For more than half a century, Rousas John Rushdoony and his followers have articulated and disseminated what they understand to be a biblical worldview, based in aspects of traditional reformed theology and both the Old and New Testaments. This worldview seeks to apply biblical law to every aspect of life and to transform every aspect of culture to establish the Kingdom of God. While some components of their vision are so extreme that Christian Reconstructionists are often dismissed as an irrelevant fringe group, other aspects of their vision have taken root in conservative American Protestantism, especially in the Christian homeschool movement, and therefor influenced American conservatism more broadly. This essay outlines that worldview and points to some of those areas of influence.
The churches of the Anglican Communion discussed issues of sex and gender throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. Arguments about gender focused on the ordination of women to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate. Debates about sexuality covered polygamy, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, these debates became intensely focused on homosexuality and were particularly fierce as liberals and conservatives responded to openly gay bishops and the blessing and marriage of same-sex couples. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, the sex and gender debates had become less acrimonious, the Anglican Communion had not split on these issues as some feared, but the ‘disconnect’ between society and the Church, at least in the West, on issues such as the Church of England’s prevarication on female bishops and opposition to gay marriage, had decreased the Church’s credibility for many.
This essay examines conflicts concerning sex, sexuality, and gender within Black churches. Black churches are American Protestant churches with a predominantly Black leadership and congregation. Often serving the oppressed and underprivileged, Black churches have a history not only of providing for the spiritual needs of Black Americans, but also of fighting for social justice. Increasingly, controversies have begun to emerge within these churches, about gender equality, HIV/AIDS and safer sex education, and, perhaps the most controversial, about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. This essay discusses how Black churches have responded to these issues and the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on this response. Additionally, examples of the role of women and sexual minorities in Black church denominations and congregations will be provided.
John Witte Jr.
The chapter analyses the mainline Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican models of sex, marriage, and family and their gradual liberalization by Enlightenment liberalism. The theological differences between these models can be traced to their grounding in Lutheran two kingdoms doctrines, Calvinist covenantal theology, Anglican commonwealth theory, and Enlightenment contractarian logic. Lutherans consigned primary marital jurisdiction to the territorial prince or urban council. Calvinists assigned interlocking marital roles to local consistories and city councils. Anglicans left marital jurisdiction to church courts, subject to state oversight and legislation. The early Enlightenment philosophers, many of them Protestants, pressed for a sharper separation of church and state in the governance of marriage, and for stronger protections of the rights and equality of women and children within and beyond the marital household. But they maintained traditional Protestant prohibitions on extramarital sex and no-fault divorce in an effort to protect especially women and children from exploitation.
This chapter examines the continuities, development, and diversity found among evangelical Christians as they explore different patterns of evangelical response to new and challenging questions relating to sexuality and gender. Evangelicals have generally accepted contraception although there has been some recent opposition. Understandings and responses to divorce and remarriage vary from prohibition to generous accommodation with general acceptance of diverse genuinely evangelical views. Issues of gender and women in church leadership have, however, caused tensions and divisions between more restrictive ‘headship’ views and more egalitarian understandings, raising issues related to biblical inspiration and authority as well as hermeneutics. In contrast to diversity in these areas, most evangelicals remain committed to a sexual ethic focused on marriage and abstinence for the unmarried, and thus opposed to any approval of homosexual partnerships. Although some evangelicals are questioning this, most see change here as unbiblical and going beyond evangelicalism.