Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
In yesterday’s post I included Peter Leithart’s assessment of our Christian defense of marriage using the Bible. As he pondered that further, he had some additional thoughts: “The World Can’t Hear Us on Marriage.”
Of this earlier post Leithart writes,
I pointed out that opposition to gay marriage faces a steep uphill struggle. Virtually all the cultural and political momentum is in the other direction. Arguments against gay marriage are theologically fraught, and Christians and Jews who try to mount biblically or theologically based arguments will find themselves ignored or denounced by secular gatekeepers precisely because they offer biblically and theologically based arguments. I concluded that “it will take nothing short of a cultural revolution for biblical arguments to be heard, much less to become persuasive.”
Some have found my diagnosis too gloomy, or worse, cowardly.
Leithart strongly affirms the biblical view of marriage. He is also convinced that the cultural mores have shifted such that most do not affirm a biblical understanding of marriage. This does not mean Christians retreat; it does not mean that Christians ought not to use biblical arguments in defending God’s view of marriage. But his caution is in expecting a sympathetic hearing to this message.
By all means, defend marriage, invoke the weight of tradition, make all the arguments you can invent with all the passion, compassion, and cunning you can muster. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking any of this readily touches the experience or intellectual habits of a majority.
The truth will out, of that I have no doubt. People do, mysteriously, get persuaded. Cultural revolutions happen. No one can defy creation forever. Beauty is the best persuasion, so Christians should above all aspire to form marriages and families that are living parables of the gospel. The Spirit wins. Between the present and that victory of the Spirit, we are in for what may be an extended period of dullness, when truth about sexuality and marriage will fall on deaf ears until the obvious is relearned. It’s not a hopeless place to be, or even a bad place. It puts us in the good company of Isaiah and Jeremiah, of Jesus and Paul.
This is one of the implications/entailments of living in a postChristian day. It does not mean biblical truth changes. But this new day does mean the way in which we communicate that truth and the way in which that truth is heard and responded to and the way the church understands and engages in its ministry changes.
How do you think about and process this?