Homosexuality and Its Quest to be the New Normal

Erik Raymond —  May 15, 2012

President Obama’s recent statement concerning his views of same sex marriage has generated no small amount of discussion and controversy. In what was doubtlessly a political calculation the President made that statement couched in political and attitudinal terms. That is, this new take is his personal view. He has personally has come to a place where he can now accept and stand behind same sex marriage.

This change is not restricted solely to the President. Advocates for Gay rights have tirelessly worked to change the public perception of same sex couples. Over the last 15-25 years America has done a near 180 on the issue. The attempt has been to sanitize and normalize homosexuality.

There have been countless actors, musicians, athletes, and politicians who have publicly spoken out in favor of Gay rights. Many from these same spheres have themselves disclosed that they themselves are gay. It has become commonplace to have television shows and movies with gay characters. Characters like Oscar on The Office have helped to gradually move the meter on public opinion.

Now NBC is set to debut a new show this fall entitled The New Normal. What is the premise? Two guys are married and of course can’t have a child of their own. They hire a surrogate to begin their family. Here is the trailer below (link for rss):

This is not simply an attempt at normalization from Hollywood it is a realization of it on Main Street. In a short period of time recently my wife and I saw a gay couple walking on our block, my son saw two guys kissing at their lockers at school, we visited a potential home purchase owned by two men, and have seen many (many) gay couples at the grocery store. And listen, we are in Omaha! This is, after all, “somewhere in Middle America.” While it may not yet be “The New Normal” homosexuality is surely becoming more or prevalent and more accepted.

Now, what does this mean for Christians? What does this mean for missions?

Among other things,

It means that we better get justification and sanctification clear. This is such an epidemic in evangelicalism; we aim to justify the church and sanctify the world. The world is not going to keep the Ten Commandments, walk in the Spirit, or glorify Christ…they can’t! They are unbelievers and they will act like it. This should not surprise us. We can recall our own unbelieving lives and we have read passages like Romans 3. The transformation into Christ likeness comes out of being declared not guilty and righteous in God’s eyes (Rom. 5.1). This comes by the merit of Christ in his doing and dying for sinners like us. We cannot expect unbelievers to look and act like believers. Having our these theological categories straight will greatly aid our interaction with the new normal.

It means that we better be clear about the character of God. The repeated theme is that “God made me this way and he would not want me to be unhappy.” The issue is not as much about the morality of the unbeliever but the character of God. Who is God? How did he create? Why did he create? How does he communicate what morality is? How do we know what he values? All of these questions drive us back to the Word of God for objectivity rather than subjectivity. God’s love is characterized by holiness and truth. You cannot know or experience the love of God apart from truth. In order to feel his love we must know him. Before we go about arguing about the cultural usages and understanding of particular Greek words there is priority to understand and communicate who God is.

It means that we better be clear about the problem. Far too many times I have heard evangelicals talk about homosexuality like our job was to get them to become heterosexual. If we can just get them to be straight then our work is done. The Christian objective in missions is to see people become Christians! This means that we want to see all sexual sinners become worshipers of Jesus. This includes fornicators, adulterers, porn-addicts, homosexuals, or whatever other category you can think up. The goal is to become a believer who turns from the worship of self to the worship of God. It is to turn from rebellion that is characterized by the suppression of truth to the submission that is characterized by obedience to the truth (Rom. 1.18-25; 3.19-27). The central issue is worship, or idolatry. The central answer is always the gospel.

It means that we better be clear about our tone. Can you lovingly engage a homosexual with the gospel in a winsome, tactful and still faithful way? Can you love them? This is really a question that I think evangelicals need to wrestle with and decidedly answer “yes, we must!” Pivoting out of the points above, that is out of the gospel, we have to see our own weakness and neediness. Who among us is not needy of the grace of Christ? Then we must lovingly and faithfully talk to others about it. If you can’t get control of yourself and speak the words of grace and truth to someone who is straight or gay then you need to ask God to give you a bigger heart. Ask him to shake you of pride and work gospel compassion down into you. I know that God is saving a lot of people from a gay lifestyle and I pray that he will continue to do so. As missionaries we need to speak and act like we actually want him to.

CONCLUSION–Be Prophetic from the Center!

The “new normal” is upon us. How will we respond? D.A. Carson has rightly said, “It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins, what we need is to be prophetic from the center.” That is, preaching against issues that flow out of a rejection of the gospel (sexual sin, abortion, etc) are peripheral and must be addressed by means of the core gospel, that which is of first importance.” (1 Cor. 15.3-5) In light of these ever-changing times, may this timeless charge become the “new normal” for us as evangelicals.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

54 responses to Homosexuality and Its Quest to be the New Normal

  1. This is excellent. The idea of “new normal” is really bringing out the wickedness of the evangelical culture. We have to learn to approach a non-Christian culture like Paul did in Athens. He wasn’t a jerk to those guys, he was gracious and dialectic. I am interested to see what is next for the church.

    • Always remember Col. 1.28-29. It’ll preach in any generation.

    • Wow Nick…I’m not clear on what you are talking about when referring to “the wickedness of the evangelical culture” but I don’t think Jesus appreciates it if you are talking about the true bride of Christ.

      If you are referring to general people, calling themselves Christians, who are hateful to others when presenting the Gospel, then I John 3 clearly states that they aren’t even Christians.

      Big difference.

    • Appreciate your emphasis on a winsome, tactful, and loving presention of the Gospel to homosexuals. Ultimately it is the Gospel and not politics that the Christian should be focused on in this issue. I’ve noticed that there hasn’t been much discussion on the prophetic implications of “same-sex marriage.” I’ve just posted some thoughts on this on my blog, see: http://www.wordsofthislife.ca/2012/05/when-sodom-rules-land.html.

  2. Truth Unites… and Divides May 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    “the core gospel, that which is of first importance.” (1 Cor. 15.3-5) In light of these ever-changing times, may this timeless charge become the “new normal” for us as evangelicals.”

    In the “new normal” for evangelicals, can evangelicals still call sin, sin?

    Can evangelicals still call all sin, sin?

    Can evangelicals lovingly affirm Scripture’s clear and timelessly transcendent teaching that same-sex behavior is sin in the “new normal” for evangelicals?

    • “Can evangelicals still call all sin, sin?” I would have to say “yes”.

      “Can evangelicals lovingly affirm Scripture’s clear and timelessly transcendent teaching that same-sex behavior is sin in the “new normal” for evangelicals?” The new normal I was aiming for is a gospel-drenched life and message. You may have a typo here that prevents me from getting your point.

      • anything out of the.

        Anything out of the Glory of

        God is sin.

        God said “this is an abomination”

        He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

        This particular sin is reprobate.

  3. “The Christian objective in missions is to see people become Christians! This means that we want to see all sexual sinners become worshipers of Jesus. This includes fornicators, adulterers, porn-addicts, homosexuals, or whatever other category you can think up.”

    Amen! Here in NC where we just passed the marriage ammendment, which I supported, there seemed to be a huge evangelical push to “Save Marriage.” While I believe Christians SHOULD stand up to legally support the definition of Marriage as God defined it, I believe we must do so with the understanding that you can’t legislate Morality. Heterosexual sin is as detrimental to marriage as homosexual sin. The answer to saving marriage is to preach the gospel. There is a 50% divorce rate not because of homosexuality, but because unredeemed sinners build their marriage on something other than Christ. Thank you for a great Biblical perspective.

    • “you can’t legislate Morality

      This phrase is so abused. What else do laws do but legislate morality? The question is who gets to determine what morality we legislate?

      • Preach the word in season or out of season.

        we love the people, however, it’s not our call.

    • Every law on the books legislates morality. It is immoral to steal, to murder, to speed. It isn’t a question of legislating morality but of who’s version of morality gets legislated. A lost, fallen and sinful world will chafe at our imposed laws. The moral free-for-all that they would impose leads to the destruction of civilization.

      Our Christian influence on the culture doesn’t stop at legislation though. We have to show them Christ at the personal level. Caesar must give an account to God for his actions. We will account for ours.

    • “Heterosexual sin is as detrimental to marriage as homosexual sin. The answer to saving marriage is to preach the gospel.” bingo.

  4. This is so timely. As a mother of 4 the normalization of homosexuality is resulting in flagrant displays of same-sex relationships wherever we go. As you mentioned above, we witness it in the mall, in children’s books, in tv shows (we don’t watch much tv anymore!) and in subversive ways, it’s added into children’s movies (Tangled–the transvestite comes to mind). I’ve read a lot of articles about reaching out to the gay community, which is great. But as parents, we need helpful guidelines to help us deal in a loving manner without showing “acceptance” in every day situations: Do we allow our child to be friends with another child from a same-sex relationship? Attend the birthday party of a child with same-sex parents? Is a relative welcome into our home if they are gay? What about their partner? Should my child take dance lessons from a gay instructor? If we’re introduced to a married gay couple, do we recognize the partner as her “spouse” in conversation? These are very real examples of issues we’ve faced that we struggle with. I’d be interested to hear how other Christians have worked through similar situations.

    • These are precisely the questions that are here now zKatherine. We should approach these things carefully, prayerfully, and biblically. It is a great gospel opportunity.

      • Be honest with your children. Deal with
        one situation at a time according to the
        child’s age.
        Witness, of course with love. People exper-
        ment with sexuality. Perhaps, gay one week,
        straight the next. My husband was a Big Brother
        to a sweetheart of a boy, 10 yrs old. Parents
        women are gay. I took him to church every Sunday.
        Baptized in ocean. he was very close to us.
        They moved. I pray for him and hope to see him
        again some day.
        My husband wanted to draw very close to the
        parents (he’s Jewish). They (parents) questioned
        why this was not acceptable in our church.
        They walked away from me. before I had to say
        goodbye. No church for them.

    • Oh me too, I do the best I can to let my children know, we live in a world that will try to persuade to do and believe things which are wrong, by making it look normal, but we must remember we must live by the lords standards, not the worlds.

  5. Great article Erik. Now more than ever we need to be vigilant for the gospel. We are first “Christians” and second, “American citizens”. We have the freedom to live the gospel, share the gospel, and vote the gospel. As our values lose some of their predominance, we must evermore be true lights. In answering Katherine, I would treat those questions to the same way I would treat “shack up situations” of heterosexual nature, and at the same time being cautious as to overly influence of my children, and of course any “physical dangers”.

  6. Ouida Gabriel May 16, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Thank you for a great article. This issue has been heavy on my mind for awhile now. I’m still trying to work it out according to what the Bible says.

    My husband and I are in the same place as zKatherine. I want to draw people in to the gospel but at what cost to my children. It is a hard line to figure out. The one thing I do know is we can’t minister if we run everytime. I don’t want my children involved until they are old enough to understand the issues well enough, though.

    Ouida Gabriel

  7. There are too few evangelical leaders dealing with this issue from a biblical position. Thank you for this fantastic post! May politics and policing of sin never get in the way of true Kingdom work – the Kingdom grows when souls come to Christ.

  8. “It means that we better be clear about our tone. Can you lovingly engage a homosexual with the gospel in a winsome, tactful and still faithful way? Can you love them?”

    You quote D. A. Carson, but it seems you didn’t read his thesis in his latest book. According to Carson (and I agree with him), the answer to your questions above is an emphatic ‘NO’.

    The problem isn’t how loving or unloving most Christians are when they talk to any category of sinners, homosexuals included, about sin. The problem is, even bringing it up smacks of ‘intolerance’ and is thus by definition unloving, bigoted, and hateful.

    I fully agree with your thesis about seeing all sinners become Christians. But in calling them to Christ, we are calling them to repentance, and this is unacceptable to them or to the culture we are entering. (And the call to repentance is there even if we foolishly choose not to voice it as part of the gospel.)

    So what’s left? We must proclaim the gospel, that’s what. And we’ll take our lumps for it. (These ‘lumps’ won’t remain rhetorical for long…we are not that far from them becoming jail time, or worse.)

    • Dude…
      Are you literally suggesting that we can’t even bring the issue up? What do you make of the apostle Paul’s having brought it up? Do we conclude that he was unloving, hateful, and bigoted? Are we allowed to read Scripture that contains the “H” word at church? Are we allowed to read them publicly? Are we allowed to put them in a blog? If you are suggesting what I think you are, the consequences are severely untenable.

      • “Are you literally suggesting that we can’t even bring the issue up?” Not at all. Reread what I wrote. It pivots on mission.

        “Are we allowed to read Scripture that contains the “H” word at church? Are we allowed to read them publicly?” Sure go ahead. I did last Sunday.

        “Are we allowed to put them in a blog?” Go for it. I did this week and last week too.

        “If you are suggesting what I think you are, the consequences are severely untenable.” I am not; you are misunderstanding me.

        • Erik, I think Jon was responding to my comment, not your post.

          In any case, my point is this…some Christians think we have the right to share the gospel without consequence. I don’t think this is true in the culture in which we live, and I don’t think it is biblical.

          We will face consequences for sharing the gospel. (I think that’s a good thing, FWIW.) While agreeing with you in the original post, my point of departure was related to whether or not we can do it in a ‘loving’ way. I don’t think we can. But that’s not because of the intent of the person sharing the gospel, it is because of the perception of the person being called to repentance, and all the ramifications of what that word entails.

          • Doc,

            Yes I was responding to you, not Erik (Erik, I thought your post was excellent). I’m still not sure I understand, Doc. Consider the following statement:

            “my point of departure was related to whether or not we can do it in a ‘loving’ way. I don’t think we can. But that’s not because of the intent of the person sharing the gospel, it is because of the perception of the person being called to repentance”

            That statement says that whether an act is loving actually depends on the recipient of the act and not the doer. This means that Christ’s death was only an act of love for people who see it that way. It also means that we have to take scissors and start cutting the pages out of our Bible that won’t be well received by unbelievers, leaving only the “God is Love” mentality (and, unfortunately, there is no salvation where there is no offense to the carnal mind). This way of thinking throws an orthodox understanding of Christian love, ethics, and even evangelism out the window. So again, I reiterate that the consequences of this way of thinking actually destroy the Gospel.

        • Erik,

          I was responding to Doc B not to you. I thought your blog was fantastic.

          • Jon,

            Actually, not sure Doc meant it quite that way. To people blinded by the god of this world (as we were; Eph. 2), perception is reality. So, it will happen that as we lovingly and graciously share the gospel, we will STILL be perceived as a threat to the cultural common good. No matter how we play it, proclamation [kerygma] is going to give off the wrong vibe.

            And let’s face it, isn’t it actually TRUE that Christ’s death “was only an act of love [salvifically, anyway] for people who see it that way”? Christ died for the people whom God gave to him (John 17), and only for them. In dying for the elect, Christ purchased our faith as well, granting to us by his blood a regenerated ability to “see it that way.” The not-yet-saved cannot see Christ crucified in a true sense.

            This is why I share your concern, Jon, for “leaving only the ‘God is Love’ mentality” in our Bible, and nothing else. The whole counsel of God is needed. And I so appreciate that you say, “(and, unfortunately, there is no salvation where there is no offense to the carnal mind).”

          • Locke,

            Granting limited atonement, yes, Christ’s love was only salvific love for those who ultimately see it that way. How about common grace? How about the rain sent on the unjust? How about the growth of their crops? How about the feeding of the 5,000? You guys are absolutely right that proclamation gives off a misunderstood vibe. Doc’s statement, however, indicates that that necessarily determines whether the act was one of love. Whether or not I love someone does not depend on whether they see it. Ergo, talking about the sin of homosexuality is not unloving just because the homosexual “feels” that it is. Perception is not necessarily reality, or there really are people chasing paranoid schizophrenics.

      • Jon,

        Allow me to play the trump card (no, I’m not going to call you Hitler…the other trump card).

        Luke 6:22- “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”

        The explicit teaching is about being blessed when we are persecuted. The implicit is that we will be persecuted, even when we are doing things right.

        Locke said it better than I did- perception is reality to many. Do you really think that if you get everything just perfect in your delivery, that the secular media (for example) will suddenly soften and say everything is hunky-dory when you call sinners to repentance?

        My statement never said that whether or not an act is loving depends on the recipient. It said that the perception of the recipient will determine whether or not the act is received as loving.

    • Read the book, understand it and love it. My point in the article is not so much their reception of it but the evangelical’s recognition of reality. I am not one to soft-pedal repentance or the gospel. I also don’t believe that love & truth are mutually exclusive.

      You might see this article I wrote with this same quote from Carson in it. It hits on the other side (their reception of things).

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/29/is-this-evangelical-coach-out-of-bounds/

    • I can personally testify to this as my daughter told me two years ago she was in a homosexual relationship. She had professed as a believer as a teen. A few times , after I kept sharing the Gospel, she told me to stop, “I am saved already”. Very recently she has “changed her religion”. Praying without ceasing for God to move and give her a heart of flesh in Christ.

  9. Great article Erik! I thought Michael Horton’s blog on the Presidents “same sex marriage” stance was also helpful: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/05/11/same-sex-marriage-makes-a-lot-of-sense/

    Keep up the good work for the sake of the gospel.

    • Horton’s article was great. Thanks for posting the link Ron!

      • Great article here. Right on the mark. Christ loves all humanity, the unbelieving gay folks don’t need straight Christians berating their particular flaws while acting like our’s are less sinful.

        They need Christ like we do. They don’t need self righteous straight people or closest homosexuals( i.e. Former Ted Haggard) preaching sex orientation change to them. If that is going to occur, it will be God in it, not self righteous Christians urging it.

  10. I am in a small town in Kansas and seeing exactly what you are in Omaha. Great article. Thank you for the encouragement and reminder.

  11. Eric, you stirred it up, bro. Actually, no, it wasn’t you who stirred it. That was the President. But I’m glad you’ve opened the conversation.

  12. Sorry but I am not alarmed by all the grandstanding of the gay movement. Its no surprise at all, matter of fact just had a conversation with my dad about how that culture has always been around, in a more clandestine manner but yet it was always there.

    The real reason why its so blatant today is because the sex revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, plus the church’s compromise regarding sexual matters, made fornication and divorce acceptable. So obviously the next tier to fall was same-sex behaviors.

    Don’t mean to diminish Eric’s point nor his clarion call in how to deal with this but it just amuses me when the church gets upset over a tide that actually washed over us long, long ago. Only now some of us are feeling the wetness.

  13. Erik,

    Overall, great post. I was with you until the very end, when you said:

    “preaching against issues that flow out of a rejection of the gospel (sexual sin, abortion, etc) are peripheral and must be addressed by means of the core gospel, that which is of first importance.”

    Not sure I agree, especially with abortion. And maybe I just missed the point. Are you saying that trying to stop someone from murdering their baby is peripheral and should first be addressed by “means of the core gospel?” What does that mean? For example, do you think the pro-life movement should stop all they are doing and focus first (and maybe solely) on preaching the gospel?

    I have heard it said, by others, that people should stop trying to change abortion laws and should preach the gospel because changing hearts will change abortion. Well….. tell that to the baby that’s about to be killed: “Sorry, your mom didn’t accept the gospel, so, I’m not going to fight for you by other means.” Taking it further…. You see a toddler being beaten on your neighbor’s driveway… “Sir, there’s a better way… Jesus… sir, are you listening…” No. Go stop the guy from beating the kid first, then maybe later there’s a chance to share the gospel.

    I may be misunderstanding your point, so please clarify, if you have time.

    Thanks!

  14. Very good article. Thanks, Steve.

  15. Describe “normal”. Different circles have different
    definitions. Sodom and Gomorrah was not an urban
    renewal plan.
    The new normal is slowly, surely sneaking in because
    everything goes in this society.
    Transvestites has rights.
    Has anyone ever seen anything more disgusting than a
    gay-pride parade?

    Christains will be called haters and jailed.

    • Thanks for the comment Cheryl. I have been to a gay pride parade (not for support or for protest but to talk to people about the gospel). And I can say that there is something more disgusting, it’s called self-righteous, forgetful Christians who can’t remember that they are saved (conquered by) grace. We are just as needy of God’s powerful, arresting grace as anyone else, from toddlers to tyrants.

      • Do you believe we deprived Bin Laden “due process”?
        Yes, at times we do take for granted “grace”.
        Would I take the kids and picnic lunch to the parade?

        For Christains to “attack” Christains” does not
        elevate our cause.

      • I didnt mean derogatory against the people
        Production number not for everyone.
        You are more experienced in witnessing
        than I. I ll take your words to heart,
        however. teach.
        Love the blog
        Cheryl

  16. Good ‘ol President Obama. Putting his stamp of approval on sodomy.

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