Posts tagged ‘Culture’

Christianity, Culture, and Comparison

ChurchThere can be little doubt that Christianity is losing its place of primacy in American culture.  According to a survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, Americans are becoming increasingly less religious and less willing to affiliate themselves with any particular religious tradition.  As The Washington Post reports:

The “nones,” or religiously unaffiliated, include atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe in “nothing in particular.” Of those who are unaffiliated, 31 percent describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up six points from 2007.[1]

A six-point increase of the religiously unaffiliated in eight years is not only statistically significant, it is an irreligious coup d’état.  Consider this, also from The Washington Post: “There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans (23 percent) than Catholics (21 percent) and mainline Protestants (15 percent).”

Even among those who self-identify as religious, identifying as a faith does not necessarily correlate to the practice of that faith.  One of the most striking demographic factoids of this presidential election cycle has been how evangelicals who attend church more frequently differ substantially in their candidate preferences from those who attend church less frequently.

Clearly, the religious terrain of America is experiencing tectonic shifts.  What was once America’s so-called “moral majority” is now an apprehensive minority.  So what is the way forward?

Myriads of options have been proposed and tried.  Some people want to fight the secularizing spiral of American culture while others are more amicable to bargaining with and even capitulating to it.  Still others, such as Rod Dreher, argue for a limited withdrawal from American culture, eschewing what they see as the culture’s inherently dangerous facets and foci.  In many ways, these tensions and postures toward the broader culture are nothing new, as a read through H. Richard Niebuhr’s famous book, Christ and Culture, will reveal.

As worthy of discussion as all of these options may be, in this post, I would propose that it is just as important that we look at what we should not do as it is that we look at what we should do.  Here’s why.

At the root of our anxiety over shrinking Christian cultural influence is our penchant to compare.  We look at the political arena and we notice that we don’t wield the power we once did.  And we compare the influence we had to the power we have.  Or we look at demographic studies and we begin to notice that non-believers are on the increase while we’re on the decrease. And we compare the assembly of the despisers to the flock of the convinced.

Martin Luther has some great guidance when we are tempted toward comparison:

They surpass us by so many thousands, and all that we have seems to recede into nothing. But do not compare yourselves with them. No, compare yourselves with your Lord, and it will be wonderful to see how superior you will be … They would easily overcome us, but they cannot overcome that Christ who is in us.[2]

Comparing ourselves with the world as a starting place for responding to the world is dangerous business.  It can lead us to an arrogant triumphalism if the world seems to be persuaded to our side.  But it can also lead to an angry despair if the world rejects us.  It is little wonder that the apostle Paul once wrote, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves” (2 Corinthians 10:12).  If we are to compare ourselves with anyone or anything, it should be with the One who reminds us that even if we are a “little flock” in this age (Luke 12:32) – with little power, little influence, and little prestige – we are a “multitude that one one can count” (Revelation 7:9) in the next.

What strikes me about so many of our responses to Christianity’s diminishing cultural influence is not that they are wrong per se, but that they flow from the wrong place – they flow from anxious comparisons that grumble over Christianity’s diminishing cultural capital rather than from faith in Christ’s commandments and promises.

Perhaps it’s time to work less out of fear and more out of faith.  Perhaps it’s time to stop comparing and start trusting – not because the decline of Christianity isn’t sad, but because the victory of Christ is certain.

_________________________

[1] Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion,” The Washington Post (5.12.2015).

[2] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 30 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1967), 289

March 21, 2016 at 5:15 am 2 comments

A Little Lesson on Divine Providence

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org

Credit: SeniorLiving.org

Last week, in my personal devotions, I read through Numbers 26, which recounts a census taken near the end of Israel’s 40 year wandering through the wilderness. Here’s a taste of the bean counting:

The descendants of Gad by their clans were: through Zephon, the Zephonite clan; through Haggi, the Haggite clan; through Shuni, the Shunite clan; through Ozni, the Oznite clan; through Eri, the Erite clan; through Arodi, the Arodite clan; through Areli, the Arelite clan. These were the clans of Gad; those numbered were 40,500. Er and Onan were sons of Judah, but they died in Canaan. The descendants of Judah by their clans were: through Shelah, the Shelanite clan; through Perez, the Perezite clan; through Zerah, the Zerahite clan. The descendants of Perez were: through Hezron, the Hezronite clan; through Hamul, the Hamulite clan. These were the clans of Judah; those numbered were 76,500. (Numbers 26:15-22)

I won’t blame you if you found yourself skimming over these verses. Biblical censuses and genealogies are items we tend to skip so we can get to the good stuff. Names we don’t know and numbers we don’t care about can quickly lull us to sleep. But as snooze inducing as these stilted sections of Scripture might sometimes feel, my commitment to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible still calls me to see God’s merciful hand at work. And God’s merciful hand is indeed at work in Numbers 26.

Numbers 26 represents the second census in this book. The first one is in Numbers 1, near the beginning of Israel’s wilderness wanderings. From Numbers 1 to Numbers 26, approximately 38 years have passed. These years, it should be noted, have not been particularly pleasant ones. There has been grumbling (Numbers 11:1-6; 14:1-4), dissension among Israel’s leaders (Numbers 12), a refusal to enter the land God had promised to Israel (Numbers 13), defeats in battle (Numbers 14:40-45), rebellions (Numbers 16), and plagues (Numbers 21:4-9; 25). This is in addition to the natural and normal difficulties that come with camping out in a desert for decades on end. Yet, by the time all is said and done, the population of Israel between the first census in Numbers 1 and this census in Numbers 26 has remained remarkably stable. The population has decreased by only .3 percent. It turns out that for all the hardship Israel experienced and for all the sin they committed, God, out of His providence, took good care of His people. They endured even when, by all accounts, they should not have.

As remarkable as God’s providential care for Israel over 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was, it pales in comparison to God’s providential care for His Church. Through persecutions, hostilities, scandals, and political and intellectual assaults, the Church has not only endured, it has grown. As this map elegantly visualizes, what began as a band of twelve now claims nearly a third of the world’s population. Forget a .3 percent decrease. How about an 18.3 billion percent increase?

I realize that in our day and age, the remarkable story of Christ’s Church can sometimes be hard to recognize and remember. I was talking to a friend just the other day who wanted to know what we, as Christians, needed to do to beat back the encroachment of secularism. I understand his concern. If you’re not at least a little unsettled by the state and trajectory of our culture, you’re not paying attention. Still, I think secularism has a lot more to worry about than Christianity. After all, secularism can’t claim the history, the increase, or, for that matter, the truth that Christianity can.

In Luke 4, Jesus is preaching in His hometown of Nazareth. His text for the day is from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

The Jews of Jesus’ day understood Isaiah’s words eschatologically. The believed God would set right what was wrong with the world on the Last Day. This is why, immediately after Isaiah talks about “the year of the LORD’s favor,” he speaks of “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). Judgment Day, Isaiah says, is coming. But Jesus, when He preached on these words, interpreted them in a way no one expected.  After reading from Isaiah, Jesus announces, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Huh? How could this be?  Judgment Day had not yet come.  The world had not yet been set right.  The poor had not been made rich. Broken hearts remained. Israel was still under captivity to the Romans. Prisons were still open. And the Lord’s favor, though it may have been touted by the Jewish religious leaders as a theological truism, still felt distant as a practical reality. How could Jesus say Isaiah’s words had been fulfilled right then and there? Because Jesus knew the census numbers from Numbers 1 and Numbers 26. Jesus knew that God was taking care of His people even when life felt like a wilderness wandering. Jesus took the long view of history and saw God’s fingerprints all over it. Jesus knew God’s providence. And Jesus knew the setbacks and sin of this world are no match for the promises of God.

May we know what Jesus knew. After all, what Jesus knew not only gives perspective when the world feels tempestuous and hostile, it gives hope.

August 17, 2015 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Thoughts on Christianity and Secularism

Old ChurchIt’s hard to deny that secularism is on the ascendency in America. Indeed, even if one points to the fact that roughly the same number of adults believe in God now as did in 1947, secularism’s intellectual and cultural capital in broader society has steadily increased. As James Davison Hunter deftly notes, the raw numbers of a thing don’t always indicate the influence of a thing. He explains:

With cultural capital, it isn’t quantity but quality that matters most. It is the status of cultural credentials and accomplishment and status is organized between the “center” and the “periphery.” The individuals, networks and institutions most critically involved in the production of a culture operate in the “center” where prestige is the highest, not on the periphery, where status is low.

And so, USA Today may sell more copies of newspapers than the New York Times, but it is the New York Times that is the newspaper of record in America because it is at the center of cultural production, not the periphery, and its symbolic capital is much higher.[1]

Secularism’s proponents may not be large in number, but a great number of them are certainly at the center of our cultural production. And they are working hard to move Christians to the periphery. Even more, secularists are working hard to shift the center of Christianity itself to something that is closer to their way of thinking, even if it is not in perfect alignment with it. This is why there are great numbers of what could be called “secular Christians” who, though they may pay certain homage to the artifacts of their faith, are largely either politely mute or openly in disagreement with much of what historic Christianity confesses.

So how are Christians who are more traditionally orthodox in their confessions to respond?

In my sermon two weeks ago, I outlined three ways that Christians have sought to respond to secularism’s inroads over the past few decades. They are worth rehearsing here.

The first is that of capitulating. There are some Christians who, be it happily or reticently, capitulate to many of secularism’s tenets. These are the “secular Christians” of whom I spoke above. So, for example, one of secularism’s primary tenets is tolerance, or, stated more forcefully, relativism. In secularism’s creed, one religion’s claims cannot be truer than another religion’s claims unless, of course, that religion’s claims conflict with the claims of secularism. Christians who capitulate to the secular tenet of tolerance may speak of their personal path to God as through Christ, but will deny that Christ’s claims are exclusively true for everyone. There must be other, equally true, paths available to these people. These Christians thus capitulate to secularism’s tenets of tolerance and relativism.

The second response to secularism’s inroads is that of cloistering. There are some Christians who, horrified at secularism’s ascendency, immerse themselves in a Christian culture that breezily and probably unknowingly separates itself from broader culture with its many secular entailments by creating its own subculture. The Christians listen to Christian music, read Christian books, and frequent Christian businesses while looking with skepticism at what they perceive to be the irreversible corruption of broader cultural trends. They cloister themselves off in hopes of maintaining more “traditional” values.

The third response to secularism’s inroads is that of conquering. Christians who conquer are fully engaged in what is popularly known as “the culture wars,” launching a virulent apologetic against everything from abortion to gay marriage to Hollywood. They hope that if they can just take these institutions – as well as their sympathizers – down, usually by political means, a sanctified sanity will be restored to the culture-at-large.

I must say that I am largely disappointed by all three of these strategies for stemming secularism’s tide. I think each of these strategies, though they may have certain useful elements that should be retained, are largely ineffective and theologically anemic. Indeed, Scripture already outlines a strategy for engaging secularism in all its forms and with all its tentacles – that of converting. Simply stated, Christians are to seek opportunities to present Christ’s claims to as many as possible so that as many as possible – including secularists – may come to faith.

One of my favorite insights concerning secularism and conversion comes from Søren Kierkegaard, who wrote:

The world and Christianity have completely opposite conceptions. The world says of the apostles, of the Apostle Peter as their spokesman, “He is drunk,” and the Apostle Peter admonishes, “Become sober.” Consequently the secular mentality considers Christianity to be drunkenness, and Christianity considers the secular mentality to be drunkenness. “Do become reasonable, come to your senses, try to become sober.” Consequently the secular mentality considers Christianity to be drunkenness, and Christianity considers the secular mentality to be drunkenness.[2]

Here, Kierkegaard uses Peter’s speech in Acts 2 as a case study in just how far apart secularism and Christianity really are. Somewhat hyperbolically, Kierkegaard says they “have completely opposite conceptions.” So how does Peter counter the “completely opposite conception” of the secularism of his day? In Kierkegaard’s paraphrase, he admonishes the secularists, “Become sober.” In the Bible’s text, he says:

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Peter calls for conversion. And “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41).

Peter’s call to conversion, it seems, worked. Perhaps his call still ought to be our strategy – no matter how secular our age.

__________________________________

[1] James Davison Hunter, To Change The World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 37.

[2] Cited in Lee C. Barrett & Jon Stewart, Kierkegaard and the Bible: The New Testament (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2010), 89, ftn. 62

March 2, 2015 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

David Wise’s “Alternative” Lifestyle

Credit:  David Calvert for The New York Times

Credit: David Calvert for The New York Times

He’s a husband.  He’s a father.  He’s a follower of Jesus who can see himself becoming a pastor one day.  And, oh yeah, he’s also an Olympic freestyle skier of halfpipe who won that gold.  His name is David Wise.

Recently, Skyler Wilder of NBC Sports wrote a profile on Wise in which he made a special note on Wise’s character:

Wise is mature far beyond his years. At only twenty-three years old, he has a wife, Alexandra, who was waiting patiently in the crowd, and together they have a two-year-old daughter waiting for them to return to their home in Reno, Nevada.

At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult. He wears a Baby Bjorn baby carrier around the house. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road.[1]

When reading such a description of this young man and his family, you can’t help but envision something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting – except that, as Wilder points out, Wise can “nail two double corks wearing baggy pants.”

What strikes me about Wilder’s profile of Wise, however, is not Wise’s fascinating life, but Wilder’s unique title for his profile:  “David Wise’s alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold.”  Wilder calls Wise’s lifestyle as husband, father, and Christian “alternative.”

When Wilder published his profile on Wise with this headline, almost immediately, people raised concerns and critiques.  You can read some here, here, and here.

These concerns and critiques notwithstanding, frankly, I’m okay with the designation of Wise’s lifestyle as “alternative” – not because I like what it says about the values of our society, but because it’s true.  Statistically, there can be little doubt that Wise’s lifestyle at Wise’s age is not mainstream.  As David Weigel of Slate points out:

Wise got married and had a kid at a far younger age than most people. According to data published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the median age of the American first marriage is 26 and a half. The average age for an American bringing the first child into his/her homes: About 25 and a half. So, yes, David Wise is very good at skiing, and he figured out, as the Internet might refer to it, that whole adulthood thing much faster than the median American or median famous Olympian.[2]

The character Wise has and the lifestyle he lives at the tender age of 23 is far beyond his years.  In this sense, it is alternative.  But it is also hopeful.

Several years ago, sociologist Rodney Stark wrote a book titled, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries.  Stark opens his book with some numbers:

For a starting number, Acts 1:14-15 suggests that several months after the Crucifixion there were 120 Christians … Yet only six decades later, Christians were so numerous that Constantine found it expedient to embrace the church … Goodenough estimated that 10 percent of the empire’s population were Christians by the time of Constantine.  If we accepted 60 million as the total population at that time … this would mean that there were 6 million Christians at the start of the fourth century.[3]

The Christian Church grew from 120 to 6 million in just over three centuries.  That’s staggering!  But how did it happen?  Though Christianity’s rise is thanks to multiple factors – not the least of which is the grace of God – one reason Christianity showed such incredible growth is because it offered an alternative.  It was different from the rest of the world.

For instance, in the 160’s, and then again in the 260’s, a series of plagues struck the eastern provinces of Roman Empire.  These plagues were so devastating that during a smallpox epidemic in 165, a quarter to a third of the population died.  When these plagues swept through, most people – scared of becoming infected – took the sick and threw them into the streets to die.  But there was one group of people who, rather than casting the sick out, brought the sick in:  Christians.  Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria during the second sweep of plagues in the 260’s, writes about how Christians responded to these plagues:

Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty; never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and caring for others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead.[4]

While everyone else was casting the sick out, Christians were bringing the sick in – many of them dying because of their efforts.  Christians offered an “alternative.”  And the Church grew.

It is no secret that what Christians teach and the ways in which Christians live is out of step with our society’s Zeitgeist.  We are “alternative.”  But considering the pain, hopelessness, corruption, despair, emptiness, and oppression that our society’s Zeitgeist reaps (for examples, just look here, here, and here), don’t we need an alternative?

So when someone calls us “alternative,” perhaps we should embrace the distinction. For we do offer an alternative.  We offer the alternative of Christ to the mainstream of sin.  And when we offer that alternative, we offer hope.  And hope is an alternative that our world sorely needs.


[1] Skyler Wilder, “David Wise’s alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold,” NBCOlympics.com (2.18.2014).

[2] David Weigel, “Will This Young, Happily Married Olympian Start a New Culture War?Slate (2.19.2014).

[3] Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries (San Francisco:  Harper Collins, 1997), 5-6.

[4] Dionysius of Alexandria in Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, 82.

March 10, 2014 at 4:15 am Leave a comment

More Than A Little

Apple 1I suffer from calorie creep.  It’s amazing.  If I wake up in the morning and commit to making wise food choices, staying away from sweets, and considering the calories of what I put in my mouth before those calories get there, I can usually keep the number of my calories down and the quality of my calories up.  But if I don’t…

It only takes a little.  “I’ll just have a little bit of ice cream for dessert,” I think to myself after lunch.  But it’s amazing how much ice cream I can cram into even a little bowl.  And by the time supper rolls around, a second bowl of ice cream begins to sound awfully enticing.  The more junk food I eat, the more junk food I want.  A little always turns into a lot.

“It’s just a little white lie.”  “We were just kicking back a little.”  “A little bit of fun never hurt anyone!”  It’s amazing how many times I have heard these statements or statements like these as excuses for sin.  How are they excuses?  They’re excuses because they sanction sin by arguing that what they’re supporting is only “a little” sin.  But a little always turns into a lot.

Solomon makes this precise point when he talks about the sin of laziness:  “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:33-34).  Solomon says that sin adds up faster than you think.  And this means that sin can wreak havoc in your life quicker than you think.

When the apostle Paul is writing to the Galatians, he warns them against tolerating even a little sin with a metaphor:  “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9).  Paul says that just like it only takes a little yeast to make bread rise, it only takes a little sin to make wickedness rise.

The other day, I came across some thoughts from the Archbishop Chaput, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, worth citing here:

We live in a culture where our marketers and entertainment media compulsively mislead us about the sustainability of youth; the indignity of old age; the avoidance of suffering; the denial of death; the nature of real beauty; the impermanence of every human love; the oppressiveness of children and family; the silliness of virtue; and the cynicism of religious faith.  It’s a culture of fantasy, selfishness, sexual confusion and illness that we’ve brought upon ourselves …

As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb observed more than a decade ago, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized.”  But even more importantly, she added, “As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant.  The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological” and exclusionary, concealing the worst forms of psychic and physical oppression.

My point is this: Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it.  So it always has been.  So it always will be.[1]

His last paragraph is key.  A little bit of evil will ask you to tolerate it so it can get itself in the door of your life.  But once it gains access to your heart’s hallways, it will grow – gradually, perhaps, but inexorably.  And what it asked for itself in the name of tolerance it will not give to goodness.  For it has come to destroy goodness.  It has come to destroy you.  And that is why Jesus has come to destroy it.

Stand firm, then.  For even a little sin is a little too much.


[1] Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, “A Thread for Weaving Joy,” Voices Online Edition, vol. XXVII, no. 1 (Lent – Eastertide 2012).

August 12, 2013 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

What We Say (And Don’t Say) About Homosexual Practice

When President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC News on May 9,[1] I knew I would get a lot of questions.  And sure enough, I did.  This is why the pastors of Concordia have prepared a Christian response to same-sex marriage specifically and homosexual practice generally.  You can find the response here.  This response will also be published this week in a booklet along with an appendix which will answer some of the questions we have received in response to the document.

I have found this whole brouhaha (to use a technical, theological term) to be fascinating – not so much because of the common, perennial questions I have received concerning same-sex marriage, but because of the way many prominent Christians have responded to this now top-of-mind topic.

It saddens me that when questions are asked, so many Christian people have responded in a breathtakingly nebulous way.  Take, for instance, popular Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans.  In her blog, “How To Win A Culture War And Lose A Generation,” she decries the way in which the Church has responded to homosexuality:

Every single student I have spoken with believes that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality.

Most have close gay and lesbian friends.

Most feel that the Church’s response to homosexuality is partly responsible for high rates of depression and suicide among their gay and lesbian friends, particularly those who are gay and Christian.

Most are highly suspicious of “ex-gay” ministries that encourage men and women with same-sex attractions to marry members of the opposite sex in spite of their feelings.

Most feel that the church is complicit, at least at some level, in anti-gay bullying.[2]

Here, Evans has no problem being sharply specific.  Evans places her finger squarely on the pulse of something profoundly tragic:  Those who are not Christian feel belittled and berated by the way traditional, orthodox Christians have often responded to homosexuality.  They have come across as judgmental, self-righteous, bigoted, and they have even contributed, at least in a complicit way, to the heart-wrenching stories of anti-gay bullying we read in the news.  Tragic.

So what is Evans’ way forward?  Her last sentence, “Stop waging war and start washing feet,” seems to present itself as her proposed solution, but I am still left puzzled.  Though I know there are some bigoted, self-righteous, mean-spirited Christians who delight in waging culture wars, brandishing about the word “sinner” like a weapon of mass destruction while refusing to serve and love according to Jesus’ call and command, I know many other Christians who make it their life’s work to humbly call sinners to repentance while serving them in love.  I see the service part of a Christian’s vocation in her statement, “Start washing feet,” but what about the calling to repentance part?  Are we not supposed to do both?

Interestingly, Evans wrote a follow-up post where she proposes yet another solution:  “We need to listen to one another’s stories.”[3]  People’s stories do matter.  And listening is terrific, yes.  But to what end?  Do we have nothing other than our own stories to share?  Isn’t the glory of Christianity that it is extra nos, that is, “outside of us” – that we have a righteousness not our own to save us from sin all too tragically our own (cf. Philippians 3:9)?  We need to come to grips with the fact that what Jesus says about us is far more important than what we say about ourselves.  His story matters more than ours because His story redeems ours.

There’s an old country song by Aaron Tippin where he sings, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”[4]  I fear that, when it comes to homosexual practice and same-sex marriage, we have abdicated our duty of standing – not charging, not belittling, not berating, not politicking – but just standing – standing in the truth and speaking that truth with grace.

The apostle Paul writes, “Stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13).  Notice the definite article in front of the word “faith.”  We are to stand firm not just in any faith, but in the faith.  This means that we say what the faith says:  Homosexual practice is a sin.  It is one of a million ways that humans have invented for themselves to break God’s law, just like I invent for myself a million ways to break God’s law too.  But God loves sinners.  God loves you.  That’s why He sent Jesus to die and be raised for you.  So repent of your sin and trust in Him.  And please allow me to walk with you and love you as do so, or even if you do not.

There.  Was that so hard?


[1]Obama Affirms Support For Same Sex Marriage,” ABC News (5.9.12).

[2] Rachel Held Evans, “How To Win A Culture And Lose A Generation” (5.9.12).

[3] Rachel Held Evans, “From Waging War To Washing Feet: How Do We Move Forward?” (5.11.12).

[4] Aaron Tippin, “You’ve Got To Stand For Something,” RCA Records (1991).

May 21, 2012 at 5:15 am 4 comments

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