There are practical answers to these kinds of questions (questions I keep being asked), but there is a deeper underlying one we need to identify: that is the question of righteousness.
Everyone wants to be righteous, and very often the marker of what constitutes this is connected to sex. This is the case whether the marker is a Victorian lady never revealing her ankles, a New Guinea tribesman wearing nothing but a penis gourd, or Barclays Bank changing its logo to the Pride colours. These three examples look very different, but in each of their specific cultural contexts they define the line where righteousness is seen to run. Observe the standard and you are righteous, defy it and you are shamed.
This is all completely in line with what scripture teaches us about righteousness. Paul writes that,
Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness (Romans 10:3).
Paul (a Jew) was writing this about the Jewish people who had confused substance with appearance and were depending on their own effort rather than God’s grace. The principle applies to all peoples though: every culture seeks to establish its own righteousness because everyone wants to be right, and to be seen in the right.
That is what all those Pride flags are about. In our cultural context the number one way to gain ‘righteousness’ is by displaying Pride. So when Christians with a biblically faithful sexual ethic ask how we should respond to this stuff we need to understand that the foundational issue is about righteousness. What we’re arguing about is how to be righteous.
The gospel claims that the only way to righteousness is through Christ, and that this comes as a gift to all who receive it by faith,
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).
We come into conflict with our culture when we are asked to conform to cultural measures of righteousness and refuse to because that would be idolatry. It is easy to read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the abstract and say what a wonderful example they provide for how to live as a Christian. Much harder to refuse to participate in something one’s employer is demanding for righteousness sake that would compromise true righteousness – especially if that refusal could cost you your position.
If we’re going to stay faithful, and cling to true righteousness, we’re going to have to learn that winning can look like losing.
I preached on all this a couple of weeks back. If you’re interested, it is here.