In the last installment of this miniseries we explored some of the history and ideology behind the LGBTQIA movement’s rejection or radical alteration of the biblical narrative regarding our sexuality and identity as human beings. In this post and the next, we will look more closely at some of the tragic trajectories and likely results stemming from the stubborn refusal to submit to God’s purposes and plans for our lives, particularly in the area of human sexuality.
In all honesty, it’s hard to know where to start. There are so many ways the trajectories of the LGBTQIA agenda could be explored. I will briefly examine just four representative ways the impact of this movement is being felt already, two here and two in the next post. We will start with some self-incrimination by examining its impact on some of the beliefs of self-identified Christians—straight and otherwise—regarding sexual issues.
Impact on Christian Sexual Morality
In a telling 2014 study, “Tracking Christian Morality in a Same-sex Marriage Future,” University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus found that churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage differed significantly from churchgoing Christians who rejected same-sex marriage in several areas of sexual ethics. Consider the following table:
|Moral Issue:||Reject Same-sex Marriage||Support Same-sex Marriage||Identify as a Gay or Lesbian Christian|
|Looking at pornography is OK.||
|Premarital cohabitation is good.||
|No-strings attached sex is OK.||
|It is OK for three or more adults to be sexually involved with one another.||
|Abortion is a moral right.||
The results are not surprising. When we embrace sin, it has a subtle and insidious way of dulling our moral compass, confusing our mental clarity, and distorting our spiritual sensibilities. We may not radically alter our views on God and the Bible overnight, but time is often the best indicator of where we are actually going when we begin to reject biblical standards and moral practices for the sake of personal preference, cultural acceptance, and social respectability. Already those inside the church embracing the new moral climate are moving in the wrong direction.
Impact on Our Understanding of Marriage
The impact this movement has had on our cultural understanding of marriage is enormous. I have already addressed some aspects of this question in a previous post (“What’s wrong with Homosexual marriage?”), but a few additional comments are in order here.
The legitimization of same-sex marriage is a fundamental redefinition of what marriage is and why it matters. This redefinition argues that marriage is not a mutually binding covenant before God and a community of others, as it is from a Christian perspective, but essentially nothing more than a mutually agreeable social love contract between two (for now) consenting adults. When all parties have changed their hearts and minds, there is nothing to stop them from nullifying the agreement and moving on. Apart from the social and cultural instability this contractual flippancy produces, especially for children, it also opens wide the door to all kinds of other strange notions of marriage.
If marriage is nothing more than a legal social contract between consenting adults—male to male, female to female, male to female—then why should sexual fidelity be an expectation of the marriage relationship? If everyone is amenable to it, why not advocate sexually open marriages as some in Hollywood have done? Furthermore, why should the number be limited to only two? Why not three or more consenting adults—polygamy and beyond? And if the committed sexual expression of loving feelings is the main reason why people should marry, as most homosexual advocates seem to suggest, why can’t a marriage contract be wrought between a sister and brother, sister and sister, brother and brother, so long as they “love” each other? If the only reason to prevent such an incestuous arrangement is to avoid offspring and any potential birth defects born of inbreeding, why not agree in the contract to forgo having children or aborting any “accidents” that may occur? If everyone agrees, how can anyone from the outside place limits on a love contract made between concurring friends and lovers?
On page 140 of What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, Kevin DeYoung gives this helpful summary of what’s stake here: “By recognizing same-sex unions as marriage . . . the state is engaging in . . . a massive reengineering of our social life. It assumes the indistinguishability of gender in parenting, the relative unimportance of procreation in marriage, and the near infinite flexibility as to what sorts of structures and habits lead to human flourishing.”
Given this social love contract view of marriage, it is not surprising that some have even argued for legal marriage between humans and animals as well as adults and children. If the latter idea shocks you, keep in mind that child brides are not wholly foreign to other societies around the world, and while most Americans remain uneasy about such arrangements, if marriage is a humanly determined social contract, there is no inherent logical barrier if enough people change their minds on the matter or if enough activist politicians and judges who want it legalized come to power.
Granted, it may be unlikely such arrangements will gain widespread popular acceptance in the US anytime soon. But that is not the primary point. The point is that conventional secularist social and legal love contract views of marriage present no consistently logical barrier against these other seemingly more radical understandings of what constitutes a marital relationship. And that’s a legal and rational problem that is likely to cause trouble in future court rulings when activists seek a legal sanction for alternative marital arrangements.
In closing, it should be noted that in contrast to a social and legal love contract theory of marriage, a covenantal view of marriage is a distinctly Christian perspective. Some have pointed out that demanding that our secular government uphold a distinctly Christian view of marriage is unreasonable and unnecessary. Christians should be able to continue to define and demonstrate marriage from a biblical perspective and leave the secular definition to the government. Fair enough, but this assumes Christians should have little or no public influence on governmental policies that have widespread social implications. It also assumes governments will not significantly intrude on Christian beliefs and practices that have public import. Neither assumption is warranted, and I will address both issues when we look more closely at some of the potential impact of the LGBTQIA movement on religious freedom in my next post.
However, if a Christian perspective is also good for society as a whole, it is worth arguing that it be the standard for all members of society, not merely for Christians. Where things get much more complicated is discerning what distinctly Christian morals and standpoints should be publicly supported and codified by the state. That is a convoluted question that requires another book or series of posts, and one about which sincere Christians strongly disagree. Nevertheless, I do believe—against the LGBTQIA movement—that the Christian view of marriage as constituting a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman is not inherently burdensome, inequitable, or oppressive toward non-Christians. Rather, as I argue in more detail in my next post, it contributes to greater human flourishing for all, even those with same-sex attractions and who struggle with their sexual identity.
Thanks for this well written, thoughtful, and important article!
This is very well-written and thought out. Thank you.
My belief is not that the government is transforming society by legalizing gay marriage as DeYoug claims, (“By recognizing same-sex unions as marriage . . . the state is engaging in . . . a massive reengineering of our social life. ) rather that society is the mover and that both the government and the church are been dragged along. American Christians have for too long assumed that the government should and would protect Judeo-Christian values. But government in the US is responsive to the people. Similarly, would legalizing marijuana make it socially acceptable, or is the social acceptability of marijuana the reason that it is becoming legalized/decriminalized? It’s hard to know for sure, but I think society is in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, society also is driving the church to abandon its values. I maintain that if the church had not been so compromised and “in bed with” American society it would not have become so easily swayed on sexual mores. Christians should be leading in creating better communities by example, not by being a powerful political interest group. Being the salt of the world does not mean trying to grab the levers of power.
Fair enough critique. You are right for the most part but sometimes there is a synergistic relationship between governmental activism and social acceptance. I’m not sure this would have moved as quickly as it did if Obama, for example, had not been so supportive. So government and leadership does play a role is the direction the society goes.
You are also VERY right about the church being lulled into bed and failing to be a genuine countercultural faith community. That is where the fault lies first and foremost and where we have to start looking to see how we have failed to be faithful to God.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Very prophetic. Here’s a link to an article today where a man is trying to marry his second wife and using your thought processes and Judge Roberts dissent to justify it. I don’t see how they could end up denying him the “equality” of polygamy. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/07/02/polygamous-montana-trio-applies-for-wedding-license/?intcmp=latestnews
Here’s one instance where I would rather be proven wrong, but yes, it’s coming faster than I’d hoped. God have mercy on us!