Discussion Questions — Contemporary Sexualities & Gender Identities

The following is a list of discussion questions composed for a CrossWay Community Church small group, Christ & Culture, for use throughout November and December 2018.


Same-Sex Sexuality:

  • What does the Bible have to say about same-sex sexuality?
    • Is same-sex sexuality sinful?
    • What Biblical or theological questions do we have about this issue?
    • If someone is — as one might say — “born gay,” than how can we condemn their same-sex sexuality as sinful?
  • Can someone be same-sex attracted and Christian?
  • Is same-sex attraction a choice?
  • Is same-sex attraction itself sinful? Why is this distinction (if valid) important?
  • If someone is same-sex attracted and becomes a Christian, what should we expect their discipleship and sanctification to look like? For example, should we expect their same-sex attraction to go away? Why or why not?
  • Should same-sex attracted Christians embrace the label or self-identification of being gay (e.g., “gay Christian”)? Why or why not?
  • How should we evaluate the cultural phenomenon of linking one’s sexuality with one’s identity?
  • Are same-sex attracted individuals, by nature of being same-sex attracted, called to a life of celibacy?
  • What can we do as a church, as believers, to better help those in our midst or those in our community who are same-sex attracted? What has the church previously done well in this matter? Done poorly?
  • Many same-sex attracted Christians who choose a life of singleness can be susceptible to a sense of loneliness. How can we as a church help, encourage, and be more mindful of them?
  • Self-professing Christians disagree on this question — is homosexuality sinful? Is this an area where we can just “agree to disagree” and still maintain unity?
  • How can we help children (our own, or those in our church) navigate this topic in a culture that is increasingly affirming (and with insistence) of same-sex sexualities?
  • What should Christians make of “gay marriage”?
    • Should Christians support or oppose the legalization of gay marriage?
    • Should Christians attend their homosexual friends’ wedding ceremony?
    • Should Christians in certain professions (e.g., bakers, photographers) refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages?
  • How should we counsel someone who is in a homosexual marriage (according to law) and becomes a Christian?
  • How can we winsomely communicate our convictions to non-believers?

Transgenderism & Gender Dysphoria:

  • What should we make of “gender dysphoria”? Is transgenderism a choice, sin, disorder, and/or valid expression of self-understanding?
  • What does the Bible have to say, if anything, about gender dysphoria or transgenderism?
  • How can we help those experiencing gender dysphoria or self-identifying themselves as transgender?
  • Should we accommodate and use individuals’ “preferred pronouns” even if they conflict with their known biological sex?
  • How should we counsel someone who becomes a Christian and previously underwent sex reassignment surgery?
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Evangeline

As I did for Jubilee, I wanted to write a brief explanation of the meaning of Evangeline’s name.

As with Jubilee, her name comes from the Bible (although — not intentional — neither name is used as a name in the Bible). Her middle name (like Jubilee’s middle name, Helen) is after one of her great-grandmothers. Alice (more commonly known as “Busia”) is Ann’s maternal grandmother.

Evangeline Alice is due March 24th, 2019.


Abstract: The name Evangeline comes from the Biblical word “gospel,” meaning “good news” or “good message.” The Christian gospel – the message at the very heart of Christianity, and the essence of our faith – is that God has accomplished our salvation and is restoring his reign (“the kingdom of God”) in and through Jesus Christ. At the center of this message – the gospel – is Christ’s death and resurrection. On the cross, Christ bore the full weight of sin for all those who trust in him for deliverance. And in his resurrection, Christ defeated death, achieving new life for his people. This is certainly good news! It is by faith in this message that one experiences salvation.


The name Evangeline derives from the Latin word evangel, which has its origin in the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion), frequently translated into English as “gospel” or “good news.” As a verb (εὐαγγελίζω – euangelizo), the word form means “to herald, proclaim, or preach the gospel,” from which we derive our word “evangelism” or “to evangelize” (lit. “gospeling” or “to gospel”).

From what we can tell, the word has its origins in the realm of military victories. So we read of messengers (“evangelists”) being sent from battle to return and report (“evangelize”) the good news (“gospel”) of an army’s victory. Or, for instance, in the first-century b.c. Priene Inscription from Asia Minor, the empower Augustus is described as a “savior” for ending wars and on account of the peace he brought to the region. Consequently, his birth is lauded with great expectation and hope, heralded as “gospel” (“good news”) for the world.

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX), Isaiah notably uses this word to describe the coming restoration that God has in store for his people. So, in Isaiah chapter 40, after twenty-seven nonstop chapters outlining God’s judgment of the nations (Isa 13-39), relief finally breaks through with God’s announcement, “Prepare the way of the LORD!” (Isa 40:3). God is coming, and he’s bringing salvation with him! Now go out and proclaim it (lit. “evangelize”; Isa 40:9).

When we come to the pages of the New Testament, we find that the New Testament authors appropriate this word to describe the mission of Jesus and what he’s come to do. So, for example, in the opening words of Mark’s gospel we read, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). And immediately following, Mark casts John the Baptist as the eschatological (end time) figure who, citing the words of Isaiah, is preparing the way for this LORD (Mk 1:2-3; cf. Isa 40:1-5).

In other words, Mark intends for us to understand the mission of Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies – the content of which is the “good news” (gospel) of which Isaiah spoke. Mark intends these Isaianic promises to set the “categories of expectation,” if you will, for who we understand Jesus to be and what he’s come to do. Jesus has come to reinstate God’s kingdom, to accomplish the good news (gospel) about the arrival of God’s kingdom through Jesus (Mk 1:14-15; see the expression “good news of the kingdom” – Mt 4:23; 9:35; Lk 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; Acts 8:12; 20:24-25). So too, in Luke 4, Jesus presents himself as the Servant of the LORD from Isaiah 61 who, anointed with God’s Spirit, has come to “bring good news (gospel)” to those in need (Lk 4:18; cf. Isa 61:1).

The “gospel,” in short, is the favorable report (“good message”) of the rescue and restoration wrought by Christ in accordance with his redemptive mission. It is God’s message, a message with its origin in God himself (“the gospel of God,” see Rom 1:1; 15:16; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thes 2:2, 8-9; cf. Gal 1:11-12), concerning Christ (“the gospel of Christ,” see Mk 1:1; Acts 8:35; Rom 1:1-4; 10:17; 15:20; 16:25; 1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 4:4-5; 9:13; 10:14; Gal 1:7; Eph 3:8; Phil 1:12-18; 1:27; 1 Thes 3:2; 2 Thes 1:8; 2 Tim 1:8; 2:8), anticipated in the Old Testament (Rom 1:2; 16:25-26; 1 Cor 15:3-4), and characterized by grace (Acts 20:24; Col 1:5-6). It is called “the word of truth” (Eph 1:13; Col 1:5) and a “message of peace” (Acts 10:36; Eph 6:15), and is the ground of our hope (Col 1:23). At its heart, it is a message of salvation (Eph 1:13)– that is, (1) its message details the accomplishment of our salvation in the life and ministry of Christ; and (2) it is a conduit of salvation – i.e., when believed it results in the salvation of its hearers. As Paul says in Romans 1:16, it is the “power of God resulting in the salvation of everyone who believes” (cf. 1 Cor 1:18; 15:1-2; 2 Thes 2:13-14).

As such, the early Christian tradition understandably came to call the church’s written records of Jesus’ life and ministry as “gospels” (i.e., “the gospel according to,” or as told by, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”). In other words, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are four complementary “tellings” of the one gospel (see e.g., Mk 1:1). They tell us the story of Jesus, which is the story of the gospel. They are the gospel in narrative form.

And as each of these gospel accounts centers on the last week of Christ’s life, and with it, his death and resurrection, it comes as no surprise then that, when we come to the New Testament’s epistles, the gospel message is summarized in the cross and resurrection. Christ’s sin-substituting death and death-defeating resurrection are at the heart – the center – of the gospel. In fact, we might describe them as the very essence of the gospel (Acts 17:18; 1 Cor 1:17). Paul summarizes the gospel for us in 1 Corinthians 15:

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel, which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, and by which you are also being saved…. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…. (1 Cor 15:1-4)