How is it that the Bible can be so clear on a particular subject – in this case, the subject of homosexual practice – and yet some Christians are not clear on what the Bible says? And why does it seem that millennials in particular are confused about the Bible and homosexuality?
Here are the main reasons, some positive (meaning, the intent might be good, even if the conclusion is wrong) and some negative (meaning, there are no good reasons for the wrong conclusions).
First, many millennial Christians have friends or family members who identify as gay or lesbian.
These friends and loved ones are nice people, friendly people, decent people, hardworking people, loyal people. They are not sexual predators and they seem perfectly normal in other respects.
Their relationships seem fairly similar to heterosexual relationships, and from what these friends and loved ones say, they were born this way.
How can it be a sin to be gay?
Second, some of these millennials grew up in church environments where gays were demonized.
This only underscores the contrast between what their parents say and what the young people seem to be experiencing. Why, these millennials wonder, should I believe what my parents say when they seemed to be so biased and even bigoted?
Third, many millennials have a heart for justice.
They want to fight against tyranny and oppression. They want everyone to have a level playing field. In particular, they want to stand with people who are treated unfairly, who are rejected, who are stigmatized.
Who has been more stigmatized than gays (and others in the LGBT spectrum)?
Fourth, a significant percentage of millennials come from broken homes, so they’re not that excited about marriage in general and certainly do not see heterosexual marriage as particularly wonderful.
Why shouldn’t gays have a shot at it too? Maybe, some millennials think to themselves, they’ll do better than my parents did.
Fifth, many millennials equate the gospel with being nice, and it’s not nice to hurt people’s feelings.
If they say that homosexual practice is sinful, without a doubt, they will hurt their gay friends. How could Jesus want them to do that?
Sixth, many millennials (who now call themselves “nones”) have been burned by traditional religion.
They’ve seen so much hypocrisy and so little devotion and sincerity that they question “religious” dogma, including traditional teaching on sexuality.
These would be the “positive” reasons behind coming to wrong conclusions about homosexuality.
In response, I would note to each point that:
1) There are nice, hardworking, decent Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, and others, yet, as followers of Jesus, we still believe they need Jesus. As for people being born gay, there remains no reputable scientific evidence that this is true. And even if it was true, Jesus tells us that we need to be born again. All of us are sinful by nature.
2) It’s a terrible shame that the church sometimes demonized gays in the past. Let’s not make the opposite error of denying what Scripture says about homosexual relationships.
3) It’s great to fight for the underdog, but passion for justice can be shortsighted when it forgets about other, even larger issues, such as God’s intent for marriage or how LGBT activism is the principle threat to our freedoms of conscience, speech, and religion. Let’s not undermine important societal foundations while treating others with love and respect.
4) The solution to broken homes is not to redefine marriage but to rediscover the sacred nature of marriage, which includes lifelong, loving, sacrificial relationships made before God and kept before God.
5) It’s wonderful to be nice, but not at the expense of telling the truth. It may sound nice, but it is hardly loving.
6) People in churches may fail, but Jesus remains true and His Word remains unchanging.
Here are the main “negative” reasons many millennials come to the wrong conclusions about homosexuality.
The first is scriptural ignorance.
There is an incredible lack of Bible knowledge in the American Church today, in particular among millennials. We can debate whether this is the fault of their parents, the fault of their churches, their own fault, or simply the result of growing up in a digital, soundbite world.
Whatever the cause, there can be little debate that some of the most fundamental truths are hardly known today and that basic questions about the Bible mystify all too many.
Things that were taken for granted in past generations cannot be taken for granted today. We must get back to the Word!
The second factor is moral relativity.
These young people have been raised in an environment where everything is relative – and I don’t just mean morality.
There is relative truth, as in “your truth” and “my truth.”
There is even relative reality, as in, “I identify as part human, part parrot.” Or, “I identify as black even though my skin is white.”
The school systems have bought into this deception and have made it part of their sacred gospel. No wonder those who have been raised in this educational malaise have become so deeply confused. (And on the university level, it’s far, far more aggressive and anti-God.)
We must therefore moral absolutes and truth absolutes and reality absolutes. And again, we do this by being grounded in divine morality and reality. We do this by being grounded in the truth.
So, let the old and the young get together, learn together, and speak with one mind to the LGBT community. That’s the least we can do for these men and women for whom Jesus died.