The landscape is changing on the subject of sexuality. The centuries-old, universal consensus among Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike—that God gave sex for marriage between one man and one woman—is being questioned not only by secular society, but within Christianity itself. Fading is the long-held belief that “immorality” and
porneia—the New Testament Greek term for all sex that happens outside of marriage between one man and one woman—are the same thing. Ours is a different age, says the Western hemisphere (and mostly white) progressive evangelical. Biblical prohibitions about divorce, unmarried cohabitation and same-sex relationships were written for situations unique to the time and setting, but that do not necessarily apply to our modern context.
Christians who find the new interpretations unpersuasive and biblically unsound are increasingly viewed as unenlightened at best, and bigoted at worst. What are we to make of this new cultural landscape? Moreover, how are we to understand the Scriptures on this matter? And what are we to do with that understanding?
Have We Misinterpreted Scripture?
Most of us Christians are swift to distance ourselves from a damaging, “us-against-them” posture on this issue. A condemning, shaming stance toward LGBTQ and/or unmarried, sexually active hetero men and women has proven only to be damaging and counterproductive. For some, forsaking a holier-than-thou posture has also led to sympathy toward, and in some cases affirmation of, expressions of sexuality that have historically and widely been seen as incongruent with faith (and still are seen as incongruent outside the West).