A Pastoral Response to Gender Confusion: Caring for Those Caught in the LGBTQ Religion
The God of the Bible sacrificed himself for their sins, but the god of gender wants them to sacrifice themselves for “gender.” The God of the Bible offers a path to happiness and flourishing, while the god of gender offers them a life of self-loathing and pain. Most importantly, the God of the Bible wants to forgive them, whereas the god of gender wants to harm them. That’s the kind of truth that can save a person from the clutches of false religion.
As US embassies around the world wave the Pride flag, there is no denying that LGBTQ has become the American culture’s center of gravity. Twenty years ago, the main American religion was prosperity. Now it is the LGBTQ movement.
How do pastors respond to the LGBTQ worldview? Or, more particularly, how do pastors shepherd their people to think rightly about the issues this movement raises? Here are five practical ways pastors can help their congregations navigate the LGBTQ culture:
1. Treat It like Another Religion
Twenty years ago, the LGBTQ movement was about individual autonomy. They trumpeted individual rights (such as visiting a partner in the hospital, sharing insurance plans, etc.). I fear that too many Christians—especially those who have been in ministry for a few decades—still perceive the LGBTQ world as being concerned with those issues. It isn’t.
Today the LGBTQ movement has grown from concerns over individual rights to a full-on attack on Christianity. It is a rival religion. It has its own god (self-identity), its own language (that of critical theory and intersectionality), and its own priests (schoolteachers and university professors). There is a conversion rite (coming out), confirmation, and the taking on of a new identity. There is even penance for previous sins. The only thing missing is forgiveness.
Pastor, ask yourself: How do I preach about other religions? Whatever your answer is, apply it to this issue.
Look, we make doctrinal distinctions in our preaching all the time. We often separate Catholicism from Christianity by highlighting justification by faith. We challenge the Mormons’ and Jehovah’s Witnesses’ views of Christ. We contrast the Trinity with Islam. These are likely normal practices in our preaching.
The truth is, LGBTQ is more prominent in our culture and worldview than those other religions. It occupies more cultural space. But the LGBTQ religion is less about justification. Thus contrasting faith and works doesn’t adequately address this movement.
I encourage pastors in their preaching to draw attention to texts that highlight the nature of mankind and describe who we are and why we are here. Then contrast today’s identity culture with what the Bible says about identity.
Of course, part of this new religion is sexual ethics. Pastors should be very clear about what the Bible says about sexual ethics, homosexuality, and gender. But the heart issue the LGBTQ worldview presents is that of identity—the question it raises is who makes man? Draw attention to that.
2. Be Familiar with the Worldview this Religion Presents
Pastors can sometimes shy away from understanding the LGBTQ world because of how dark and sinful it is. Distance from its practices is a good and holy desire.
But ignorance of the dominant worldview in our culture is not sustainable. A good place to go is Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. Trueman’s book sheds light on the worldview behind the LGBTQ movement, helpfully showing its history and tracing how it came to occupy center stage in our world.
And here a point of contrast is in order. I watched a recent Christian evangelistic video from a ministry I love and saw how it critiqued the LGBTQ worldview. It treated it like it was a form of relativism or post-modernism. It went after it for its claim that “what is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me.”