What if I told you that the best arguments to embrace LGBT ideology in the church aren't really arguments at all?
Jonathan Swift, author of "Gulliver's Travels," is often credited with saying that you can't reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into.
I'm often reminded of this quotation while listening to self-identifying Christians argue in support of same-sex relationships. Rarely do I ever hear an actual argument, certainly not from Scripture. What I do hear are experiences—how befriending an LGBT person or getting a certain feeling or receiving a supposed message from God should lead Christians to a new view of sex, marriage, and the human person—a view the church has unanimously rejected for two millennia.
Recently, the Human Rights Campaign released a so-called "faith guide" that offers a glaring example of just this kind of thinking. It's full of the same bad "arguments" that are trotted out over and over. Even so, they're worth discussing because people are still falling for them.
HRC's new guide is entitled "Coming Home to Evangelicalism and Self," and purportedly offers ways to "help LGBTQ people live fully in their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and to live fully in their religious, spiritual and cultural traditions." The guide says that LGBTQ Christians "find it difficult to be fully themselves in their church communities. They may have been taught that sexual or romantic relationships that are not heterosexual are sinful...Yet those same LGBTQ people of faith know deep within that they were born this way."
Notice the wording there: "...be fully themselves." ... "they know deep within they were born this way." No argument is made; no scriptural reasoning is offered. Right out of the gate, this pamphlet, timed to coincide with the largest gathering of progressive evangelicals in the country, assumes what it needs to prove.
Repeating the myth that people are nothing more than the sum of their desires, the guide explains the church is "rejecting" LGBT persons by requiring them to be celibate, by barring them from leadership while they're in same-sex relationships, and by not officiating same-sex wedding ceremonies. The guide quotes David Gushee, author of the book, "Changing Our Mind." Gushee tells HRC that, "There can be no second-class Christians." Funny, I don't know anyone who thinks there are!
It goes on to accuse those of us who hold to historic orthodoxy on sex of putting homosexuals "outside the grace of God." Let's be clear: any church that says gay people or any other sinners are beyond the reach of God's grace is preaching a false and shrunken gospel.
The HRC then explains how self-identified LGBT Christians can change other peoples' minds about this issue. They insist that experiences, not biblical arguments, will persuade Christians on homosexuality. Well, that I agree with, because biblical arguments for LGBT ideology don't exist.
To prove my point, I'd like for you to watch this conversation between Sean McDowell, my co-author on a book about same-sex marriage, and Matthew Vines, one of the voices who figures prominently in the HRC booklet. The topic was specifically whether the Bible supports same-sex relationships. Watch, and consider, who is relying on Scripture for their position, and who is not.
In the pamphlet, a woman who describes herself as a lesbian Christian says she had an "encounter with God," and that He told her "You're gay. I made you this way...This is who you are." She was shocked to find that her church wasn't buying this. "[T]hey wanted to know how I could scripturally justify what I was telling them," she says. "They didn't care so much about this spiritual encounter I'd had with God." But isn't that the same thing we ask of Mormons or Muslims or cult leaders who justify explicitly anti-biblical stances based on their experiences?
Folks, this guide and its experience-centric arguments may not convince the listeners of this program, but it will convince others, quite simply because evangelicals—even those who still hold to a historic view of sex and marriage—often do favor experience over the Bible and Christian teaching.
And so we must prioritize sound arguments over experience, or else people will hear and accept a new sexual orthodoxy. And reasoning them back out of that will be tough. They were, after all, never really reasoned into it.