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Changing the Church’s Narrative Part 2: Sex, Marriage, Single People, and the LGBTQIA Community

Updated: Apr 30




Hello everyone! Here comes Part 2! I’m going to push some religious and political buttons. I’m sure of it. My goal is simply to point you to the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ, regardless of whether that agrees with your political or cultural values (these things are entirely separate from the Gospel of Jesus Christ). I do not apologize for doing so nor am I deterred from the words and inspiration Jesus has given me. Let us begin.


Sex


God made sex. I said it so you didn’t have to. The Creator made this most intimate physical, emotional, spiritual, and physical act. If He made it, why are we so afraid to talk about it in church circles? Why do we treat it as a dirty thing in the church? Have you ever thought that because we treat it as a “forbidden fruit” and a “dirty thing”, this may be why there are so many problems in marriage in our churches? Have you ever thought that because it is a forbidden topic, we have teens with limited understandings of their bodies – girls and boys alike? Have you ever considered this could lead to abuse? Purity Culture, a cultural construct that pervaded the church in the 1990s, not of the Gospel, is single-handedly responsible for far too much shame and guilt among women (and men) in the 21st century. Why did we ever cling to something in the church that amounted to slavery? Didn’t Jesus set us free from slavery of any kind (Galatians 5:1)? And why on God’s green earth did we tell girls they were responsible for boys’ thoughts and actions? That is not what the Word says (Galatians 6:5, Romans 14:12, Galatians 6:7)! Purity culture and political culture have caused far too much damage in the church in this respect. Women and girls are not responsible for boys’ and men’s thoughts nor actions! Men, you are humans not animals – you can control your sexual urges as you are endowed with the same Holy Spirit Jesus was (I point you back to the three verses just mentioned as well as Galatians 5:22-23). Your wife or girlfriend is not responsible for controlling your sexual urges. People are not “used goods” nor are they “in pieces” if their marriage partner is not their first sex partner! We are not puzzles, nor are we dirty rags! We who have accepted Christ are in Christ, period. We are all complete in Christ when we accept Him and he never changes his view of us no matter what we have done - period, end of story for those in the back (Colossians 2:10, Galatians 2:20, John 15:3, Romans 3:22). These human-made arguments on sex can’t stand up to the Gospel!


The Gospel of Christ was given to us to break the back of shame and guilt (Romans 8:1-2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 5:1, Hebrew 12:2, John 3:16-18). Church, who are we letting influence us about sex? The true Gospel of Jesus Christ or something else? Political culture is having a hard time standing on its own in this time – their arguments on sex and gender have too many holes, bring shame, and are driven by law-based and dominion thinking or no thinking and no limits at all. Jesus set us free from the law (and dominion) of sin and death (Romans 8:2)! The Gospel of Jesus Christ tears down these arguments! I implore the Church to turn back to the Gospel in relation to sex and teaching on sexual relationships - far too much damage has been done by other (evil) doctrines disguised as the Gospel. Church, we can turn the tide! Let us be a place a freedom for people, not a place of bondage!


Marriage


God created marriage. It’s not just a legal contract, it’s an honorable covenant between two people (a man and a women) who love each other. A covenant is greater than a contract. A covenant is intended to last forever (well as forever as humans last on earth) and goes far deeper than any contract ever could. Covenant honors and respects each person in the relationship equally (mutually) and loves each person well. Allow me to expand on this concept. Marriage mirrors God’s covenant to us in salvation – he loves us, respects our choices (even when he doesn’t agree), wants us to be the people he created us to be, understands our feelings, hurts when we hurt, laughs when we laugh, is always moving us toward our good, and is always there for us– this is what covenant love is. This is the way God intended people to relate to one another from the beginning. This is what the church should be focusing on when it speaks of marriage as a whole – a covenant love and a covenant relationship.


However, the church’s focus on marriage over the last several years has been less about covenant and quality of relationships and more about quantity in years, reasons to never end a marriage, and strict, nearly inflexible gender roles in some circles. Where is Jesus' character in all of this? Singleness has also been presented as “not quite whole" in some church settings as well. How does one explain Paul' words in 1 Corinthians 7? Church, this is not only not working, but it is full of cultural construct and short on Gospel of Jesus Christ – not to mention venturing into dangerous territory where abuse is concerned. What are we doing? I ask again, who are we allowing to influence how we deal with marriage and intimate relationships- the Gospel of Jesus Christ or something else?


Church, it’s time for a major reality check in this area. We’ll start with abuse and then proceed to gender roles in relationships.


Abuse is a marriage covenant violation - period, end of story for those of you in the back (Malachi 2:13-15 AMP). There is no mutual love and there is no mutual respect in an abusive marriage. Jesus did not perpetuate evil, he does not expect abused partners to perpetuate evil by staying in an abusive, unloving marriage. Abusers, he holds you responsible for your actions – see Galatians 6:5, 7 and Romans 14:12. If you are being abused in a marriage, get out safely. You no longer have to stay in that environment. The love of the Gospel of Christ and Jesus himself is not there – only evil is there. You are not responsible for the abuser’s actions. **You can’t change an abuser, trust me I tried. You can’t love them out of being an abuser. Only an abuser can change an abuser. No quantity in years of marriage is worth your identity nor your life. Abuse is identity theft of the most subversive kind – they take your identity by killing who you are, slowly. Abusers will take your life literally as well; it will only be a matter of time. They are like their father Satan – they come to steal, kill, and destroy. No one has to partner with that kind of evil, no one. Light and darkness have no happy medium! Church do not tell men and women to partner with evil! Jesus does not and will never partner with evil! Do not enslave men and women to evil in this way to evil!


The Bible ascribes no such technical thing as gender roles in marriage. Bare with me here. However, Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 5:21 to mutually submit to one another. He then goes on to explain how marriage is a reflection of Jesus' character of servant leadership and submission (Ephesians 5:22-25) I ask again, who is influencing us Church? "Kinder, gentler” versions of gender roles have leaked into the evangelical church at large but that doesn't make them scriptural or healthy.


How did we get here Church? How is it that “gender role” theology has been elevated above the Gospel to a kind of law we must keep or not be holy? Christ died to set us free from the law (Galatians 5:1)? The devil is a slick liar, isn't he? The church has fallen for these “kinder, gentler lies” with the twisting of scripture. These lies are dangerous and enslaving to men and women alike. Paul said there is no man or women in Christ, all are one (Galatians 3:28)! The Gospel of Jesus and the Holy Spirit inspired words of the Apostle Paul will beat the law any day, hands down! I will be elaborating on Godly, Christ-centered relationships in a separate blog to come with a focus on Ephesians 5. God made men and women differently, yes, but it doesn't stop there. He made us different so we could work together, honor each other in Christ-centered submission and love. I can't wait to elaborate on my studies!



Single People


I was single for a long time. I was content being single in that time. The problem with that is the push in the church was for me to get married. The push in the church is still for many single people to get married. In some circles, single people are even told they are not “quite complete” if they aren’t married. This is far from the truth. To my single Christians out there, you are most complete, with or without a husband or wife. We are complete in Christ alone (Colossians 2:10, Galatians 2:20, John 15:3, Romans 3:22). You don't want to enter into a marriage unless you are 100%, whole person. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt, and it failed miserably.


Single friends, God does not call everyone to marriage. Look at the Apostle Paul as your example. I can assure you Paul was complete in Christ and quite happy without marriage. In fact, he said being unmarried allowed one to be focused more on the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). He valued being single so he could focus on spreading the Gospel, and he wanted the individuals in the Church to walk in their individual gifts God called them to, not the opinions of himself or others and definitely not in the opinions of the culture of that day (1 Corinthians 7:7-8). So, if that is our background Church, where did we get this idea that all single people need to eventually marry or worse that single people aren’t whole? Why are we worshipping at the Alter of Marriage ? Why have we elevated marriage to the pinnacle of Christian living and worthiness -even above Christ? I’ll take Cultural Constructs for 200 Alex.


Once again, instead of sticking with Paul’s teachings in Scripture, the church has allowed a cultural construct to dictate what is good for all Christians. This has caused some people to be so afraid of being single, they settle for people they ought not to and make their lives so much more complicated than if they had just stayed single, pursued Jesus, lived an abundant life, and only married when they knew Jesus was in the center of it (I have lived this).


Single friends, pursue Jesus, live life in abundance, and walk in the gifts he has given you. If you get married, wonderful! If not, that is okay! There is nothing wrong with you! We aren’t all called to marriage and that is okay. Remember we are walking in Christ's freedom, not the law. Paul was not called to marriage, and he was very complete in Christ. You are complete in your Savior, no one can take that from nor make you more complete than you already are – never lose site of that!


The LGBTQIA Community


I know to this point I have covered a lot of ground. I have exhorted the church to let go of many things and asked the church to do a lot of self-examination. In loving those from the LGBTQIA community, I will relent no less.


Church, we got this very, very wrong. We have shunned them and shamed them. We have not loved them with Christ's love and truth. We have denied them as God’s image bearers and cursed them to death in some places. How is any of this the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We have even gone so far as to tell them that to be saved is to have no temptation for same-sex attraction - as if they can just turn that off like a switch. We have created, to quote Jackie Hill Perry, a “gospel of heterosexuality.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel of any kind of sexuality. It is a Gospel of life and life more abundantly! Let me be clear, I am not advocating for sin, I am asking us to extend grace and let Jesus do the work in people that only He can do. As I write this, I am keenly aware I still have much to learn. In the last few years, I have chosen to learn and to read and am still learning and reading and listening to those who live in this community and who have come out of it. I am also listening to Jesus, and he is telling me how much he loves this community! The violence in society and the violent rhetoric (sometimes heard in churches as well) toward the LGBTQIA community hurts the heart of God! The things that hurt God’s heart, hurt my heart! Church, we must repent of our treatment of the this community! We have not only been unloving, but we have also been downright disrespectful to them as fellow image bearers. The church is to meet people where and as they are speaking truth with love– Jesus will take care of the heart. He doesn’t need our “help” or interference as he and our LGBTQIA neighbors work out their own salvation. He has called us to love these communities and to treat them with honor, respect, and dignity as fellow image-bearers. Correct course church! Correct course!


Final Thoughts


Right about now, some of you either love me or hate me. That is okay. I don’t believe political culture has all the answers. Political culture is simply how we humans organize our beliefs and how we see our world. I want to learn from other’s beliefs as much as I want them to learn from mine. Where we have messed up as the church is, we have allowed political culture (which is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ) to influence us in these areas and not to ours or anyone else’s good. We have traded God-breathed Scripture for politics and the results have been an utter disaster, doing more harm than good to many people seeking the real Jesus. This has to end, all of it! We were bought with a price Church (1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus didn’t do that so we could sell ourselves for a price to the highest political bidder.


Jesus doesn’t need a moral majority, a moral revolution, a Gospel Coalition, or any other political organization on either side of the isle. He needs his Church to be a Love Revolution! A Love Revolution in his church starts with repentance corporately and collectively. A Love Revolution in his church is a balance of love, truth, and mercy as he is a perfect balance of all of those things. A love revolution in his church will right the wrongs done to the LGBTQIA community, minorities, immigrants, and woman and children. Church, he is calling us to something so much greater than power, money, celebrity pastor-ship, and pretty buildings. He is calling us to something greater than ourselves or any coalition! He is calling us to himself and to love our communities! This will be the greatest testament of all!


I implore the church to turn from the foolishness and folly of political power and to stop elevating cultural and demonic constructs above the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Tear down those altars! The church must stop representing Jesus as the conservative or liberal political arenas would like him presented and present him as he is, no gimmicks, no fanfare, no strings attached. Let his Word speak for itself, let him speak for himself for that matter. He will be here long after our political parties and countries have vanished from the earth. Church, if we point people to the Everlasting One, we can’t go wrong. If we are pointing them to the Everlasting One, his Love will speak for itself, and we will see many wrongs made right in this generation.


John 3:16-17; For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.


John 10:10; “And Jesus said, I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”


1 John 4:7,12 NIV; “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.”



With much love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church,






Elizabeth




**For my story on coming out of an abusive marriage, see my book in paperback or digital, The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope, and Everything In Between at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, and on Audible.


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