OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Newsweek, May 6, uses the phrase “Christianity at a Crossroads” as a subtitle in a discussion of the current sexual abuse scandal plaguing the Roman Catholic Church.
The use of that phrase is incredibly irritating to evangelicals. The Romanists are wrestling with their problems relating to their ecclesiastical institutions abusing children and women, and they should put a stop to the abuse immediately. However, Catholicism does not comprise the whole of Christianity. Many knowledgeable people have believed that Catholicism is on the edge of the umbrella of Christian thought and reason. For centuries now, the Romanists have not represented the mainstream of Christian theology and practice.
The Newsweek author attempts to make a case that Christianity is at a crossroads because of the recent Catholic scandal. The concept the writer pursues is this: Will institutional Christianity decide to comply with cultural norms regarding human sexuality and other “politically correct” issues or because of its stodginess be rejected by Western civilization to such an extent that in just a few generations the church will be a non-reality?
The most frightening issue with the article is not the foolishness of discussing the acceptability of homosexuality as a viable sexual expression. But the non-impact in the secular mind regarding evangelical Christianity sends chills up an evangelical’s spine. Is the author ignorant of the fact that the mainstream of Christianity is comprised of those whose belief system is based on the Jesus of Scripture, not the Jesus of a manipulated religious institution? Or does the author choose to ignore mainstream Christian thought in order to perpetuate the secularist agenda?
The statement is made “the Catholic crisis should prompt a broader conversation about how far Christianity still has to resolve its complexities about the larger issue of sexuality.”
Mainstream biblical Christianity is not in an identity crisis over human sexuality. What the Scriptures teach is quite clear. Human sexuality is created by God and is intended for expression in the context of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Sexual expressions outside of that relationship are regarded as sin, not because the church calls such expressions sin, but because the Word of God is the standard.
Only one time did the Newsweek article quote a Southern Baptist. Thankfully, it was a clear voice of reason. Bill Merrell, a vice president of the SBC Executive Committee, said, “The Scripture clearly and unequivocally declares that homosexuality is a sin against God.”
Are there scholars who consider the above statement as narrow? Yes, there are quasi-theologians who attempt to justify behavior by reconstructing the context of biblical truth. There are even some who question the veracity of Scripture. But let it be shouted from the rooftops: This type of scholar may tickle the fancy of a journalist with an agenda, but such scholarship does not represent the mainstream of Christianity!
Institutional religion is all a secularist knows to talk about, not the reality of a personal relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christianity is at a crossroads, it is because individual believers are grappling more with the commands of the gospel than they are with their sexual determination. The commands of Jesus are not a list of “you can’t do this or you can’t do that’s.” The command of Jesus to his followers is that we are to communicate with real people, including secular journalists, the living reality of Jesus Christ. Through holy lifestyles and straightforward convictional values based on the Scriptures, evangelical Christians bring hope to a world confused by institutional religion.
Yeats is editor of the Baptist Messenger.