Last week at our annual CPYU Banquet, our emcee Greg Anderson offered a few words of introduction right out of the gate. “Who could have imagined when we were here this time last year the changes that would take place in the year ahead.” So true.
Cultural change this last year was fast and furious, especially when it came to sexuality, politics, and sexual politics. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to sort out all the news and what’s behind it when it comes to issues of gender and where we now choose to relieve ourselves.
These are complex, difficult, and head-spinning issues for sure. Running to hide from or choosing to haphazardly lob insensitive and uninformed bombs at those with whom we disagree seem to be popular options, but they aren’t good options for the informed Christian. To be sure, my head is spinning. Consequently, I’m committed to take the approach Paul took when he ventured into Athens (Acts 17). I want to be saturated with a long vein of Biblical truth and orthodoxy, I want to know history, and I want to listen and learn before speaking. It’s so difficult in so many ways. I also want to fulfill my God-given responsibility to teach kids the truth, and I want to protect them from potential harm of any type.
In an effort to be faithful to the Scriptures and redemptive in our approach, a good first step is to “frame” the issue. Maybe we need to close the frame where it needs to be tightened. And maybe we need to expand the frame where it needs to be expanded. Ultimately, for me, it’s James Davidson Hunter’s posture of “faithful presence” (faithful to the Word, present in the world) that seems to be the most obedient and best option. How that’s going to pan out, I’m still not sure. That’s why the first step is to frame this thing with some assumptions. . . or, some realities that we must recognize as we work to take our initial faithful steps onto this new cultural landscape. Here’s what I’m thinking. . .
This is an incredibly complex issue. My friend Steve Garber told me three years ago that this is “the most complex, tender, and difficult issue we face in the church right now.” Face it we must. We can’t jump to quick conclusions or make it too simple. If we do, we risk getting it wrong and never having a voice.
We don’t own the conversation. In other words, the ball is not in our court. It’s the culture that’s having and leading the conversation. We’re aliens and pilgrims, remember? Consequently, we must be invited in. We must listen hard and study hard. In effect, we must assume the posture of a cross-cultural missionary. Read Acts 17.
If you don’t support LGBTQ marriage, LGBTQ rights, or free choice when it comes to preferred rest rooms, you are an ignorant bigot. That’s just the way it is right now. We must stick to the truth and God’s design as sound exegesis and hermeneutical method lead us to a proper understanding of God’s desires for our sexuality, but we must also jettison any extra posture/communication baggage that would warrant the “ignorant bigot” label. In other words, let the offensive Gospel be offensive. We can’t let our offensiveness get in the way of the offensiveness of the Gospel.
We must repent and ask forgiveness where necessary. We must confess our lack of civility, lack of Biblical depth, lack of love, lack of grace, lack of mercy, and lack of neighborliness. We must also confess our own sexual brokenness, otherwise we are nothing but hypocrites. To arrogantly attack these issues without seriously recognizing and addressing our own issues is flat-out wrong.
It’s not just something happening “out there.” These are our kids and our families. These issues are no respecter of persons.
When it comes to kids, you may be the only voice speaking to them about biblical sexuality. If that’s so, you will get pushback. Patience and tact are necessary when basic worldview assumptions are being challenged by what sounds like an incomprehensible foreign language.
Our kids are incredibly vulnerable to the cultural narrative. Remember, two of the main tasks of adolescence are identity formation and worldview formation. The years of childhood and adolescence are formative. So, we must be “forming” them.
The situation has become more complex due to age compression and age aspiration. Simply stated, the stuff we used to face as 18-year-olds, kids now have to process in first grade. And with kids wanting to appear, feel, and be treated as much older than they are, the ante is upped on how young they face these things. Parents. . . take note: You need to have some serious and difficult conversations at uncomfortable ages.
Child-centered parenting has accelerated cultural change on issues of sexual identity and practice. In all honestly, I am baffled by parents who let their kids hold the reigns on their choice of identity at younger and younger ages. . . even pre-school.
We will be forced to face very difficult, uncomfortable, and new situations. Well, we’re here already.
These are not the worst of times culturally. Human sexuality has been broken since Genesis 3:6. Cultural history is filled with a variety of expressions of sexual brokenness. This is nothing new.
This is good for the church. Seriously. For too long we’ve been lazy, entitled, and running on cruise control. . . which has led not only to the loss of our voice, but to ignorance on what we should be saying and doing. God is and will be using this to build His church and advance the Gospel. However, we have a responsibility to seriously, prayerfully, and responsibly examine the Scriptures. . . relying on revelation rather than speculation.
Stay tuned. . .