I toyed with a couple of different titles, but settled on this one despite its being too narrow for the first installment. It does, however, get at the punch-line of what I’m going to try to say.
This installment will be brief, but I want to begin with a quote from Robert Gagnon because I think he is unusually clear…not on behalf of himself, but clear in comparison to many other well-meaning theologians from all sides of this debate. It’s from the Introduction of his 2001 book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice:
“The whole of what we do and who we are should proceed from a desire to please the sovereign God who created humankind and is working to redeem it. …To love God with one’s whole being and to pray for the coming of God’s rule entails submitting one’s pursuit of sexual pleasure to the revealed will of God. To suppose that God does not have much interest in regulating the human sex drive, one of the most powerful and potentially destructive human impulses, is both counter-intuative and in direct conflict with Scripture. From a Judeo-Christian standpoint, it is a truncated vision of reality to accept various forms of sexuality merely because the participants involved give their consent to a given sex act.”
–Robert Gagnon, “The Bible and Homosexual Practice,” pg. 33. Emphasis mine.
You see, I have several friends who have said to me that a pastor making pronouncements on this or that is fine, but the pastor “needs to keep out of my bedroom” or private life. That sounds all well-and-good for our modern and American sensibilities, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with the overall story of Scripture.
From the earliest days, God has been telling people what they should or shouldn’t do, especially those he calls “his own people.” From Adam to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel (man AND country), David, Jesus (man and His Bride, the Church)…all of these have had demands placed on them by their creator. The Great Commission. The Sermon on the Mount. The Ten Commandments. Each of these have their respective places in the life of the believer in Christ, the One in whom all things hold together and the head of His Body, the Church.
Since apart from faith it is impossible to please God and, similarly, whatever does not proceed from faith is sin, the way for the Christian to avoid the landmine of law-breaking is to submit oneself to the revealed will of God. This is no mere “God said it, I believe it–that settles it!” That sort of methodology is willful ignorance at best and a direct rebellion against loving God with all one’s mind at worst.
Instead, I’m advocating a look at Scripture that doesn’t merely take it seriously. I want to look at Scripture as being the sure and certain Word that the Holy Spirit gives us as a light. The same light that says “Love your enemies” says not to lie with a man as one lies with a woman. The same light that exhorts us to care for the alien and widow tells us to abstain from sex outside of a biblical-creational model of marriage: one man, one woman. These are not merely timeless truths or abstractions; they are reflections of God’s holiness for His Church to proclaim and emulate.
Does the Gospel call us to repentance and thus to obedience of Christ’s Word? Or does the Gospel come without repentance, as a cheap gift? Is there a third, fourth, or fifth way I’ve neglected?