ANDERSON, S.C. (BP) — No issue flummoxes and frustrates evangelicals in today’s culture wars more than that of homosexuality.
It seems to many Christians a no-win issue. If we speak about it in any way, the media attempts to marginalize us. If we stay on the sidelines, it feels like we are sitting silent on the Titanic of traditional marriage as it sinks in the sea of cultural chaos.
I find myself pondering — as an evangelical father, as a Bible professor, as an elder in a local church — how to navigate these chaotic cultural waters. As evangelical Christians convinced of the biblical plan and theological mandate of traditional marriage, what should we say, think and do in this world where our views are disregarded, misunderstood, misinterpreted or impugned as antiquated and intolerant?
While reasoned disapproval can and should be expressed in the right circles and circumstances, we need to realize that homosexual behavior is only going to become more public, more prevalent and more praised. But perhaps the current culture is not an irreparable reality.
I wonder if, as evangelicals, we might take some lessons from the pro-life movement. Early in the pro-life movement, many tried to argue against choice and the pro-abortion arguments. Though these arguments were correct and many times biblically grounded, this strategy of negativity did little to impact the direction of the debate — principally because of the shifts in culture and the movement away from biblical authority.
However, in recent years, the pro-life strategy shifted from arguing “against” abortion and to arguing “for” life. Ultrasounds, pro-life crisis pregnancy centers and science itself seems to be winning the day for the pro-life argument. Studies have shown that Millennials are much more likely to support life than any other cultural issue.
In no way should we shy away from calling homosexuality what it is but, at the same time, I wonder if a positive and “grassroots” strategy might prove more effective — especially among Millennial Christians who seem to be moving further away from biblical marriage. In other words, instead of focusing public efforts on arguing against homosexuality, constructively promote “for” biblical marriage.
So, for example, evangelical preachers should celebrate the beauty of the biblical metaphor of marriage as rightfully patterned after the relationship of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). In this way, we should show that marriage is at root a profoundly “Gospel” issue.
We should also commend the original creation-vision for marriage as demonstrated in Genesis 2. Indeed, is this not what Jesus did when faced with unbiblical views of marriage in His day (Matthew 19:1-12)?
Church leaders should demonstrate healthy marriages in their own lives, purposefully inviting especially younger Christians into their homes to witness their examples. Christian parents should teach and model the principles of biblical manhood and womanhood as well as God’s purposes for marriage to their children. Truly, discipleship on the church and family level must include the issues of marriage and sexuality.
Social media, when used, should trumpet the virtues of biblical marriage — edifying, rather than tearing down. We should be known by our love for one another and for the outcast. And perhaps most importantly, we should pray that the light of the Gospel and of the Gospel-centered vision of marriage might penetrate the cultural fog surrounding this issue.
Of course, no easy answers exist. And we should be prepared to be maligned by many, even if we do attempt a more constructive approach. But if we are attempting to maintain an unhelpful strategy, maybe we need to look at changing. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”