Sexuality and Gender

Are Progressive Christians Countercultural?

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 01/09/2024

In a recent Instagram video, a progressive Christian (also an “exvangelical” and deconstruction coach) claims he and other progressive Christians are not capitulating to culture by advocating for pro-gay and pro-trans theology. Rather, he argues, men and women who identify as LGBT have always been at odds with culture. They’re the ones who have been historically oppressed, discriminated against, and targeted with violence. Heteronormativity is the current standard. To be a progressive Christian, he concludes, is to be countercultural. In fact, he claims that his position is courageous and consistent with the gospel.

Part of what he’s saying is true. The United States culture has historically been opposed to homosexual sex and transgenderism. But in the last couple of decades, there’s been a massive shift in attitude towards men and women who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Today, two men or two women can legally marry and adopt children. Men and women who identify as gay or transgender can openly serve in the military. There are LGBT members in Congress, the White House staff, and many other parts of the government. Most LGBT characters in television and cinema are positively portrayed. A celebrity who “comes out” as gay, non-binary, etc. is celebrated and featured in magazines and interviews. People who identify as LGBT are included in advertisements on television, billboards, theaters, and airplanes. There’s even an entire month of the year that’s dedicated to celebrating “pride.” I could continue this list of examples, but it’s evident that major portions of our culture are pro-LGBT.

Given today’s culture, there is nothing countercultural about being a “straight ally” or advancing pro-gay or pro-trans theology. That’s what the culture wants you to do. That’s what you’re expected to do if you are on “the right side of history.” If you claim you’re a Christian but then celebrate LGBT people, you’re not bound to get any pushback from society. You’ll be applauded. There’s nothing courageous about that.

It would have been countercultural for Progressive Christians to argue for LGBT rights over the last 2,000 years when homosexual sex and transgenderism were almost universally condemned. Perhaps if they were advancing “marriage equality” in the 1800s or fighting for transgender women to use a woman’s restroom in AD 1100, then it would be more believable that they are a countercultural group. 

Instead, progressive Christians look suspiciously in lockstep with culture. It wasn’t until the 21st century that we began to see Americans embrace homosexual sex, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism. That’s precisely when progressive Christians began to criticize other Christians, advance pro-gay and pro-trans theology, and now—incredulously—claim they’re not capitulating to culture.

Pro-gay and pro-trans theology is unbiblical. It’s closer to culture than it is to Christianity. There’s nothing courageous about advancing what the government, Hollywood, big tech, and the courts already advance on this topic. The only culture that progressive Christians seem to be countering is genuine Christian culture. Maybe that’s what they believe is courageous—turning against orthodoxy. Whatever it is, it’s not consistent with the gospel.