Orientation Identity and the Church

LG grew into LGBQT, and it was that T for transgender that marked another seismic shift in the culture.

Rather than simply being oriented toward the same sex, which at least had your orientation in part focused on yourself in relation to other people, in the transgender movement identity has taken another step inward. For now identity is focused more solely on yourself in relation to your self.

 

In this bravest and newest of worlds, people have taken upon themselves the responsibility to self-identify. Looking inwardly for their truth, they examine their thoughts and passions to determine who they are. If their heart is inclined, or oriented, in a certain direction, then that proclivity becomes who they are.

Just a few short years ago, the big battle in this area was for people to be identified by their sexual orientation. As this article makes clear, this battle was basically won when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. In those days, things were “simpler” as you were either straight, lesbian or gay.

Yet soon after, LG grew into LGBQT, and it was that T for transgender that marked another seismic shift in the culture. For rather than simply being oriented toward the same sex, which at least had your orientation in part focused on yourself in relation to other people, in the transgender movement identity has taken another step inward. For now identity is focused more solely on yourself in relation to your self.

For instance, if a man feels like a woman, then he is now a she and becomes known as a transgender. Yet so radical is this yearning for self-identity these days that if someone uses a feminine pronoun to describe said individual, this can be deemed too restrictive and so other pronouns such as “they” are encouraged. After all, some claim to switch genders back and forth on any given day, or want to be known as agender or gender-free.

Today’s identity culture is a bit like traveling south on a highway and enjoying the ride so much you decide to take South as your new surname. That may be fine for a time, but that inevitable left or right turn makes it difficult to know what to do next. Rut Etheridge in his new book aptly deems this modern propensity to determine one’s own identity the “ceiling of self”. It only takes you so far. For eventually the well named Self dries up, unable to keep up with the thirst for significance.

Now let us come to the church and consider orientation identity. For there is growing pressure to accept this type of thinking within the church. Revoice is one of the latest identity movements that is infiltrating evangelical and Reformed churches. Their stated purpose is “to support and encourage gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other same-sex attracted Christians—as well as those who love them—so that all in the Church might be empowered to live in gospel unity while observing the historic Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.” (You can see Tim Challies’ summary article here about the first Revoice conference in 2018.) Note the adjectives used to modify the word “Christians”. This statement shows that promoters and supporters of this movement are adding their own inner orientation to Christian identity.

To see how this orientation frames their whole outlook on life, consider these two examples taken from the thinking of Dr. Wesley Hill, a seminary professor, keynote speaker at Revoice, and author of several books on this subject (quotes were gleaned from this Aquila Report article, which also has many helpful links to appropriate responses).

I also want to explore the way my same-sex attractions are inescapably bound up with my gift for and calling to friendship. My question, at root, is how I can steward and sanctify my homosexual orientation in such a way that it can be a doorway to blessing and grace.

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