Reality stares us in the face. It broke open the other night when Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke stated without hesitation, for the first time in a national public forum, that if elected president he would call for the elimination of tax exemption for all religious groups—churches, schools and religious charities—who failed to honor the civil rights of the LGBTQ community. Significantly all the other presidential candidates on the stage at the CNN-sponsored debate essentially agreed with O’Rourke’s affirmation. Clearly the real stakes of the 2020 election, even more than the issues of socialism or the free market, are the preservation or elimination of the culture’s long-held respect for traditional sexual norms. All those on the debate stage came out in favor of the Equality Act, about which I wrote a few weeks ago, in which I stated: “If passed by the Senate, the Equality Act will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by adding to the categories protected by anti-discrimination laws sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI),” imposing by law on an entire culture the harmful, anti-creational lifestyle of homosexual and transgender sexuality. 2020 has every possibility of turning us into a modern Roman empire, in which religious paganism of all stripes and sexual license of all types become the societal standards.
Without God’s grace, the movement is unstoppable. The rights of the LGBTQ community have become part of modern social morality. These morals make their followers feel proud of their energetic commitment to fair play and civil rights for all. Today, freedoms for all sexual expressions and the common right to “marriage” is an unstoppable agenda, and no public figure knows how to oppose it. Hundreds of conservative/Republican organizations and personalities sent amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in favor of “gay marriage” during the argument phase of the process in 2015. Even Tucker Carlson of Fox News, a very conservative analyst who sometimes mentions his faith, kept silent when one of his reporters, a charming intellectual, identified himself without hesitation as “gay” and mentioned that he was happily married to a fellow homosexual. After an awkward moment, the host passed on to another subject.
The public discourse we see is either enthusiastic applause, accompanied by hardly-veiled threats against any who disagree, or an awkward moment of silence. As a culture, we are no longer willing to appeal to God our Creator and to the objective norms of creation to which we all are held accountable. Once God is gone, in our post-Christian time, anything, including a Roman pagan life-style, is up for grabs, and if one of the Democratic pretenders for presidential office is successful, then, according to their own words, such a culture, by law, will increasingly marginalize Christians. The Drag Queen Story Hour for young children features a sexually-confused man in women’s clothing peddling queer propaganda at your local tax-funded library. This is already, for some parents, a ho-hum politically-correct event that no one would dare to oppose. What’s next, one must wonder?
Since the Christian can no longer appeal to generally-held cultural traditions, we can only follow, in one way or another, the example of Franklin Graham in his response to Beto O’Rourke. He boldly stated: “I will not bow down at the altar of the LGBTQ agenda nor worship their rainbow pride flag. I’m going to stand with the Word of God — the Holy Bible, which is truth from cover to cover.”
In a sense, this is a positive development. Our stand for moral behavior must no longer be an appeal to generally practiced moral principles of the past—“the way we’ve always done it”—but a necessary, conscious and clear appeal to the truth of the gospel and to the person of God.
Here are two cultural “reasons” against “anything-goes” sexuality that will not work and are not rooted in the gospel:
1. A case can be made that deviant sexuality can harm individuals and the culture: family problems; birth by artificial means; lack of a mother or a father for children; diseases due to thousands of partners; instability; high levels of drug abuse, depression, and suicide, to mention but a few. However, this argument will never convince most people, who do not want a label of “anti-gay bigot.”
2. Of course, a case must be made for the preservation of our first amendment rights and of free speech. To lose these rights in such an important area as sexuality will create a breakdown of social and personal relationships. Already such relationships are damaged by an atmosphere of violent hostility. Those who would like to speak up, dare not. They self-censor to stay out of trouble. Every citizen needs the right to honest, civil discussion. Nevertheless, such an argument will not convince those committed to total sexual freedom as the very apex of morality.
The above reasons (and no doubt others we could raise) are true and can certainly be discussed if a listener is willing, but the deepest reason for the necessity of an open declaration of the gospel is that the person of God himself and the revelation of his person in Scripture is intimately tied to human sexuality, which is explained explicitly only in creation/gospel reality. Awareness of God the Creator has been stifled for many years, and most people (especially younger people), fail to consider for a moment that God has anything to do with sexuality. If we are to present a “normative” sexuality, we can only do so by a clear declaration of who God is. Like Franklin Graham, we need to proclaim clearly and openly the biblical truth about the Creator and Redeemer of the universe. We must remind our culture that the image of God includes the creation of human beings made as males and females and that the dignity of human beings depends upon the fact that they reflect the image of God as Trinity. Marriage is a reflection of God’s unity and distinction. “True love” is the love that we cannot invent; it is the interpersonal love of “the other” essential to the transcendent being of the Trinity. If Trinitarian love is the origin of all human love, then human love must reflect the original love that God defines in his revelation of himself to us. Further, God’s love for the creature is revealed in his institution of heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:24), which contains, as Paul says, the mystery of God’s love, symbolized in the love of the husband for his wife, and thus of Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:32–33). This is how it can be said of God already in the Old Testament: “Just as a husband loves his wife, and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you” (Isaiah 62:5).
At least Beto declares his opinion openly, setting the question clearly and boldly. His discourse is worth an open declaration of the Christian gospel as it is declared in all of Scripture. Such a declaration on the part of Christians will increasingly evoke costly opposition and uninhibited persecution—but that should not surprise us. Such persecution is already present in scores of cultures around the world. It was true for Christians in the pagan, promiscuous Roman culture, but we must be encouraged as we remember that the fearless open witness of Christians to God’s love in Christ resulted in the conversion of the pagan Roman emperor, Constantine. That should encourage us in our time to pray for the conversion of all the would-be emperor/presidents we see on television, especially Beto O’Rourke.