THE CHURCH'S RESPONSE TO PROGRESSIVISM'S MORAL REVOLUTION
Updated: Apr 17
PROGRESSIVISM’S MORAL REVOLUTION AND ITS APPROACH
Over the last seven decades, a growing topic of discussion has been sexuality and its place in modern society. But now, the conversation reveals itself through a new, progressive moral revolution unlike anything before it. In particular, there is a push for greater acceptance and inclusion of a wider range of sexual orientations and identities within society, and that push is also to influence changes within religious communities. This push has been accompanied by a wider moral liberalism, which seeks to redefine societal norms and values in ways that are more inclusive. Progressivism calls for a reevaluation of traditional ideas on sexuality by arguing that these traditional views are outdated and need to be replaced by more tolerant viewpoints. One of the key areas where this discussion is taking place is within religious communities, the church specifically, where traditional views on sexuality have been deeply ingrained through the teachings of Scripture. But, as society has become more accepting of a wider range of sexual orientations, there has been a growing pressure on churches to change their positions on these issues as well. And unfortunately, that is what we are beginning to see happen in some major denominations worldwide.
Even though such is quite disturbing, the reason for it affecting churches is quite simple. This moral reevaluation within Christian communities is influenced by contemporary understandings of sexuality and morality. That is, biblical passages are not interpreted by progressives in light of Scripture’s original words or meanings when written. Instead, according to this progressive mindset, the Bible must be reassessed under new, more modern, human understanding. The main issue at hand is whether we should rely solely on the Bible to shape our beliefs and actions, or whether we have the authority to decide which parts of the Bible are acceptable and relevant to us as cultural changes take place.
Let me state simply that these areas are to be considered biblically, accepting God’s Word as inspired and interpreting Scripture with its plain meaning. That is, words mean what they were supposed to mean when written and are to be viewed in light of what the author intended by those words when written. Then as believers, we reason within the boundaries of what God has said, not what someone later might wish he had said. Because of the integrity of Scripture, we don’t appease progressive culture by adding to, changing, disregarding, or weakening what God has said. We must not undermine God’s revealed Word, because it is there that he has revealed his plan for every individual and all humanity. If we cast doubt on his revelation, we dismiss his authority in favor of our own. And that is what the progressive moral revolution is doing.
PROGRESSIVISM’S MORAL REVOLUTION CONCERNING MARRIAGE
These progressive ideas about societal relationships certainly have an effect on the meaning of marriage. This has been going on for some time. An argument currently being dominated by cultural progressives is that marriage is not restricted to a union between one man and one woman. Of course, with this premise accepted, all levels of intermingled relationships develop. For example, the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States gradually expanded from being recognized in just one state (Massachusetts) in 2004 to its legalization in all fifty states by the Supreme Court in 2015. So, all heterosexual aspects of marriage and relationships are now chipped away. As a result, according to this new morality, love is the most important and the only moral judgment of genuine and recognized relationships. This is what’s being promoted. And in this sense, love between any identities who feel romantic attraction, therefore, represents the pinnacle of morality and moral acceptance. Views other than that are most often characterized then as bigoted, anti-cultural, and in some cases, homophobic, that is, according to progressive thinking.
As this new cultural morality confronts Christianity, proponents make statements such as “Well, love is love” and “It doesn’t matter who you love.” If these were indeed universal truisms, why not have men with men or women with women or in any combinations as long as romantic feelings or attractions are involved? And that is the point they want to make! That is the new morality and that there are indeed no boundaries as long as one feels it. And may I go further to say that such ideas are becoming increasingly bizarre and so much so that some people are even marrying their pets or having commitment ceremonies to inanimate objects with which they are romantically involved. So, if this statement “love is love” stands alone by which all other thoughts on the subject has to be judged, then modern irrationality will advance all types of distortions. And that is just what is happening! I think and hope we understand that moral progressives are reshaping the playing field.
As we understand from the Bible, a holy, matrimonial relationship is defined within Scripture: one man, one woman, becoming one flesh for a lifetime. Now, we do associate love with it, and this is absolutely true. But the love of which the Bible speaks is a holy, godly, and sacrificial love. This is abundantly clear in Scripture and to those willing to understand what God’s Word says. Yet, many people confuse the meaning of love and its various definitions in common language. The biblical concept of love, indicated by the word “agape,” is a form of divine love characterized by sacrifice rather than merely romantic feelings or lust. It’s misleading to suggest that love is mere sexual attraction, even though we often hear such expressed. In fact, those who don’t want to hear from God often attempt to lessen the theological implications of divine love by avoiding exactly what the biblical expression of love actually is. That is, it’s easy to say “God is love” while not really understanding all that it means. For some, simply saying “God is love” becomes a statement that gives them the right to disregard anything else the Bible says about what constitutes love. By doing that, secularists use this catchphrase to strip the words from their true biblical meanings and implications. Is God a God of love? Absolutely and undoubtedly! But God establishes the meaning and conditions of love, not someone else or cultural relevance.
Without biblical direction, the door swings wide open for any perversion of relationships. And this is where progressive thinking is infecting society, and it’s also reaching into the church. The church must counter such thinking, and our battle must be fought with the sword of the Spirit and the very Word of God. Such might not go down well for some, but man’s basis of understanding is not better than God’s. We must trust what God says and have faith in God’s Spirit to do the work that must be done in the hearts of even those who defy and deny his authority.
PROGRESSIVISM’S MORAL REVOLUTION OF INCLUSION
There is a new nuance developing along these lines that is also affecting the church. It concerns the church’s response to new sexual identities being promoted in our culture. Progressives take offense at the church for not being inclusive to the choices of sincere individuals. Progressives reason that the church needs to change, becoming more inclusive of those with differing views about sexuality. But understand that those expressing such assume their own moral superiority on the issue, assuming the church is not inclusive because its practice does not meet progressive ideals. This is what is known as “virtue signaling.” This is often linked to social media and internet-based activism, where individuals may post or express their supposed virtuous ideas but offer no practical steps to address the actual issue.
Okay, should the church be inclusive? Of course! Any faithful New Testament church should and must be inclusive. But how this is defined is not left to whatever new mindset hits the present philosophical think tank. The church’s approach must be that which is presented and exemplified in Scripture. For example, Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, sinners of all kinds. That certainly made him unique among Jewish leaders. He didn’t exclude others from his presence, and sometimes much to the surprise of his disciples. However, even though those sinners were close to him, they were the ones who left changed, not Jesus. The true church is and always has been a haven for sinners, providing a place of love and sanctuary: a place to find redemption and restoration. And just as all of us are sinners in need of forgiveness and a welcoming place to obtain it, so must we, as a body of believers, the church, provide a haven for those seeking refuge from their sin. But please also understand that the church is not a place that encourages individuals to continue engaging in sinful behavior.
As faithful followers of the Bible and members of Christ’s church, we must bear the duty of leading people toward Christ and steering them away from sin. Regardless of any sinful lifestyle that one might choose—and that includes all sin, whether sexual or otherwise—repentance, forgiveness, and restoration are all possible, encouraged, and celebrated. And because the church is inclusive to receive all sinners in love and compassion, there are numerous individuals who are now able to live their lives centered around Christ. Their new life in Christ aids them to abstain from various sinful, forbidden sexual temptations and pleasures, and all of this is possible by the grace of God and for the glory of Christ. The path is challenging for them, and undoubtedly for everyone. But it is the correct direction to follow. This would be the testimony of all who are saved, for we all came the same way regardless of what our sins might have been. But please understand that the church doesn’t change to receive sinners. Instead, the church receives sinners gladly so that Jesus can change them. The accusation that the church is not inclusive is false and made by those who don’t understand how the church is inclusive and the church’s purpose or message in being inclusive.
PROGRESSIVISM’S MORAL REVOLUTION OF ACTIVISM
A final distinction expressed in progressive thinking is an intensive activism that demeans Christianity, God’s people, and the church. Such is characterized by calling us discriminatory, prejudicial, bigoted, and intolerant. The tactic here is a form of logical fallacy called “ad hominem.” It is a fallacy because it is an argumentative strategy to undermine one’s credibility rather than the argument posed by the person. With that understood, let’s consider some observations.
The progressive who does this again assumes a superior moral position by demoralizing someone else. It’s a matter of trying to step up by stepping on someone else. Such doesn’t convince argumentatively. If such were valid, then any position the progressive has that disagrees with ours could be equally considered discriminatory toward us and wholly intolerant of any idea that doesn’t agree with theirs. But this is not what we do. We argue the point, but not by demeaning those opposing our Scriptural reasoning.
But let’s deal with the progressive attack specifically. Is God discriminatory, and are we? These are good questions needing an answer. Since God himself sets the conditions by which people are saved and enter his eternal kingdom, in that, God is discriminatory. And this certainly is a contentious point with many people across the globe, especially those who don’t want God telling them what is right or wrong. Many don’t like or accept that there is only one way to the Father. But Jesus did make it clear that no one gets to the Father except through him (John 14:16). The way of salvation is free for all, but as I heard someone say, it is not a free-for-all approach. God expects us to reject and turn from sin, confess Christ, and follow Jesus according to his Word. God is not discriminatory in his love, because he loved the whole world so much that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16). Jesus is not unfair about who can be saved, for he will by no means cast out any who come to him (John 6:37).
Even so, the Sovereign of the Ages decides how anyone will gain access to him. The problem is sin, which extends to individuals in whom it resides. On the other hand, the answer is Jesus Christ and those who find redemption by being in Christ. This, God provides without discrimination or prejudice to all who come to him. God loves everyone equally and seeks to forgive all transgressions. It is not his will that any perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Through our connection to God and as his church, we all recognize how far we also have fallen from God’s glory (Romans 3:10). We, too, know that by turning from our sin and accepting Christ, we have redemption through his blood (Ephesians 1:7). And as we fully take such to heart, we in the church, like God, can disapprove of immoral actions and yet show kindness and acceptance towards the person committing those actions. Consequently, the church is inclusive to all who want to hear of Christ, regardless of their lifestyle. Like Christ, the church is not in the world for condemnation but for conversion (John 3:17).
But understand that the church does not exist to include beliefs contrary to its founding documents, the Scriptures, or the founding Person, Jesus Christ. Any who would strip the Bible of its plain meaning in favor of another gospel are those wolves who also cover themselves in sheep’s clothing. And whether it might appear intended or not, the result is the same. The proposal of anti-biblical teachings comes from false teachers who promote themselves as more knowledgeable than the Lord himself. And the Bible indeed warns about the influence of false prophets and teachers, whoever they are.
The commitment of God’s people is to defend the faith handed down to us. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are all to be found in Christ, but not outside of him. We must boldly and without apology actively teach and preach redemption and salvation for it is such that bring people together in one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6). The only way we will soothe the hurt people feel or remedy the complications that sin has wrought in their lives is to speak the truth in love. It might not be accepted, but that is the choice of each person. It can be accepted or rejected, but the truth does not change to accommodate the falsehood some might want to believe.
It is imperative that we help others by being truthful and providing them with the necessary support during the trials of their lives and their decisions concerning it. We must reassure these that Christ empathizes with their struggles, offers them hope for their future, and marks the pathway to forgiveness and restoration. And such can only come from the truth of God’s Word. In a world that attempts to lead individuals away from the church and its teachings, we should demonstrate compassion by guiding them toward Christ.
Just because we follow what the Bible says does not make us biased, prejudicial, discriminatory, homophobic, countercultural, or any of such things. We simply follow Jesus. And if the world refuses to accept Christians and the Bible, as it presently accepts practically every other religion and philosophical teachings of men, then it is the world that is prejudicial and discriminatory. And such who would go further to accuse the church of intolerance, are themselves already revealing the hypocrisy of their own intolerance.
So, the church’s response to progressivism’s moral revolution is simply “keep the faith,” and to do so evangelistically, lovingly, compassionately, and staunchly. Behind all of this spoken here is love, compassion, and hope, but there is no apology for what God presents in his Word, because it is Truth.