By Jeff Johnston, Focus on the Family
Pastor Louis Giglio, well known for his leadership in fighting human trafficking and for founding the Passion worship conferences, was invited last month to give a prayer at President Obama’s second inauguration. Then a liberal blog unearthed a sermon he’d given in the 1990’s where he described same-sex sexual behavior as a sin and talked about people coming out of homosexuality. After a huge outcry was raised by lesbian-, gay-, bisexual- and transgender- identified (LGBT) activists and their allies, Pastor Giglio withdrew from the event.
Shortly afterward, Joseph Ward III published a letter at an LGBT – focused religious web site that’s been re-posted around the Internet, “Dear Conservative Christians: It’s OK to Evolve on LGBT Equality.” Below is my reply.
Dear Joseph (and other LGBT-identified activists and allies),
Your recent letter invites conservative Christians “to evolve” and embrace the LGBT agenda. The letter also labels our deeply-held beliefs about humanity, sex, marriage and family as “anti-gay” and says they deny the “full human dignity” of some people. Perhaps most importantly, you state that our beliefs are no longer “welcome in the public square.” But for Christians to “evolve” and embrace homosexual unions and LGBT demands about human identity would be to tear from our faith remarkable truths that are woven through all of Scripture; it would be to shred and tear God’s word and make Christianity into something it isn’t. Let me explain why we cannot accept your invitation.
In Genesis we learn foundational truths: humanity is created in the image of God – male and female – and marriage is designed by God to be the union of a husband and wife . This is not peripheral theology, but is central to the Bible. Marriage imagery runs from Genesis through the books of the law and the poets and prophets; it continues in the New Testament with Christ and His Bride, the church; and the picture ends with a marriage feast in Revelation. Humanity’s existance as male and female is a reflection of who God is, and male-female marriage is the central picture of our relationship with Him.
In the beginning, God creates the first human and puts him to sleep, separating out the side of the man and fashioning a woman. Our word “sex” reflects this separation or division or cutting into two – male and female. Genesis points out that humanity is unique among creation for being made in the image of God. The woman and the man are fully human, both valuable, yet they are distinct and uniquely made for each other. It’s not just the Bible and Judaism and Christianity that teach this, but experience, nature and science acknowledge humanity’s sexual dimorphism, a sexual complementarity that virtually all cultures recognize.
It’s important to understand that Christians cannot and will not leave the truth of revelation, a revelation that comes to us through nature and our own bodies, through millennia of Jewish and Christian living and teaching, and through God’s revelation in the Bible and by His Spirit. It would be folly for Christians to leave God’s truth. God’s truth about marriage, sex and sexuality stands now and throughout eternity, regardless of how politicians, academics and entertainers “evolve” and attempt to redefine things.
Same-sex unions do not reflect the reality of male and female bodies. Humans can participate in a variety of relationships and be quite inventive with sexual behaviors. But only a male and female sexually uniting can produce children. This is why all cultures have recognized marriage between a husband and wife as a unique relationship, a relationship designed to keep husbands and wives together and designed to keep children with the parents who made them – to be loved, nurtured, educated, disciplined and equipped to become healthy and functioning adults.
Despite years of brainwashing from academia, radical feminists, the media, and entertainment, most people know that men and women are different, unique and complementary. A society that attempts to erase male and female or to create new categories to stand next to male and female is living in unreality. Which of the supposed “other genders” being created by individuals or groups can reproduce or replicate itself?
The issue is not “equality” or “fairness.” It’s not “equal” that only women can carry another human and give birth. It’s not “fair” that only a man and a woman can make a child. It’s not “equal” that men and women are different. It’s “not equal” that people have different gifts and talents. And as I tell my kids, it’s “not fair” that they are born and live in the U.S. while others are born into abject poverty. Equality does not mean identical or interchangeable; it means we all have equal value and rights. But the issues are: what is marriage and what do children need?
Just as male and female are needed to create a baby, male and female are needed to raise a child. Children need a mother and father. Yes, there are tragic circumstances where a child loses one or both, but society works to mend that loss, as best it can, by providing what was lost – a mother or father or both. That is the ideal that society must acknowledge and promote and support, if it wishes to thrive. The growth of fatherless homes and of divorce has wreaked havoc in our world. Further removing gender from the home will only compound the pain for children.
Be assured that Christians will work so that the needs and well-being of children are placed ahead of the desires of adults. We will fight to keep children from being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. We will work to give children what they deserve, a mother and a father. In the past weeks there has been a remarkable uprising in France against the notion of “same-sex marriage.” The movement includes gay-identified people and Christians of all stripes. Their marching cry: The rights of children trump the right to children.
Our love for children leads us to oppose abortion, to support and encourage marriage, to train parents to raise healthy children, to teach and equip the church and society to respect all life, and to protect all people from bullying and hatred – not just select groups or identities.
As Christians we also reject the reduction of humanity to groups defined by their sexual attractions and behaviors. Male and female are categories of existence – there is the biological reality of being male or female, and we live in the spiritual reality of a masculinity or femininity that reflects God’s image. It is de-humanizing to categorize individuals by the ever-proliferating alphabet of identities based on sexual attractions or behavior or “gender identity” – LGBBTTQQIAAFPPBDSM – however many letters are added. No. We stand with the truth that there are male and female. There is no recently discovered race of “homosexuals” or “gays” or “lesbians.” We don’t define people’s essence, their being, by their sexual appetites or by other desires.
Just as we don’t label people by sexual behavior or attractions, it would be helpful if activist groups would really engage on the issues, instead of smearing those who disagree with labels such as “haters,” “bigots,” “homophobes” and “anti-gay.” We stand opposed to an agenda that we believe harms individuals, families and our culture. But we don’t hate the individuals pushing that agenda. And we don’t hate individuals who wrestle with same-sex attractions or who are confused about their identity as male or female. We offer support, encouragement, resources and hope for these individuals.
We will also continue to speak out in the public square, arguing for the rights of all to freedom of speech, religion and association. We know these rights are being assaulted, from groups like the ACLU, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and from a number of LGBT-identified activists and their allies. Recent examples include trying to eliminate funding for organizations like The Boy Scouts and The Salvation Army, attacking businesses like Chick-fil-A and its charitable foundation, creating laws against counselors who help men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions to follow their faith and vilifying a pastor who leads people to worship God and who works to stop sexual trafficking.
Do you notice something about these efforts? The groups and individuals under siege are doing good things – yet many LGBT-identified groups want to take away their rights, to silence them, to force them to agree, even if it means stopping the good they do. This is destructive and wrong, and it’s time for all people to recognize it and speak out against this – honestly and with civility, as difficult as that may be.
Our inalienable rights to life, liberty, free speech and freedom of religion do not come from the government, the media, academia, the entertainment world or those attempting to redefine marriage. They come from God. And they do not stop because someone disagrees or is offended.
Finally, I would appeal to you, Joseph, and to others who read this, to consider the message of Christianity. Yes, we are all made in God’s image, male and female, but we are all horribly impacted and broken by sin. Sin is a destroyer. When Jesus began his ministry, he preached a gospel of repentance. In essence, he said stop going the direction you are going, turn around and put your confidence in me. I will forgive your sins, and as you follow me, I will free you from bondage to sin, guilt and shame. Jesus said that he is the way to Father God, and that he will send his Spirit to live in you to bring truth, change, healing and new life. We have the choice to bear our sins or to allow Jesus to be the sin-bearer for us.
I wrestled for years with same-sex attractions, lust, pornography and sexual sin (and plenty of other sins, too). It was not an easy path, but through the church and through God’s grace, truth and power, I followed Jesus and allowed him to change my life. I will not turn back down that road again, through God’s strength and grace. Joseph – I urge you to turn and follow Jesus with me.