I recently heard a sermon that gave me deep concern. It was on 1 Peter 4:12–13, a text that predicts serious suffering for Christian believers. Peter, who was crucified upside down by the “civil” authorities of Rome, wrote: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Peter was writing to Christians under persecution for not worshiping the Roman emperor, who believed himself to be god. As I listened to the sermon preached in 2021, I couldn’t help wondering what Christians will suffer and are already suffering in our time and in cultures around the world.
A few days before hearing that sermon, I received an email from Christian Concern, a UK legal defense ministry similar to the Alliance Defending Freedom. The article described the experience of Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall, 48, an Anglican minister and a chaplain at Trent College, a Church of England school of “protestant and evangelical” traditions for children up to 18 years of age. A student had approached Dr. Randall, asking him to give a chapel talk on the subject of LGBT sexuality, since Dr. Elly Barnes, a leader of Educate and Celebrate, had been invited by the school to train staff on how to “equip you and your communities with the knowledge, skills and confidence to embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric of your organization.” In that training session, Dr. Barnes had openly called on the school to chant: “Completely smash heteronormativity.” We can hear cultural echoes of the Sixties chant by radicals and friends of President Obama, Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn’s slogan: “Smash monogamy.” Addressing the students from a different perspective, using a different tone, Dr. Randall stated:
Now when ideologies compete, we should not descend into abuse. We should respect the beliefs of others, even where we disagree. Above all, we need to treat each other with respect, not personal attacks – that’s what loving your neighbor as yourself means. By all means discuss, have a reasoned debate about beliefs, but while it’s OK to try and persuade each other, no one should be told they must accept an ideology. Love the person, even where you profoundly dislike the ideas.”
Dr. Randall nevertheless proceeded to argue principles:
But there are areas where the two sets of ideas are in conflict, and in these areas you do not have to accept the ideas and ideologies of LGBT activists. Indeed, since Trent exists “to educate boys and girls according to the Protestant and Evangelical principles of the Church of England,” anyone who tells you that you must accept contrary principles is jeopardizing the school’s charitable status, and therefore it’s very existence.
For the beliefs on marriage, sexuality and gender, he pointed to the Church of England’s public liturgy, especially the Book of Common Prayer and Canon Law, specifically naming heterosexual marriage as an essential Christian belief.
How was Randall’s balanced approach received by school authorities? Following an interview with the headmaster, the school reported Dr. Randall to the government’s counter-terrorism watchdog, Prevent, which seeks to “prevent people being drawn into terrorism.” The Rev. Dr. Randall is being treated as a potentially violent religious extremist. He was also reported to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) as a danger to children (essentially treating him as a pedophile). At the next staff training day, the school announced that it had fully adopted the “LGBT inclusive curriculum” including a section for 3–5 year old nursery children, proposed by the afore mentioned expert and well-known lesbian, Elly Barnes. Approval of homosexual practice is spreading like an out-of-control virus throughout the Anglican Church of England. Previous church disputes were over the two natures of Christ and other weighty theological issues; now this historic church is split over sexuality.
This could not happen in America, right? Al Mohler in his Briefing of August 17, 2021, described the powerful push for LGBTQ+ training in all schools, whether private or public. Children are being taught the various methodologies of sexual intercourse and how to intelligently watch pornography! An article in USA Today asks: “…do we teach our children what is true in reality and history and nature, [regarding] queer, inclusive sex, or do we teach them what we want them to know?” The choice is proposed between objective LGBTQ+ reality and parental closed-mindedness.
This emphasis on sexuality is international. The current US State Department is in league with the United Nations Human Rights Council, which affirms the “fundamental duty of [each] State…to recognize every human being’s freedom,…including children of any age…to determine the confines of their existence, including their gender identity and expression and the human right to alter their gender entirely by self-identification.”
PROGRESSIVE SEXUAL IDENTITY
Identity politics has emerged as a major point of conflict in both the culture and the church. Specifically, sexual identity is one of the most important aspects of a person’s life. Clothing itself in the contemporary moral values of diversity and social difference, homosexual identity presents itself as an expression of Critical Race Theory. An oppressed “sexual minority” does no harm in its good-hearted celebration of all things queer. Each individual is understood as having the inviolable right to determine his, her, or “their” own sexual option. Even non-religious conservatives like Tucker Carlson never say a public critical word of the LGBTQ agenda, whatever they think in private. Scores of conservative politicians sent an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage.
The emergence of sexual liberation as a rising public value and an essential human right means that Christians are accused of “bigotry,” “hatred,” “homophobia,” “heterosexism,” and “heteronormativity.” As gay people believe that their gayness is “who they are,” an in-born aspect of their essential personality, there will be an inevitable clash between biblical truth and personal rights. Inevitably, the Christian view on sexuality will become a major reason for persecution of Christian believers. Rarely could two sides stand in starker opposition.
A massive 2019 study that analyzed DNA samples and lifestyle information from 477,000 people (the largest such study to date) found “no clear patterns among genetic variants that could be used to meaningfully predict or identify a person’s sexual behavior.”  This study indicates that “non-genetic factors—such as cultural environment, upbringing, personality, nurturing—are far more significant in influencing a person’s choice of sexual partner.” This surely means that the only biological determinant is heterosexuality. Other forms are self-imposed or chosen. Homosexuals often say they are “born that way,” but this is not true when it comes to biology, though some people struggle with homosexual attraction from a very early age.
Neither objective biology nor the rights of God as the divine Creator are recognized in our increasingly anti-biblical contemporary society. Sexual identity has become the ultimate expression of human autonomy. Identity politics cannot be questioned. “It’s none of your business!”
Proclamation of the gospel requires a clear description of the human person as a glorious, though fallen, being made in God’s image. The human being is so noble that the eternal God sent the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, to enter into the human lot, take on human form, and save us from our sins by his atoning death. Part of the glory of God’s image is his creation of both male and female, a warm and amazing reality that reflects both unity and distinction, just as the divine Trinity expresses both unified love between the three persons and distinct functions. Distinction is essential; humans carry within themselves an expression of the deep distinction between themselves as created beings and God, their totally “other” Creator. This binary value, what I have called “Twoism,” is the basis of all creation. Sexual complementarity is bound up in our biology as male and female, in our genetic make-up as either XX or XY. This is what both Jesus (Matthew 19:1–6) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:9 and 16 and Ephesians 5:31–32), taught, referring back to God’s creative act in Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them; and Gen. 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Both Jesus and Paul understood that the “image of God” is expressed both in sexual unity and in sexual distinction. They understood that since we are specks in a vast universe (which we did not make), we cannot begin by defining reality by how we feel. With gentleness and understanding, believers must find a way of telling gays that sexual sameness is not who they are, even though they believe it represents the deepest part of how they feel. We need the wise approach of Dr. Randall, but remember how he was treated!
A CAUSE FOR SERIOUS PERSECUTION
Tacitus (AD 56–118), an early Roman orator and public official, is often described as the greatest Roman historian of the ancient world. I have often wondered why he, of all people, called the Christians of the second century “haters of humanity” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44), even though Christians were known as honest citizens who took care of the sick and rescued abandoned babies. Some believe this harsh judgment was because of the exclusivity of the Christian faith, but it may also have been because Christians refused to celebrate the Roman norms of homosexuality, abortion and adultery. The ancient world everywhere honored homosexuals as religious shamans because they affirmed Oneism or sameness in their sexuality— that is, the pagan notion of human sameness with the divine, thereby denying the Twoist image of God. As we become more like the ancient Roman culture and as Washington’s Potomac and Rome’s Tiber meet head on, the subject of sexuality becomes increasingly sensitive and deeply controversial. On one side, progressives assert the autonomy of human beings and are incensed by the very idea that a Creator could determine human behavior. On the other side, biblical Christians make equally massive statements about human sexuality, based on their understanding of its relationship to the being of God the Creator. In this sense, sexuality is an unavoidable issue in Christian witness and will doubtless grow as a cause of opposition and eventual persecution. The Equality Act, which the Democrats are planning to pass, legalizes the LGBTQ+ agenda and imposes it everywhere, while specifically denying on this subject any religious freedom of opinion. Thus, a serious clash with Christian orthodoxy seems unavoidable. In their discourse regarding the being of God the Creator and the nature of created human beings Christians cannot be silent (though we must not generate unnecessary antagonism as in the Westboro Baptist’s—”God hates f…s” approach). The gospel does not pick out one sin, because while presupposing the dignity of all human beings, it affirms that we are all sinners. At the same time, all sins must be named, including sexual behavior that opposes the will of God the good Creator—A Father who desires human flourishing.
May God grant the church of the twenty-first century understanding, clarity, boldness, courage, humility, and compassion as it enters days of great persecution. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
 See https://www.newsweek.com/uk-chaplain-sues-college-discrimination-after-his-dismissal-sermon-questioning-lgbt-policy-1590269.
 Virtue, David W. Who Blinks First? Rowan Williams Challenges Peter Akinola on Homosexuality (10 Aug 2021). https://virtueonline.org/who-blinks-first-rowan-williams-challenges-peter-akinola.
 Kelland, Kate. “No ‘gay gene’, but study finds genetic links to sexual behavior.” Reuters (29 Aug 2019). https://www.reuters.com/article/us-science-sex/no-gay-gene-but-study-finds-genetic-links-to-sexual-behavior- idUSKCN1VJ2C3.
 Kelland, “No ‘gay gene.’”
 See my article: Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal; https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/43/43-3/43-3-pp443-469_JETS.pdf
 Stephen D. Smith, Pagans and Christians in the City: Culture Wars from the Tiber to the Potomac (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion, 2018).