Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 1:12)
Dan Savage is a leading sex-advice columnist and homosexual activist. In a recent lecture/memoir, he describes his Roman Catholic upbringing, his identity as a homosexual and the tragic death of his loving mother. He wrestles with the Roman church as an organization that drove him to atheism through its hypocrisy and stand on homosexuality. Yet his mother’s legacy continues to gnaw at him, drawing him into cathedrals as he longs to be able to believe as his mother did. He even compares this desire to believe with a virus that lay dormant until his mother’s death. His memoir is heartfelt and moving, yet also deeply disturbing to those who believe the Bible and trust its God.
Like so many of our neighbors and friends, Mr. Savage would have us believe that his inability to believe is based in logic. He reasons that the Bible and those who follow it (including his mother) are grossly illogical, thereby blockading the enlightened from believing. But even in his memoir he tips his hand, showing that his unwillingness to believe really lies–as it does with every human being–in self-righteousness. When Mr. Savage entered the gay lifestyle, instead of being worried about hell or concerned with the church’s teaching, he simply assumed they were wrong. The doubts trickled in and then raged from that point. A person’s unwillingness to consider that they are wrong at the deepest, most foundational levels, is what keeps them from trusting Jesus. As Jesus put it, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
And yet there is hypocrisy in the church. We do give reasons for unbelievers to stay far away. So while preaching the gospel and exposing self-righteousness in all its forms (homosexual, straight, covetous or idolatrous), let us continually submit ourselves to the Word and Spirit of God, pleading that He remove everything which harms His testimony, everything that gives the world opportunity to mock our dear Savior.
Last weekend, the same Mr. Savage, addressing the National High School Journalism Convention, speaking in the context of anti-bullying legislation, implied that the Bible’s teaching on sexuality encourages the bullying of homosexuals. So he encouraged his hearers to “ignore the bull***t in the Bible” that modern thinkers have overcome, specifically the three S’: slavery, shellfish and sexuality. Appropriately, many Christians in attendance walked out of the lecture and were subsequently taunted by the speaker (who later apologized for his taunts, but not for his remarks about the Bible).
Leaving aside the breathtaking double-standard of an anti-bullying speaker using such tactics against his opponents, consider this summary in Savage’s own words:
It shouldn’t be hard for modern Christians to ignore what the bible says about gay people because modern Christians—be they conservative fundamentalists or liberal progressives—already ignore most of what the Bible says about sex and relationships. [He specifically mentions slavery, divorce and virginity.]
And we should wrestle with that. While his statements may accurately describe much of American Christianity, I believe and hope that they don’t characterize reformed churches to the same extent. But even if that’s true, even if we desire consistency in upholding all of Scripture, let us strive to be blameless in this area. Even if unbelievers continue to mock, let’s at least believe and teach the whole Bible: shellfish, slavery and all. Let’s glory in how the new covenant frees us from dietary restrictions, how everyone (slave or free) is on the same playing field before the cross and how Jesus came to cleanse and forgive us at the very deepest levels, even our sexuality.
So even if our neighbors, friends and sex-advice columnists never change their tune, let us strive to live honorably according to the gospel so that they may see our good deeds and praise Jesus upon His return.