Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that each June is now “Pride Month” (or simply “Pride”) for the LGBTQIA+ community. Rainbow flags have been hung; Fortune 500 companies have changed their logos; slick commercials celebrating or explaining all things Pride have been produced.
I recently met with a congregant to discuss the church’s stance on the LGBTQIA+ movement. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous leading up to the conversation; this is a sensitive, complicated, and often very personal issue. Disagreements over hot-button issues like this can quickly blow up. However, it ended up being a fruitful and pleasant conversation about what our church believes Scripture teaches, and how we as individual Christians can be both faithful to God’s Word and culturally engaged.
I also came away from that conversation wondering if our church has spoken consistently and clearly concerning what we believe about sex and marriage, specifically in the context of the LGBTQIA+ movement (especially in the midst of a month publicly dedicated to it). In light of that, I thought it might be worthwhile to draw our congregation’s attention to the “Marriage Addendum” we adopted after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges. If you’re unsure of what PVCC formally teaches concerning sex and marriage, this is a good place to start:
“The Elders of Prairie View Christian Church believe ‘marriage’ is defined by God alone, as delineated in the Bible. This limits our understanding of marriage to consist of one biological male and one biological female. This is a monogamous, sacrificial, and life-long covenant, entered into humbly and reverently.
We believe marriage is the only context in which sexual intimacy that honors God as King, obeys His Word, and affirms His good created order can occur. Thus, we believe any sexual expression that occurs outside of the bounds of marriage is sinful.
This does not negate Prairie View Christian Church’s core value that ‘all people are valuable in God’s eyes’. PVCC rejects the notion that those guilty of any sexual sin are to be harassed or mistreated in any manner. This is inappropriate in all circumstances, and fails to model the neighbor-love Jesus modeled. We believe Jesus commands all people be shown compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. However, PVCC cannot affirm or condone all worldviews, beliefs, and actions.
Thus, in order to preserve the public witness and doctrinal integrity of Prairie View Christian Church as a local church in the larger Body of Christ, the Elders insist that all persons employed by PVCC abide by this understanding of marriage. Consequently, the Elders and Ministers of PVCC will not officiate a wedding ceremony which fails to meet this basic criteria of marriage, nor shall PVCC property or resources be used in such a marriage event.
We believe God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking his mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.“
A paraphrase: our church believes Scripture speaks clearly on both the good gifts and potential corruptions of sex and marriage. We also believe that, until very recently, self-proclaimed Christians throughout history have upheld the teaching that any sexual intimacy outside of marriage between one man and one woman is sin. That being said, we are not given license to disobey Jesus’s command to love our neighbor. However, loving our neighbor doesn’t necessitate affirming everything our neighbor does or everything our neighbor claims to be. In light of all this, our church must be careful to not intentionally or unintentionally appear to condone something we consider to be sin. Rather, we invite those guilty of what we consider to be sin to the cross of Jesus Christ.
So, where the rubber hits the road: is it possible to uphold Scripture’s teaching on sex and marriage, while also loving our neighbors who disagree with it in word and deed? Can we affirm the God-given dignity of all people, while refusing to bless everything they do or identity marker they adopt? I believe the answer to both of these questions is “yes”.
Another question: each June, can Christians go along with our culture in enthusiastic celebration of something God’s Word defines as sin? I believe the answer to that question is “no”.
But I’m convinced of this: every Christian should know what their church teaches on this, rather than having to guess or assume. And if a church is going to teach this, that church should publicly own it, rather than burying it deep in the bylaws and only bringing it up when their feet are put to the fire. We owe it to our congregants – and for that matter, we owe it to those within the LGBTQIA+ movement itself, and the rest of the watching world – to be open and honest about where we stand.
Lastly, I’d add: if you have questions, concerns, or would like more information about why our church teaches this, our leaders would be happy to talk to you more in person. If you agree with our church’s position, but could use additional resources to grow in your understanding, talk to us. If you disagree with our church’s position, and would like to hear a more developed argument (the kind that can’t fit into one blog post), talk to us. If you’re struggling with sexual sin yourself and need prayer, fellowship, and accountability, talk to us.
This is a difficult issue to navigate (especially considering that this isn’t just an “issue”, but something that affects people we know, love, and respect in practical ways.) It’s hard to know how we Christians can walk the fine line of “loving the sinner and hating the sin”. Doing so requires both humility and discernment. We’d be more than willing to meet and walk through some of these challenges with you.