Published June 3, 2021
In case you failed to notice literally every major corporation changing its logo to a rainbow hue, June is now upon us, and that means 30 days of religious-like devotion to the gods of sexuality and identity politics – what our cultural powerbrokers refer to as “Pride” month.
If you’re anything like me, the ironies are too much not to note. A supposedly oppressed minority with every organ of cultural power at its disposal insists on its powerlessness. Meanwhile, just within the last week, a teacher in Virginia was suspended from his job for refusing to use a student’s preferred pronouns. “Inclusion,” we’re coming to see, stands for the very opposite when confronted with even respectful difference.
What might the response be to “Pride Month” for those who believe that Scripture is not only true, but good when it depicts true sexual freedom as the union of one man and one woman in marriage?
First, we should understand that Christianity has always held a distinct sexual ethic, especially in the days of the early church in Roman culture. The distinction is not the result of absurdity or irrationality, but a contrast of values when the Christian faith calls forth a higher vision for human sexuality than merely living according to one’s nerve endings and endorphins.
What we believe about sex has never been peripheral. It has always been a central aspect of our confession of Christ’s Lordship. God knit sexual design into the very fabric of creation, and it is our glad acceptance of that created order where humanity will prosper. Unless we boast in God’s design, we will be perennially on the defensive and unwilling to speak the truth. The truth is that regardless of what the culture says, homosexuality remains a sin. It signals a rejection of Scriptural authority, rejects God’s design for sexual pairing, dishonors the body, and nullifies the procreative purpose of sexual design (Genesis 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5).
Second, as an unceasing and unyielding LGBT movement confronts us, we must ask ourselves: Will we bend the knee to the gods of this age, or will we give the good confession of faith no matter the cost? We can either serve Christ or “Pride,” but not both. Time and time again, from countless examples, we see that capitulation on biblical ethics leads, inevitably, to the surrender of biblical doctrine. That’s why this is so important: Doctrine and ethics travel together. If we forfeit one, eventually, we’ll forfeit the other.
Why is it that people reject Christianity? Is it because they find the Trinity objectionable in our age? Or because Christianity dictates whom you can sleep with and how you want to identify? Are we willing to pay the price for standing by our convictions? To be a friend of the world is to be at enmity with God. I recently learned of a student of mine, an individual at the pinnacle of their career, who lost their job because they were unwilling to sacrifice their conscience for their paycheck when it came to sexual ethics. Are we prepared for that? Conformity happens because it’s easy. It’s easy to go with the flow of culture because it’s the path of least resistance. We must die to our need of being liked. We must die to people-pleasing and allow the pleasure of God to consume us.
Third, we need to remember the priority and uniqueness of Christian love. Christian love is not one of pure reciprocity, where I affirm you if you affirm me. The mushy “you do you” and “live your truth” ethic is the product of expressive individualism, a weaponized form of relativism that rejects all forms of moral duty outside the person’s own felt needs. Christian love, in contrast, is ordered to the truth, rejoices in the truth, and is the very essence of truth itself (1 Corinthians 13:6). When Christians proclaim the truth and beauty of God’s design, we do it out of love for our neighbor and this world, knowing that sexual sin never leads to flourishing, and abandoning God’s design for the family only further compromises society’s foundation. It is for redeeming love of sexual sinners, both you and me, that Christ came to die for us (John 3:16).
As American culture becomes ever more secular, it only strengthens my belief in the truthfulness and necessity of the Gospel and the Scriptures. I’m convinced that it is the total Christ – the Christ who is both compassionate and mighty in judgment – who is the answer to our cultural devolution. Full stop, no qualifications. As culture presses against the church, we must lean even deeper into our faith and its millennia-old teachings with unwavering confidence.
Christian, hold fast. Don’t budge. We need to trust that Scriptural teaching on sexuality is good and a source of human flourishing; that the Christian vision for sexuality furthers the common good. So have courage. Christ has overcome the world. The victory is His, and the witness is ours – that’s something to have real pride in.
Andrew T. Walker is associate professor of Christian ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center.