In this second post on gender and sexuality, I want to address what gospel-driven and Scripture-based principles give us a foundation for practicing a life of love and truth in the midst of cultural opposition when it comes to gender and sexuality (and many other issues, mind you). The general culture is quickly becoming more and more hostile to Christianity. While people’s values (i.e. what their heart truly loves and desires) in the culture have always varied and, typically, been opposed to the gospel, the norms (i.e. accepted behaviors) have not. We have had Christian norms for many decades. How do we respond now that our culture is not as favorable to Christian norms as it once was?
Our current cultural situation gives Christians an opportunity to not just tell a better story of gender and sexuality (that was the point of my first post), but to live a better story. To do this, we need to listen to a first century pastor who wrote to his beloved churches when they lived in a time of fierce opposition (much more fierce than what we are experiencing today). The pastors name is Peter, and his first epistle is all about holiness, submission, and suffering. It’s as instructive for us in the 21st century as it was for Christians in the first century.
There are probably dozens of themes and principles we can extrapolate from this letter which would help us develop wise and winsome gospel-centered practices. But I’ll pull out just three of them.
- Holiness in exile. Peter shows his readers that the gospel makes you a new people who live in a new way (1 Pet. 1:15). Because we have been saved by a holy God, we are called to live exemplary lives even while we are surrounded by people who are not following and obeying God.
- Submission in suffering. Peter shows his readers that the gospel frees you to model the submission of Christ and suffer with him because you are the people of a better nation (1 Pet. 2:1-12, 13-17). Even if human governments do not honor God, we are still called to honor the government. This doesn’t mean we disobey God, of course. But it means that even in suffering, we are called to submit, not disparage, slander, or overthrow our leaders.
- Expect trials and respond graciously. Peter shows his readers that the gospel reveals that if we belong to Christ, we should expect suffering and be gentle and respectful of opponents (1 Pet. 3:8-22; 4:12-19). In Peter’s words, it is not strange when hard things come! What is strange is that biblical norms were accepted for so long. We should have expected the kinds of things we are seeing in the culture to have happened much sooner than they did. And while this decline happens and continues to worsen, our job is not necessarily to change the circumstances but point people to true hope in Jesus.
If these truths sink down deep it will lead to a radically different way of approaching the issues of gender and sexuality and, more importantly relating to the people who hold views which are at odds with the Scriptures. That will be our final post.