This past week, I spoke on the biblical view of marriage. In one chapel message, I could not cover everything so I limited my presentation to a summary of the biblical position and the desired tone for Cedarville University. I define the biblical ideal of marriage as one man and one woman in a covenant relationship for life representing the union between Christ and the Church, and I would characterize our desired tone as compassionate conviction. As promised in that message, I recommend resources for further study at the end of this post but before that, I few additional comments on our tone.
First, we can disagree without being disagreeable. We must love others as ourselves. Disagreeing with a position does not equal not caring about a person although the person on the other end of the conversation may think so. We must do all we can to demonstrate the love of Christ without compromising biblical truth. After all, we too have a sinful nature. Left to our own inclinations, we all run away from God and embrace our sin. The grace of the Gospel saves those who repent and believe from rebellion against their Creator. After we are saved, the Holy Spirit begins to work in our lives as we struggle to overcome the temptations of the flesh as described in Romans 7-8. When talking with someone, we must remember how tempting our own sinful inclinations are and try not to come across as better than anyone else. We are not. The human condition is the same. Sin is the great equalizer of all humanity. We are all in rebellion against a holy God until the Holy Spirit regenerates us through the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Second, we must keep in mind that this is an intensely personal debate. For many, this either involves them personally, a family member, or a close friend. Some allow sexual desire to define them, but we understand that being created in the image of God defines humanity as God’s ultimate creation. In discussions, we must exercise caution to avoid the perception of personal attacks, and we should point out that Scripture, not experience, provides the foundation for our beliefs. Consequently, we must understand what the Bible says about marriage in general and about homosexuality in particular. As Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” The resources I list below are intended for those who believe the Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible Word. If we don’t share that presupposition, then you may not find these resources helpful.
Finally, let’s take our own sin as seriously as we do the sin of others, and let’s pray for healing for those intentionally or unintentionally harmed by Christians trying to stand for truth. I suspect that harsh words spoken in the heat of debate have harmed many. We must recognize that God created every person in His image and that Jesus died to reconcile to God anyone that would repent and believe in His name. As the apostle Paul encourages us, we should bear one another’s burdens while struggling against temptation, including same-sex attraction. For those who experience same-sex attraction, there is sufficiency in our union with Christ and hope in the power of the Gospel to equip us to remain committed to God’s design for sexual desire and relationships. For those at Cedarville University who may struggle with any number of sexual temptations, we are here to help you, and we want to walk with you as you overcome temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be ambassadors for Christ pleading with everyone to be reconciled to God. Ultimately, we represent the King. Let’s do so winsomely, humbly, compassionately, and faithfully.
If you are looking for resources, I would recommend the following:
Sam Allberry: Is God anti-gay?
Kevin DeYoung: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
Andrew Walker and Eric Teetsel: Marriage Is: How Marriage Transforms Society and Cultivates Human Flourishing
Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet: Same-Sex Marriage (Thoughtful Response): A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage
If you are looking for a response to Matthew Vines, or to David Gushee, I would recommend Dr. Evan Lenow’s blog, (www.EvanLenow.com), titled Ethics as Worship, Dr. Denny Burk’s blog, (www.DennyBurk.com) or The Gospel Coalition’s website, (www.thegospelcoalition.org) which reviewed Gushee’s book as well. I also recommend the writings of Dr. R. Albert Mohler (www.albertmohler.com/) and Dr. Russell Moore (www.russellmoore.com/) on these matters. If you want resources for the local church, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (www.erlc.com) has some helpful information.