In June of 2015 Dr. Russell Moore wrote in the Washington Post: Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage.
As I write this, the Supreme Court has handed down what will be the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage, redefining marriage in all 50 states. This is a sober moment, and I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling. The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?
Moore explains that Christians have lost the culture war regarding marriage and asserts that in this regard our new reality bears some resemblance to the early persecuted church:
Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures.
Moore then acknowledges that conservative Christians have already caved to the culture wars regarding divorce:
…we must embody a gospel marriage culture. We have done a poor job of that in the past. Too many of our marriages have been ravaged by divorce.
Too often we’ve neglected church discipline in the cases of those who have unrepentantly destroyed their marriages. We must repent of our failings and picture to the world what marriage is meant to be, and keep the light lit to the old paths.
In short, Moore describes modern families as being under grave attack and churches as having failed miserably so far to protect them. So far, Moore and I are in agreement.
But then Moore gets to his main point, which is how we should respond to this dire circumstance. According to Moore our focus should not be to find ways to better protect Christian families living in a truly hostile culture. He argues that our focus should be on welcoming what he expects will be a flood of gays and lesbians who may seem hostile but in reality will be eager to become allies and help us strengthen Christian families. Our biggest fear according to Moore should not be the coordinated assault on our own families, but missing the opportunity to swell our ranks with seemingly hostile gays and lesbians (emphasis mine).
Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.
We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.
There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.
Moore is just one man, but as the president of the ERLC he is one of the primary leaders in the conservative Christian response to the culture wars. Moore defined the strategy, and his followers are dutifully executing on the plan. Tim Keller and Pastor Sam Allberry launched The Living Out Church Audit focusing on accommodating the SJW mopping up operation in conservative churches. Allberry is a regular contributor to the ERLC and is an editor at The Gospel Coalition (TGC). Allberry praises a children’s book* that normalizes gay marriage and teaches children not to have their guards up (emphasis mine).
Homosexuality is presented through a human lens. Archer encounters homosexuality in the same way the vast majority of us encounter it: through people close to him telling him they’re gay. This is welcome. In our own assessment of human sexuality, and especially in our talking through such things with children, we must keep at the forefront the fact we’re talking about real people. For some Christians, this humanizing of homosexuals may be an important corrective. The two gay characters in the book come across as real, not as stereotypes. They’re not activists or pushing an agenda; they’re normal people who happen to be gay. (The only stereotyping is with the student from England, who’s inevitably eccentric and posh.)
Here is Christian gay activist Allberry praising a book by a secular gay activist that indoctrinates children to the belief that gays aren’t activists and aren’t pushing an agenda!
Pastor Matt Chandler reinforces the message that we shouldn’t be on guard for gay activism now that we’ve lost the culture war in an ERLC video (emphasis mine):
All of us are going to have gay friends, family or co-workers. That’s a giant umbrella. And listen I want to push that you should have someone in that umbrella in your life. If you’ve so withdrawn from these types of relationships then I think honestly when all’s said and done you’re not really helping in the relationship between what appears to be two warring factions although I would argue that we’re really not at war. There is a war going on, it’s not between us right.
The Family Research Council echoes this message in a pamphlet titled How to Respond to the LGBT Movement** (emphasis mine):
It should also be noted that in the context of the political debates over LGBT issues, social conservatives do not consider people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender to be their adversaries. We recognize that most people who identify as LGBT are content to keep their sex lives private rather than demand official government affirmation of their sexual identity or conduct.
Sam Allberry and Rosaria Butterfield (also of the ERLC) take this a step further and insist that Christians now have an obligation to give gays access to our children. Allberry chides Christians for keeping gays away from our children by raising the drawbridge, and Butterfield says that the best way to protect our children is to overcome our fears and give gays the keys to our front doors.
All of this is madness, but it is precisely the kind of madness modern conservative Christians are most hungry for. This is exactly how conservative Christians responded to the feminist attack on marriage; they pretended to courageously fight against the culture while eagerly capitulating. This is a form of cowardice that feels brave, and that is what conservative Christians (as a group) have been looking for all along. As Pastor Matt Chandler writes at the ERLC in How the church can respond to a post-Christian culture what conservative Christians need to do is strike a courageous pose:
A Courageous Posture: You may have guessed by now that I will not encourage you to convert, condemn, or consume the culture. I want to give you something else, a fourth option. And I don’t want to offer you a strategy so much as a posture. I want to address the fears that grip our hearts and that drive so much of the Christian response to the age of unbelief.
I’m convinced that if we have a God-sized, God-given courage, then we will be freed up to be the people of God, living out the mission of God, marked by the joy of God. With courage, this season of history can be viewed not with fear and trepidation, but instead with hope and a sense of opportunity. With courage, our perspectives turn, and we can be excited and encouraged about this cultural moment and not intimidated, angered, or paralyzed by it.
Welcome to the age of unbelief. The church can thrive here. All we need is Christian courage. Take heart.
**The FRC pamphlet is written by Peter Sprigg. Sprigg is on the conservative side of the response to the culture wars, and disagrees with the recent push to capitulate on key areas such as Christian gay identity and the merits of reparative therapy.