Supporting biblical sexual ethics in a sexualized word
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission hosted a roundtable on Tuesday on how churches and Christian leaders should train their congregations regarding God’s purpose for human sexuality in an increasingly sexualized world.
Hundreds have joined a virtual chat on Zoom explaining how Christian parents, ministry leaders and pastors must meet the challenges of the sexual revolution and how they can serve loved ones and community members who identify as LGBT.
ERLC is the public policy arm of America’s largest Protestant denomination.
Jason Thacker, research chair in technology ethics and director of the ERLC Research Institute, said he had connected in recent weeks with some local church pastors who were unsure how to handle situations where people within their congregations or people visiting their churches for the first time identify as LGBT.
“There are questions swirling around our culture, especially in light of Pride Month. …I think a lot of people when they hear about biblical sexual ethics and sexual revolution, our minds go in a thousand different directions. There are hundreds of questions being asked of us…especially among our pastors and ministry leaders,” Thacker said.
Several pastors who have come to Thacker have asked questions such as: “I have a foreign couple” or “I have someone who is attracted to the same sex” or “I have a question about someone who has made the transition and wants to become a member of the church.
Amid the discussion, Dean Inserra, the pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, said visitors often ask him if his church is LGBT.
When it comes to the topics of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Inserra said it has seen many churches take one of two different approaches.
“One of the approaches is for the churches to give in to the culture. They take on the views of the culture. They just decide ‘love is love’, affirming, celebrating pride month, just l ‘total embrace of all things LGBT,’ he said.
“Or you see churches shutting up about it…because they know that often in this culture people will walk away if you talk about it even if they believe what the scriptures say about these relationships.”
Inserra is the author of 2022 bookPure: Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality Isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive.
Inserra said the way he approaches these topics with his church is neither through avoidance nor through LGBT affirmation. He said it is important that all churches start discussing these topics in their regular teachings.
“For our church, we are going to talk about it because we have seen this kind of [remnant] it grows [with] people who really want to know what the Bible has to say and who are tired of the revolution they constantly see. And they’re trying to raise their kids to think about that in a way that they didn’t have to when they were in elementary school, middle school, and high school,” the pastor said.
“Not that we talk about it every week, but if you come to our church, especially if you’re a member, you’ll…know that we believe that God made marriage between a man and a woman, sex is reserved for this sacred union and we are not ashamed of it.
Inserra said it also hears many questions from people who may not be struggling with gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction, but are seeking answers from their church on how to address the issues. LGBT with their children.
“I’m not going to hand them this intense book on anthropology. And so we’re just going to talk to them and explain to them how they can navigate with their kids through these things that are going on right now,” Inserra said, saying her son in third grade had a classmate who was transgender and taking hormones.
“I didn’t think I was going to have to have the conversation about how we’re going to talk about it, how we’re going to treat this individual, how we’re going to respond, what name we’re going to use. What about the problem of pronouns? These are the questions people ask us: ‘How can I handle this? How can I teach this to my children? »
Earlier in the discussion, Katie McCoy, director of women’s ministries at the Baptist General Convention in Texas, holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, shared what she believes is at the root of the cultural crisis facing many churches and ministry leaders.
“I think if we could boil it down to one thing, it’s a question of who we are, what our human identity is and what factors we use to construct it. When we talk about [these issues]we say identity is self-created as opposed to God-given identity,” McCoy said.
“The human body, according to our culture, is something that is fundamentally unrelated to human identity or at least incidental and that our sexuality can be without purpose or design that can guide us in how we use it. “
McCoy said what is taught from scripture in a biblical worldview is that “the body is a separate aspect of who we are.”
But she said the culture would say “the body is a divisible aspect of who we are,” and the body is something people can separate from their true selves and determine their own identity completely separate from the body.
“Some of the challenges that come with it are broad and far-reaching,” McCoy said. “I think of a few beings: the relationship between biological sex and gender, the relationship between gender identity and feelings, … your inner sense of who you are. What if it’s not aligned with your biological sex? McCoy continued.
“Some other challenges deal with the dominant ideas in our culture and how they affect the new ethics, the new morality that we see in business, education, medical practice. It reaches all of these different spheres of society.
McCoy said there was another challenge from “political forces at work to censor research, to indoctrinate children at a young age with specific views on gender and gender ideology.”
“Another challenge people have is ‘how can we help someone with gender dysphoria? — especially children? Medical wisdom says ‘you would agree with a person’s self-perception , and not try to question it. It’s something that is beyond doubt,” she said.
“And as a result of that approach, you have kids who are blocking puberty or doing things like hormone therapy or different socialization changes: changing their hairstyle, their clothes, their name.”
McCoy pointed out that some schools reintroduce children to their classmates as different genders.
“In some cases this is happening without the parents’ knowledge, certainly not their approval, and it’s just a step towards cross-sex hormones and surgical interventions – most of which have irreversible effects,” said McCoy.
Thacker said pastors and church leaders often behave as if issues of sexual ethics are not an issue affecting their churches. He argued that many people face issues of sexual ethics within the Church.
Andrew Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and public theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said culture is a compilation of many different forces “all of which put pressure on individuals and institutions.”
“Ideas have consequences,” said ERLC researcher Walker. “It’s something we tend to downplay. Ideas shape beliefs, beliefs shape behavior, behavior shapes expectations about what the law wants to prohibit or allow. … The dominant motif is this idea of expressive individualism.
“I think if that’s the only category that’s going to define who we are as a civilization right now, it’s the primacy of self,” Walker said. “It is the idea that the self must understand that its fulfillment is linked to the release of any obligation that it does not create or consent to on its own ground.”
Complaining about sexual ethics issues is not the answer for Christians, according to Walker, because there is hope “to get us out of this mess.”
“Honestly, we can complain and talk about the seriousness of the situation, and it is,” he said. “But, I’m actually seeing glimmers of the age-old cracks in the foundation starting to appear because what we’re seeing is that human nature is not meant to be a load-bearing structure and entity like our society assumes. she can be.”