Protestant evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox, and virtually every other church outside of a subset of shrinking churches in the West believe marriage touches foundational anthropological doctrines and will never be simply something we can “agree to disagree” on. Still, the press surrounding the progressive position can make orthodox Christians feel defeated, deflated, and doomed—as if they’re in the minority now as far as churchgoing Christians are concerned, as if there’s no stopping the runaway revisionist train. This narrative is powerful but false.
Earlier this year, the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) surprised nearly everyone, not just outsiders. The denomination, which many believed had been drifting away from the authority of Scripture, corrected course and made clear the church’s conviction on sexual ethics.
The CRC’s clarification went even further than some observers expected. The group voted, as a clear majority, to make its position nonnegotiable. The traditional view of marriage and sexuality is the standard of the church’s teaching. There’s to be no deviation, which goes for institutions like Calvin University, even if some professors there seem to have moved toward the revisionist view of sexuality.
Trend in Institutions
The CRC is not the only denomination to tighten its doctrinal standards around sexuality rather than loosen them.
- The Global Methodist Church is in the process of breaking up with the United Methodist Church and will provide a worldwide home for Wesleyans who wish to maintain a faithful witness to God’s Word in the days ahead.
- The Anglican Communion is mired in conflict between a fast-shrinking, largely white, and increasingly elderly contingent that advocates for same-sex marriage and a fast-growing, largely black and brown, and increasingly young community of believers located in the global South that shuns the revisionist agenda. Several years ago, the Communion censured the American wing. Meanwhile, orthodox Anglicans around the world are finding new and creative ways of connection and partnership.
- The Presbyterian Church of America recently released a lengthy, brilliantly crafted document that reaffirms a biblical view of sex and marriage, even going so far as to provide avenues for evangelists and apologists to make a case for this position in an era shaped by the sexual revolution.
It’s not just denominations. Organizations have been tightening up their standards and clarifying their adherence to the biblical position.
- The CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) added a statement about Christian distinctives and advocacy, which clarified their adherence to a biblical sexual ethic as a “core Christian commitment.”
- InterVarsity Christian Fellowship conducted a four-year process of study and then reiterated the organization’s stance through a nine-part curriculum for all employees.
- Fuller Seminary, Wheaton College, and Christianity Today have also, in recent years, reaffirmed their commitment to the historic view of marriage.