Earlier this week, I posted “Four stages of ‘evangelical’ affirmation of gay marriage,” which traces out a basic trajectory I have observed among those who jettison their biblical beliefs about marriage. Almost immediately, readers pointed out stages that I missed, and I thought of at least one on my own. Rosaria Butterfield wrote to me with an additional stage that I thought worth sharing with you. She writes,
I also appreciated your blog post on the 4 stages. I wonder, though, if you missed a stage–somewhere between point 1 and point 2. I believe that the refusal to take a stand happens when someone buys into the sexual orientation identity system that says gay is not how you are through the imprint of original sin, but rather is who you are, through your supposedly morally neutral sexual orientation. I think it will become more and more important to foreground this step, as the next attack on orthodoxy will be (and already is) a resurgence of pelagianism in its denial of the biblical witness on original sin. The move between how and who is vital. And the slippage is one paved by the gay Christian movement (side A or B, no difference in worldview, in my opinion). The difference between how and who also explains why this is a hard argument for the church to make–and how people shift from point 1 to point 2. After all, denying a person the right to be who she really is is something only a bigot would embrace. It is vital that the orthodox church stand firm that there are no such things as gay people–there are gay desires and gay sex and gay communities and gay identities–but people are all made in the image of God. The only ontological groundings in Genesis 1:27 are biological sex.
I couldn’t agree more with Rosaria on this. Buying into the “sexual orientation identity system” is the crossing of the Rubicon, as it were. Why? Because it costs you a biblical anthropology and requires you to buy an erroneous substitute. It requires you to reduce human identity to the sum total of one’s fallen sexual desires and then to affirm them. And there are countless sad consequences downstream from this decision. Rosaria has written at length about this in her book Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do.
UPDATE: A reader has written to me asking the following question:
I’m a long time reader of your blog. I am very thankful for it. I very much appreciated your recent post on the four stages that occur on the way to affirming gay marriage. I was also appreciative of your follow up that mentioned Rosaria Butterfield’s input. In that follow up post you mentioned that other stages had been mentioned or thought of. Do you have a plan to bring those to light as well? I do hope so!
I don’t have a plan for a follow-up post. Truth be told, there are probably many “stages” we could identify along a trajectory to affirming gay marriage. And many of them would be fruitful to explore. The main point of my original post was not to identify every conceivable stage but to highlight the trajectory. The trajectory doesn’t end merely in affirming an error. It ends in bad feelings (sometimes animus) towards Christians who won’t affirm the error.
This trajectory reveals what it true generally about unbelief. Unbelief often leads to open contempt for God’s people (see John 15:18-25). In fact, such contempt is one of the chief marks of unbelief, just as love for the brethren is a true mark of saving faith. And this is where I think the trajectory helps us to evaluate our own hearts. Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ who hold firmly to the truth? Or is there a root of bitterness toward those who hold firmly to the truth? The answer to those questions says a great deal about one’s true spiritual condition (1 John 3:14-15).
For what it’s worth, the other “stage” that I might have included between 1 and 2 is the “dialogue” stage. Sometimes “dialogue” is a way station to having no firm convictions on the matter, which then becomes a gateway to full affirmation of what the Bible forbids.