Queer Culture and Family Pizza Night

In the making of them male and female, the very attributes of a Holy God act as a safeguard against queer culture.

ThatGod created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and femalemay well be the locus classicus of apologetics in defending the biblical sexual ethic. For, again, what the text says is that male and female gender image the Creator and comprise human sex and sexuality. What gay activists must, therefore, demonstrate for their positions to win the day in the evangelical churches is that God has changed.

 

Imagine that you and your family go out for pizza. Like the typical family, each person wants a different topping. You and your son want pepperoni, your spouse wants plain cheese, and your daughter, well, your daughter wants veggie delight. Either you’ll need to order more than one pizza, or you’ll need to order an extra-large and subdivide the pizza to make everyone happy.

This process is called finding the least common denominator. A term in mathematics, the least common denominator can also describe what is acceptable to the broadest collection of people. This meeting point is deliberately created to encourage unity. People’s penchant to settle for the least common denominators of life reflect their least common priorities.

In contrast to the least common denominator is the greatest common factor. Using George Frideric Handel’s Messiah as an example, the greatest common factor of the composition is Handel himself, and his innate musical gifts.

Were we to reintroduce the least common denominator in listening to Messiah, most certainly everyone in the family would agree on “The Hallelujah Chorus.” Your daughter who prefers veggie delight pizza suffers through “But who may abide the day of His coming”, but tingles run up and down everyone’s spine as they stand to sing that first, breathtaking, Hallelujah!

The twin concepts of the least common denominator and the greatest common factor provide a framework for understanding the most basic problem facing the LGBTQ+ community’s efforts to infiltrate the historically evangelical churches. Most recently, an effort was attempted by the Revoice conference, held in St. Louis, Missouri, whose self-purported goal is “Promoting LGBT Flourishing in Historic Christian Traditions.”

What is this most basic problem?

Genesis 1:27 records, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Note that what we call sex (man-woman) and gender (male-female) are referenced simultaneously in the creation of the first couple. Jesus affirms this fact when he said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE” (Matthew 19:4).

So then, inherent to the creation of the man and the woman in the image of God is both sex (man-woman) and gender (male-female).

A question is this. Does sex define gender or does gender define sex? It’s gender that defines sex.

A question is this. Does sex define gender or does gender define sex? It’s gender that defines sex.

In the creation of the first couple, the attributes of male (gender) make the man (sex), while the attributes of female (gender) make the woman (sex). Put differently, the attributes of male-ness, which originate in God, are the content that account for the man. Likewise, the attributes of woman-ness, which also originate in God, are the content that account for the woman.

What designates a man and a woman (spiritually speaking only) is not, therefore, sex reproductive organs and fertility, much less sexual attraction, but characteristics that form the content of the image of God. Just as Handel is the greatest common factor, from whom Messiah derives its likeness, so also God is the greatest common factor, from whom male and female derive their likeness—likenesses, which we have seen, define what it means to be either a man or a woman. A problem we are witnessing today, especially among supporters of transgenders, is a reversal of God’s created order. It is now the man (sex) that makes the male (gender) and the woman (sex) that make the female (gender).

The great principle problem with gay activists who would influence the Christian churches is that rather than articulate a vision of human gender and sexuality as derivative of the attributes of God, they ask us to meet them at the least common denominator—what can appeal to the broadest collection of evangelical Christians.

In order to demonstrate the deeper relevance of this critique requires me to mention select articles on the so-called “gay Christian”, in general, and the Revoice conference, in particular. This is indeed the season for kings to go out to battle.

Al Mohler attacks a sweeping list of errors presented by Revoice organizer, Nate Collins, including his idea that the general creational pattern for sex, being fraught with its own sinful tendencies, ought to attenuate the evangelical hardline position on heterosexual-exclusive sex attraction.

Tom Buck confronts Collin’s stunning point that gay people are prophets in the line of Jeremiah.

Al Baker exposes the overall gay agenda on the grounds that it represents a dangerous trend in the evangelical churches to hyper-contextualize the gospel to post-modern people.

Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield barrage the queer culture on the grounds of a biblical articulation of the doctrine of concupiscence.

Owen Strachan broadsides the idea that one’s new identity and orientation in Christ can coexist with homosexual orientation without running afoul of spiritual dissonance.

These select arguments are excellent. But what we must realize is that they are not new to homosexual activists. These reasonings were in the air years ago at Yale Divinity School when the gay community (in those days the acronym was limited to LGB) was then working its way into the mainline churches. In fact, the reason these arguments were in the air is because I was the only one raising them.

However, what I learned in those days is that my strong arguments were only tipping off gay activists and their supporters on how to develop better arguments of their own.

We’ve all heard the retorts.

“Ok, justification must be followed by sanctification. But Christians sin, right? And homosexuality is no worse than lying, right?”

“I get it. The power of sin is broken in Christ. But wasn’t the devil also defeated at the cross, yet he’s not yet destroyed. How’s the sin nature any different?”

“Well, who’s to say there isn’t a little Jeremiah in gay activists? Didn’t Blacks have trouble finding a place in White-majority evangelical churches in the 50s?”

“What’s wrong with contextualizing the gospel? Are we to pull up the draw-bridge and order homosexuals to swim across the moat?”

To these common responses, permit me to add that while clarification on the Protestant doctrine of concupiscence, and on the continuous imperfect indicative of the form ἦτε in 1 Cor. 6:9-11, are illuminating to me, it’s lost on most laymen trying to navigate through the maze of issues.

That brings me full circle to the relevance of my argument.

That “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female” may well be the locus classicus of apologetics in defending the biblical sexual ethic. For, again, what the text says is that male and female gender image the Creator and comprise human sex and sexuality. What gay activists must, therefore, demonstrate for their positions to win the day in the evangelical churches is that God has changed.

What makes this apologetic particularly promising is that it’s the Genesis account of beginnings that the purveyors of the modernistic sexual ethic have been quick to exploit. Think back when you first heard that ardent liberal open Scripture in his quest for a unisex culture. Where did he go? Toward the top of his list was Genesis 1. Little did he know that his defense was his undoing. For in the making of them male and female, the very attributes of a Holy God act as a safeguard against queer culture.

The nature of God is the defense against reducing sexual ethics to what is acceptable to the broadest collection of people.

The LGBTQ+ community might still argue that this archetype-ectype arrangement of God to gender and sex, has been impaired by the fall. There’s a very limited sense in which this is true, a discussion on that must wait. However, when Jesus reiterated the Genesis pattern in Matthew 19, he spoke into a post-fall world. He was not telling what was, but what remains.

The Presbyterian Church in America, the Southern Baptist Convention, and likeminded brethren, have their work cut out. For if history be our guide, we know that few, if any, Christian denominations keep from conceding nonnegotiable ground until little of what was the greatest common factor remains. Heed the warning. Family pizza night has started.

Dr. John Barber is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and Professor of Theology & Culture at Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida.