When I began the process of planting a church near downtown Toronto, I expected sophisticated questions about God. I brushed up by reading apologetics books so I would be ready.
We interviewed people on the street for a series. “If you were to ask God any question, what would that be?” Surprisingly, nobody questioned God’s existence. Some joked. “When will the Leafs win the Stanley Cup?” Most scratched their heads. They had never thought of God long enough to have any questions for him.
I put most of the apologetics books away. Since then I’ve come to realize: the major apologetics issue I face is not the existence of God or the problem of suffering but sex. Why should God care about my sexual choices?
An Issue of Apologetics and Discipleship
“Many people reject Christianity because of its teachings on certain ethical issues, especially the Christian teachings on sex and human sexuality,” writes Mark Clark, pastor of Village Church in Surrey, British Columbia.
I agree. In our church, new people often want to know where we stand on sexuality. As society has shifted its views on sex, many expect the church to shift too, or they’ll find a church that does. Others compartmentalize their sex lives and do as they please no matter what the church says.
Many, inside and outside the church, assume that most forms of sexual activity between consenting adults are okay. In his book The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt argues that liberals judge morality based on questions like these: is it harmful, is it fair, is it discriminatory, and is there consent? They reason that these questions matter, and that the Bible’s standards are outdated.
When the church teaches a different standard, many balk. One of our apologetics tasks is to show the beauty and truth of God’s design for sexuality. And when believers adopt the world’s view of sex and morality, we face the challenge of showing a better way. Sex is one of the greatest issues in both apologetics and discipleship.
Sex is one of the greatest issues in both apologetics and discipleship.
A Better Story
In This Is Our Time, Trevin Wax argues that it’s not enough to correct the errors of our age. “Christians who shine the light of the gospel on the myths of our world do not simply say, ‘This is right and this is wrong,’ but ‘This is better.’ The gospel tells a better story.”
“Let’s be the kind of rebels that don’t just expose the lies of the sexual revolution. Let’s answer the longings of our society by offering an entirely different view of sex and marriage,” writes Wax. “Let’s declare what God is for.”
We need a new generation of Christian thinkers who are unafraid to tackle sex as an apologetics issue. We need pastors who are willing to preach and model the biblical message of holy sexuality, discipling people with wisdom and grace. We need churches full of disciples who know what it’s like to struggle sexually, and yet have committed to honoring God with their bodies.
Sex is one of the greatest issues we’ll face in apologetics and discipleship. Let’s face it with courage, beauty, and grace.