Sexual Identity and the Christian

This Thursday (11-12-15) the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture hosts Mark Yarhouse as he speaks on “Sexual Identity and the Christian: Reflections for Ministry in a Changing Culture.” Dr. Yarhouse, Professor of Psychology at Regent University, directs the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity.Dr Mark Yarhouse He has authored Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends; Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation; and Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministers.  His most recent book is titled Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture. 

Dr. Yarhouse is known for his balanced yet principled approach to counseling in matters of sexual orientation. Here is a brief clip in which he explains his “three-tier distinction” to understanding homosexuality.

Dr. Yarhouse will speak first during the chapel service at Binkley Chapel (at 10 am). Then he will present his lecture at the Bush Center (2nd floor of Patterson Hall) that evening (at 7 pm). Seating is limited, please be sure to register soon (Eventbrite registration can be found here).

The Culture of the Christ-Haunted South

Russell Moore, the president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, begins his latest book, Onward, by telling a story.Onward Russ had a college friend, an atheist, who wasn’t antagonistic towards the Christian faith so much as he found it simply irrelevant. Russ and he had friendly coffee-shop debates about the existence of God, and on a number of occasions Russ had shared his faith with his unbelieving friend. So when his friend, out of the blue, asked Russ to recommend a church for him to attend, Russ thought the friend must have had a Damascus Road-type conversion. His friend quickly corrected Russ:

He rolled his eyes. “I don’t believe any of that stuff,” he said. “But I want to go into politics, and I’m never going to be elected to anything in this state if I’m not a church member. And I’ve looked at the numbers; there are more Southern Baptists around here than anything else, so sign me up.”

I was stunned into momentary silence as he stopped to check out a girl walking past our table. He then took a swig of coffee and continued, “But seriously, nothing freaky; if anybody starts screaming about hell or pulling a snake out of a box, I’m out of there.” (2)

Russ makes his point well. There has been a serious downside to the culture of the Bible-Belt, a milieu he calls “the culture of the Christ-haunted South.” For many persons, claiming to be a Christian became so expedient that it blinded them about the actual claims of Christ.

Russ argues that the collapse of the Bible-Belt provides the Church with a new opportunity. “We ought to see the ongoing cultural shake-up in America as a liberation of sorts from a captivity we never even knew we were in” (7). In Onward: Engaging the Gospel without Losing the Culture, Russ Moore makes the case for a clear-eyed optimism. I think he’s right.

Cross-posted at ww.theologyforthechurch.com