How the Church is Failing Millennials on the Homosexual Issue
I was just talking Sunday night with some folks in my church about how the church is failing our younger generations on the issue of homosexuality. To my surprise, they agreed with me. We all agreed that the popular church strategies of either ignoring the issue or of being soft and not fully addressing the issue is not helping; and is doing more harm than any intended good.
There is a number of ways that I believe the church is failing on this issue. As I told my friends I was discussing with after church Sunday night, the world believes Christians are in one of two camps: the Westboro Baptist camp, or the we’re-all-God’s-children camp.
In other words, people think Christians either hate all homosexuals and want to see harm come to them; a la Westboro Baptist. Or that we believe we’re all God’s children (a heretical lie) and that God made people gay.
Either of these two positions is false and problematic. But there is one particular reason why I believe the church is failing millennials on this very critical issue.
Simply put, the church has failed to properly teach the issue of human sexuality as it is defined in Scripture. We have failed to explain that sexuality is fixed at birth – male or female – and must be respected in order to live a full life.
Often we have focused on homosexual behavior and actions in our lessons and sermons and there is certainly a time for this. But while we focus on actions and behaviors we fail to discuss the underlying issues of the heart that cause those actions and behaviors. The effect has been a gaping hole in our theology of sexuality that has opened the door for false teachings. These false teachings have infiltrated our churches and caused widespread confusion among millennials in particular.
An article at the Christian Post reiterates this thought:
“We can’t ignore the ‘gay Christian’ debate. For too long, I’ve seen pastors avoid the ‘politically charged’ same-sex marriage issue. From the pulpit, they say things like, ‘Don’t worry about marriage out there. Just defend God’s design for marriage by living out yours well.’ These pastors have good intentions. But in their dodge ball efforts to not offend liberal members of their congregations, they have created a gaping hole in theological understanding of sexuality and marriage, especially among young Christians.”
I have had conversations with numerous pastors that have avoided the issue of sexuality because, in their view, it is not an “essential” doctrine. While I recognize that the biblical doctrine of sexuality is not essential for salvation, as is sin, grace, Jesus and the cross are, it is nonetheless an essential doctrine in our culture.
If a person does not understand clearly the biblical teaching on human sexuality he or she will have a very hard time accepting other doctrines of the Bible. For churches this is especially important. We cannot properly teach the Bible’s doctrine regarding marriage if we have not first clearly communicated the Bible’s doctrine of sexuality. Other issues, such as leadership in the church, and God as our Heavenly Father are called into question when sexuality is not clearly understood.
Michael Brown, also writing at the Christian Post agrees:
“Without a doubt, this issue will become a great dividing line in the Church, and I for one welcome it, since it points to a much deeper divide in our approach to God, His Word, and the people He wants to redeem. Ultimately, it will separate those who put God first and ask, ‘How can I fulfill His desires?’ from those who put themselves first and ask, ‘How can He fulfill my desires?’ (Although some will take extreme offense to this statement, if you analyze the major ‘gay Christian’ arguments, they often boil down to this perspective.)”
Brown is making it clear that without a proper understanding of sexuality it will be very hard for the church to help people clearly understand issues ranging from the doctrine of God, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the Gospel itself.
Could it be possible that churches are having a hard time reaching people with the Gospel because they are not clearly articulating critical issues such as sexuality? How can a transgender person understand his need for salvation and redemption when he is led to believe his transgenderism is not a barrier?
The same can be said for homosexuals, bi-sexuals, and others adhering to a deviant sexuality. All these can be called sin according to the Bible. But if our churches are not clearly explaining how and why they are sin we will leave many hurting, hopeless people without a path to salvation.
These are hard issues to ponder. Michael Brown once again articulates the questions many people are currently struggling with:
“I do believe that many professing Christians who advocate same-sex relationships do so because they know homosexual couples that care deeply about each other, who are fine people in many respects, and who have wrestled mightily with reconciling their faith with their sexuality. And so, these Christians go back to the Scriptures and ask themselves if, perhaps, the Bible does allow for committed, same-sex relationships. ‘How,’ they wonder aloud, ‘does the law of love, which does no harm to its neighbor, address this question?’”
Yes, people are confused and searching. The church should be offering the biblical answers their questions. We want to pretend this is a hard issue with gray areas that the Bible is not clear about, but we’re only assuaging our own conscience in the absence of boldness. The Bible makes God’s design for human sexuality absolutely clear, from beginning to end: one man, one woman, married for life, for the purpose of bearing and raising children. Anything more or less is not biblical.
The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has posted an essay on the role of sexuality in civil society as an organizing principle. This is a good primer for this discussion.
The bottom line is that human sexuality according to Scripture is a foundational issue in our current society, one that the church absolutely cannot ignore. To do so is to leave Christians and those seeking answers with questions that have eternal consequences.