Sexuality/gender is where loyalty to Christ is being tested in our culture. More and more, it has become the line dividing the sheep from the goats. We cannot overemphasize the fact that the stakes really are that high. It is one thing when a young Christian has not been taught well on these issues and needs correction. But it is quite another thing when Christian teachers embrace a studied rejection of Christ’s word. We no longer have grounds to treat them as Christians.
Julie Rogers has resigned her position in the Wheaton Chaplain’s office on the same day that she reveals her support for gay sexual relationships. Eric Teetsel has a report here, and I encourage you to read it. In the meantime, some initial observations:
1. Biblical authority is missing. Rogers’s explanation of her change of heart is long on personal experience and short on Bible. If she has a reasoned biblical rationale for her views, she didn’t share it. It shouldn’t be lost on readers that other considerations seem to be driving her embrace of gay relationships, not God’s word.
2. Theology matters. The theology of the so-called gay “Christian” movement cannot hold. It affirms that same-sex orientation can be a moral good, even though same-sex behavior is a moral evil. Rogers held to this view and argued for it publicly. But this is an anthropological contradiction that cannot survive biblical scrutiny. Our sexual attractions—even the ones that come naturally to us and that we experience as unchosen—are fundamentally moral in nature. And it makes no sense at all to say that same-sex behavior is sinful but the attraction that leads to such behavior is not. Those who are trying to hold these irreconcilable propositions together are doing something risky. When someone like Rogers accepts that “gay is good,” we shouldn’t be surprised when they conclude that same-sex behavior is “good” as well.
3. Celibacy is insufficient by itself. Embracing celibacy is absolutely necessary for all unmarried Christians—same-sex attracted or otherwise. I applaud everyone who has faithfully walked this path. But celibacy alone does not get at the heart of things. Biblical Christianity cannot be reduced to behavioral modification. Authentic Christianity results in people becoming obedient from the heart (Romans 6:17). Embracing same-sex orientation as a moral good prevents such obedience and works against efforts to be celibate.
4. Timing is key. Rogers says she has embraced gay relationships “for a while now.” So when exactly did Rogers have a change of heart? How many Wheaton students did she counsel while holding a view at odds with the Wheaton Community Covenant? What was her view when she was supposed to be the orthodox opposition to Vines and Gushee at the Boston Q Conference? She has been regarded as a reliable voice among evangelicals, but she has clearly been drifting from the faith for some time now. She is very winsome. So it’s not hard to imagine that her influence among students at Wheaton and beyond has been significant over the last year. How much of her theological drift did she pass on to those that she was entrusted to teach?
5. Sexuality is the test of our time. Sexuality/gender is where loyalty to Christ is being tested in our culture. More and more, it has become the line dividing the sheep from the goats. We cannot overemphasize the fact that the stakes really are that high. It is one thing when a young Christian has not been taught well on these issues and needs correction. But it is quite another thing when Christian teachers embrace a studied rejection of Christ’s word. We no longer have grounds to treat them as Christians. Those of us who are pastors are to warn our people to avoid their false teaching. They are not of us (1 John 2:19). They are the blemishes at our love feasts (Jude 12). We do well to pray that God would grant them repentance and that they would come to their senses before it’s too late (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
This is a sad departure. I expect we will see many more like it in the days ahead. And each one will be an occasion for grief.
Denny Burk is Associate Professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.