Christianity Today asked Philip Ryken last week what he expects “to be Wheaton’s greatest ‘identity challenge’ in relating to trends in American culture?” His answer:
“I think the issue of homosexuality will for the foreseeable future be a defining challenge for the evangelical church generally, and, therefore, also for the college.”
He calls homosexuality a “defining challenge” not just for Wheaton, but for all of evangelicalism. There are a number of reasons that I agree with this assessment, but let me just give you a few thoughts to consider.
1. As we approach the inevitable legalization of gay “marriage,” this issue is being cast more and more as a civil rights issue. Christians are increasingly painted as bigots before the wider culture. Jesus’ teaching on human sexuality is becoming more and more reviled in our culture, and to the degree that we are faithful to His teaching we will be too.
2. Those in the progressive wing of the evangelical movement are already conceiving of ways to revise Christianity’s 2,000 year old ethic on human sexuality. Think of Brian McLaren and others in the Emergent wing, for instance, who are reading the Bible in ways that allow for the normalization of homosexuality. Evangelicalism will divide over this issue. Those who want to submit to biblical authority will go one way, and those who don’t will go another.
3. Homosexual practice represents a fundamentally flawed view of manhood and womanhood. As the culture embraces flawed views of gender, the Bible’s teaching on gender complementarity is going to become more and more strange and intolerable.
As I said, these are just a few thoughts. We haven’t even mentioned how evangelicals will deal with public accommodations and workplace discrimination. These all stand as huge challenges on the horizon, and it will be interesting to see how things unfold.
I’m interested to know from you. How many of you readers would agree with Ryken on this one? Why or why not?