With each Pride Month over the years, there seems to loom a darker and darker cloud over the month of June. More are being turned over to depraved minds. Christians are being deceived and led astray by lies, emotionalism, and the adulteration of God’s Word.
The Reformation Project, founded by Matthew Vines, is perhaps the organization credited most with confusing Christians who are young in their faith with unbiblical, LGBTQ-affirming theology.
Its mission statement states that the Reformation Project is “a Bible-based, Christian organization” whose mission it is to “advance LGBTQ inclusion in the church.” In its efforts, the Reformation Project has presented 10 biblical cases to support LGBTQ inclusion in the Church. In this article, we will address them in defense of biblical theology.
RESPONSE: Because people in the LGBTQ community tend to show high rates of suicide, depression, and loneliness, the Reformation Project argues that this “bad fruit” must be the result of a bad interpretation of Scripture that God created marriage to be between one man and one woman.
If this were true, though, that would imply that any hardship, difficulty, or suffering in this life is simply the result of a bad interpretation of Scripture and justification for any sin committed to avoid such suffering. By this logic, we could simply ignore and rebel against any of God’s commands that made us feel unhappy, uncomfortable, or discontent. Perhaps this would justify having an affair because you feel unhappy in your marriage.
“Bad fruit” is not a synonym for suffering. To assume this is the case is to demonstrate a bad hermeneutical approach to Scripture. Jesus warned us that in the Christian life, we will suffer, yet we should deny ourselves and take up our crosses each day for His glory. What Jesus was referring to by “bad fruit” in Matthew 7 was that false teachers will be recognized by their fruits. A good teacher will do the Father’s will and produce good fruit, and a false teacher will be iniquitous and lawless, producing bad fruit. Bad fruit is the conduct exhibited by the teacher, not the consequences of the teacher’s teachings.
Ironically, Matthew Vines and the Reformation Project are actually indicting themselves as false teachers because their encouragement to believers to disobey Scripture is, by definition, lawless. They themselves are the ones producing bad fruit by leading believers astray.
RESPONSE: The Christian tradition — in fact, the history of all mankind — literally begins with sexual orientation. The crown jewel in God’s creation in Genesis 1 is man and woman, made for each other, and — without question — oriented towards one another in their sexual attraction and desire (Gen. 1:27). Immediately, in Genesis 2, the foundational nature of the man-woman marriage, the one-flesh union, is further explained. We read that “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18), and that this helper, fit for man, was a woman (Gen. 2:21-22). Adam rejoices to see his wife, the first woman, made exactly for him. And Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, adds this key editorial insight into the magnificent purpose and meaning of this first marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). From this one flesh union, this man-woman complementarity, came life. Offspring. Children. More image bearers. This could have never happened if God had made two men, or two women. In other words, the Reformation Project is doubly wrong when it says that “Christian tradition doesn’t address sexual orientation” in the sense that not only does the Christian tradition address it, but we wouldn’t even have a human tradition without it.
Let’s briefly consider what else the Bible has to say about sexual orientation. First, we have established that the creation order itself dictates that sexual orientation is meant to be rightly ordered towards the opposite sex. The Reformation Project tries to make a contextual argument here, claiming that “same-sex attraction and behavior were widely considered to be vices of excess that might tempt anyone—like gluttony or drunkenness.” Essentially they argue that nothing was said about it comprehensively, and anything that was said was contextual and related to displays of excess. One has to wonder: Which Bible are they reading?
Consider Genesis 19, which tells the story of God’s judgement on the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, a city rife with homosexual practices. Or Leviticus 18:22, which clearly states “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Moving into the New Testament, Paul both clearly denounces homosexual sexual orientation and practices as a sin, but also reflects on those who have been saved out of such a lifestyle. He writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Paul clearly envisions a church full of sinners saved by grace, as all churches are. Some of the members had once been homosexuals, but that was in the past, as he reminds them, “and such were some of you.”
If the Christian tradition had nothing to say about sexual orientation, I wouldn’t have been able to cite those Bible verses for you. I also wouldn’t be able to list more, like Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Timothy 1:10. Or early Church fathers like Justin Martyr, Clement, or Tertullian, all of whom weigh in on the side of Scripture and against the Reformation Project.
The only way one can claim that Christian tradition doesn’t address sexual orientation is to ignore the entire tradition. And that starts by ignoring the Bible — something true Christians simply cannot do.
RESPONSE: The Reformation Project asserts that because Scripture makes clear that celibacy is a gift only for some, requiring gay Christians to be celibate because of their sexual orientation would be at odds with the Bible’s teachings on celibacy.
It is true that the Bible expresses that the ability to remain unmarried in order to fully submit ourselves to serving the Lord is a gift. The problem is that a biblical view of celibacy does not simply mean to refrain from having sex — it means to be sexually pure. Sexual purity means that Christians are not just commanded to refrain from homosexuality, but to also refrain from committing adultery, lusting after another, or engaging in premarital sex. Homosexuality is just one form of sexual impurity that is forbidden in Scripture.
While all Christians are not given the gift of celibacy, all Christians are commanded to submit to God’s will and keep their minds and bodies pure (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). No matter a person’s “sexual orientation,” all Christians are required to abstain from engaging in their sinful, sexual desires in order to remain pure in body and in mind. Homosexuals are no exception.
RESPONSE: The Reformation Project states that the Bible is not specific as to how we should view gender complementarity, and the idea of complementarianism is simply a societal norm. It says, for example, “the focus in Genesis 2 is not on the complementarity of male and female, but rather on the similarity of male and female, over against the created animals.”
While the Reformation Project defines the relationship between man and wife as a “kinship,” Scripture tells us that becoming one flesh is much more than that. Becoming one flesh requires the opposite sex. Obeying the command to be fruitful and multiply is only possible through male and female reproductive systems. Just as we become one with Christ at the moment of salvation and are sealed by the Holy Spirit, man and wife become one with each other as the permanent marriage relationship is sealed.
In Ephesians 5, Paul illustrates specific and distinct roles for men and women. He follows this by using the earthly imagery of Christ’s relationship to the Church. The role of Christ and the role of His Church are obviously very distinct, just as the role of a husband and the role of his wife is distinct. If Christ and the Church were to have the same role, God’s purpose would have never been accomplished. It is only possible to have a marriage that reflects Christ and His Church when it is between a man and a woman. Opposite genders are essential to a Godly union. Anything else is unnatural and outside of His design.
RESPONSE: In Claim 2, “The Christian Tradition Doesn’t Address Sexual Orientation,” we considered how the Reformation Project tries to make a contextual argument to dismiss the Bible’s clear teaching against homosexual orientation.
Here, they try to make a chronological argument against it. That is, they argue, in sum, that the mere passage of time makes it okay to be gay. They argue that “same-sex behavior in the ancient world was based on the dynamics of power and promiscuity, so it’s no surprise that the early Christians rejected it along with extra-marital heterosexual behavior. But same-sex relationships based on mutuality and monogamy are an entirely different question.” Those new same-sex relationships are the ones that have been brought about in modern times. And they see these mapping over what they argue is a “progression” on a Christian understanding of the roles of women and slaves and even eunuchs.
In an outstanding leap of logic, the Reformation Project claims that “Consequently, the New Testament’s positive movement on women’s roles undermines the significance of patriarchal gender norms for the church’s assessment of same-sex relationships today.”
Here they tip their hand to their real worldview. They aren’t approaching the question of the permissibility of homosexuality based on the Bible’s teaching, but on a progressive assumption of the passage of time. They view “patriarchal gender norms” as something of the past. If those are something of the past, then a Christian’s understanding of homosexuality should change with the times as well.
What they fail to take into account is Christ’s clear teaching on the eternality of the moral revelation of God’s Law. He states plainly in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Furthermore, consider the character of God — it does not change. We read in Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The theological term for this is God’s immutability. His character is constant, fixed, unmoving. Therefore the “arc of Scripture” — which is God’s Word — does not change in any of its moral teachings and commands. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, we see that God made marriage to be between one man and one woman, as a symbol of the covenant love between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5). If God doesn’t change, His Word doesn’t change. The arc of Scripture ultimately bends towards God and His judgement and away from mankind’s fallen cultural and chronological excuses for sin.
In part 2 of this series, we’ll provide a defense against the Reformation Project’s final five cases for LGBTQ inclusivity in the Church. You can read it here.