Some years ago, I opined the defining issues establishing Christian community in the future would be marriage and morality. Specifically, how a church or denomination defines marriage and interprets biblical morality will position it relative to historic, orthodox Christian beliefs – more than past confessional statements or doctrinal creeds. A Christian’s position on these issues will define where they find common ground with other believers, churches, and denominations. My prediction is now coming true.

The United Methodist Church has splintered with more than 6,600 churches who affirm biblical marriage and morality leaving the denomination – some at significant financial cost of their property and other assets. The saddest part of the story is not the Methodist churches that separated but the more than 24,000 churches who, by staying in their denomination, are either advocating or tolerating an abandonment of biblical standards. In 2023, the Church of England voted – after intense debate, but nonetheless decisively – to affirm same-sex marriage. This also caused division as 10 out of 42 archbishops in the global Anglican Union opposed the decision. And, just a few weeks ago, the Pope announced a new interpretation for the Catholic Church which will now bless same-sex couples, although this new position was accompanied by a feckless reminder the Church still only affirms traditional marriage. It will be interesting to see the divisions which result.

The hermeneutical gymnastics reinterpreting the Bible’s teaching on marriage and morality requires world-class contortionism. Simply reading the Bible reveals clear standards – marriage is one man married to one woman for life and sexuality is confined to and expressed in that union. Every other kind of marriage denies this definition. Every other sexual practice defies this standard.

When a person rejects biblical authority and develops their own philosophies of marriage and morality, it is an understandable process leading to a reasoned (albeit flawed) conclusion. But finding justification for these new positions in the Bible and labeling them “Christian” is intellectually dishonest and spiritually disillusioned.

Believers who honor the Bible’s teaching on marriage and morality are in a diminishing minority. Western culture, spearheaded by secular leaders, is rejecting our position. Religious leaders are joining their chorus. Christians who stand for biblical marriage and morality – no matter their denominational label – are left to discover new colleagues, allies, and friends. As cultural pressure mounts, we will need each other more than ever. Formal denominational ties will be eclipsed by mutual affirmation of God’s standards.

May God grant us the strength to stand for timeless truth and the humility to look past significant differences and uphold Christians who stand with us on these important issues.

Rhonda Kelley

Dr. Iorg admires the faithful and genuine character of his friend Rhonda Kelly.

Jeff Iorg
President Emeritus
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president emeritus of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Prayer Sparks

Pastor Jon Varner shares what he learned developing a practice of combining his daily Bible reading and prayer.

Jon Varner
Lead Pastor
Jon Varner is the lead pastor at Valley View Christian Church in Kent, Washington.

Sobering

Life is short, heaven is long. Let’s live like it today.

Jeff Iorg
President Emeritus
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president emeritus of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.