Evangelical Christians feel increasingly besieged by a hostile culture. LGBT pride is everywhere, and Christian business owners are forced to serve same-sex weddings despite their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. In an interview with PJ Media, a Christian author explained why evangelicals have lost credibility on sexuality issues, and what they should do about it.
“One of the important things for the church to recognize is we’ve lost credibility on these issues because we’ve become pro-institution,” Christian evangelist Abdu Murray, a former Muslim and author of “Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-Truth World,” told PJ Media.
Murray described the two camps in the culture war. “We’re pro-traditional marriage. That stuff sounds so dry and so lifeless. Who wins? The pro-love and pro-freedom people do,” he explained.
In sexuality debates, Christians often come across as supporters of lifeless rules in contrast to vibrant champions of love and personality. Not only is this a bad strategy, it is false to Christianity, the author argued.
“We are the pro-love people, and we should be the pro-people people,” Murray said. He suggested Christians should “steer away from being pro-insitution and start being what the Bible is about.”
The former Muslim explained that LGBT issues are actually a tactic to encourage confusion and push an ultimate autonomy, free from any rules or certainty. “Some people will use people who have actual genuine same-sex attractions to say that if they can have it, then I can do whatever I want,” he said.
Murray addressed the issue of gender dysphoria (the persistent sense of identifying with a gender opposite your birth sex) and the gender fluidity often encouraged as the solution. “If someone has gender dysphoria, then the outside public will use that to say if they have the autonomy to choose their gender, I should have the autonomy to do whatever I want.”
This tactic actually makes light of gender dysphoric people’s struggles and transforms them into a tool for power. “The majority of the people who have this fluidity don’t have real gender dysphoria, they just want to be what they want to be,” Murray explained. “People who have gender dysphoria don’t want to be dysphoric, they want certainty” (emphasis added).
So, when transgender identity started becoming culturally acceptable, activists pushed tens and even hundreds of “genders,” not because they actually wanted to help people with genuine dysphoria, but because they wanted to trumpet their own autonomy and identify however they pleased — making society accept their ridiculous notions of sexual identity.
In this culture of confusion, Christianity actually presents a powerful measure of certainty based on nature and the Bible. “The reason why the Bible expresses the gender binary is not to limit freedom but to give us the freedom to be who we were meant to be,” Murray told PJ Media.
The fundamental problem — with both the LGBT movement and the Christian church — is the acceptance of a post-truth culture that prioritizes personal preference and autonomy over the truth.
“We realize that facts and truth exist, but we subordinate them,” Murray told PJ Media. “If our preferences don’t line up with the facts, they can be ignored or out-and-out lied about.”
“What autonomy means is I am a law unto myself. If my preferences conflict with your preferences, and that’s all that matters — truth is secondary at best — who is going to determine who’s right and who’s wrong? It won’t be the truth,” the author explained. “What will determine right and wrong will be power, not truth.”
This elevating of preferences over truth has infected even the Christian church, and it can distract people from the truth of the gospel, especially on LGBT issues.
“When I look at the way the church reacts, oftentimes it comes from a position of moral superiority,” Murray confided. “We think heterosexual is more moral than homosexual.”
While the Bible does condemn homosexual activity as sinful, it does not reserve judgment for men who sleep with other men or women who sleep with other women. “You can be totally heterosexual and completely sexually depraved in everything you do,” the evangelist explained.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His disciples that if a man looks lustfully at a woman, he has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28). “What we need is holy sexuality, not hetero- or homo-sexuality,” Murray declared.
“When it comes to sexuality and gender, we as a church have to remember that we are broken and we are redeemed. Everyone we talk to is broken and in need of redemption,” the author said. “How can there be an ‘us versus them’?”
“If God sees every human being as someone made in His image and for whom He died, then we have to, as well,” Murray said.
This does not mean Christians should abandon their doctrines on sexuality, but it does mean that Christians are sinners redeemed by God, offering redemption to others. Believers should never become partisans known more for judging others than for loving them.
“Before I can get the post-truth speck out of my brother’s eye, I have to get the post-truth log out of my own,” Murray said. He gave an example from his own life. Murray recalled his 9-year spiritual journey from Islam to Christianity, “when the facts about the credibility of the Christian faith clashed with my identity as a Muslim.” He said the journey was “long for me — not because the answers were hard to find but because the answers were hard to accept.”
Christians must stand for the truth of the Bible, but that means humbling themselves and loving others, just as much as it means standing up for godly sexuality. Jesus Christ does not just oppose LGBT pride — He opposes all pride, and loves the broken. Christians must be known for love, not judgement.
Ultimately, Murray said the church needs a revival of the Holy Spirit. Such a revival would require three things: to “look at the post-truth log in your own eye,” to see doing the work of an evangelist not as a right, but as a privilege, and to see the responsibility that comes with that privilege. “What greater gift could there possibly be to a Christian — who’s already got heaven?”
The former Muslim quoted C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” to present a way each believer can check the state of his or her heart.
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible?
If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
Revival begins in each person’s broken heart. While Christians need to “call out the confusion and craziness when we see it,” Murray emphasized the importance of understanding and loving others. That does not mean condoning their actions, but listening to their struggles and truly seeking to help, however possible.