Sex, marriage idolatry, and LGBTQ+: An interview with Lou Phillips

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Sex, singleness, LGBTQ+, and marriage idolatry: A conversation with Lou Phillips

April 17, 2023 -

The Denison Forum Podcast with special guest Lou Phillips

The Denison Forum Podcast with special guest Lou Phillips

The Denison Forum Podcast with special guest Lou Phillips

Lou Phillips, Director of Church Relations for the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, joins Dr. Turman to discuss his work in Christian sexual ethics apologetics, how churches make an idol of marriage and sex, the way to reach out to LGBTQ+ people, and why the culture finds its identity in sexuality.

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Show notes:

Lou Phillips starts by sharing his testimony, why he works in teaching Christian sexual ethics in an apologetic setting, and how he’s been received by secular audiences (1:50). They turn to consider how marriage has become an idol in the church and how Christians seek fulfillment in marriage rather than in God (11:20). Phillips and Dr. Turman talk about why sexuality, tied together with suffering, has become the biggest obstacle for our culture coming to Christ (18:17). They dive into the issues of identity, why culture finds it in sexuality, and whether sexual sin is worse than others (29:19). Phillips goes into a complex practical question: Should Christians with homosexual attraction call themselves gay (43:40)? They close by returning to how churches need to do better at supporting single people, which is equally as fulfilling as marriage—it needs to be the crux of the entire argument for Christians (56:02).

Resources and further reading:

About the host

Mark Turman, DMin, is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.

About the guest

Lou Phillips is the Director of Church Relations for the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender.

Phillips attended Grove City College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science, double majoring in molecular biology and political science. Lou also received his certificate of theological studies from the University of Oxford (Wycliffe Hall) and was trained at The OCCA (The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics).

For the past eight years, Lou has been traveling and speaking at universities, conferences, and churches, entertaining people’s biggest objections to Christianity. Lou is most interested in topics such as meaning, identity, and sexuality as they relate to the Christian worldview, especially in the lives of students and young adults.

Transcript

Transcribed by Otter.ai

 

Mark Turman  00:10

Welcome back to the Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, Executive Director of Denison forum and host for today’s conversation, conversations about faith culture that matter, and that hopefully equip you for the life and influence that God has put into your hands. Today we are talking about biblical sexuality, holy sexuality. And our guest today is Lou Phillips, Director of church relations for the Center for faith, sexuality and gender. Liu attended Grove City College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science, double majoring in molecular biology and political science. He also received his certificate of theological studies from the University of Oxford Wickliffe Hall, and was trained at the OCC a the Oxford Center for Christian apologetics. For the past eight years, Lou has been traveling and speaking at universities, conferences, churches, as well as entertaining people’s biggest objections to Christianity. Lou is most interested in topics such as meaning identity, and sexuality as they relate to the Christian worldview, especially in the lives of students and young adults. He is convinced that it is essential for Christians to find ways to discuss the most controversial controversial issues of today, but in a respectful and compassionate manner. What we talked about here at the Denison forum of speaking the truth and love, we’re excited to have this conversation with Lou today. And I hope that it is beneficial for you. Lou, welcome to the Denison Forum Podcast. We’re glad to have you today.

 

Lou Philips  01:47

Yeah, it’s pleasure to be here. Thank you so much more.

 

Mark Turman  01:51

As we get started today, tell us a little bit about about Lew Phillips, it’s not on the resume, what would what would we want to know about you that we don’t know, just from reading the bio?

 

Lou Philips  02:03

Question, um, maybe I guess a little bit of, of why I’m so interested in this topic might be helpful. So a little bit of my own story in that I grew up in a strong Christian household youngest of six kids, the conversation around sex and Christianity and sexuality, all that. So it’s pretty open in my household, I really respected the way my parents discussed it with me and felt like I was like, if I was old enough to ask questions, I was old enough, old enough to know, answers to questions. And so I was really grateful for that. Really had every intention of being a physician my entire life. That’s all I did. Starting at the age of like, four, it was very type a driven child. And so bless my butt off in high school, went to college, studying molecular biology, as you see in the resume. And that’s kind of where it’s like, well, what am I doing now? But long story short, the Lord just changed the path. I don’t know how to describe it. Other than that, I just got serious with some prayers and, and really asked him what he wanted to do with my life. And see, I always thought I knew what he wanted to do with my life. But I never really asked him on that one. I was like, I’m going to do this. We bless it. And and since then, I’ve just been, I’ve been so enamored with this conversation, because I find it to be the biggest obstacle to the gospel. Not because it’s the most important conversation. It’s just like, it happens to be the question everybody is asking. And I’m big into apologetics. It’s just how my mind works is I’ve used apologetics as a form as a vehicle of evangelism for years now. And yeah, I was I was working on a lot of secular campuses, you know, speaking on apologetics, but it was mostly speaking on sexuality. And what I found was, you know, some of the students actually, there were kind of amazed by what Christianity had to say, because they’ve only ever heard really shallow versions of it’s like, you got to wait into your marriage, it’s got to be a man and woman, that’s all they got. But I was trying to expand their view of the historic Christian ethic and actually how stunning it really is for every single person regardless of your sexual orientation or gender and I don’t think that’s been preached anywhere. But what I found is that I had to stop I was compelling the Secular Student to entertain Christianity and go to the churches in the surrounding area when in the churches that I they were around had no idea what I was talking about. And so it’s a little bit of like the cart before the horse and so I really tried to change my my lens and start working for an organization that was had a passion specifically in equipping Christians in the church. Because if we don’t understand what we believe it’s kind of a it’s irrelevant to invite people into the in the conversation when we don’t even know what we’re talking about kind of thing because we really have just a shallow theology in the sexuality and that’s when I started working for the Center for free sexual and gender because that’s, that’s what their heart is about.

 

Mark Turman  04:45

Have there been Louis Have there been a couple of people that have really been influential to you? Obviously, working along Preston sprinkle now we can get in to a little bit of who he is if we need to or want to but Have there been Some writers, people speaking in the space of faith, sexuality, gender, that really kind of helped bring clarity and focus to your thinking in this area. Sure. Yeah, absolutely.

 

Lou Philips  05:12

Yeah, outside of precedent. So pressing in his books and speaking is later on in the conversation for me, but the earlier on and those who probably impacted me initially the most would probably be Tim Keller’s book on the meaning of marriage that would kind of just re reshaped everything from it was like that. And no one’s written like this for at least from from my point of view. So at first I was like, wow, this is stunning. But moving on passer, good friend of mine, Sam Albury. We used to work together. Sam is a former pastor. Well, he’s still technically a pastor, traveling speaker, apologist, just just a lover of the gospel is the way I would describe Sam, and he has been speaking on this man. And he’s impacted me. And then also, I’d say, Dr. Julie Slattery. She runs a ministry called authentic intimacy. So value her work, I think her tone and care for people is just like no one else. And I think she has a deep, deep understanding of this conversation from a scriptural groundedness. And so yeah, those those three people, I think, have probably made the biggest impact on me. And then in and then you add on top of that, I find Preston’s writing on this. And he’s just way of talking about just what the church needs right now. And that’s why I’m so excited to be working with him. And all excited.

 

Mark Turman  06:30

Yeah, well, we want to get into a little bit of understanding of the center, I would say that I came across the center, and President sprinkles work probably five years ago, as I started into a doctoral program and ended up doing a doctoral project on biblical sexuality, that we may reference them in some way. But for context, if before we get to the center, you would be what I would call on the younger end of things. But for context, I’m just curious as to how you have experienced how you’ve been received in your ministry, on campuses, in churches, other environments where you’ve had a chance to speak present, right? How are people receiving you? Yeah, you’re, if I’m getting this right, you’re newly fairly newly married? And yes. And getting in this context, I’m just wondering, you know, it’s one thing to hear from somebody like me, who’s, you know, almost 60 years old, somebody, like our co founder, Dr. Dennison, who’s a little bit older than I am. It’s one thing if it’s somebody that is, you know, a father or grandfather, like me, you know, speaking into, particularly the younger generation Gen Z, as it’s commonly referred to now, what’s been the reaction when you’re engaging in these environments? People that are your age a little bit younger, somewhat older? How have you been received?

 

Lou Philips  08:00

Yeah, that’s a great question. And, and I don’t speak that often with like the Senator, I think my role with the Senator is different than when it used to them what I’ve been doing prior. So speaking, in those contexts, years ago, or even just in the previous years, I would say, in general received very well, because I think I’m saying, I think I’m opening up scripture in a way a lot of people haven’t seen before. And I don’t say that as someone that’s like, yeah, because I really know scripture, just like, No, I just, I spent the time because I’m so passionate, this topic. And then I was like, Wait, why haven’t? Why haven’t? Why isn’t the church I grew up in why don’t we talk about marriage and sexuality this way? It was, it was very, we really made that the end goal of our sexuality is marriage and the end goal of marriage fulfillment. And that was like, oh, okay, that was and I just, I didn’t know that that was not biblical. And I would firmly say, That’s not biblical. That’s not what Scripture describes your sexuality. And that was what marriage is like. And so I think for the younger generation, they’re intrigued, and it’s like, wow, this is this is refreshing. Where I get the most pushback, actually is from married men. And I don’t know. So the majority went up. So you just said, I recently married. I’ve only been married for a year, like two weeks ago was a year. So new into this. And I got to change a little bit of how I talk about this now, because I’m on the other side of this in. And what I loved is that the theology that I had prior to marriage is the same that I have in marriage, which is that both singleness and beauty areas singleness and marriage are stunning gifts by God. And I am so equally grateful for both of those. I’m not more grateful for the Lord now that I’m married is like no, no, that was singleness was a beautiful gift as well. And I just didn’t feel like people were talking about that. But when I had such a high view of singleness, a lot of married men, men, they just push back and I don’t I actually still don’t know what that is. I don’t know if it’s like, I do think there’s a problem of idolatry of marriage within the church. But I don’t know why specifically men because I was just as a single guy who’d been single for almost 30 years in my life. I was just saying the beauty of it. I wasn’t trying to dismantle or diminish stigma Originally, no, this is a good gift by God. It says that scripture. But the moment we make a good gift and ultimate gift, we’re in idolatry. And that’s just as sinful as pick anything else. And I just wouldn’t come back from that. I’m like, no, that’s just we have to face it for what it is. So yeah, overall, I’d say good. Even with those who disagree with me, those who be a part of the LGBTQ plus community, I think many of them were just, they were pleasantly surprised in this in the sense that I wasn’t arbitrarily bigoted, if that makes sense. And that’s why I was just trying to show them I was like, Look, we may disagree, the odds of us lining up on what we think sexuality and marriage are actually quite slim, if we’re coming from two different worldviews, right? If you think this whole thing is an accident, and God doesn’t really exist yet, I think he’s created everything with the purpose and the odds that you to us, or we’re gonna align on what sexuality is like, it’s insane. There’s no way. The question is, can we do this in a way that actually respects the other person’s dignity and value in the fact that we believe but from either worldview, I mean, for me, as a Christian, it’s like, you are creating the image of God. And therefore you are you have, like, so much value and unspeakable value worth that should not be diminished. That should not be believable that and I want to hold that. Hold that up for someone. And I think if we do that, well, but yeah, there’s complexity there. And I understand the time we’re living in because even that can be challenged. But

 

Mark Turman  11:20

yeah, like, like I said, just in all things, right, speaking the truth in love, yeah, and respecting and honoring the the other person as a person of value. But But such a good idea, such a good comment there about, you know, the context really matters from where a person is starting from, if they don’t, if they don’t have a fundamental belief in God, if they don’t have a sense that life does have purpose in meaning. And when you get further down the road to things like sexuality, marriage, intimacy, obviously, you’re likely to arrive at very different places and have very different convictions. But I want to circle back theologically, for a moment, there’s something you just said, which is, and I ran into this in my own study along these lines as well, which is this idea of basically the companion model or the companion theology, that most people in churches, particularly, we might say, evangelical churches where we work, that that’s the default thought process. And, and I would agree with you that there is an odometer isation of marriage and family, that I don’t know that we intentionally walked down that road. But we we certainly have arrived there in the last 30 to 40 years from my perspective, but But I ran into something that you mentioned, which is this companion model, which is no the purpose of marriage is so that I and my spouse will have a companion and that’s the reason yeah. And, and the companionship is to lead to my enjoyment to my pleasure. And if you if you carry that out, that’s where you get to the idolatry idea, right? Absolutely. And so, yeah, so so so unpack that a little bit more anger and speak, at least for a moment, we come back to it later in other parts of the conversation about that’s not the biblical that this can this default companion model, and companionship to pleasure or fulfillment? Is not what the Bible is getting at when it is getting at a theology of merit. Yeah.

 

Lou Philips  13:35

Yeah, no, I love that you said that, because it’s so true. And I love that you also said, it may not have been what we are trying to do, and that I am the I would be the first one to say it’s like, this is the water we’re swimming in. I am not coming at the church. I’m not coming at Christians, I’m guilty of it myself. It’s really hard to not believe that when everything in the world tells you this is actually where fulfillment and meaning are found. And I think the church’s response was like, no, no sex can’t be, you know, where fulfillment is found because sex is only allowed of marriage, therefore, marriages were fulfilling. So I don’t know where I don’t know where that happened. It seemed like it was, it seems like still reactionary theology in light of the sexual revolution, possibly, from what I can tell, but I’m not a historian, I mean, or sociologist, I don’t know. And, and that’s okay. It’s not about it’s not about it’s certainly me casting blame. It’s like, it’s whatever, we’re on the ship, and we’re heading in a way we shouldn’t be. So what do we do now? And yeah, this. God did create marriage and sexual intimacy as a form of pleasure and companionship, but the problem is we’ve actually inverted the meaning of it all. We’ve actually we’ve said it’s like, it’s about finding that companionship, it’s about romance. It’s about enjoyment, fulfillment, all those things. And then in the bottom of that, we’re like, oh, yeah, and there’s this really cool thing in Scripture that Paul talks about that it models and points to Christ marriage between himself and Sprite. And when I look at scripture, I actually see the reverse, I see the whole point of Scripture to be all about him, like ever. The whole point of marriage yet through Scripture is to be pointing to him. And, and here’s the beautiful thing is if we’re, if we would actually start there and let that inform pleasure and form companionship in formulating, it doesn’t diminish those things. It actually upholds them even better, right. So so so a great example would be like, yeah, is he Orientalist procreation? Is marriage also about is there a procreative aspect to why God created marriage? 100%. But doesn’t it make more sense that in Christ is where life is found? In in this in this relationship where where it’s supposed to be God Himself and humanity? Isn’t it doesn’t make far more sense that in this relationship which is supposed to be reflecting that one, the possibility of life can be produced, right? Isn’t it more? Doesn’t it make more sense it is about enjoyment and pleasure. And he says, at my right hand are pleasures forevermore. Like it makes it deeper when we actually are willing to put it all towards him. And yet we’re not we’re actually we’re turning. We’re turning sex and marriage into a me centric view. And yet everywhere in Scripture, we say this all the time as Christians, it all was about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation, it’s pointing to him the whole time. And what’s the whole point? It’s him, it’s all about him. This is who we’re going after this is what we want him to in eternity. This is what the resurrection is all. It’s all about him. And yet when it comes to marriage, which like it’s about us in here’s why I think this is so important that if we don’t start changing this. We wonder why so many LGBTQ plus people are so frustrated with the church, because though we say with our mouths, Jesus is the bread of life, give your life to me, you will be satisfied. The way you and I live our lives as Christians is that marriage and family will be where fulfillments found. And yet we have the audacity to tell a whole group of people and you don’t get to have that. You don’t sit and you see the inconsistent. You see why they’re like, Well, fine. I don’t want anything to do with Christianity. Because the way you’re fulfilled, you’re not even saying I can be fulfilled in this life. Though with your mouth. You’re saying I can your life is telling me I can never live a satisfying life. And, gosh, if that’s not untrue, because all you have to do, if you’re struggling as a Christian hearing what I’m saying, you just have to go. I get if you just have the Old Testament, if you just look at that you think okay, maybe yeah, maybe this is we have to have this community, it’s not good that they won’t be alone. You take that procreative as, but we have to have a complete theology. We can’t just take certain scriptures if they are this is my theology, this, let’s look at all scripture. Well, then we have Christ God Himself, lived the most complete, fulfilled human life. Anyone could live, in fact, perfect. Had the deepest intimacy with God Himself, yet never had a romantic relationship, never had sex. So the moment you and I say that marriage and family are required for fulfillment, is the moment we say that Christ himself lived the sub human life. And we’re not willing to say that as Christians. And then we then take the words of Paul, all throughout Corinthians, man, he is just showing the beauty of singleness, he’s not diminishing marriage. He’s just saying, Hey, you missed it. And so I just think we need to let let Scripture speak entirely. And let’s not just take the verses we want, which, yeah, already reinforced values and belief systems we already have, if that makes it Sorry, that was a long answer. But let’s know that’s where it’s at.

 

Mark Turman  18:17

Great. No, it’s great. Because like I said, the the theological foundation is so much of what needs to be clarified, especially I think, in the lives of believers, and in the, in the teaching of the Church in this topic. Because, you know, one of the things I wanted to ask you is, you know, do you think that this is the ultimate issue of our day? It sounds like, just from what we’ve talked about so far, that we probably would agree that it is at least in our part of the world. Yeah. You know, many, many people would say, and I wouldn’t disagree with this at all that, you know, the the reality of suffering is one of the biggest challenges to faith that you ever come across. And that’s related to this, particularly among those who are, as you said, Not married or experienced same sex attraction that there’s a particular form of suffering in both of those categories that is related. And, you know, I had another conversation just recently where, you know, and we’re seeing it in the numbers, right, a research study that came out this week that Christianity generally and evangelical Christianity in particular, the People’s favorable view of that is is plummeting in many ways. And many times it’s because we’re talking about a theology of abundance and abundant life and in and having the joy that that you can’t have anywhere else but then telling people well, that’s only for certain ones, and that there’s not going to be any real sense of oneness and there’s not going to be any real sense of creating something that matters like chill will run, if, unless you’re married and, and living in that context, and we’ll get to that want to get to that in just a moment. But it really it really does feel like in our part of the world, at least, and maybe even broader than this, that this the issue of, of, of who we are and who we are sexually as it relates to faith is perhaps the predominant issue in front of us as a culture, and in terms of developing ministry would would that be accurate? In your opinion?

 

Lou Philips  20:33

Yeah, I mean, this is why I do what I do. The most important thing to me is the gospel, I want people to know and love the Lord, because once you receive His grace, He ruins you. I mean, he just like, there’s nothing better. There’s nothing greater to this life than, and you can get thrown everything. I mean, I just had one of the hardest years of my life. And God’s still good. And I don’t say that cheaply. I say that in tears in my with my, in my eyes, because it’s like, man, there’s just still something profoundly stunning about who he is, and his goodness, in the midst of awful the brokenness of this world. But yeah, I would say if people aren’t even willing to entertain, so it’s almost like there’s been so much muck and mire thrown on just this, this picture of Christ. And I’m just trying to wipe that off. I just want people because he’s the only way I can change someone’s life, I can’t do it. I can’t, like I can’t. Only the Holy Spirit can get someone to fall in love with who Jesus is, and like what he has done for you. But there are I think we do play a role in trying to remove those obstacles. And I would find, I would say, this is the biggest obstacle and I love that you taught it to suffering, because it really is, it’s down to that. That original apologetic question of just like, Ah, this life is hard. How can God be good? And is this God even? Is this even someone I want to serve? Is this someone who wants to worship in light of the life I have? And it definitely plays a role into the sexuality conversation. And I think Christians, if we don’t, I think we’re actually the stance that most I would say older Christians have is like, they almost like have a, let’s not let this ideology come our way. Like, let’s just hold the fort and make sure that this this LGBTQ narrative or whatever, it doesn’t come into our church, and I’m like, Oh, you’re, you’re missing it. It’s not, you’re getting flanked in the back, you’re losing the next generation. Because it’s not about not letting a theme like an ideology come in. It’s about winning with a better narrative. This is not going to be this is not going to be an argument one, in logic, in theological persuasion, I promise you, it’s going to be a conversation, one in beauty. Because just even 20 years ago, what was the apologetic question? It’s like, well, Christian is kind of stupid. You know, I’m saying like, it’s your kind of dumb if you believe if you’re a Christian, that’s not how Gen Z thinks about it. And in fact, many of them are, if anything spiritual, they believe in something, what they would say about Christian Christianity is kind of ugly. I don’t know if I want and we have to show them it’s actually stunning. And stop, stop trying to take the way we normally do apologetics and do it the way we want to. It’s like, no, no, but how are they receiving information? And yeah, I think it’s like, if we don’t take seriously, we have to close the back door. Because there’s a far more compelling narrative coming from affirming churches and more progressive churches who are saying, Actually, God just wants you to find love. And look, I’m sorry, I don’t want to say that. Chiefly. I know there are those who are affirming Christians that they would argue through scripture, I do not find. I do not find their arguments from Scripture very compelling. I find them to be Yeah. But yeah, I don’t mean to say that in a harsh way, because I understand this very hard issue. And I do want to respect those who have tried to, to find ways or evidence in Scripture to say God’s actually opened up the parameters. I just have not found them to be. Yeah, I’ve not found them to be even remotely compelling.

 

Mark Turman  23:51

Yeah, and I love what you said, you know, is, it’s not about arguing people to a better to a better doctrine. Yeah, as much. That’s a that’s a part of it. You know, certainly that’s a part of it. But, you know, our identity and understanding in and purpose and focus of faith definitely has to have a doctrinal foundation, but that often gets wrapped in an intuitive story and narrative of beauty. And you know, so I wrote recently can beauty save Christianity will Christianity is about what is most beautiful in the person of Christ and in the end in the perfect will that He has for us, you know, that His will is good, perfect and pleasing. Which really kind of comes around to a couple of things. One is, I heard a social commentator David French say recently, that it appears that the sexual revolution if we just let’s just say that we that we date, the sexual revolution that gets so much airtime to the mid 50s 1955 1960, you have the approval of birth control 1960 You Have the arrival of Hugh Hefner, and Playboy magazine, and then everything that characterizes the 60s and into the 70s. But we’re seeing, in many ways, some real evidence that that quote unquote sexual revolution is burning itself out not for Christian because of Christian, all because of Christians offering a better narrative. It’s just burning itself out on the merits of its own emptiness, right. There’s a book that you may have come across by Christine imba, called rethinking sex. She’s a, she is a believer, but she’s a Washington Post reporter. And she goes, it’s a hard book to read, not a Christian book, it’s very much a secular view of sexuality. Yeah, but her point, her whole point of this is, is that regardless of what anybody thinks, or believes about sex, we really have been treating it and are now treating it in the most ultimate trivial ways. Which really, we get you to, to comment on this really parallels what you see when Paul gets to the city of Corinth is for all of our sexual confusion and an exploration were nothing compared to what was going on in the Roman culture, and particularly in a city like Corinth. And Paul walks in with a better story. He walks in with a war with a more beautiful narrative that I generally would summarize in this way, he walks in and says, Look, God is there is a God in heaven. He really loves you and cares about you so much that he came after you. And he is all about giving you safe sex, if he’s calling you to that he’s also about pro sex. He’s the one that created it for divine purposes that bring us to him. But he’s also about no sex as a legitimate alternative, that is not sick at rate, but just simply as a different path to incredible beautiful purposes that He has for you. And when when the Corinthians hear this, they aren’t repelled by it. They’re they’re awed by it. And they’re drawn to it as Oh, this could be something else. Is it? Am I on the right track? In your thinking?

 

Lou Philips  27:23

Oh, absolutely. And yeah, look, I’m not a theologian, nor historical commentator on these things. But yes, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it’s, we read Corinthians with modern eyes, not realizing what, in many ways, what’s going on even the context he’s speaking in, and not like, how radical of a statement he’s saying then as well, like, if this radical then as it was today, and we think it’s like, oh, like, we almost think it’s only like what he said, then it was like, No, they were like, Oh, this is good. Like, it’s like, no, no, he says he’s completely doing a paradigm shift for an entire worldview of that time. It’s like, wait to see what you mean. I mean, just speaking, let’s just say for for the women, that context, men, that is a context where it’s like, your entire value is found in your ability to produce a family to have children. And he is Christianity actually freed. These women from this, this harmful view that says your value is found in whether you’re a mother or not? Or even tremendous? Like, how many how many? How many boys do you have? How many who’s going to carry on your name? Christ comes in this isn’t a no, or Well, I mean, Paul, through Christ comes in and says, no, no, we’ve missed it. That’s not what’s going on. And yes, they were, like, taken aback, and it seems like he had to do some corrective measures measures to because some people were like, Fine, great. I don’t have to do things I want to know. It’s like, it’s not that marriage is bad. Don’t I’m not saying that marriage don’t don’t look at marriage. Like it’s not this beautiful gift. But just hold them, hold them beautifully together, hold them both equally of saying, both are good gifts by the Lord. But again, singleness in that, in that that timeframe, is, if not more, is just as much as radical as it is today. Because no one thinks that singleness is good, good. The secular world kind of says yeah, so you know, this is good. But they’re the assumption is that you’re still sleeping around. But the singleness from a Christian perspective is like, How can I possibly live? How can life be fulfilling if I’m going to be celibate, and single my whole life? So yeah, I agree with you.

 

Mark Turman  29:19

Yeah. Well, I want to come Yeah, I want to come back with a couple other questions about singleness in a minute but I want to broaden out a moment to just the idea of identity it seems like I keep running into indications evidences commentator, commentators, articles theologians talking about particularly in our part of the world, that we are suffering an incredible identity crisis as a culture and our our understanding of ourselves it broadly, you know, this, you know, we all ask these fundamental questions, who am I? How did I get here? Why am I here and where am I and all of this going those very fundamental philosophical Questions that, that starts in this anthropological question of who am I? And what am I? What does it mean to be a human being? And how, in that conversation trying to think about identity? Well, two things. One is, what what thoughts work? Do you have as that as a, an important pursuit for every person? And then how do you understand sexuality, fitting into that conversation of identity? Because it seems like we’re claiming things as our identity that maybe were never designed to be claimed or used. That category was never designed to be used for that, like, in the case of saying that, we often do this with our politics, right? I am a I’m an independent, I’m a Republican, I’m a Democrat. And they people start owning that at a level of identity that it was never really designed to serve. Yeah. Is that part of what you’re dealing with in your work? Yeah, for sure.

 

Lou Philips  31:02

I mean, look, we’re, we all want to worship anything but God, that’s just the heart of man, right? We want to find it and what is what is worshiping God? Or what is worshiping? Isn’t God but finding your identity in that thing? I think it was. I think it’s Soren Kierkegaard. Maybe don’t quote me on this. But I think he said, like, the definition of sin is finding your identity and anything other than what Christ says essentially that and I was like, what a beautiful way to describe what is it? Sin is literally that it’s like, it’s finding the meaning purpose, the thing, that thing that says, This is why I have this is who I am. And finding that outside of who God says you are. So if Christianity is true, he says he’s created us ultimately for himself. Right? You’ve been designed by him to have intimacy with Him. This is why you’re actually a sexual being. We’ll see. Again, this is nothing no one likes to talk about why are we sexual? Or asexual simply for men? No, no, because marriage is an opening point to him, because so then why did He create a sexual beast create a sexual and sexual means ultimately, to pursue interviews intimacy with Him, because you can have a lot of intimacy, no sex, but you can have a lot of sex and new intimacy, they’re not necessarily related. They can be in his design right within the biblical grounds. And there can be a beautiful intimacy there again, that points to him. But you are not sexual simply because you are designed to have sex. It’s actually it’s greater than that. And I think we see that through the life of Christ and even other early church fathers and mothers but this idea of identity, what a shallow place to find your identity. And and I tried to tell young people all the time, like, Oh, you’re so much bigger, you’re so much grander, you’re so much more more beautiful, then then your sexuality because here’s, here’s the danger of this one. We’re all sexually broken. But no one no one walks around fully sexually hold. We know that from the fall. We know that like even in my heterosexuality, like a lot of people like Oh, heterosexuality is God’s design. It’s like, well, to an extent think about that, like the original design isn’t that I wouldn’t be attracted to all women, or of people other than that’s not his design, design, would they be that I would be attracted to one maybe, right? But I have the ability of lusting after women that are not my wife. So there’s, there’s, like 99% of my heterosexuality is actually broken. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t just have like desire for that. But if you have your, if you have your identity found wrapped up in your sexuality, man, it’s really hard not to separate who you are from both the things that have been done to you, the mistakes you’ve made in that realm. And that sucks. That’s like, I’m sorry, it’s harsh language, but it just does. And it’s so it’s such a broken place to find like, don’t don’t place your identity in something that’s like it’s already a fragile place. God says, find in something greater let me heal that. But and yes, I would say it is the place that especially the youngest generation right now is finding their identity. But to me that the the safest place, the most profound place to find your identity is in who God says you are. And to actually believe the Christian walk is every day believing what the gospel actually says. It’s I have to it and every time I choose sin, it’s because I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it’s true. I don’t believe that he loves me. I don’t believe that I’m the son that I’ve grafted into his family, and that I stand, like no condemnation and his cross ultimately, because of what Christ has done for me that’s so hard to believe every day. And we turn to something like sexuality. And it’s not it’s not crazy to me that we choose sexuality actually, if because if scripture is true, and ultimately, sexual intimacy was designed to point to the greater complementarity of God and His people right, that that beautiful connection and of that beautiful unity and diversity, if it has the if the pendulum has the ability of swinging to something so stunning. And it we can try to model that. Well, we’ll no doubt it has the ability of swinging and being one of the most harmful things to and that’s why we all walk around with so many scars and it’s a hard thing to to To dissect as like, Man, how can this thing that’s so profoundly beautiful also be a thing that causes me so much pain. But that’s the nature of God’s just like every good thing. If you use in its good context man has has a profundity to it. It’s like, wow. But man, if you want to use it outside its context it can. And we’ve all we’ve all failed in that some way. There’s there’s differing levels of degrees, it’s fine. But like, none of us are actually in the category of like, no, no, we’ve done it perfectly. Whether you waited to you’re married, to have sex, all that it’s not nobody walks into that perfectly. But yeah, I really just challenged people to not find and struggle, but I understand why it’s so difficult not to find your identity and sexuality in light of the world we live in, and everything around you is saying this is who you are. It’s going to take we have to, it’s gonna be a form of reformation, reforming what we what we believe about the nature of who we are.

 

Mark Turman  35:51

No, absolutely. So that takes me down the road to a couple of questions in this area. One, one of those is do you think on on a theological as well, as a practical basis? One of the questions that often comes up in conversations, like what we’re having is okay, so is sexual sin worse than other sins? Whether you whether you want to answer that is theologically or practically or both?

 

Lou Philips  36:20

Oh, sure. Yeah. No, I think it’s a great question. It’s very clear that sin, all sin is an assault on God. Just flat out, right. Well, Senator, I would say two things about sexual sin, we’ll maybe three, first, it is a little. It is a little odd, because the consequences of sexual sin, the consequences of sin in general, which is very, God can forgive you a sexual sin. But again, we walk around with the harmful effects of sexual so for example, our I was addicted to pornography for 10 years of my life, I actually still walk around with some of the consequences of that. versus, you know, maybe I did a bad thing when I was in middle school, or like I said, a bad word to a friend like, I don’t walk around with that pain anymore. So is it is it worth note, they’re both they’re both an assault on God. But I would say the consequences of sexual sin in the here and now can feel larger. And so that’s, I think, why we feel it like that. Then there’s, and Paul says, uniquely, and I think he gets it when he just says, looked at the sexually immoral, they don’t just sin against God, they actually sin against their very personhood, which again, we all know like, that is not like, you don’t have to be Christian to know what that means. And what that feels like. Because we get it we the lived reality of our sexual sexual being, it’s just like, yeah, why? Why doesn’t this feel hold? Why do I feel so slightly off? And again, even in the most beautiful Christian marriages? I know that did it so well, we all feel that way. But then the last thing I’d say in this, which I don’t think enough people talk about is most sin. Whether you’re Christian or non Christian, we can just pinpoint why it’s sin like and and that it’s always said, lying, lying is sinful, why it’s bad, you shouldn’t do it. And it also like subverts this idea of integrity or like cheating, gossip, all that it’s just bad. It’s always bad. Are there areas maybe God can accommodate? Sure. Is sex ban? Depends, right. There’s a context that is good. There’s a context that it’s sacred. And then there’s a context that it’s outside of like, that’s unique. And we need to recognize that because this is why we wrestle so much with it, because there’s a context for it to be good. And then there’s a context review that we’re almost every other thing we talk about our lives, it’s just always bad. It’s not in his design. And so for us to not think of it uniquely, I think it’s actually problematic to lump it into everything else. Because if you lump it in everything else anyways, and why don’t you just treat it like every other sin? It’s like, well, because it’s a little different. Actually, it is a little different. Because there’s a time and a place where it’s good. And there’s a time and a place where it’s wrong. And that that to me. That to me shows me why it’s such a complicated issue and why we struggle to communicate what he’s like, Oh, no, we don’t want to, like I do the churches as overemphasize this, like, well, we’ll take sexual sin very seriously. But then the other thing is like, well, pride and gossip is not that big of a deal. And that’s just, that’s just sinful. That’s just we just have to repent of that. That’s not what God’s asking us to do. But there is a part of this I need to be like, because if we don’t meet if we don’t explain that, again, we’re gonna miss this next generation because I tell people all the time, like one of the one of the wrestle one of the problems we’re dealing with right now is a very skewed definition of sin. And I don’t think we realized that because so when I did this, I was speaking in Boston, I was talking to these Christian teens who just fundamentally disagree with everything I had to say they just like you’d like I just don’t think Christianity should say that. I finally just said, what should God belief like fine just your God for a second? What you got to believe about sexuality? In the what they said was like pretty profound. They said, if it doesn’t hurt anybody, I like it. And my desire for words and Nate will then it should be okay. And it actually stumped me for a second because the only way I could debunk it was actually by going to extremes. And I don’t like doing that. I think Christians were so quickly like, Well, what about like, pedophilia is like, No, I don’t want to do anything. Like, it’s like, it’s a good point. And then I just said that I realized, well, well, this actually comes from a definition of sin that says, sin is doing bad things that harm myself or others. Therefore, if I don’t see harm, it’s not sin. But that’s not the definition of sin. So according to the, you know, the garden, the sin is an assault on God. It’s like God, I’m God, and you’re not. And I get to decide that sin is only ever secondarily harmful. Right? You know,

 

Mark Turman  40:40

if we don’t, and we don’t want to talk about the first, as you said, the first reality of sin, which is an assault on the glory and goodness of God, yes, we can. And, and, you know, we done that way down. We just terribly do this. And we say, Well, God said it, that settles it, which is absolutely true. But is way too trivial to explain this point when, and you see it right. You see, when when David is confessing and repenting of his sin with Bathsheba, he, he doesn’t say I sinned against Uriah or I sinned against Bathsheba or I sinned against my wife where I sinned against the nation. He doesn’t say any of that. Right? He says, God isn’t against you, and you only that I have sinned. Yeah. And now, obviously, he’s not. He’s not diminishing or dismissing all of the earthly, real pain and problems that he’s created by his choice. But he does get it letter perfect in terms of what the real problem with sin is, right?

 

Lou Philips  41:42

Yes, I was at Mark, I love that. You said I love going to that pastor. And no one does that. Because you’re so right. It should we should read that and be like, What the heck, like, this dude raped a woman and then had her husband killed. And he has the audacity to say, against you and you alone, God have I sinned. But we miss it. If we think that he’s diminishing, he’s actually upping the ante. He’s actually taking it to the full level of us. And he’s like, because when I sit when I sinned against them, I actually came against you. And once I’ve come against you, God, what else is there? Like that is a stunning view of repentance, of not just simply saying, Oh, it’s like, no, no, God, I have I have assaulted the very God who created me, it’s like, Oh, that’s beautiful. But yes, he gets in. And I don’t think we have that concept. Because in this is why it’s dangerous. What happens when you do have two friends that are really lovely people, two men who are married, and so much of common grace is applied to to two men who are now living together and sacrificially loving each other and all these things, and you’re like, Man, I don’t see any harm. Why is that bad. And that comes down to because you think sin is doing bad things. And actually sin is is a is a, it’s an assault on the very the authority of the God who created you, which is saying, I don’t actually agree with your design, I don’t actually agree with the parameters you’ve given me. So I’m going to do this myself. And look, sometimes sin, you don’t see the harm. It’s just a fact, just something I think all sin is harmful. I think Olson brings a storm. But sometimes it can be years, decades, even to your whole life. And I think if we start with like, if I don’t, if we that will, that will naturally see some harm. If if it’s sinful, man, you’re going to lose, you’ll lose your faith quick, and you’re gonna start deconstructing it into something that’s very pseudo Christian, which is more sense, like, just taking the passage of Christianity that you like, think of loving is careful in doing none of the passage of Christ that are quite harsh and hard to hear as Christians. We don’t do anything with those because we’ve created ultimately a God in our own image, which is, again, the definition of sin. So,

 

Mark Turman  43:40

yeah, which is, which is where I think you get to this very thin wire of consent, right, like the students you’re talking to in Boston? Yeah. Christine Embiid talks about this in her book, that that we are now moving as a culture. And maybe we are in some way saying, Well, okay, well, I don’t just need to be completely without, you know, structure or boundary. But But the fundamental boundary that the culture seems to be settling on, is this simple idea of consent. Yeah. And you get and the way you get to that comfortably, is to have a trivial understanding of what sin is, right. And like you said, you know, the Bible even says that, you know, sin initially appears to be good, it appears to have no negative consequences, which is why we would choose it right. Yeah. But the one immediate consequence of any sin sexual or otherwise, is that you have assaulted and confronted and and attacked the goodness and grace of God Yeah. So that is immediate. We may be blinded to it, but it is immediate. And then the, the other more earthly consequences do come trailing along after that, but if we lose the first part of that, then we are sucked into this idea of well consent is the only thing we need to be really worried about. Yeah, my consent is something pleasurable and that is desirable for me, and no obvious implications negatively to others. Therefore, that’s the rule of thumb we need to use. That’s how we get there, I think, in some ways. Yeah. So let me let me take this a step further, because this conversation keeps coming up as well, when it comes to this question of AI of identity, and it comes to the question of sexual confusion and brokenness that we all have in one way or another. Is it? Is it right or wrong? In your opinion? Some people are having really robust conversations around, I should I should never refer to myself in the context of my sinfulness. Yeah. And, and my identity, ie, is it right or wrong to ever say, Well, I’m a gay Christian? Yeah, if we, if we accept the premise that the word of God teaches us and tells us that homosexuality is wrong, let’s just use homosexuality for this moment. We could use adultery for this in a lot of other things. But there’s this robust conversation that seems to be growing, that we’re not speaking correctly. from a biblical perspective. If we ever say, Well, I’m a gay Christian, that’s identifying yourself with that. That’s, yeah, that’s wrong. Re wrongly framing your identity, according to something that is biblically wrong. Yeah. Are you running? Are you running into this?

 

Lou Philips  46:34

Oh, yeah. 100%, everywhere we go. And, yeah, so I understand that I understand the hesitancy from a lot of Christians. And I have friends on both sides of this. And I would just say both, like, let’s just take the side beat like Christians that are either identify as gay Christian, or same sex tried to Christian, but both of them would adhere to a historic Christian sexual ethic, saying, marriage is a one flesh union between a man and a woman, and all sexual activity outside of that would be sin outside of his design, right that they both hold that but it’s an identifier, like it’s a language and a language thing. And this is where I just think as Christians, we need to be nuanced. And we need to be gracious. And this is what I mean by one was something that we say all the time, but the center thing is actually my colleague, Greg Coles, maybe precedences. Language is shared social space, right? This is language in many ways is is fluid to an extent that it just like, gosh, there are things that we’ve said 50 years ago, that means something very different now. And so I want to know what somebody means by when they say, I’m a gay Christian. Because this concept of orientation, like what does it like? That’s not a concept in Scripture, we don’t have that coming. from scripture, what we do have in Scripture, we have, again, five passages of Scripture that even mentioned same sex, sexual behavior. But that’s what it’s referring to, is same sex, sexual behavior, every time it’s not actually talking about an identity or like, Have I been attracted to men my whole life, say, say Aye? Aye, same sex attracted or gay, depending on how somebody identifies? Like, that’s not what as far as I can tell, as far as I mean, those that I am in circles with, that’s not what Scripture is referring to, I’m willing is because it’s actually talking about the act every time it’s not actually talking about the identifiers. And what does it mean, because we would even divide up the orientation into four categories, there’s, there’s the orientation of saying, like, when I’m attracted, it tends to be for this sex. Then there’s attraction I’m for I’m currently feeling attraction, at this point for a certain person, then there’s lust, which is then getting into the sinful part of attraction, taking it further and then there’s actually sexual activity. We kind of just draw a line in between those, those two, two on each side. It’s just saying, here’s something over here that we aren’t completely in control of now. If it’s outside of God’s design, there’s absolutely room for repentance. If they’re saying like, I don’t want these are all those types of things. But that’s the question that we need to deal with. The question that all of us have to wrestle with with our sexuality is How do I glorify God with it’s how do I how do I submit my sexual desires, my orientation, everything to him? I see all that to say this, I have friends on both sides would say like, man, hi, I only identify as same sex attracted because I find it problematic to say gay and then I have friends over here that are like, No, I say I’m a gay Christian. Because as a form of evangelism, like I think of my friend Zack. He lives in Austin, Texas. He’s evangelizing LGBTQ plus people all the time. If he says he seems such attracted, guess what? Game over conversation is done. So like when they come up to me like I’m gay. So Christian has nothing to do with us or while I’m gay as well. Let’s talk about so for things like that. I’m sorry, because he’s not he’s not identifying with sin. He’s not identifying with like, actually the physical act, he’s just saying, No, when I have attractions I have, when I do have attraction, I have them for people to same sex but ultimately within his design. I’m not supposed to act on those and they’re gonna there’s gonna come a day where I don’t have it, but right now, that’s where I’m at. So that’s where we’re on that. I understand. I really do understand people on both sides that would say this is probably don’t do that. Or I guess more on the one side, you’re saying no, you’re identifying with sin. I Don’t find that as nuanced, I don’t find that as helpful. And I don’t actually see the I don’t actually see the legitimate argument from Scripture either. I think it’s actually imposing a modern western view of what we think like bringing orientation into scripture, when it’s actually not speaking on that. It is saying very clear things and we want to make sure we say those things. But I don’t think it’s right for us to say that the identify the qualifier is what’s wrong in that, but again, I have friends that disagree with me on that I just, I end up just letting people say, What’s the most helpful thing for you to identify as long as you’re willing to live within the Christian historic ethic? Or history, historic Christian sexual ethic? But yeah, I know, maybe there maybe you wish I had more of a hardcore answer on that one. But that’s kind of like that’s kind of where we’re at on that. And we just tried to say, look, yeah, it’s a it’s a nuanced thing. It’s a complex thing. But let’s, let’s, let’s make sure we understand what people are saying when they say a word. Right? That’s, that’s what I want more than more than anything else. And the reason why I don’t identify as, yeah, the reason why I don’t, because people are like, well, you don’t identify as heterosexual Christian was like, this doesn’t need to, there’s no, it’s just not necessary. Like, I’m not, it’s not part of like, we’re somebody who’s been wrestling with this or like, or it lives in, you know, the Christian realm where it’s like, this is actually kind of a big deal, because the church doesn’t know what to do with you. It’s like, as a heterosexual, I don’t even have to identify it as because like, it’s just assumed, right? They’re actually in a category.

 

Mark Turman  51:25

Yeah. And like I said, I love you. I love the example that you gave of your friend and Austin, you know, that, at some point where it’s easy at times to get down a theological rabbit trail that does have significance to it, but really won’t have significance in the conversations that we’re most concerned about, and that we’re wanting to have with people who have been dealing with, you know, homosexual desire, same sex attraction, and they’re wondering, Does God hate me? And does do all the Christians? Exactly. You know, if you’re, if you’re at that point, when you start trying to be, you know, super precise in your conversations, and in your words, you’re probably, as you said, shutting the conversation down before it can ever get started. Yeah. If if you’re overly worried about those kinds of, of issues.

 

Lou Philips  52:17

Yeah. And sorry, one thing I didn’t say, which is actually pretty important in this conversation, both terms actually come with baggage. And I don’t think Christians think that they think gay comes with baggage because it’s like, well, what do you mean by that? Are you talking about like, living out that lifestyle, which I think is very problematically What does lifestyle mean? It’s I’m heterosexual, what’s my lifestyle? You know, so it’s just a weird way of describing it. But same sex attraction, I mean, that that comes from the ex gay movement. And regardless of where you’re at on that one, I think there’s there’s, there’s, there’s legitimacy to say a lot of harm was done there. This concept, not everything. I know that there are some people that are indebted to that movement and say it actually helped them. But there’s a lot of people walking around with scars on that, because they were essentially told like, man, if you really loves Jesus, I mean, he’ll change this and no one

 

Mark Turman  53:03

that really likes to have enough faith just

 

Lou Philips  53:04

about Yeah, and so there’s, there’s actually some baggage for people there. So both terms do not come like, Oh, this is this is a Christian term, same sex attraction. It’s not necessarily a Christian term, it was actually it can be used that way, but just have the grace for people to know that, like, both terms can be problematic on both sides. And so just make sure you know, what somebody’s referring to that way, because especially the LGBTQ plus, like, they see same sex tracking, like, gosh, ex gay, they think something’s fundamentally broken with me, I want nothing to do with whatever they’re about to say like, that’s that is the response to this. So it’s like, Ah, is that helpful? Because that’s actually not what you’re trying to communicate. And you got to remember, men communication is not what said, it’s what’s heard, right? And want to make sure people are hearing us otherwise, don’t ever hear the gospel. So for me, and again, you get this because apologetic I’m all about evangelism. I want people to know, Jesus. So whatever I get to do, it’s like, okay, without actually folding on my conviction, and I just I don’t find that to be a conviction. For me. It’s not a conviction point of like, whether they use the term that way, right? No, but again, I get the complexity, I understand. I really do understand why for some people, like no, this is problematic. So let’s just peel it back a little bit. Let’s, let’s take our time.

 

Mark Turman  54:10

Let’s get, let’s try to get down to the practicality of that. And that’s, that’s kind of where I want to end in a few minutes. We just have a few more minutes. But just what I want to get to that because one of the biggest proponents or one of the biggest things I love about the Center for faith, sexuality gender, that you and Preston and your other colleagues are working on is just getting meaningful conversations around these issues started in the context of the church. And I want to come back to that in a second. But before we do, I want to loop back around just for one more second around this idea of singleness. And yes how, how you are thinking and advocating for a more biblical, proper understanding of singleness, I know you’re calling Gregg Coles works in this area as a single Christian wrote an interesting, very powerful, very beautiful Blog Post this week about this. Yeah, yeah. And, and I, you know, I have, I have people in my church have missionary from my church, that that constantly this idea that, you know, well, you’re just kind of to be pitied or you’re just kind of in this second class, you know, you’re going to have a good life with Christ, but you won’t have the great life you could have had, yeah, how are you coming around and being able to teach a more appropriate picture because it’s just not there yet. Now just is not there. And if we met Jesus on the street, or we met Paul on the street, or probably a number of other great, incredible Christians throughout, throughout history, we would just pat them on the head and say, Well, maybe someday you’ll find that right person, and you’ll get to the ultimate level, right? Yeah. Yeah. Our How are you working with that on a project?

 

Lou Philips  56:02

You know, this is actually one of my favorite things to talk about more than anything else, because I actually think this is the crux of the entire argument. More than any other part of it is like if we don’t get singleness, right, we have nothing to offer, actually the LGBT, LGBTQ plus community, because for some of them, celibacy will be the option. Celibacy may look, there’s mixed orientation relationships, there are those who would say God has actually changed my affection, minorities, all those things. But for many of them, it’s gonna be a life of singleness. And you know what? All of us have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. But you know, for the heterosexual I get to do that in community for that same sex attraction or gay Christian, they do it alone. And that’s not what we’re designed for. And so when I’m speaking to young people, I’m always just like, Look, I know it’s hard to believe both by because the church and then also from society, but I loved my season of singleness. I mean, I’m not joking. I was like, I grieved actually getting into a relationship, who is now my wife. And it wasn’t because it wasn’t good. It was because I lost a good thing. I gained a good thing. But I also lost a good thing. And there was actually an opportunity. And I actually remember calling my friend Sam, Sam Albury and just talking to him, and I was like, I feel so weird asking you this, but he’s like, I kind of feel. I’m like grieving singleness. And it’s like, I’m sorry, because I know you’re probably gonna leave that Sam in the same sex attracted. And that’s how he says it. I was like, I kind of feel bad because like, I don’t, I don’t mean to be like, Oh, look at me like, and you may never get this. And he is just some really encouraging words. He said, Lou, actually, what you just said to me was like, really, really beautiful. Because what you what you just told what you communicated to me is that I’m not missing out that my life is not sub Yeah. And it’s just like, Man, this is we have to unpack this. And it starts with our dollar tree with marriage. It does. If we if we don’t have if we don’t start pulling that off its pedestal will never view will never view singleness, the way it should be. And I say this, if any young person listening, I am okay. I’m on this side of marriage now. Wait until I was married to have sex, everything. I think marriage is a stunning gift. I am so grateful that I met. But I can honestly tell you, I am no more fulfilled, no more existentially fulfilled no more that inner angst to myself no more fulfilled than I was before. Because it has my my relationship with a with a woman or my wife had nothing to do with whether fulfillment was in my heart, because that has to do with who Christ is. And, and I try to challenge every single person’s like, there’s something stunning to be had of just being you and him. And Paul touches on him by Paul says he’s like, look, the unmarried man, the unmarried woman, man, their, their focus is just the things of the Lord. And I can genuinely say, in being in marriage, now I feel I feel what he’s talking about in where he says, actually, you know, the married man. Now he’s got other responsibilities. It’s not just how to how to please his wife has an inside man, I feel that and it’s not that it’s worse. It’s not that it’s not good. It’s different. And there’s something really, really profoundly beautiful about that. But it’s hard when the church and the world is saying you saying to you it’s not true. And so that is where my biggest challenge to churches is like, if you want to know you’re doing this, well. Ask a 45 year old single in your congregation. What does it feel like to be single here? They’ll give you a real honest, because you’re past that age. That and it’s like, oh, maybe now it’s like, oh, well, you know what’s going wrong? And we need to make sure that that’s not a reaction that we actually just come alongside our brothers and sisters that are single and just saying, God be glorified. And how how are you leveraging your singleness right now to the glory of his name? Because and hit and I think the most pivotal pastor the last thing I’ll say on this, everything changed for me when I read Matthew 22. There is no marriage in the resurrection that should that should perplex us as Christians. When we talk about marriage. Like this is my this is my forever person. What in the world is going on in the resurrection? Why are we married? It’s because your marriage was never about you. And it was never about being an attorney. It was actually always about pointing to the one that that will exist. And there’s something that singleness represents now that points to the sufficiency of Christ now, where the marriage points to not the relationships that will satisfy you, but to the one that will. And if we don’t start showing people that shame on us, I truly I say that shame on us as Christians because we have perverted the gospel into ultimately this thing that says like marriage and family fulfill will fulfill you and yet we know it not to be true. And it’s so sad because it’s actually it’s a it’s like a stench in the nostrils of so many people that are single and they don’t want anything to do with the church. And then just like, so yeah, I think we have to dismantle the only way we’ll actually uphold singleness is we have to we have to get marriage off its pedestal. It’s not just simply about raising singleness, you actually have to that slow, methodical way of like, what are the ways you and I shape our life? Like do singles in our lives? Are they? Are they part of our families? Like, do they go on vacation with us? Or they kind of see this weird uncle kind of? Like, do they have a place at our house? Like all that kind of stuff? If we start doing that? Well, I think we could show people the livability of following Christ here. And now not just simply regression,

 

Mark Turman  1:00:59

yeah. And to your, to your point, right, when we don’t do that. The, the, really, when we idolatry arise marriage and family in this way, it’s really a kind of a twisted form of the prosperity gospel is what it is. Yep. It’s, it’s a false gospel that says, if, if you will do this, then God will give you that, yeah. And it becomes this transaction. of, of, well, I want to be prosperous. And so and I want it I want it all to be about my prosperity. My pleasure. So I’m gonna strike this deal with God. And and that’s that’s prosperity, false gospels, what that is, but you know, as you said, referencing particularly First Corinthians seven, I love the way that Paul uses the word calling here, that God says some of you are called to oneness with me through the context and pathway of marriage. Others of you actually uses a lot more words, a lot more verses a lot more airtime. And he kind of gets right up to the point of saying singleness is better, but kind of stops and says in Tulsa says no, they’re both good. They’re, they’re only good. Either one of them is only good, if it is always focus on with and through the person of Christ and the pathway, the Gospel, that’s the only way any of it is good. And, and it’s not that one’s better than the other, it’s that they’re both good gifts from God, you just need to pray and ask God, which one is the which path is he asking you to take? And there is there’s equal amount of oneness and unity, both with him and with others. And there can be equal amounts of creativity and beauty and wonder. It’s not that one is second rate to the other. And we have to elevate that conversation in every good way that we can. And I think I think you’re right, you just have to go down that way, both practically and more importantly, theologically, real quick, as we close out. Yep. Help people understand briefly, maybe give us the elevator speech. This is what the Center for faith, sexuality, and gender is all about. The presentation.

 

Lou Philips  1:03:05

Yes. So our mission is to equip Christians in the church, to engage in questions of faith, sexuality, gender, and to do so with theological faithfulness, yet courageous love. And we do think those things go together, you cannot be theologically faithful, if you are not courageous, loving, and you cannot be courageously loving, if you’re not theologically faithful, they have to go together. And so we tried to do that both through some of our conferences, we have four video online curriculum, I cannot recommend them enough. I wasn’t even a part of them. So this is even a plug for me. I say this completely. And she was like CRC. They are phenomenal. We have one for leaders and pastors, we have ones for youth. We have some for just the congregation. And we even have some for parents, parents who are whose kids are now identifying as LGBTQ plus, what does it look like to love your child now? So yeah, if you have any more questions about that, please feel free to reach out to me. The only say my email now or you just again, you’re comfortable doing that? Absolutely. Yeah, my email is Luis L. owe you is at Center for faith.com. I would love to hear from you any way that I can. I’m the director of church relations. So I’m going to I’m trying to help Christians use our stuff, ultimately, start moving that needle, move that needle to start having these conversations because we ultimately care about this conversation, because people are behind those conversations. And those people are creating the image of God. So we’d love to hear from you in any way that I can help. I really do think the center is doing something profoundly, profoundly helpful, beautiful for the church today. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Mark Turman  1:04:28

And I can I can give my own personal testament to that, like said came across the center for sexuality, faith, sexuality and gender which you can find at Center for faith, no spaces just center for faith.com and came across the work of Preston and others at the center. And I brought some of his material brought one of those courses into my church and in mostly what we did is we spent a lot of time defining terminology and talking about what it means to not only use words correctly, but to engage conversations with love, as you were talking about. And you know, one of the biggest things that came out of that multi week experience with the people that I taught was they were just so thankful that I brought the conversation up. Because one of the things I’m very passionate about is the church has to claim this care this territory, it has to reclaim this territory. And we’ve surrendered it for too long to the culture. And we have a better beautiful, more beautiful story to tell, and to offer. And, and we have to offer it now in the immediate sense. But we also need to do it in a longer term sense of in there’s some people working in this space, where we teach biblical sexuality in every one of its facets in age appropriate ways. From from birth to adulthood. Yes. And we’ve got in these, the courses that y’all have helped us get started down that road. There are others that are providing materials as well. But we have to reclaim this territory because we absolutely have a more beautiful story to tell in price.

 

Lou Philips  1:06:11

Yes. And I love it. I love everything you just said there. Mark couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Mark Turman  1:06:16

We hope it’s helpful to you. If it is please rate review us on your podcast platform, please share this with others. We know that there are a lot of people who are wanting to be in this conversation both in and outside the church. And we hope that you’ll share it on our behalf. Thank you for being a part of this blue. Thank you great conversation. Look forward to talking with you again very soon.

 

Lou Philips  1:06:37

Yeah, pleasure to be here. Thank you so much. God bless you.

 

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