Rachel Held Evans appears to be toying with the notion of dropping the label of “Christian” altogether as she writes with tortured keystrokes:
I am hanging by the tips of sweaty fingers on this ledge of faith, wondering if letting go will bring freedom or death. I’ve hung on before—through the science wars, the gender wars, the Christmas wars, the culture wars—but I’m just so tired of fighting, so tired of feeling out of place. (source)
What’s the cause of this?
The Chik-fil-A controversy.
Rachel, like most in the liberal Christianity camp, rejects the notion that homosexuality is a sin. She even says it is a “right” that we conservatives aim to deny:
I too believe marriage is a civil right in this country, and I too get frustrated when Christians appeal to their faith to withhold this right from their neighbors. (source)
Rachel is clearly agonizing over her fellow Christians with the issue of homosexual marriage. She not only wants to stop praying, but she thinks it might be better for some to be separated from grace:
Suddenly, my religion is alien to me—small, petty, reactive. My faith has lost its bearings. I don’t feel like praying anymore, not even for the mom who begged me to pray for her gay son who vowed yesterday never to return to church again.
Can I blame him? Perhaps it is better if he stays away. (source)
I want to seize just a moment on one statement, which I think is the key to Rachel’s problem: “My faith has lost its bearings.”
Yes, it has. Now let’s examine why that’s the case.
Nick Peters argues, in part, that homosexuality isn’t part of special revelation (the Bible), but a part of general revelation:
. . . [I]n Leviticus 18 and 20, the verses following the list of sins tells us that it is for committing these sins that other nations are being cast out. Other nations were never punished for not following the dietary restrictions or wearing mixed fabrics. Those were practices that set Israel apart from the other nations as a sign they were in covenant with God. The other nations were commanded by Israel to live moral lives, but they were never commanded to follow Jewish practices. Jews could be condemned for trading with other nations on the Sabbath, but the other nations were not condemned for working on the Sabbath.
Note also that this places homosexuality in the category of general revelation. Other nations were cast out because of doing things that we can say that they should have known better. It would not make sense for God to punish a people when they could not have known that they were doing anything wrong. Since this is in general revelation then, you don’t need the Bible. (source)
So that means if you never pick up a Bible, you should still understand that homosexuality violates the natural order of things (see Dave Armstrong and Jennifer Fulwiler for more on this “natural order” argument). If you don’t see a violation of the natural order, then we have a bigger problem.
In committing any sin, you are essentially suppressing the truth of God through unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). And acting on such evil inclinations without a second thought is a judgment from God:
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:26-32)
Rachel gives approval to those who practice homosexuality, campaigning for their right to legally marry.
Well, no wonder her faith has lost its ground!
She has suppressed the natural law through unrighteous support of sin. Therefore, God is giving her over to these desires — and her faith is slipping because she feels the distance.
There are only two ways to end her cycles of uncertainty. She can let go of the cliff, and therefore fall into the abyss. Or, she can recommit to understanding God in his glory, on his terms (even the decrees she doesn’t like), thus hauling herself back onto the safety of the ledge.
Either option will settle her mind, but only one leads to life. And it’s easier to let go rather than muster the strength to climb back up (Mt 7:13-14).