The Church Surrenders to the Culture


Maybe of greater importance for the church is this: How is it that after June 26, 2015 a disciple of Jesus suddenly abandons the biblical worldview of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and instead advocates the acceptance of homosexual couples in the church? Such a position adopts public policy as the law of the church. The state becomes the church, and the church collapses into mirroring the values of the larger culture. The church in the wake of the world’s pressure effectively renounces any notion of Christ opposing the national culture. The consumer is always right. The biblical worldview collapses into “the right to marry the one you love” as the moral absolute for those in and out of the church. The pastoral word is shrunken to “do not judge” and the culture’s chaos invades the church.

The church’s surrender to legal and cultural pressure is what most concerns me. It is a sign of death in the life of the church. The public policy of the United States is not the way of the Lord.

The most prominent arguments made for the church affirming homosexual marriage come not from Scripture but from democratic liberalism. This is where so much of the difficulty lies in the current dispute within the evangelical church. Words such as rights, pursuit of happiness, liberty, and justice are employed without grappling with Scripture. Several cultural propositions must be held up for critical consideration:

  1. Sex is private and not a matter for prurient intervention by church or state; as long as no abuse is involved and sex is consensual, it should be of no public concern.
  2. Everyone has a right to happiness, including the happiness of sexual expression and pleasure, which assumes that celibacy is impossible except for very few people.
  3. Tolerance and acceptance of a variety of sexual practices should be promoted, even demanded in a liberal society.
  4. There are many more instances of injustice in the world than those having to do with sexuality. Because sex is private and mostly harmless, we should focus our energies on more pressing matters.
  5. Statistics show that divorces are increasing, so the church must be understanding toward those who cannot find happiness with the same person for a lifetime. If the church is accepting divorced people, the church should also be accepting of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people.
  6. The infinite variety of sexual mores and gender roles in the world suggests that no single standard of sexual uprightness can be universally imposed. We should support a plurality of models for sexual expression within different cultural contexts.

None of these six arguments come from a theological perspective or an evangelical Christian perspective, yet are being made by evangelicals who advocate for the church’s affirmation of homosexual marriage. There are some theological arguments being made for the church’s affirmation of homosexual marriage, but the arguments above seem to be driving the agenda.[1]

The Church Under Siege

In addition to liberalism’s arguments referenced above, the wider culture is now unleashing judgmental broadsides against the church:

  1. The church has historically viewed homosexuality as a special type of depravity, creating homophobia within the church culture. We plead guilty as charged.
  2. The church is practicing bigotry when she opposes a gay couple’s constitutional right to marry in the church. This position is an expression of social totalitarianism and destroys our rights to sincerely held beliefs. Bigots, by definition, are intolerant; we are in fact legally and social tolerant of gays while holding beliefs that make the blessing of same sex marriage within the church impossible. The blanket accusation does not fit the reality.
  3. There can be no public dissent regarding homosexual marriage based on sincerely held beliefs. This too is a kind of unconstitutional social totalitarianism. We have constitutional protection to hold differing beliefs as a matter of faith and conscience.
  4. All opposition to gay marriage is a hate campaign against gays. What if the opposition to gay marriage simply rises out of the story that Christians believe they are living in? I am opposed to no-fault divorce, but in no way do I hate the divorced.


[1] Sarah Coakley, The New Asceticism (New York: Bloomsbury, 2016), 137-138. The list of arguments is taken in part from her reflection on where these arguments originate –Scripture or culture.