Certainly, diversity is a watchword of our culture today. One's demography is now destiny. News stories of appointments to government offices lead with the gender, race or ethnicity, maybe sexual orientation of the appointee before they report the professional credentials and accomplishments that hopefully justify the appointment. Identity politics, as it's called, has become a part of the "acceptable narrative" of currently ascendant ideology.
Long before the present-day, actually some two thousand years ago, God ordained something called the church, understood in lower case as a local body of believers (and usually non-believers as well), and capitalized as, the Church, the trans-cultural, trans-country, trans-time Body of Christ, the universal Church, the Family of God.
The Church, by definition, is diverse. How can it not be? Thinking of it as the Family of God it includes believers from every kindred and tongue since Adam and Eve.
When people squabble and fuss, including me, I sometimes say, "Hey, we're supposed to get along. Someday we're going to be in heaven with Moses, an ancient Old Testament Jewish leader. He's really different from us. How are we going to get along with Moses if we can't get along with each other now?"
Of course, this anecdote is a bit of a stretch. In heaven we'll be glorified in Christ, so we won't be squabbling.
But the point remains. Heaven is and will be the most diverse place we've ever been. So too, today, in the universal Church, the Body of Christ on earth. It's diverse—Americans, sure, but Chinese, Russians, Iranians, Saudis, "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight." The Church is a picture of diversity, which includes not just nationality or race/ethnicity but gender, age, language, and culture.
Not so, though, at least not always, is the local church in various locations around the world. They are sometimes anything but diverse, i.e., it's been said, "the most segregated hour of the week is 11:00 am Sunday morning." Now this may happen simply because of the area in which the church is located, as opposed to some kind of sinister bias or other effort to exclude people different from those within. But sadly, it is sometimes due to that very thing, outright better-than-thou barriers that morph that particular local church into an exclusionary club. This is not what God meant by diversity, and especially not what he meant by unity of the faith.
Some "progressives," for want of a different word, want to emphasize "inclusiveness" but what they mean by this is identity politics plus sexual orientation and gender identity, a trend now so prevalent it has its own acronym, SOGI. Sadly, what they mean is a different doctrine than the creation order and morality given in the Word of God.
They argue all should be accepted, or included, into the church no matter what they believe or what their personal practices may be regarding SOGI. This inclusive view may sound loving, but in the end it is not. Affirming falsehood, a lie that perpetuates irrationality and unreality does not help anyone, least of all the person caught in a web of confusion and struggle about his or her sexual desires or perceived gender fluidity.
"Love your neighbor as yourself" is the best inclusive statement ever written, but it comes with the rest of God's design. Certainly, Bible believing Christians should reach out to and seek to help individuals struggling with their understanding of their sexuality and sex. There is no place for harsh, arrogant, or self-righteous attitudes much less physical or emotional abuse ostensibly in the name of the Lord.
But Christians who believe the Word of God cannot simply waive aside God's definitions of these matters in the interest of "accepting" the person involved. Accepting them as a person made in the image of and loved by God? Absolutely. Accepting them without condemnation while speaking the truth in love? Yes. Accepting their struggle with dark forces and embracing, defending, or endorsing their choices? No.
So, inclusiveness is a loaded word. Like "tolerance," inclusiveness generally now applies to anything and anyone except biblical Christianity and Christians, particularly on public university campuses and increasingly in politics, media, and in some churches and denominations.
Today, the point of the spear for diversity and inclusiveness is sexual progressivism, SOGI together with the entire spectrum of issues represented in the latest version of another acronym, LGBTQ+. The acronym keeps getting longer because those involved believe gender is fluid, so there is an infinite variety of gender identities yet to be discovered, and in the inclusive sexually progressive view all must be accepted simply because someone says they "identify as."
Sexual progressivism is now also the point of the spear when it comes to religious liberty. Increasingly, expressed biblical views of sexuality are labeled "hate speech." Individuals or even churches who publicly cite biblical views of sexuality are declared intolerant, bigoted, hatemongers, racist, sexist, (fill in the blank)phobic, etc. Under the guise of inclusiveness or "nondiscrimination," religious, especially Christian, convictions and the liberty to hold them and speak or teach them in a free society are now coming under attack. Worse, these views are called unacceptable and thus it is argued they should be "silenced" and the people who express them "cancelled," which can mean loss of freedom of speech, due process, reputation, influence, or employment.
The diversity qua inclusiveness being touted now by progressives is not the diversity God established and blessed either in the created order or in the Church. Current trends toward cultural diversity are divisive centrifugal forces pulling the country and the American people apart. On the other hand, the diversity in the universal Church is a beautiful fellowship based on righteousness and created reality, allowing for blessed unity and peace.
Not long after I'd earned my doctorate and began my first academic position, I realized my education to that point had been lacking in any real historical study of my faith. So I visited with a senior colleague who recommended I read Kenneth Scott Latourette's magisterial A History of Christianity. Published in 1953, this 1516-page book, literally weighing more than 3 pounds, is a comprehensive history of the faith over two thousand years written by one of the eminent scholars of his day. My colleague could not have pointed me to a better source, and I recommend it to you as well.
Lest we end this discussion on diversity, culture, and Church in doom and gloom let me share what I learned from Dr. Latourette's tour de force. The history of Christianity teaches us that while every generation has introduced new error, new challenges to the faith once delivered in the Word of God, no ruler, regime, or ideology, no false religion, no "Ism," nothing ever has or ever will prevail against the Christian Church.
The Word of God is given for all times, countries, and cultures, and in it there is no room for prejudice, bias, racism, idolatry, immorality, or division, only unity of the faith.
In God's Kingdom, the Family of God, the diverse universal Church:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ...Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Cor. 12:12-27).
"Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:1-6).
Dr. Rex M. Rogers, President SAT-7 USA,