Gospel, Culture, and Homosexuality

GOSPELChristians cannot ignore the ethical challenges posed to us by culture. At this moment in the West broadly, and in Australia in particular, the question of same-sex relationships stands at the forefront of public debate. The tide of moral revision on this issue in the last generation seems to crash against the traditional Christian teaching on sex and God’s design for relationships. Since everyone seems acutely aware that the church has been wrong in the past in applying reason to God’s revelation (e.g. slavery), and since the status of practicing homosexuals within the Church stands today as one of the top belief blockers for the average Aussie seriously considering Christ, we must search intently as to whether Christians here have erred again and stand not merely on the wrong side of history, but the wrong side of God.

As a Christian and pastor my first admission is that I’m deeply saddened about the public perception that the Church’s first response to the status of same-sex relationships is a political voice blocking the “marriage equality” bill. Regardless of our individual convictions about how our private beliefs and social ethics should shape public policy, Jesus’ moral genius had a way of breaking down barriers between him and those whose lifestyles he radically disagreed with. We need to take a page out of his book. The most dominant voice should be a pastoral one speaking to the questions and struggles of the individual, and in so doing we must remove any extra ammunition for caricature through radically loving those with whom we disagree.

My second admission is that I’m handicapped in terms of cultural credibility to speak to this issue. I’m 27. I’m a white middle-class male. I’m married to a woman. I’ve never experienced same-sex attraction. So I cannot share my own story or relate to the experience of many who have felt hurt by the Church, alienated by Christians, or who have struggled to reconcile their sexuality with God’s love. Nonetheless, I have walked with many who are trying to make sense of their same-sex attraction, and even more who are trying to know how to speak about what they believe to be the Bible’s teaching on sexuality. I may not be the perfect candidate, but I’m seeking to understand and bring culture into conversation with Scripture. I hope I can do that helpfully.

Silence only breeds confusion. Progressives assume that the Church’s silence is tacit approval of the same-sex lifestyle. Young Christians assume that their mute pastor is evidence of guilt that the Church must stand on the wrong side of history. I have written the attached paper tentatively and prayerfully in the hope of ending the silence and informing the speaking as to how I believe Christians should understand sexuality biblically and speak to it culturally. Jesus calls Christians to be a city on a hill that illuminates who God is to culture, and to be an example of the kind of relationship into which they are invited (Mt 5:14-16). So here’s the plan. The paper first speaks to my summarised reading of what the Bible teaches on the complex subject of human sexuality, applying the resources of Christian theology, historical studies, and ethics to respond to prominent cultural objections. After coming to terms with what God says on the issue, I’ll move to the question of how Christians should respond in their personal relationships and public profession.

Download Paper Below (right click, save as)…

Gospel, Culture, and Homosexuality (booklet) by Dan Paterson