Michael Brown on outlasting the gay revolution
Q&A | The head of the FIRE School of Ministry explains how to stand up for a biblical view of sexuality
by Warren Cole Smith
Posted 7/22/15, 08:58 am
Michael Brown leads the FIRE School of Ministry in North Carolina, a ministry that trains and sends missionaries all around the world. He has a PhD from New York University and has written or contributed to dozens of books, including a commentary on the book of Jeremiah in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary series. He’s also written a monumental five-volume set, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. He is one of evangelical Christianity’s most passionate and articulate spokespersons for a biblical worldview on human sexuality. We had this conversation at the offices of the FIRE School of Ministry in Harrisburg, N.C.
Your new book is Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Eight Principles for Long-term Cultural Change. Why did you decide to write it? I felt that believers around the country needed a word of courage, needed a word of hope, needed a word of encouragement. We’re being told, “You lost the culture wars. You lost the battle about redefining marriage and homosexuality and transgender issues. You lost the battle. You’ve made a mistake even taking the stand, just like you made a mistake with slavery and segregation, the oppression of women. You’re misusing the Bible again. Throw in the towel, capitulate and just move on. Do the church work, but recognize you’ve lost the battle, especially the Supreme Court decision and all these other things.” I [wanted] to write the book and encourage believers and say, “This is not the end of any battle.”
You have said the gay rights revolution has the seeds of its own destruction in its success. What do you mean by that? It’s a movement that was based on being bullied and being the victims so that those of us in the “straight world” were the victimizers. Of course, there has been a lot of suffering and pain and rejection to the point of suicide in the gay community. But now, those who were bullied have become the bullies. It is increasingly a bullying, intimidating movement, and it helps wake up the church in that respect. It now becomes the principal threat to freedom of religion, speech, and conscience, and Americans are going to tend to side with the bullied. The whole strength of the movement, saying we’re bullied, rejected, now, they are the bullies. That’s self-defeating.
When no-fault divorce became legal, conservatives said, “This can’t last. It will be just terrible for culture. It will be terrible for society. It will be terrible for children.” We still have no-fault divorce in this country. We have not turned back from that destructive path. Is it possible that could happen with the redefinition of marriage as well? I’ve often said that no-fault divorce in the heterosexual church has done more to destroy marriage than all gay activists combined. We are seeing the fruit of it. This was considered no-fault divorce, “Hey, it’s good for the children.” It turns out it’s the worst thing for the children, but it took a whole generation to demonstrate that. … What this does is it really makes marriage meaningless except for those that really hold to it and esteem it. That’s part of the theme of Outlasting the Gay Revolution. Just like the pro-abortion people will not reproduce the way that pro-life people will. If we’ll live by our principles, again, unless Jesus comes back first, I’m looking at this in a multigenerational way. The tide could turn very quickly. That could happen just like it’s turned the other way very quickly, but I’m looking long-term. Those with healthy marriages, healthy families. Those with kids raised by a mom and dad. Those are the ones that will endure and their future generations will be blessed.
You say in Outlasting the Gay Revolution that we must factor in the God-factor. With God, all things are possible. When I started getting involved with issues of homosexual activism in 2004, I knew we lost the battle then. I knew things had gone way too far in the culture to turn the tide, at least in this generation. But God—my hope is always in the God of the great awakening, the God of the outpouring, the God of transformation. With Him, all things are possible.
You also say, be determined to write the last chapter of the book. What happens is, we get discouraged by polling data. We get discouraged by court decisions. We get worn out. Look, dealing with these issues is not the only thing on our plate. We have all kinds of other ministry things we’re doing in family, in social work, and world outreach. It can wear you out. People seem to have endless pocketbooks coming against us. All we have to do is say, “We’re just going to live right. We’re going to honor God and do what’s right and be determined that when we get to the end of the story, that we write the last chapter on it.” It doesn’t mean we’re trying to put other people out of the picture. It simply means we’ll live by God’s principles until God’s principles triumph on the Earth.
The Bible says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. So why should we worry about nine people in black robes on the Supreme Court? We have brothers and sisters right now around the world being beheaded for their faith. We’re worrying about losing our popularity. They worry about losing their heads. We’re suffering almost nothing here in America by comparison, and yet the gospel continues to thrive in the Middle East and Muslims are coming to faith. [There are] even reports of members of ISIS coming to faith. Why not? That’s the power of the gospel. Even if we lose every single court decision for 10 years, it doesn’t stop the gospel. It doesn’t stop us from preaching right, living right, doing right, praying right. Look at 1973, Roe v. Wade. [It looked] like it was over. The pro-life movement [was] just discouraged and fragmented. It’s stronger today than it was then. We always hear this is the inevitable fall of Christian principles in America, that the younger generation is totally embracing the gays and lesbians, redefining marriage, transgender and so on. … Who’s to say as these younger people get older that their views won’t change? Who’s to say that God won’t intervene in their hearts and lives, or who’s to say that the generation coming after them that sees the mess that was created [won’t] get things right? Fascinatingly, in many colleges around America, we found that the generation of kids coming in to school is more pro-life than their parents. Who would have thought that? With God, all things are possible.
It’s not individual homosexuals that you have issues with. It’s this homosexual agenda, this ideology that attempts to get us to believe an unreality over reality. The unreality is that homosexuality is no different than heterosexuality. The unreality is that homosexual relationships should be celebrated. The unreality is that there are no unusual health risks with homosexual practice, that children raised by two moms or two dads, therefore separated either from their mother or father for life, will ultimately be just the same as those raised by their biological mom and dad. It’s just not true. …
The problem is no matter how far we go it’s not far enough. I tell Christians, they’re doing loving outreach and we’re building great relationships, I said, “I’m glad you’re doing it, but just remember, until you say you can follow Jesus and practice homosexuality at the same time, you haven’t gone far enough. You’re still a bigot in their eyes. You’re still a homophobe,” and that’s the problem. It’s not just a matter of live and let live. It’s that you must now embrace how I live. You cannot even be tolerant. You must embrace. You must celebrate.
Gay activists often talk about the teenage suicide rate among the gay population. We are the most tolerant, the most accepting culture ever when it comes to these issues. Why would the suicide rate be going up? Why wouldn’t it be going down? I quote in Outlasting the Gay Revolution a gay activist in England who looked at the recent health surveys and saw all of the disproportionate numbers for the gay and lesbian population. He said, “Homophobia is not the cause of this.” We recognize that sense of rejection does cause people to get depressed and commit suicide, and we have to do everything we can to overcome that in the midst of our differences. … I tell people the message of Jesus brings life, not death. The message of Jesus brings hope, not depression and fear. The message of Jesus delivers people from suicide. When I’ve put out the question on social media, on our Facebook page, “How many of you were delivered from suicide by coming to faith in Jesus,” I get flooded with testimonies. It’s that homosexuality itself is not what God intended for us. The relationships tend to break up more quickly. There tends to be more rejection. In that regard, more drug and alcohol dependence, the sexual practices can be more dangerous or there are just more different partners. All of that is not conducive to life.
To me the most grievous of all is it’s almost as if these kids are used as pawns. There was a gay activist who sat in my office doing a radio interview with me before we voted in North Carolina against redefining marriage, and he said to me, “If you vote for that, if you vote that marriage is the union of a man and woman, then gay kids are going to jump off bridges.” What a horrific statement to make, and why put that thought in people’s minds?
My greatest issue for years now is not so much the presence of darkness in America but the absence of light. I put all this at our feet. We have compromised pornography in the church, no-fault divorce in the church, not pouring into our kids adequately in the church, lack of gender distinction in the church, lack of love for the homosexual community in the church, lack of prayer for revival in the church. I put this at our feet. If we were shining brightly, these problems would not be existing in our society.
What impact do you want Outlasting the Gay Revolution to have? Just when I tell people the title, I’m seeing it already. They have hope: “Really? It’s not over? We haven’t lost? We don’t have to throw in the towel?” It’s going to instill courage, hope, faith, confidence. Hopefully, [it will] increase people’s burden to pray for those who identify as LGBT. To let them realize, “Hey, if Jesus doesn’t come [back] first, this storm will also pass.” As we do what’s right, that’s our responsibility. Do what’s right. Honor God. We will ultimately be the last man standing.
Listen to Warren Smith’s full conversation with Michael Brown on Listening In.