Five hundred years ago God raised up strong leaders in his Church to champion the gospel of his grace. Luther, Zwingli, Tyndale and many others had courage and boldness. Faced with the challenges of their day and age, they responded by clearly preaching and communicating the gospel.
Fast forward to today and our urgent need is still for strong and courageous God-honouring communicators. Yet, I fear the Church is sadly lacking, especially when confronted with the current cultural battles over gender and sexuality.
Many of our prominent Church leaders seem more content to dodge, duck, dive and skate round the issues. Some have abandoned the truth altogether. There is a shocking lack of clarity. It is as if some senior Church leaders are ashamed of historic Christian theology.
Surely, if we believe that God is wise, good and knows best, then our confidence must be in his word. In it, he has spoken about the lifelong pattern for marriage, gender and sex. The Christian worldview combines truth and love in a compelling, consistent and clear way that provides a brilliant counter-cultural narrative to our increasingly broken society. So why, when prominent Church leaders appear on TV or on the radio do they seem so reticent to articulate it?
A recent example of this hesitancy was the interview Justin Welby gave to British GQ magazine. When asked if gay sex is a sin, Welby replied, “You know very well that is a question I can’t give a straight answer to…I haven’t got a good answer to the question.” This is the most senior Church leader in the land. Would it have been so hard to have explained the biblical teaching on sexuality?
This all seems to be a deliberate but perplexing media strategy. When the archbishop went on LBC Radio he was similarly evasive when asked if he supported Nigel and Sally Rowe who took their son out of primary school because of the school’s transgender rules. Welby also said he thought allowing a 6-year-old boy to crossdress was fine, which is an astonishing position for an archbishop to take.
Mainstream media interviews are tricky and the Tim Farron disaster proves that if you are a prominent Christian, you should expect biased and unfair reporting. But for centuries orthodox Christian teaching has been that gay sex is wrong. (As is every form of sexual expression other than sex within the marriage of one man and one woman.) Yes, such a view cuts against the prevailing opinions of wider society. But since when did societal acceptance and credibility become the litmus test for what we do or do not say? Of course, we need to be wise! But we can’t avoid direct questions just because we know Church teaching is unpopular.
As Christians we know that God can give us words to say when given opportunities to present Christian truth. So come on, Archbishop. You are a gifted and knowledgeable man. Please stand up for the truth and provide a clearer Christian voice on these pressing issues.
James Mildred is co-host of the Holy Political Podcast For more opinion on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective, visit premierchristianity.com/blog