The Grace of Shame: Gospel Coalition’s “godliness is not heterosexuality” (2)…

The Grace of Shame: Gospel Coalition’s “godliness is not heterosexuality” (2)…

[This is the second half (first half) of one chapter excerpted from The Grace of Shame: 7 Ways the Church Has Failed To Love Homosexuals.]


Back to the Gospel Coalition’s headline, “Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality.”

Maybe evangelicals in the UK have a different experience, but speaking as evangelicals in the States (and Germany), we’ve never run into anyone writing or preaching that “godliness is heterosexuality.” It’s such an inane thing to think, let alone say.

Godliness is heterosexuality? Hasn’t every heterosexual man who knows God struggled against sinful heterosexual lusts of his flesh?

Godliness is contentment and self-control. It is not concupiscence. It is not the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. Lust has always dogged most heterosexuals’ experience of their own heterosexuality—including righteous Job, who said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?”[1]

Godliness is heterosexuality?

Uh, no. This sort of simplistic thought is not that of any sane Christian man whose sexual desire, by God’s grace, is entirely heterosexual. Straight Christians are not sitting around patting ourselves on the back because we’re straight. It’s the rare man who takes pride in his heterosexuality anymore. Twenty years ago my friend who was a public-school teacher in a Chicago suburb told me gay was hip, and since then everyone’s been “living out.” We have gay actors, gay Republicans, gay NBA players, gay authors, gay defensive linemen, gay cowboys, gay pastors . . .

In fact, anyone who tries to rain on the gay rainbow will be tarred and feathered on Facebook and Twitter, or bankrupted by some federal judge. This is not a world in which Christian Joes or Janes are walking around congratulating themselves that “godliness is heterosexuality.”

Sure, it’s understandable how Pastor Shaw could begin to resent heterosexuals. It’s understandable that he could grow bitter against the Christian man who has not abandoned the natural function of the woman to burn in his desire for another man. He may well resent the Christian man who has turned from burning in his desire for another man to loving the woman God made him to desire. He surely would not find it easy to watch other men in church who have repented of gay lust and sodomy, and who have obeyed Scripture by marrying rather than burning;[2] men who now have the joy of godly heterosexual marriages and are, with their wives, raising up a godly seed for God. It’s understandable that a Christian man who has spent years single and burning in his desire for other men might grow weary and tell the church he is a “gay Christian” and proud of it—adding that “godliness is not heterosexuality!”

Why has the Gospel Coalition jumped on this bandwagon? Did we need another defense of homosexuality at the expense of heterosexuality? Was there a heterosexualist movement springing up in the church that gay Christians found threatening? Did the men of the Coalition really think now was the time to mount a campaign against the privileging of heterosexuality? And if so, did they think it best for this campaign to be led by a gay pastor who resents the way Christian fathers and mothers have treated him? A gay pastor who is bitter about his residual feelings of shame about his gayness in the church? A gay pastor who is angry at being asked by Christian parents how they can help their sons avoid effeminacy?

Context is everything in interpreting the sentences and words of Scripture. Context also matters in coming to understand the sentences and words of the Coalition’s headline, “Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality.”

For two decades, homosexualists have been hard at work gaining the sympathy of middle America. Unsurprisingly, a growing number of evangelical church members want the church to make its peace with this leviathan that is leaving the evangelical establishment looking clueless, brain-dead, passé, insensitive, outmoded, dowdy, fusty, musty, unloving, and just plain stupid.

Just a few weeks before the Obergefell ruling, the Pew Research Center announced its latest figures on the support of homosexual marriage, categorized by age or generation. The numbers were clear. There is now an overwhelming support for homosexuality and homosexual marriage across North America, but what was even more noteworthy in the Pew results was the rapidity of the change in convictions.

For instance, take Millennials (those born after 1980): in 2005, 49 percent supported homosexual marriage, but just ten years later the support had grown to 70 percent—a gain of more than 20 percent.[3]

In a nation in which 70 percent of its citizens claim Christian faith,[4] such a reversal of conviction about such a foundational moral command of Scripture is astounding. Pastors would have to be quite obtuse not to see the importance of this change for our teaching, preaching, and pastoral care. If we’re going to continue to have the ears and hearts of our families and congregations, we must realize our credibility problem is real and growing. And who better to help us adjust to present realities than a gay Christian pastor from the United Kingdom who wrote the book on it, titled The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction?

The men of the Gospel Coalition saw the dwindling support for Scripture’s condemnation of homosexuality and felt it was time to distance themselves from their former position. They didn’t want evangelical Millennials to judge them hardline. Kinder, gentler was needed and the Gospel Coalition had it covered.

But in declaring that “godliness is not heterosexuality,” they were too cute by half. Which is to say, they lied.

Godliness is living as the sex God made us and loving the opposite sex, and this is what normal people mean when they speak of “heterosexuality.”

Brothers and sisters, we must be done with hiding God’s truth behind mincing phrases and half-truths. We may be so self-deceived that we can’t see it ourselves, but everyone else sees and understands our shame at Scripture’s repeated condemnations of androgyny, effeminacy, sodomy, and lesbianism.

Let others who aren’t ashamed of Jesus and His words speak for Him. Let them love sinners and call them to repentance and faith. Let them preach the Gospel clearly and boldly, without such shameful equivocation.

May God help us to follow the clarity and boldness of the Apostle Paul who described his preaching this way:

I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time? But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.[5]

[1] Job 31:1.

[2] “It is better to marry than to burn.” 1 Corinthians 7:9.

[3] “Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage,” Pew Research Center, June 26, 2017, http://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/.

[4] “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” Pew Research Center, May 12, 2015, http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/.

[5] 2 Corinthians 1:17–20.


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About The Author

7

Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church since 1996, Tim and Mary Lee have five children and lots of grandchildren. Tim's books include "Daddy Tried," The Grace of Shame," "Church Reformed," "Elders Reformed," and soon a book on marriage. Tim spent ten years in the PC(USA) and twenty in the PCA. He's now a member of Evangel Presbytery.

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