What defines a man and a woman? What is the ground and and basis of marriage? Should boys and girls be given differing education? Do sexual differences stem from genetics or from upbringing? Most of these questions are current hot button issues in the media and around the water cooler. What should be the Christian reaction? While the scope of this article is too brief to address each of these queries, I will focus on the first. What is man. Who and what defines him? Many in the homosexual movement insist that they have the right to identify themselves sexually as they see fit. How ought we respond?
It is often suggested in the media that the lines of separation over sexual politics are drawn neatly between honest and nice supporters of the rights of the individual on the one side and vicious, baseball bat wielding “homophobes” on the other. No one denies that there are violent men committing violent acts against gay men and women. Such violence is reprehensible and ought never be tolerated. But such a caricature of everyone who decries the sin of homosexuality uses too broad a brush. The conflict is far more complex than the media often paints it. Not only is the question too complex to be settled with a media bite. It is actually part of a much older and much greater debate. The current battle over same-sex marriage is only the latest skirmish in a conflict that is as old as dirt. It is a battle over what man is. It is a controversy over what it means to be human.
The two sides in this ancient controversy are the Creator and fallen man, in league with Satan. In this boxing match for the ages, the first round bell rang in the Garden of Eden. The serpent came out swinging and man, the pinnacle of God’s good creation, fell. Since that time there have been two competing visions of what it means to be man. Is man a creature designed and formed in God’s image and finding his truest good, happiness, and health in God? Or, to put it in the modern parlance, is he a random chance collection of matter and energy, free of constraint to do all that he wishes and desires? Which vision is correct?
You and I know, of course, that there is really no choice to be made. As Christians we affirm that the Triune God is the creator of all things and that man is a creature. One of the first lessons I learned at Bible School from an ancient Welsh pastor was, “There is a God; and you’re not him!” Put another way, this is what theologians refer to as the Creator/creature distinction. We are not our own masters. That job is already taken. We do not command our own destinies. The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit rule and reign over all things, including the hearts and minds and destinies of all mankind. Those who would envisage man as being utterly free of outside moral restraints are those who refuse to acknowledge their creature-hood.
As creatures we have been defined by our Creator. And that definition includes the fundamental fact that man is created man and woman (Gen. 1:27). But in our day, Egalitarianism has gotten into the water supply. That philosophy asserts that there are no essential differences between men and women of any station or rank, Many, if not most, Americans take it for granted that girls and boys should not be steered toward any definitive sexual identity but should be allowed to come to it on their own. They seem to believe that humans are some sort of blank slate, unchalked by anyone outside themselves. That is false. We are defined as we are designed. We are created by the purpose of One who knew exactly what He intended. It is not for man to invent himself. Rather, men and women must find out their identity and meaning by seeking their Maker.
Seeing this larger struggle between the world’s vision of autonomous man on the one side and the Christian perspective of man as God’s creature on the other allows us to look squarely at the modern debate over homosexuality. Granting that God made man and that man is given his identity (sexual and otherwise) by that act of creation, we are prepared to take our first step in providing a Christian answer. First, man is not a moral blank. He is not given the right or the power to remake himself however he sees fit. Whatever God has said concerning the nature and obligations of man, man is duty bound to observe.
If that first argument is our left jab, the next is our uppercut. God has revealed his will for man, including man’s sexual conduct. That revealed will is given to us and binds us in our consciences and in our practice. The Law of God is utterly explicit, to the embarrassment of those who would like to have their Bible cake and eat their autonomous freewill too. In both Old and New Covenants the imperative is abundantly clear. Sex is a gift from God, given for the comfort and joy of mankind, as well as the means of procreation, and is to be engaged in only within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman (Ex. 20:14; Lev. 20:10; Matt. 27-28; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9).
Those who willfully refuse to submit to God’s design and commandments will find only futility. The Word of God is like a railroad track and man is the engine. As long as men and women chug along the track they “work” properly. Take the locomotive off the track and what do you have? Derailment! Which is more free, the train constrained to run on its tracks or the train free to go overland without a rail? The limitations afforded by God’s will for man do not in fact limit his freedom. They are the foundation for it. Men and women enjoy true liberty, including sexual liberty, when they follow the design specifications of God. Rebellion against that order and those commands only results in disorder and destruction.
What of those who insist that they are given to desiring the same sex because of their genetics? The Christian answer is that all men, fallen in Adam, are bent toward evil. That evil can express itself variously in different men and women. Some are bent toward thievery. Others fight a domineering temptation to violence. Many are defined by a struggle with heterosexual lust. It is no different with those tempted to Sodomy, the Bible’s term for same-sex fornication. Sin attacks everyone. But the grace of God in Christ sets us free from the power of sin. Homosexuality is not a condition. It is sin. But like all other sins, including those committed by confessing Christians, homosexuality must be repented of and renounced. And homosexuality can and will be forgiven, when confessed.
So back to our first question: How ought the Christian to respond to the challenge of homosexuality and to the claim that man can decide his identity for himself? We must respond with clarity and with love; clarity, in that we must be unashamed to declare and defend the Bible’s clear teaching of our creature-hood and of our obligation to God’s Law; and with love, in that we must seek the good of our neighbor, including the neighbor who is enslaved to Sodomy, pointing him or her to the true “good life” that is offered in Christ Jesus. Add to this that each of us believers must endeavor to joyfully embrace the “design” given us by God and to live as shining lights to the glory of Scripture-ordered sexuality. As we do we will find a workable strategy for defeating the homosexual agenda and bringing in the blessings of the Biblical ideal of the new humanity in Christ. To that end Exodus Books labors, providing resources to defeat the adversaries and to equip you and your children for the new way of being human in Christ.
—Guest-written by pastor Jeff Harlow
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