Archives For sexuality

Dutch Christians face opposition over statement on biblical sexuality
Christian leaders in the Netherlands are facing backlash over a statement affirming biblical sexuality, Baptist Press reported late last week. The Nashville Statement, released in 2017 by U.S. evangelicals including the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in part affirms “that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.”

In the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2001, signers of the statement have been threatened with criminal prosecution, BP reported.

Harvest Church to drop lawsuit
Harvest Bible Chapel announced plans to drop a lawsuit against a reporter and a group of bloggers who released reports of mismanagement and poor leadership at the Chicagoland megachurch. Harvest and Pastor James MacDonald claimed defamation when they sued reporter Julie Roys and the team behind “The Elephant’s Debt” last October. Earlier this month, a judge denied the church’s attempt to keep subpoenaed documents private, Christianity Today reported.

MacDonald was scheduled to preach at the 2019 SBC Pastors’ Conference this June, but withdrew in December.

Dockery to lead Missouri university’s theology evaluation
A Southern Baptist university in Missouri will undergo an evaluation to ensure its “theological integrity is intact,” The Christian Post reported Jan. 11. Students at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar have protested the dismissal of Professor Clint Bass, who was fired after expressing concern over some faculty members’ theological views. SBU told The Christian Post it had intended to have conversations on theology in fall of 2019, but Bass’s dismissal and the public fallout moved up the timeline.

The theology review at the university, which is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, will be led by David Dockery, president of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill.

Hurricane relief continues in new year
Disaster Relief efforts in Florida and North Carolina are ongoing, Baptist Press reported Jan. 8, in response to 2018’s Hurricanes Michael and Florence. Teams are continuing to serve in affected areas, and plans are underway for college students to join the response during spring break. More information is available at

Barna releases new insights on pastors and their work
Almost three-fourths of pastors feel content with their role, Barna reports, but more than half had another career before going into ministry. And a quarter another job in addition to their work as a pastor.

ERLC_Summit_logoNEWS | Meredith Flynn

Nashville, Tenn. | The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s summit on the Gospel and sexuality drew to a close this morning. Much was said on a variety of topics related to sexual ethics, and we’ll cover the conference extensively in the May 5 and May 26 issues of the Illinois Baptist. For now, here are three threads that ran through the conversation in Nashville this week.

Same-sex marriage isn’t the only threat to biblical marriage, and may not be the biggest. In a breakout session this week, Andrew Walker of the ERLC outlined 11 contemporary threats. Same-sex marriage was #6 on his list that also includes economic pressures, divorce, singles aspiring to find their soul mates, and the rise of “professional marriages,” in which spouses have individual bank accounts and separate social lives.

Closing speaker Kevin Smith summarized it this way: “I don’t know what homosexuals shall do or can do to the institution of marriage in the future, but I know marriage is jacked up right now in America in the popular culture and among believers because of heterosexuals.”

The call to reclaim biblical marriage is more urgent. Summit speaker David Prince probably raised some eyebrows when he said that as a pastor visiting new parents, he prays over their babies, and specifically for their future spouses. One grandfather in a hospital room expressed his disbelief that Prince was praying that way already, the Kentucky pastor said. But several leaders this week echoed the principle: At a time when marriage is being redefined, and fewer people are getting married in the first place, it’s up to evangelicals to reclaim and profess the biblical meaning of marriage.

Embrace the strangeness. One of Moore’s main messages during his first year as ERLC president has been that Christians will be increasingly strange – he has even used the word “freakish” – as nominal Christianity falls away and culture continues to move away from previously held values. Twitter proved that point this week, as posts with the hashtag #erlcsummit poured in during nearly every session. The majority of the feedback was negative from those watching online or following along on Twitter, but that’s not surprising, Andrew Walker said.

“We are talking about the Christian sexual ethic being more unique and distinguishable in society, and we’re trying to warn Christians, ‘Hey, the ground has kind of fallen out from beneath you. The culture has changed on this issue. And one way to really gage that is to see what social media is saying.'”

The correct response to our increasing strangeness, Moore said, is an awareness of what’s happening in the world and a commitment to speak lovingly into the culture. “We have to understand that as we speak prophetically within the church and outside of the church when it relates to issues of sexuality or any other issue, we have to do that in a way that opposes the devil, without acting like the devil.”


An almost-Gospel is no match for the sexual revolution.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Our approach to teaching our children about Christian sexuality cannot be, ‘Just say no. Just don’t do it.’ That’s not a Christian sexual ethic. …We want them not to just have a right view about what to say no to, we want them to have a comprehensively Christ-centered, Christian view of sexuality.”

David Prince, pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist in Lexington, Ky., at the ERLC summit on the Gospel and sexuality

ERLC_Summit_logoNEWS | Meredith Flynn

Nashville, Tenn. | The first Leadership Summit hosted by the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission kicked off this afternoon at the SBC building in Nashville. The meeting of 180 church leaders is focused on how the Gospel applies to human sexuality, especially in a culture that’s changing fast.

“So many of the questions that pastors grapple with today deal with situations that would not even have been possible a generation ago,” ERLC President Russell Moore said when the summit was announced a few months ago. “As technology advances and the culture changes, the questions that we have to grapple with are often increasingly complex.”

The meeting’s first speaker, Heath Lambert, tackled one of those digital age issues with a keynote address on pornography. Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and a professor at Southern Seminary, said porn is a “silent killer” in churches.

“I think that pornography represents the greatest moral crisis in the history of the church,” Lambert said. It is “something that evangelicals can do in a dark room behind a shut door after they’ve railed against homosexual marriage and talked about conservative theology.”

Redefining marriage is a threat to the church, he added, but “a greater threat to the church today is the Christian pastor, the Christian schoolteacher, the Christian Bible college and seminary student, who exalts sound theology, who points to the Bible, and then retreats to the basement computer to indulge in an hour or three of internet pornography.”

Using Proverbs 7 as a backdrop, Lambert likened pornography to the Scripture passage’s “forbidden woman.” The Bible gives strategies for dealing with sexual temptation, and the church should too, he said. But the first call is to cling to the Gospel.

“I’m pleading with the church to have practical strategies…but those behaviors won’t be enough if we are not teaching people to draw near to Jesus Christ,” Lambert said.

He closed his message with three charges to church leaders concerning pornography: First, pursue accountability. 75% of pastors are accountable to no one for their internet activity, Lambert said.

Second, address your people. “If your job is to preach the whole counsel of God, here it is,” Lambert said. “You’ve got to talk about it. If we do not share this, if we overlook it, it’s folly. It’s foolishness.”

And third, awaken the world to the problem. “Evangelicals have tenderly and tenaciously taken up many causes…I want to ask that together we would begin to take up this cause, that we would begin to say, ‘Enough is enough.'”

Marriage, purity, human trafficking, and pastoral care for sexual sin are among the topics the Leadership Summit will explore through large-group sessions, breakouts and panel discussions. Check back here for updates, and watch it at

THE BRIEFING | Posted by Meredith Flynn

True_Love_Waits(From Baptist Press) A new documentary marks the 20th anniversary of “True Love Waits,” an abstinence movement that found its footing in American churches and has since made an impact in countries around the world. “True Love Waits: The Complicated Struggle for Sexual Purity” was produced by LifeWay Films; Jimmy Hester, LifeWay’s then-student ministry director, helped create True Love Waits in 1994.

“We knew from the beginning we wanted to address the criticisms as well as the successes of the True Love Waits movement,” Travis Hawkins, the documentary’s director, told Baptist Press. “We knew viewers would see through any spin we put on the story. We weren’t afraid to have an honest conversation.”

Susan Bohannon is one early “True Love Waits” committee who shares her story in the film. The young woman, who became a teen spokesperson for the movement, struggled in college with peer pressure and the commitment she’d made. Clayton King, author of the curriculum that will relaunch True Love Waits this year, told BP that Bohannon’s story exemplifies the need to return the movement to one focused on the purity found in Christ.

“I want people to know they are pure because Jesus purified them from sin, not because they have perfect behavior and have never had intercourse or looked at porn,” King said. “The good news is that temptation, lust, porn, sex, shame and guilt are no match for the grace that Jesus offers us.”

Read the full story at

Other news:

Nun faces sentencing for protest at nuclear plant
Megan Rice, an 84-year-old nun, will be sentenced today for a break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Rice and two other protestors who hung banners and painted messages on the walls of a bunker could receive six to nine years in prison, according to this Associated Press story.

Research examines Russian religion
With the world’s eyes on Russia during these Winter Olympics, Pew has found the nation is much more religious since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The number of adults identifying as Orthodox Christian increased from 31% to 72% between 1991 and 2008, according to Pew’s research. And the percentage claiming no religious affiliation fell from 61% to 18%. But the number of Russians who regularly attend church only increased from 2% in 1991 to 7% in 2008 (with a peak of 9% in 1998). Read more at

Wheaton students protest former lesbian’s testimony
Collegians at Christian university Wheaton College protested a Jan. 31 presentation by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, a former Syracuse University professor and author of ““The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.” The students’ actions indicate a “generational shift in attitudes about human sexuality,” writes  Baptist blogger Denny Burk.

The truth about camels
An archaeological discovery has led some scholars to renew questions about the Bible’s accuracy, Christianity Today reports. Researchers in Tel Aviv used carbon dating to determine that domesticated camels weren’t used in Israel until near the end of the 10th century B.C., almost 1,000 years after the biblical patriarchs. But some Bible scholars say their findings are “overstated,” CT reports.

Six Illinois volunteers, arriving in the Philippines this week, will help rebuild this school on Gibitngil Island.

Six Illinois volunteers, arriving in the Philippines this week, will help rebuild this school on Gibitngil Island. Photo is from the project’s Facebook page.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

A team of six Illinois Disaster Relief volunteers will travel to the Philippines this week to help rebuild after last fall’s Typhoon Haiyan.

The group, composed of “blue cap” leaders from around the state, is part of a multi-week, multi-crew project to rebuild a school on Gibitngil Island. The team is the first from Illinois to join the long-term relief effort in the Philippines coordinated by Baptist Global Response. Keep up with their project here.

Other news:

Forum to focus on biblical sexuality
“The Gospel and Human Sexuality” is the theme of a Nashville summit planned for pastors and leaders this spring. The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission will host the April 21-23 meeting on marriage, family, purity, morality and culture.

“So many of the questions pastors grapple with today deal with situations that would not even have been possible a generation ago,” said ERLC President Russell Moore. “…We’ll talk about these questions, and how we can be faithful in ministry, Gospel-focused in engagement and Christ-shaped spiritual warriors in the ways we seek to wrestle with the principalities and powers of this age.” Read more at

Blessed are the … athletic?
Just before the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics took over our TV screens, Americans weighed in on whether God rewards faithful athletes with health and success. Opinion is evenly split, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, with 48% saying yes and 47% disagreeing. But among white evangelicals, 62% believe God rewards faithful athletes. Read more at

Military’s religious climate questioned
The U.S. military has long been serious about protecting the religious freedom of its troops, said retired Gen. Doug Carver in submitted testimony before a House subcommittee last month. But Carver, who directs the North American Mission Board’s chaplaincy ministry, noted a climate within the military that could restrict religious liberty. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R.-Ohio) summarized the prevailing concern: “There is a fine line between accommodation and respecting all religions and restricting religious freedom and that’s the line we are walking on here.”

Subcommittee chairman Joe Wilson (R.-S.C.) called for another hearing on the issue in the next 60 days. Read more at

Bible-themed movies coming soon
2014 may well be the “Year of the Bible,” says culture writer Jonathan Merritt. At the movies, at least. Merritt lists five movies that will have the Bible front and center in the country’s consciousness, beginning with this month’s “Son of God.” Biblical biopics “Noah” and “Mary, Mother of Christ” are due late this year, along with “Exodus.” And although “Heaven is for Real” (April) isn’t based on the Bible, Merritt includes it on his list because “it will likely riff on popular Bible themes such as heaven, Jesus, and salvation.” Read more at