Sorting Sexuality

Sorting Sexuality

• Join us for Selah tonight at 7:00p. We’ll pray over what God has been teaching us during Covid-19. ALSO, we’ll have evening worship this Sunday at 5:00p in the east parking lot. Lawn chairs, masks, awesome music. The topic is the necessity and historicity of the Resurrection. The truth matters. And increasingly we’ll find just how much it matters.

• It won’t seem like it at first, but this note is about how this culture came to its current posture on human sexuality.

• Paul has a startling phrase where he says the Universe was made in the way it was so that Christ might be “preeminent in all things” (Col 1:15-20). That preeminence extends to our own hearts and lives. So Jesus can say he must be “your first love” (Rev 2:4), and the rest of your life will eventually sort itself out. I don’t mean by this that life will be easy, which God never promises, but that you will have clarity of purpose and direction when you need it (Prov 3:5-8 and Jer 10:23). The center of our lives is Christ “in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” and what comes next is crucial: “I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments” (Col 2:3), meaning any way of thinking about life that replaces the singular pursuit of Christ. What follows is one illustration of how holding Christ preeminent (or not) shapes how Christians engage society on sexuality and social justice.

• Several years ago a friend and pastor learned that one of his son’s close friends, whose family had been in the church for several years, had come out as gay. If I remember right, both families were close and had been for some time. What followed was the need for my friend, the pastor, to have difficult and delicate conversations with his friends, the parents. Though my friend understood the need for love, patience, and gentleness in what was for the family an unprecedented moment, the conversation(s) did not go well. In the end, the parents sided with their son, changed their views on the Bible and homosexuality, and left the church. This is our moment in time: the horizontal dominates the vertical, the immanent controls the transcendent, the physical displaces the metaphysical. We fret about where we stand relative to the significant people in our lives (and sometimes the insignificant). Meanwhile the presence of God, as David Wells said, is weightless. This is the infamous transfer of worship in Rom 1:21-27 and it’s the reason for the current culture of human sexuality, namely, “…God gave them up.” Disordered human sexuality is only a symptom, not the actual problem.

• Christians in theologically conservative churches tend to think rapidly-changing sexual mores are like a barbarian horde pounding on the city gates. But the truth is that the problem is already inside the city. Most of us are simply not prepared to choose Christ over and against our own children (I confess to being horrified by the thought of it). Jesus knew such crises would come, so he taught things that seemed needlessly harsh at the time: “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Mt 10:34ff). Or even harsher, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:28). Pastors don’t teach such passages because they alienate people. Jesus uses them to clear our heads, to make us decide, to sort us. We forget that Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac is the foundational story of love, parenting, and worship, not a bizarre narrative tangent.

• There is a unique character to a life that is fully and ultimately centered on Christ, and it is rare, even in careful churches. It is that character, that unique counter-cultural clarity and beauty-of-soul that our children need from us right now, a clarity and beauty that society needs from us. In the past I’ve said that so much of Christianity in America is like inoculation: we acquire just enough of it in our churches and homes to ensure we never catch the full disease. What the Church needs right now, especially in light of a past year so filled with “delusions and plausible arguments,” is a life-threatening case of Christ preeminent, Christ the source of wisdom and knowledge, Christ and him crucified.

• But be ready in your heart to pay a high price. As Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Mt 24). You can’t save the world, maybe not even your family, but you can bear faithful testimony and endure to the end — and God may use that to save far more than you had dared to hope.

– Pastor Eric