I recently saw stories in my Facebook newsfeed that both Eugene Peterson (the author of a paraphrase of the Bible known as The Message) and T.D. Jakes (a mega-church pastor) switched from opposing to morally supporting homosexuality. This news was greeted with applause by the moral progressives, and disdain by the Conservative evangelical community. Both men have recently clarified that they still oppose homosexuality, but what remains troubling is that the news of them switching sides wasn’t as shocking as it should have been. There has been a movement within the evangelical (and broader Christian) community to go along with the narrative of moral progressivism — that we as a society are bettering ourselves through our steady dissection of traditional objective morality. But this is incompatible with Christianity which requires objective moral values and duties to make any kind of sense.
It doesn’t take much looking to see evidence of a trend in Christian culture to accept the morality of homosexuality. In 2014 Politico ran the headline, “Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage And the Bible isn’t getting in their way.” Time reported “How Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage in 2015. And in May of last year NPR reported “Acceptance Grows, Slowly But Steadily, For Gay Evangelicals.” When you read the statistics reported in these articles, it’s plain to see that they sadly are not wrong.
It’s not too hard to imagine why Christians are switching sides. Moral progressivism has been a thing for quite some time now, and it has mastered the rhetoric of “being on the right side of history” — often comparing those who condemn the morality of homosexuality to people who fought for racial segregation. Nobody wants to be the modern equivalent of Jim Crow advocates.
But here’s the problem with that analogy. Those on the wrong side of history during the civil rights era and before were in favor of an immoral ideology — racial supremacy and the degradation of those thought to be racially inferior. Those who condemned immorality were on the right side of history at the time. Ironically, the progressivists seem to have convinced everybody that morally condemning an entirely distinct and separate practice in the 21st century places somebody on the same side of history as a 1950’s klan member.
While it is undeniably true that some Christians have been antagonistic and even cruel to the LGBT community, it is also undeniably true that it is possible for Christians to believe a person’s actions are immoral yet function with them in society in a completely healthy and normal way. Condemning somebody for a physical feature that has no moral implications whatsoever is entirely different from thinking that somebody’s actions are wrong yet treating them with basic human decency.
But the narrative of moral progressivism has conflated the advancement of society through doing away with immoral biases with the systematic dissolution of moral objectivity in the name of societal progression.
Even though I can’t possibly expect to convince the secular community in a single blog post of objective moral values and duties, I will remind the Christian community that it is hopelessly inconsistent to claim that Jesus had to die for the sins of mankind while claiming that sin is an ever-changing concept that gets nicer and more inclusive as society improves to a warm, fuzzy, zen-like utopia made in the image of what mankind deems good and right for himself as he “progresses” through the magical morality-changing forces of time. Christians cannot claim any moral statement in the Bible is objectively true regardless of time and civilization if they take some Biblical moral values and duties to be optional.
This might lead to some confusion over things in the Bible such as Old Testament prohibitions on shellfish or mixed fabric. But it is necessary to discern moral values based on universals from societal laws based on particular circumstances. If there was a ban on getting tattoos in the Old Testament because tattoos were strictly related with pagan religious practices, then the obvious moral implication is not that ink coming into contact with your skin is bad but that we should not engage in pagan religious practices.
If the Bible says homosexuality is wrong because God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman as the basis of a family unit, then there is nothing about time or culture which can change that reality. Unlike tattoos or mixed fabrics which are conventions created by man that can change in meaning and significance as man chooses to change them, the Bible clearly teaches that marriage is established by God Himself which means that neither time nor human volition can change the purpose or significance of it.
Therefore, if the Bible makes the factual moral claim that homosexuality is immoral, then any person grounding their religion in the Bible must come to terms with the immorality of homosexuality. If a person cannot come to terms with such a belief, then they must either base their religion on a book that they think is repeatedly and significantly flawed, or they must reject the authority of the Bible altogether.
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