Building a biblical family is not easy. It is even harder to build a church culture that recognizes the biblical family structure and seeks to see that structure flourish. So often in evangelicalism, we settle for something far less than the biblical standard and that is true on the issue of family structure. Certainly, we argue that we are trying to protect the family by opposing homosexuality, but if heterosexuality is the only characteristic we recognize of the biblical family, we are falling far short of the biblical standard.
We have failed families by preaching and teaching against homosexuality (as we should) while not standing firm on other detrimental issues like divorce, parenting, sacrificial love, leadership, submission, and financial provision. In my church setting, if I preach on homosexuality, there are hearty rounds of “amen” as I expound the scriptures that speak against this sin. If, however, I preach on divorce, there is discomfort all around as members furtively glance sideways, knowing how many people in our church have been affected by the sin of divorce (Mal. 2:16).
When I preach on the parenting, I normally receive emails and phone calls from people who explain to me how their situation is “different,” or how their children are not “like yours.” Yes, for many people, homosexuality is the sin of “others”, and while we are busy digging the sawdust out of their eyes, the plank in our own is getting in the way.
We are losing the conversation on homosexuality and we are losing our opportunity to speak into the lives of those who struggle with this sin. We are losing it, in large part, because we have unbiblically identified homosexuality as the only sin affecting the health of marriage in our culture today. The church of the last twenty years has been sinfully silent on divorce. Divorce was a big deal in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We have found it easy to identify the sins of those “outside” the church and to preach against those sins, but painfully difficult to preach against the prevailing sins from within the church.
When is the last time you heard a pastor preach on divorce with the same passion he preached on homosexuality? When is the last time you heard a pastor challenge men to step up and love their wives as Christ loved the church? When is the last time you heard a pastor or other Christian leader speak with conviction on the responsibility for a man to provide financially for his family?
I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality. I also believe what it says about divorce, heterosexual sex, leadership, love, submission, and adultery. I believe we should stand firmly against sin, but stand ready to bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters who are facing temptations. I believe Paul when he writes in Galatians 6:1-2:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Have you challenged your friends whose marriages are in trouble to seek Christ? Have you sought out accountability in your own life to protect you from pornography and the allure of extra-marital relationships? Are you following the biblical commands to lead your wife or submit to your husband? Have you been willing to bear the burdens of your friends who struggle with homosexual temptations to fulfill the law of Christ?
Because of the larger cultural conversation and debate on homosexuality in the public sphere, it is easy to understand why it is such a hot-topic issue within the church. I am not suggesting that the church change its stance. What I am saying, however, is that the break-down in the family is larger than just homosexuality.
We have a responsibility to declare the entire counsel of God’s word–not just the easy parts. Seeing the sin of others is easy, looking into the Scriptures and having them reflect our own sins is painful. We must speak against our own sins, even as we speak against the sins of others. Perhaps, we will be able to speak into the lives of others more effectively when we have sought to live out the implications of the gospel in our own families more consistently.