No, we can't all just get along
July 13, 2015
I have never seen a time when discussions and debates about homosexuality and gender identity were more ubiquitous as they are today. And with those discussions have come much confusion, error, and sin. We all know about denominations like the PC(USA), the United Methodists, Disciples of Christ, and Episcopalians who have in one way or another normalized and celebrated homosexuality. And while denominations like the PCA and SBC continue to remain faithful to the Bible’s teaching about human sexual ethics there are nevertheless some confusing messages coming from otherwise faithful churches.
Some evangelical churches seem to have blindly accepted worldly categories for human personhood. Specifically, an increasing number of evangelicals (Baptist and Presbyterian) have taken up the world’s categories of “gay,” “LGBTQ community,” “sexual orientation,” etc. But these terms are deeply misguided and carry with them a fundamentally unbiblical understanding of human ontology and original sin.
I was greeted this morning by this little gem from a PCA church in Portland which illustrates the confusion to which I am referring. Notice how the writer simply accepts the world’s categories of human identity which are a simulatneous rejection of the Biblical categories. He then sweeps such issues as the nature of marriage, human identity, and sexual ethics away as relatively small things upon which we can all agree to disagree. He relativizes the Bible’s clear teaching while making ultimate the blithe sentimentalities of, “some of us feel…”
In her new (and excellent!) book Openness Unhindered Rosaria Champagne Butterfield writes:
Ideas shape worldview and worldview shapes culture. Freud was a product of German Romanticism. The Romantic period is typified by an uncontested embrace of personal experience, not merely as self-expression or self-representation, but also as epistemology and personal identity (who I am, ontologically)…Romanticism claimed that you know truth through the lens of your personal experience, and that no overriding or objective opposition can challenge the primal wisdom of someone’s subjective frame of intelligibility. In Romanticism, this knowing and being known is identity-rooted and identity-expressive. Romanticism went beyond a solipsistic me-centered understanding of selfhood. Solipsism is the belief that only one’s own mind and its properties are sure to exist. Romanticism took this one step further to declare personal feelings and experiences the most reliable measure and means of discerning truth.Both a theological and philosophical issue is at stake here. The theological issue is the development of a category of personhood that rejects Original Sin…The philosophical issue is epistemology and the role of personal experience…The nineteenth-century category of sexual orientation reflects Romanticism’s claim on epistemology, redefining men and women from people who are made in God’s image with souls that will last forever to people whose sexual drives and gender identification define them and liberate them and set them apart…Thus, ‘sexual orientation’ is what we call a neologism, and it creates fictional identities that rob people of their true one: male and female image bearers. Sexual orientation is a word that extends the definition of sexuality beyond its biblical confines. Biblically speaking, sexuality is always teleological – that is, sexual desire implies a desired object and sexual practice implies a necessary outcome…If we privilege secular categories of personhood over and against God’s, we are doubting the Bible’s ability to understand humanity, and we are denying to ourselves our Maker’s instruction. Freud did not invent or discover or name something true about humanity that the writers of the Bible missed. Categories we use to represent image bearers of a holy God matter. Words, like kitchen washrags, carry and distribute history (and bacteria) with each use, and the category-invention of sexual orientation brings much bacteria with it.