In the process of teaching about biblical sexuality, I have at times taken a critical look at traditions Christians have long held as truth. For example, you may have heard a recent Java with Juli episode exploring the missteps and harmful messages of the conservative Christian purity movement of the 1990s. I have also spoken into controversial topics including LGBT issues, mommy porn and cohabitation. I’m not the only one having these conversations. Within the landscape of the Christian world, many are lending their opinions on these subjects. These are discussions we need to have with the rapidly changing cultural perspective on sexuality, love and gender. While the conversations are necessary, I’m troubled to see that many of these discussions lack a central aspect of what it means to be a Christian: reverence.
Reverence is an old-fashioned word that we don’t hear very often. However, it communicates a distinguishing characteristic of those who would follow Jesus Christ as Lord. Reverence means that we honor God as Creator and Lord. It means that we humbly bow before Him, always aware that He is God and we are not. God’s immeasurable love and grace do not cancel out His holiness and power. In fact, reverence will result in a holy fear of the Almighty God who holds the power of life and death.
I recently read about a popular emerging pastor who is also “rethinking sexuality.” She has founded a church known for welcoming “sinners and saints,” particularly those who have been marginalized as sexually broken. While this pastor rightly welcomes hurting people the traditional church has ignored, she demonstrates no reverence for God. In the name of Christian love, she is essentially re-creating God as a deity who agrees completely with the sexual revolution. She has spoken out in favor of humanely sourced pornography (porn that is willingly created by consensual adults) and was recently in the news for planning to create a golden vagina statue with melted purity rings.
My friend, this pastor does not represent God, the Lord Most High. She may wear a clergical collar and call herself a Christian leader, but her speech and actions demonstrate a complete irreverence for God. She represents an extreme example of the teaching that many of us are susceptible to. We compromise God’s holiness by rewriting His standards of right and wrong.
The apostle Paul warned us that in the end days, false teachers would infiltrate the Christian church, deceiving many. These teachers would “tickle itching ears,” saying what people want to hear rather than teaching the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Whenever we rethink anything, including sexuality, the purpose is to draw us nearer to God, not to distance us from His truth. Solomon reminded us four times in the book of Proverbs that the very foundation of wisdom is to fear (or revere) the Lord. If you desire wisdom and insight, begin right there: humbly worshiping God as our Creator and the source of all wisdom.
There are many voices discussing sexuality and sexual morality. Sift them with discernment. Hold onto reverence for God as if it is your life boat in the ocean of cultural thought. As Peter said to Jesus, “Where else shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.”