Friday, April 25, 2008

Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections”

Dr. Mohler’s chapter “Homosexual Marriage as a Challenge to the Church: Biblical and Cultural Reflections” from the volume Sex & The Supremacy of Christ is outlined at

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ

From the chapter introduction:

As Christians, we are charged with the difficult task of compassionate truth-telling. This has never been easy—just ask the apostles—but it is particularly difficult in a time of cultural ferment and sexual revolution. Compassionate truth-telling requires the church to speak from its deepest convictions while demonstrating the love of Christ—speaking truth that will be heard as a hard message while demonstrating the love of Christ through the very act of telling the truth. Compassionate truth-telling means, not only the accurate presentation of biblical truth, but the prayerful and urgent hope that the individuals to whom we speak will be transformed by that truth and respond to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

The challenge of compassionate truth-telling means that we must think strategically and carefully about how these issues should be addressed, both in terms of individual conversations and in the larger context of public debate. We must ensure not only that we think rightly about these things as ordered by Scripture, but that we speak rightly
about controversial issues as well. We cannot address homosexual marriage as an isolated issue but must place it in the larger context of the Christian worldview and of the great story of God’s purpose in creation and redemption.

The Christian worldview affirms the unity of the good, the beautiful, and the true—known as the “transcendentals”—in the transcendent, self-revealing God. Thus, the Christian worldview understands the good, the beautiful, and the true as being established in the very character of God. At the same time, these transcendentals—the good, the beautiful, and the true—are, in reality, the same thing. Each is rooted in the beauty of God, in the reality of his character, and in the glory of his holiness.

In its confusion, the world wants to separate the good from the true, the true from the beautiful, and the beautiful from the good. In isolating and separating the transcendentals, the secular picture of the world becomes fractured and disoriented. Thus, this confusion can produce tragically problematic arguments for why the false may be beautiful, the ugly may be true, and evil may be good.

We understand the source of this confusion, of course. The Christian doctrine of sin, rooted directly in the Genesis account of the Fall, explains that the consequences of sin lead directly to this kind of disorientation and confusion.

Christians must resist the temptation to speak the truth in a manner that falls short of the good, the beautiful, and the true. We betray the truth when we speak of it with an ugly spirit, or attach it to base arguments or mean-spirited impulses. We must reunite what the secular world has divided and present Christian truth in all of its power, its beauty, and its goodness.

With all that in mind, how shall we approach issues related to homosexual marriage? I have grown increasingly convinced that most of our approaches focus on what homosexuals would have to rethink in order to see this issue with clarity and understand the error of their lifestyle and social agenda. We often assume that the real issue is what kind of people homosexuals would have to be in order to hear our message and receive its truth. While this is an important consideration, I am convinced that the more urgent challenge for the church is to clarify our own self-identity and our understanding of the gospel. What kind of people must we be, if we are to address the challenge of homosexual marriage with faithfulness and Christian love?

I would suggest seven principles that can serve as a framework for a Christian response to the challenge of homosexual marriage. Each of these is deeply rooted in biblical truth, and each is pointed to the challenge of addressing homosexuals with compassionate truth-telling.


From the chapter:

2. We must be the people who cannot ever talk about sex without talking about marriage.

The moment Christians accept that we can talk about sex without talking about marriage, we abandon the high ground of the Christian worldview and surrender the question at stake. From the very beginning of every conversation about sex, we must emphasize that Christians cannot talk about sex without making clear its connection to marriage.

The moral credibility of the Christian church is very much at stake in the debate over homosexual marriage. If Christians allow a low estimation of marriage, and if we accept the breaking of marital vows and the violation of marital covenants, we destroy the very foundation of our moral capital in the debate over homosexual marriage.

We must hold to a culture of marriage because we know that God’s glory is displayed in this institution and because we know the power of human sexuality. Sex is so powerful, and sexual desire is so easily corrupted, that we must point to marriage as the institution God has designed in order for sexuality to be enjoyed, appreciated, and fulfilled.

According to the Christian worldview, sex makes sense only within the context of marriage. Sex outside of marriage is an insult to the Creator’s design and a display of human arrogance. Unsatisfied with God’s provision for us in marriage, human sinfulness is displayed in our demand for autonomy—for our “rights” as creatures—and in our rejection of the Creator’s purpose.

Marriage becomes the touchstone for our understanding of why sexual sins areso inherently sinful. We understand that adultery is sinful precisely because it robs God of his glory by desecrating a covenant made in his name. Marriage is intended to be a display of covenant fidelity, which points to the faithfulness of the Creator and the character of the covenant-making God. The New Testament goes so far as to present the relationship between Christ and his church in the metaphor of the bride and the bridegroom. Adultery is so abhorrent precisely because it lies about what covenant faithfulness is supposed to be. Similarly, fornication (premarital sex) is understood to be sin precisely because, in this practice, the creature is demanding a partof what marriage represents while rejecting the entirety of the marital covenant. But God will not allow his good gifts to be separated.

Throughout the Bible, sexual sins are revealed in their inherent sinfulness precisely because each of these sins—whether incest, or bestiality, or homosexuality, or lust—is a desire for something less than God’s completion in the covenant of marriage, and for something less than purity in our reception of God’s gift.

Christians simply cannot talk about sex without talking about marriage. We are the people who have to talk about covenant faithfulness because we serve the covenant-making God. We must talk about male and female with constant reference to marriage. We must talk about the relationship between Christ and his church, the gifts of intimacy and fidelity,and the reality of order within the institution of marriage, simply because the Bible so clearly puts marriage at the center of human existence. A genuinely Christian response to the challenge of homosexual marriage would go back to marriage itself and to the gift of gender, demonstrating the rightness and the perfection of marriage as a picture in miniature of the kingdom of God. Every marriage, every domestic household, is to be a little picture of the kingdom of God in the right ordering of all things and in the creatures’ grateful reception of the Creator’s gifts. This little picture—this little domestic portrait that centers in the covenant of marriage—presents a picture more powerful than anything the world can ever distort. The existence of just one faithful marriage demonstrates the fatal falsity of any other ordering for human sexuality.


Here are Dr. Mohler’s remaining points in the chapter:

1. We, as Christians, must be the people who cannot start a conversation about homosexual marriage by talking about homosexual marriage.
2. We must be the people who cannot ever talk about sex without talking about marriage.
3. We must be the people who cannot talk about anything of significance without acknowledging our absolute dependence upon God’s revelation—the Bible.
4. We must be the people with a theology adequate to explain the deadly deception of sexual sin.
5. We must be the people with a theology adequate to explain Christ’s victory over sin.
6. We must be the people who love homosexuals more than homosexuals love homosexuality.
7.We must be the people who tell the truth about homosexual marriage and thus refuse to accept even its possibility because we love and seek the glory of God for all.

Download the full chapter(right click and select “save as”).

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