Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Same-Sex Marriage, Culture Wars and the Next Step for the Church

Same-Sex Marriage, Culture Wars and the Next Step for the Church

3. Same-sex marriage is not exactly a fringe issue that propels Christians into the backwaters of culture. Lest we forget, North Carolina was the 30th state to pass such an amendment. That is not just Christians speaking, but by necessity involves the majority of Americans (e.g., one of the major groups supporting Amendment One in North Carolina were African-American Democrats). Could it be that we live under such pressure to be politically correct that polls show a majority in favor of same-sex marriage, but when faced with the opportunity to vote their conscience in private, a different perspective emerges? Whether that is the impetus or not, whenever such an amendment has been presented, it has passed without fail. Thirty for 30.

4. Refraining to speak out on a particular issue because you fear alienating a particular community or sub-group for Christ is specious at best, heretical at worst. The gospel is offensive. Jesus offended the Pharisees (Mt. 15:12), He offended those in His hometown (Mt. 13:55-57), He offended His family members (Mk. 3:21, 31-35). He offended His closest followers (John 6:60-61, 66) and closest friends (John 11:6). As Peter wrote, Jesus as the living Stone is precious to those who believe, but to those who do not believe, He is the “stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” (I Peter 2:8 NIV). Or as it says in the NKJV, “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

You can’t escape that word: offense.

I sometimes fear that Christians are so eager to be accepted and honored like, for example, a Bono that they capitulate on key issues (not that Bono does—just let the example play out).

Jesus ended up on a cross to jeers, not a stage to cheers. It is one thing for young adults to leave the church for an unloving attitude toward the gay community (I’ll follow you out the door); it is another for them to leave the church for a moral stance against homoeroticism that is simply culturally unpopular.

I live in North Carolina and saw the debate first-hand between supporters and opponents of Amendment One. There were no “God Hates Fags” signs that I saw. Indeed, there was no incivility by Christians toward the homosexual community at all. When one prominent African-American pastor made a sermonic joke in poor taste (he put his arm around a male choir member and said that if this was his mate, they wouldn’t want him as their pastor), his own church confronted him on the matter, and he immediately apologized to the wider community.

A seemingly small matter, but it shows the degree of sensitivity Christians attempted when speaking to the issue: a sensitivity to speak to the issue, but not engage in ridicule of any kind.

Yes, Billy Graham took a public stand on the issue, but so did Bill Clinton (can you say “robo-calls?”). As did many other prominent non-North Carolina clergy. All to say, it was a refreshingly respectful process that brought no shame on Christians in regard to spirit or rhetoric.

Our goal is not offense for offense’s sake, much less to do so with impunity. But we are not trying to make the gospel socially acceptable or palatable to the masses. If my stance on homosexuality offends a practicing homosexual—despite the fact that my stance was forged on biblical conviction and expressed with compassion—then I cannot help that offense.

Indeed, I cannot escape it, nor should I try.

Our goal is to remove every barrier that exists between such persons and their acceptance of the scandal of the cross…except the scandal of the cross!

Which, of course, calls for repentance.

And that is one cultural war we cannot avoid.  

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James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.