The Tidal Wave of Pain
Among the reactions to the country-wide legalization of same sex marriage one consistent theme I see among evangelicals is the warning that this decision is a calamity of epic proportions for the same sex couples themselves. This concern for our neighbors is laudable, and certainly is better than a “woe is us” self-centeredness. But some of the pronouncements are both quite explicit and quite urgent. Here are a few with the bold face being mine:
“Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery.” John Piper
“The cultural and legal landscape has changed… we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors.” Albert Mohler
“Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want…. because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.” Russell Moore
I can sense the grief over this soon-coming tidal wave of pain, particularly from Moore, but their conclusions are clear; these people are about to reap what they sow and it will be awful.
Now I could point out that this tidal wave hasn’t come ashore yet in states that have had same sex marriage for over a decade. I could tell you about my sister’s next door neighbors, a lesbian couple, who have become her good friends and who are respected leaders of their community. I could tell you about my wife’s cousin who has been living in a same sex relationship for longer than the 44 years my wife and I have been married without being swept away.
But trying to prove these brothers wrong is not my point. I frankly have no idea whether there is a tidal wave of pain coming for same sex couples, but neither do Piper, Mohler and Moore. (Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it.) To be sure, some same sex relationships will bring pain; relationships have a way of sometimes doing that. But to make bold, and generalized, predictions is sort of cheeky.
P, M& M make these predictions based on their confident reading of some biblical texts, most notably Romans 1. But making specific 21st century applications of a 1st century text strays from inerrancy of the Bible into presumed inerrancy of their understanding. I’m not denying the texts are there but even in the 1st century, while sin abounded, there was no tidal wave of pain in the sense that these gentlemen confidently expect. Frankly, there was so much immorality of so many different strains that picking out what one strain caused was impossible. Paul didn’t seem to draw specific results from each of the various sins he condemned so why should we?
So what happens if the tidal wave doesn’t show up? Frankly I am not concerned about them/us being ridiculed. I think being ridiculed comes with the evangelical membership card. No big deal. I am concerned about the possibility that sincere Christians will come to doubt the Bible because they have bought into the lie that any single conclusion of how to apply the Bible IS the Bible.
What I think will happen is that some “refugees from the sexual revolution” will show up in churches here and there in the same way that others have been showing up in the 50+ year history of the wider sexual revolution. Our task is, as Moore correctly suggests, to welcome them in love. But before we can do that we need to make every effort to be a place where they will want to show up.