The Church and the Challenge of Homosexuality
- Thursday, January 05, 2006
January 5, 2005
In every generation, the church is faced with a certain test-case, a certain issue which is the clearest barometer of the conviction and biblical commitment of the people of God. The church in Germany, for example, faced this sort of question with the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. Today, the church in America faces a secular regime of unrestrained moral revisionism, especially on the issue of homosexuality.
In 1997, the historian Paul Berman made an interesting argument in A Tale of Two Utopias. Looking back at what he called "the gay awakening," he said this: "We seem to be hearing: 'There are no marshals today--not on the question of heterosexuality versus homosexuality. On that most crucial and personal of questions, you, each and every one of you, are responsible for yourselves.' We are hearing: 'Concerning homosexuality, it is forbidden anymore to forbid.'" Then as now, the general moral principle regarding the issue of homosexuality that rules in the larger culture is this--It is forbidden to forbid. Today, that principle can be applied to almost every dimension of life. It is forbidden to forbid--except in the areas ruled by political correctness. For it is not forbidden to forbid when it comes to the sex codes adopted by so many colleges and universities. That aside, it is forbidden to forbid that which the historic Christian faith has opposed.
The issue of homosexuality is currently the most heated front in the culture war. Homosexual activist groups are pressing for the identification of homosexual men and lesbians as a special class which is granted protections under civil rights legislation. Moreover, it is now commonplace to find homosexual and homoerotic literature in public libraries, and even now in some public schools. The normalization of homosexuality is becoming a social fact.
The larger secular academy has for the most part capitulated to the homosexual movement. Gay studies programs are now a growth industry in academic culture. The mainstream media portray homosexuality in a positive light, and the GLAAD organization (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) publishes an annual roster of how many homosexual characters are presented in primetime television. That used to be a very short list, but it has grown to be a very long one as network television has pushed the envelope further and further.
Even the older Protestant mainline denominations are currently debating homosexuality, with attention currently focused on the ordination of practicing homosexuals to the ministry and the equivalence of homosexual unions with heterosexual covenantal marriage.
How did this happen? The origins of the homosexual movement as a major cultural force can be traced to the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan. It was there that the civil rights impetus of the 1960s and the moral radicalism of the far Left coalesced in the identification of homosexuals as a people group denied legal rights and thus deserving of particular protections. The patrons of the Stonewall Bar launched a movement that would become the inaugural symbol of the gay liberation struggle.
What followed has been a measured and strategic effort to win the legitimization of homosexuality, to promote homosexual themes in the media, and to receive special entitlements as a legally protected class. Furthermore, the movement has pressed for specific public policy goals such as the removal of all anti-sodomy laws, the recognition of homosexual partnership as being on par with heterosexual marriage, anti-discrimination laws, and the removal of all barriers to homosexuals in the military, the academy, business, and the churches.
In order to pursue these goals, the homosexual movement has organized itself as a liberation struggle. Based on an ideology of liberation from oppression drawn from Marxism, the intention has been to identify with other liberation movements, including the Civil Rights movement, the feminist agenda, and others. But the goal is not the mere legitimatization of homosexual activity, or even the mere recognition of homosexual relationships. Rather, their goal is the creation of a public homosexual culture within the American mainstream. This movement is a stark challenge to all sectors of the society. It is the driving engine of a social revolution which is now well underway in American life and which affects everything from the family to the state itself.
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