According to the writer of 1 Chronicles, the men of Issachar were those “who understood the times and knew what Israel ought to do.” Evidently, the men of Issachar possessed a level of wisdom, savvy, and ability that served David at a crucial moment in his kingship. Thus, over the years, the descriptor “men of Issachar” has been used to describe leaders with situational awareness and moral courage.
It is difficult to find the “men of Issachar” in our own day. Many Christian commitments seem outdated — and even subversive to many in our culture — and faithfulness to God and His Word is becoming increasingly rare. This is true even for those who desire to honor the Lord, and especially true for navigating controversial issues such as marriage, gender, and sexuality. Bombarded with so many competing messages, it is not always clear what faithfulness requires for addressing morally contentious topics.
Complicating matters is the accelerating velocity of this moral change. Questions related to gender, sexuality, and marriage are now debated on an almost daily basis. These conversations take place in churches, families, and within the broader culture.
Just consider a few recent stories in the news. In the realm of politics, for example, the Arkansas House education committee passed a bill last Thursday that would provide protections for state employees from being forced to use “preferred pronouns.”
In the realm of the church, the Church of England announced last month it will now offer “blessings” to legally married same-sex couples despite the church’s official teaching that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman. Currently, the United Methodist Church is undergoing a schism due to fundamentally different beliefs about marriage and human sexuality within the denomination.
In the culture, debate about so-called “Drag Queen Story Hour” is raging, and 15 states are considering legislation that would prohibit sexually lewd performances targeting minors.
In the midst of moral upheaval, theological confusion, and fear, cultural pressures are causing many Christians to re-evaluate their beliefs about God’s design for sexuality. Although the Bible is very clear on God’s design for marriage and sexuality, there is immense pressure to adjust or at least downplay the Bible’s teaching on these topics. Pastors and counselors around the country have told me that sexuality is one of the most challenging issues to address in their ministry contexts. Christian youth in particular are being assailed with a dizzying array of messages, and as a result, are asking fundamental questions about their identity. Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of faithful, Bible-based resources for pastors, counselors, and Christian parents.
That’s why Denny Burk, Colin Smothers, and I wrote “Male and Female He Created Them: A Study on Gender, Sexuality, and Marriage,” a study which presents a biblical vision for contested issues such as sexual orientation, gender identity, and marriage. We wanted to give Christians a better grasp on the Bible’s teaching about our identities as male and female, created in the image of God, and know how to apply Scripture to these issues in their ministries at church, home, and work.
Designed for group settings such as Sunday school classes or small group Bible studies in mind, it can also be completed by individuals. The study includes supplemental videos featuring Dr. Albert Mohler, Rev. H.B. Charles, Dr. Rosaria Butterfield, Dr. Christopher Yuan, and others. Specific lessons focus on the Bible’s appraisal of homosexuality, transgenderism, and intersex conditions.
Recent research indicates that it is imperative for Christians to think carefully about these issues. In a survey released last month, George Barna showed that the percentage of Americans who have a biblical worldview has dropped to an all-time low of 4%. Gallup, in another study released in February, showed that the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT is 7.2%, double the percentage from a decade ago. Incredibly, 19.7% of Generation Z (those born between 1997-2004) identify as LGBT. Placed side-by-side, these surveys reinforce the same main point: Americans are abandoning Christianity — along with its sexual ethics — and embracing values and lifestyles at odds with a biblical worldview.
These current trends in America’s religious life are why my co-authors and I wrote “Male and Female He Created Them.” The heart behind the development of this resource is to point Christians to the timeless truths of God’s Word in the midst of the unprecedented moral change taking place around us.
To be a man of Issachar in 2023 will take courage, determination, and an iron-clad commitment to Scripture. The times are challenging, but faithfulness to the Lord is worth any inconvenience, hardship, or difficulty that may result from our decision to follow Him (Mat. 16:24-27).
To order a copy of “Male and Female He Created Them,” visit HeCreatedThem.org.
David Closson is Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.