Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gay Marriage and Missions

Christian leaders who are pushing for "tolerance" and acceptance of gay marriage are often using the desire to reach the younger generation for Christ as their justification. In this narrative, they are the ones who genuinely care about people knowing Christ and those of us with a traditional understanding of marriage are the ones who care more about rules and tradition than people. There are good arguments against this other than what is below.  There is one hole in this argument, however, that is very rarely, if ever, discussed:

The majority of the global population.  

This is especially relevant to the task of evangelizing unreached people groups.  Yes, there are changes that are happening on a global scale when it comes to the acceptance of new views of sexuality (Pew Research), but there is still a large divide between Western and non-Western nations on this issue.  The 10/40 Window, which is home to the large majority of unreached peoples, is filled with societies solidly against the acceptance of gay marriage and other new understandings of sexuality. 

So when it comes to Christian leaders pressing for acceptance of new views of sexuality, where is the burden for the unreached peoples of the world

Does anyone think that our increasingly "open views" are removing obstacles to the gospel among Muslims?  The reality, of course, is that the rest of the world is watching - often in disgust - what is happening in the West and are very worried that our immorality will continue to spill over into segments of their societies like it has been for decades.  They can't be convinced that this is a "new move of God" regarding how sexuality is to be understood.  They simply put it into the category of a long list of problems that have been transferred through media from our country to theirs: gang violence, bulimia, disrespect for parents, rampant sex outside of marriage, and a general devaluing of the importance of family.  For a brief picture of what this disgust looks like, consider the backlash over Facebook's rainbow flag profile pictures

One of the misperceptions missionaries have to combat upon entering one a Muslim or other traditional society (one that I had to deal with myself) is the belief that almost all Americans are Christians.  In other words, when a well-known celebrity claims to be a Christian and is soon afterwards in the news for public drunkenness, adultery, arrest, etc., the conclusion is that this is what all Christians are like.  Therefore, they are not only uninterested in Christianity.  They are appalled by it.  

Missionaries coming from churches who conduct gay marriages would only confirm this misperception and strengthen the voices of local imams warning people against the message of Christ.  

So while the call to reach people for Christ is used to lead people towards new views on gay marriage and transgender teachings in America, those who are making this point have little concern for the majority of unreached peoples of the world. This shouldn't really be surprising since many of these same leaders don't believe that whether or not people hear about Jesus will have any significant influence on where they spent eternity.

No doubt there are many of you reading this who are agreeing with the main point and yet have become quite frustrated with the reasoning being employed. You may be saying, "Shouldn't we simply focus on obeying with the Scripture says instead of trying to figure out which view of sexuality we think will reach people?" "By trying to see which way the moral wind is blowing and following suit," you're thinking to yourself,  "aren't we displaying a complete lack of trust in the power and sovereignty of God?" 

You are correct.  

The reality, of course, is that compromising on the truth of scripture never leads to true conversions.  See the history of liberalism and mainline churches.  See the recent history of the emergent movement that attracted many followers who identified as Christians already but led to very little true conversions where people surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord.   It seems that those who want a god who encourages them to do whatever they wanted to do anyway actually don't want the God of the Bible at all.  They eventually figure this out and, at best, become nominal Christians.

Speaking of the rest of the world, we need to also keep in mind the persecution of our fellow believers in other countries.  Yes, in light of the Supreme Court decision last week, the realities of potential persecution have risen for all of us.  Yet there are believers all over the globe who choose to follow Jesus knowing it will potentially mean complete rejection from society, violence from their own family members, torture from their government, and maybe even death.  Quite often the missionaries who reached them have been funded and paid for by Christians in America.  

Isn't it ironic that some of those who paid the missionaries to go are already shrinking back in the face of such little difficulty?  

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul, who was so overwhelmed with the message of grace and the freedom found in the gospel that he would not compromise any part of it in order to avoid persecution or a strain in his relationship with a newer generation of Christians:  "If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:9-10 ESV)