". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13

Commentary

The Church and the Sexual Revolution

June 26, 2022

In recent months, human sexuality — more specifically, unbiblical actions concerning it — have been at the forefront of church news in the United States. Here are some examples:

Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Texas with roughly 20,000 students, announced this spring it has “officially chartered Prism, an LGBTQ+ and allies student organization.” At the same time, the school issued a statement on human sexuality which affirms “purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.” The statement also condemns all forms of sexual intimacy that “deviate” from this standard.

This is so obviously incoherent that both opponents and advocates of the Prism are scratching their heads. “If Baylor wants to limit us in any sort of way as an organization that other organizations are not subjected to, then we don’t want that official chartership,” said Britt LaVergne, who leads another, unofficial gay student group on the university’s campus. And as Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary, observed, “what we’re looking at here is just another way of getting to surrender to the moral revolution without admitting that that’s what you’re doing.”

The Southern Baptist Convention is also dealing with violations of biblical sexual teaching. In June, the SBC “approved a series of sexual abuse reforms, including a new way to track accused ministers.” The convention has apologized to the women who have been sexually abused by pastors and other church leaders over the past several decades and also published a list of all those whom they deemed credibly accused of sexual misconduct. That the SBC is now seeking to stop sexual predation is welcome news.

Thankfully, they at last have come clean with this issue. The Boy Scouts of America hid many decades of widespread sexual abuse and, after the horrors of widespread child molestation were made known, are now in bankruptcy as thousands of victims are, rightfully, demanding some kind of accounting.

However, there is good news. At its annual meeting, held in June at Michigan’s Calvin College, delegates to the Christian Reformed denomination’s annual meeting affirmed that “adultery, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, polyamory, pornography, and homosexual sex” violate biblical teaching. Not only this, the delegates voted to affirm that “homosexual sex is unchaste by the definition of the Heidelberg Catechism,” one of the church’s historic statements of faith.

There are many examples of how some evangelicals are turning from scriptural norms regarding human sexuality. This is disturbing, as the biblical teaching is clear and definitive. Instead, some believers seem to see Scripture not as God’s self-revelation but as a moral buffet from which each of us can select or reject specific teachings based on personal preference.

Why are so many younger evangelicals ready to jettison the Bible’s teaching? There are a host of reasons. Family breakdown and the wounds it causes can make truth the servant of affection. Personal relationships with family members and friends identifying as LGBT make it hard for some to stand for what the Bible says. The near-constant inundation in the news media, education, and the entertainment industry indoctrinate our youth about why homosexuality is a positive good. And too many pastors are afraid to proclaim the truth about human sexuality for fear of giving offense. As a result, many young men and women in our churches believe that opposing homosexuality is the equivalent of racial bigotry, a form of irrational hatred.

Yet there really is nothing new here. From the earliest days of the Jewish people, distortions of human sexuality have been common. The deviant sexual practices of the Canaanite peoples influenced ancient Israel so profoundly that the people of Judah, for example, “built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim (female sexual images) on every high hill and under every green tree, and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land” (I Kings 14:23-24).

Sexual infidelity was rampant among Israel’s patriarchs and kings. And in the New Testament, we find many sections dealing with immorality (see, for example, extended discussions of such in I Corinthians 6-7). As Paul charges the early Christians, each of us needs to “know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust” (I Thessalonians 4:4-5).

Yes, some will fall away from the Bible’s teachings on sexuality and on other critical matters of doctrine and practice. But mature Christians should not be shaken by such things. We must both remain faithful and encourage faithfulness, with courage, consistency, and compassion. After all, we know Who wins in the end.

Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.