Note: Rob Schwarzwalder co-wrote this column.
Openly gay New York Times columnist Frank Bruni made clear in his Easter Day column that the efforts in Indiana to defeat religious freedom protections provided for individuals and business owners under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was just round one. Bruni is signaling that no sanctuary will be given to those who hold to a biblical view of sexuality and is demanding that the Christian faith jettison its 2,000 year allegiance to the clear teaching of the Bible concerning human sexuality.
Bruni indicts Christians who oppose removing homosexuality from the biblical "sin list" for the following errors (these are the terms he uses): bigotry, bias, the "ossification" of belief, "unthinking obeisance," and prejudice.
Woven throughout Bruni's comments is a tone of fascism, a barely-disguised warning that if Evangelical Protestants and orthodox Catholics don't bend in their theology and in their daily lives, they will be "made" to.
The recent beheadings on a Libyan beach, as the Christian-glutted lions of ancient coliseums, show that rather than bend the knee to falsehood, we would rather die, knowing that the approval of an authority far greater than the Upper West Side of Manhattan awaits us.
Of course, Bruni prances out the tired canards about the Bible and slavery, demonstrating a complete ignorance of historic and contemporary biblical interpretation. "There's a rapidly growing body of impressive, persuasive literature that looks at the very traditions and texts that inform many Christians' denunciation of same-sex relationships and demonstrates how easily those points of reference can be understood in a different way," he writes.
Well, sure - in the 1920s, liberal Protestantism came to grips with its abandonment of historic orthodoxy and admitted it no longer could affirm the uniqueness of Christian faith, the deity of Christ, the reality of His atonement for sin or His bodily resurrection. Liberal Protestants developed what their followers considered an "impressive, persuasive literature" vindicating their new-found maturity and knowledge. And Christians loyal to historic, essential Christian doctrine developed a more-impressive and cogent literature debunking the debunkers, outraging the latter for daring to challenge them intellectually and with rigorous scholarship. Just as orthodox Christians are doing today with respect to the advocates of removing homosexuality (or fornication or adultery or any other sexual wrong) from the Bible's "sin list."
Theological history is repeating itself today with respect to homosexuality. Myriad scholars have demonstrated how fallacious are the arguments of those who wish to render clear biblical teaching obsolete.
In other words, heresy is not new. The first three chapters of the Book of Revelation are a series of indictments by Jesus Himself of churches that were already - at the end of the first century - falling away from the truth of the Gospel.
Those who claim that the Bible's teaching on homosexuality is a matter of more enlightened interpretation of ancient texts or of conforming its teaching to advances in scientific knowledge and cultural maturity demonstrate great ignorance of biblical teaching and the history Christendom.
From Genesis through Revelation, the Bible makes clear that the only sexually-intimate activity approved by our Creator is that which exists between a man and a woman within the covenant of marriage. And its teaching on homosexuality are not culturally-conditioned. They are grounded in the created order and the very ontology of being made in the image and likeness of God.
Additionally, there are three elements to the Mosaic Law: ceremonial (hand-washing rules, the sacrificial system), civic (slavery, penalties for specific sins), and moral code. The civil law applied only to the nation state of ancient Israel, and the ceremonial code was symbolic and fulfilled in Christ. The moral law transcends time and culture, and is unchanged throughout Scripture. The moral law, articulated by Moses and confirmed by Jesus, contains God's mandates. This includes God's mandates for human sexual behavior, which include His disapprobation of all non-marital, non-heterosexual relations.
Bruni grants no possibility that there is a rich, articulate, persuasive, and sound literature by Christian theologians demonstrating how clear and unchanging is the Bible's teaching on same-sex intimacy, marriage, and human sexuality in general. He is disinterested in such, and instead appeals to outliers like David Gushee and Matthew Vines. And in a particularly desperate move, he notes that the "United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" have all affirmed same-sex relationships. True, but these historic denominations are no longer mainstream. They are dying, becoming more like social clubs and liberal foundations than proclaimers of a faith delivered with clarity and finality, once for all (those are biblical phrases, Mr. Bruni; Mssrs. Gushee and Vines would know them).
Furthermore, it is clear from two millennia of Christian history that the church has always been infiltrated by false teachers. The Savior warned of them, and the milieu of theological conflict intrinsic to the New Testament, a canon of books composed both to instruct as to the truth and warn as to its distortions, makes clear that error is omnipresent in a fallen world - even as the truth, attacked as it continually is, remains sure, fixed, and unchanging.
Mr. Bruni, my Evangelical and orthodox Catholic peers have a message for you: We will not be "re-educated," nor will we be silent. We are not going away. We love you too much to affirm sin in any fashion. We condemn any vitriol you receive from those who, outraged by your dismissive and hostile column, call you names or worse. And we love you too much to reduce Christian faith to simply being "nice" or affirming what the God of Creation and of the Bible says is un-affirmable.
Sin is sin. Our sin. Your sin. God sets the standard, not us. His standard is not unclear or subjective or ambivalent.
It's your decision as to how to respond to it. We've made ours.