Looking over a list of Christian conferences coming up in 2023 I ran across one that states it is for: “LGBTQ+ Christians who have committed to celibacy as a personal call in their spiritual journeys.”
Here are some of the bios of the speakers:
“(Speaker A) identifies as cis/gay/queer and is the mom of a grown son from a 25-year mixed-orientation marriage.”
“(Speaker B, He/Him) is passionate about the intersection of faith, sexuality, and… facilitates conversations among Christian sexual and gender minorities.”
“(Rev. Speaker C, she/her) is…an outspoken advocate for youth ministry and social justice, (she/her) has worked as a youth leader, Children, Youth and Family Pastor, (has used) theatrical and improvisational elements in services but also to respond to God as a worship light and (has been)…a drag king, and occasional amateur DJ.”
“(Speaker D) was raised in a Christian home that was heavily involved in addiction recovery ministries. While leading in a large evangelical campus fellowship her first two years of college, (she) had a crisis of faith and ultimately joined a new group specifically created for Queer people of faith on campus. Attending (this same conference) in 2019 was a huge turning point for her, where she felt able to fully embrace her identity. She has gone through a long period of deconstructing her faith and continues to ponder the liberating potential of faith. She frames Jesus as her earliest example of what a revolutionary can look like.”
It goes on.
Where the Battle Fiercely Rages
This issue reminds me of the following quote:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace to him, if he flinches at that one point.” — A follower of Martin Luther, 2 April 1526, quoted in Chronicles of the Schönberg-Cotta Family (New York, 1865), page 321.
The front-line of the battle in Evangelicalism today is that of sexual ethics: Marriage, divorce, remarriage, fornication, adultery, pornography, abortion, same-sex attraction, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “gender fluidity,” “non-binary,” “non-conforming,” transgender, and of course, the entire alphabet soup of titles and “preferred gender pronouns.”
In 2014, the liberal Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) published an article promoting the acceptance of “gay” as a category for Christians but offering the suggestion of celibacy for those who are not “married.” The United Methodist Church (UMC) also led with this path.
Christian colleges and university are also impacted by this movement. For instance, Calvin University (a school in Grand Rapids, MI that is connected to the Dutch Reformed tradition) has (in 2022) denounced premarital sex and defined marriage as between a man and a woman, however it still allows a support group for LGBTQ students on campus. In the 2020-21 academic year, the school allowed a bisexual student to be elected as student body president.
Matthew Vines, a self-identified “gay” man, and a Presbyterian authored the popular book God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Vines promotes celibacy outside of marriage but believes “gay Christians” have a theological case for same-sex marriage.
He has helped to shift the nature of the dialogue on this issue among Evangelicals. He says, “It’s a subtle but significant shift. (People are now) saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with being gay in and of itself,’ and that is a big change.”
Moving the Goalpost
It is believed by many activists that the way to normalize all LGBTQIA+ issues is to take the path of least resistance with Evangelicals. If you claim to be celibate or “non-practicing,” then everyone drops their guard and chills out. Pragmatically, their theory seems to work. This approach has been repeatedly attempted in the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) denomination, who so far has withstood the acceptance of those into positions of leadership who self-identify as “gay Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or even “same-sex attracted Christian.” Even some Southern Baptists are moving in this direction. Some of their top seminary faculty have spoken at conferences that affirm the acceptance of “identity” as long as the individuals are non-practicing.
The Law of Identity
Many LGBTQIA+ advocates claim Jesus never taught on the matter, and they infer from this that He must have approved of such ideas. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus said, regarding sexuality:
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4-6, ESV).
The first law of formal logic is “The Law of Identity.” This very basic law asserts that “whatever a thing is, it is.” This kind of thesis also presents a “Classical Negation.” If something is true, the opposite is false (the Law of Non-Contradiction), and truth cannot in this sense be both true AND false (the Law of the Excluded Middle). So, when Jesus says there are two sexual categories of humans (male and female) in the original creation, He is describing a Universal Elimination all other possibilities.
A New Identity
One of the churches the Apostle Paul founded in the middle of the first century had many of the same sexual problems that exist in America today. Rather than teaching them to see themselves as “Christian swindlers” “Christian adulterers,” or such, Paul emphasized their rebirth and new identity in Christ.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11, ESV, emphasis added).
Paul encouraged them to identify their past sins and struggles but to look forward, not back. You will never overcome a sin or habit that you believe you ARE. If something defines your very existence, you will never move past it because it controls you. You may be a male or female who struggles with same-sex attraction (or illicit heterosexual attraction), but rather than defining yourself by a temptation, you should not only abstain from sin, but pursue righteousness instead.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6).
This issue of identity is not just a side issue. It is the dam that holds back the floodgates of immorality in the Church. If you ARE something other than God says He made you to be, that makes Him out to be a liar. That makes humans, not God, the arbiters and definers of sexuality. The original argument in the garden from that serpent was, “Hath God REALLY said?” That is the enemy’s same approach today. God did not make anyone “gay” or “transgender.” He made them male and female. Sin has made them all these other things by which they self-identify. The solution is the same one the Church has been preaching for 2,000 years: The gospel of Jesus Christ that forgives sin and changes sinners.