Is the outrage feigned or uninformed? That's one question after the Louisville Courier Journal declared they were shocked -- shocked -- to discover Christian teaching at the Christian Academy of Louisville (CAL). While the school received no complaints, a Twitter user reportedly acquainted with a parent whose child was upset by the assignment tweeted screenshots with the commentary "Shameful. #stopthehate."
"With the attention... even the language surrounding it," said David Closson, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council on "Washington Watch," "you would think that this is something nefarious, some sort of bombshell." Instead, it's simply "a Christian school, in an elective Bible class, encouraging their students to think about what God's word says on the issue of homosexuality," he said. "Newsflash for those who are really going crazy about this: this is what Christians have believed for 2,000 years."
Middle schoolers were instructed to "write a letter to a friend of your same gender who is struggling with homosexuality," assuming not a casual acquaintance but a close friend. "The aim of your letter should be to lovingly and compassionately speak truth to the person you're talking to in a way that does not approve of any sin. Instead, TRY TO PERSUADE THEM OF THE GOODNESS OF GOD'S DESIGN for them." Three points to communicate "from the Bible, reason, and your personal friendship" were:
- that God's design for them is good
- that homosexuality will not bring them satisfaction
- that you love them even though you don't approve of their lifestyle
"As believers, we need to really know what our Bible says and be able to articulate it in a winsome manner," said Closson. "That's exactly how this particular assignment was presented."
"Washington Watch" host Joseph Backholm agreed the disproportionate response highlights "the ignorance of the press... because nobody inside the church is surprised by this." He read off "scare quotes" which the media "lifted out of the assignment, presented to the public, and said 'aren't you outraged by this?'" "Everyone in Louisville, Kentucky, knows that the slant that the Courier-Journal takes is liberal," responded Closson, who lived there for five years. Gone are the days of objective reporting; today, ostensibly straight news stories have a not-so-secret agenda. Consuming news without a critical eye is a sure way to be led along by the worldview of whomever you read. Whenever possible, it's helpful to obtain news from a source with a worldview you trust, or at least with a bias that isn't hidden.
"This is the world we live in now," said Backholm. "If this hasn't happened to us yet, it's going to and we need to be preparing for that moment." Peter warned first-century believers that the world will "speak against you as evildoers" (1 Peter 2:12), "revile your good behavior in Christ" (1 Peter 3:16), and "malign you" because "they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery" (1 Peter 4:4). Like Christians today, Peter's audience seemed to face slander and ridicule, far more pervasive and enduring forms of persecution than violence. "Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12), he told them.
Given the culture's hostility, Closson said Christian pastors, teachers, and school administrators must "double down" on teaching what God's word says. "We can no longer take for granted," he said, "that even people in our churches... understand what we would call a biblical sexual ethic." If pastors don't preach from the parts of the Bible that address those topics -- Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy, Genesis, Leviticus -- how will they learn? After the controversy broke, CAL didn't back down, but rather grounded their response in the Word of God. "We believe that God created the marriage covenant to be between one man and one woman (Gen. 1:27, Gen. 2:24). We believe that sex is a good gift of God, to be celebrated within the confines of the marriage covenant, agreeing that all other sexual expressions go against God's design (1 Cor. 6:18, Gal. 5:19)."
Of course, Christians must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The credibility of our gospel witness is tarnished if we can't lovingly apply our faith to other cultural issues. "A lot of angry Christians out there... do a disservice to all of us," said Closson, and particularly to the name of Jesus Christ. CAL's statement continued, "We believe that all individuals are created in the image of God and therefore should be treated with compassion, respect, dignity, and love at all times even in disagreement." Communicating the truth in love involves kind, winsome words. It involves our facial expressions and body language -- involuntary responses based upon what's in our hearts. "Know a couple of verses that you can just quote on what the Bible says on issues related to marriage and sexuality," Closson suggested, "quote Psalm 139 or Luke 1" on the personhood of the unborn. "We can never apologize for anything the Bible teaches, but we do need to be loving."
If you know your evangelism skills are lacking, be encouraged. Hear enough testimonies, and you'll discover that God can save people through even the poorest presentations. Do you believe that the Word of God holds "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68)? Then you don't have to be ashamed or fearful or timid. "Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner," Paul told Timothy, "but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:8). If Paul's protégé Timothy struggled to be bold, we shouldn't be surprised to find the same struggles today. If you're not sure where to begin, one good place to find lots of biblically grounded resources is at frc.org/worldview.
Speaking by the Spirit of God, Peter promised, "after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10). For now, we face trials and persecution in the world. One day, we will see Jesus face to face. No matter how challenging living as a Christian is, we can rejoice because of our glorious hope in Christ.