The time for venting, blogging, and hand-wringing has come to an end. The time for action has come. Better yet, it’s time for some faith with works.
We lack a plan for how to do what we actually believe. After he read my column on the firing of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame for being a Bible-believing Christian, my friend Todd Friel of Wretched Radio challenged me to come up with just such a plan. How do we take a righteous stand against unrighteousness, and maintain our integrity as opposed to lowering ourselves to the tolerance mob’s standard at the same time? This is my best attempt at formulating a plan that does exactly that.
1. Pray for your enemies harder than you ever have before.
Whenever I attend a “Pastors and Pews” event hosted by evangelical activist David Lane, I am impressed that it always begins by corporately praying for our leaders—regardless of party and belief system. Prayer doesn’t just spur God to action, but it softens our hearts as well. We will not win this fight by being more self-righteous than our opposition. We will only win this through a holy mixture of humility, boldness, transparency, and mercy. We cannot utilize those at-times contradictory impulses simultaneously in our own strength. That’s why we need to pray.
2. Guard your own integrity.
Nobody likes a hypocrite. Can we live up to the same standard in our own lives that we’re verbalizing? Of course we can’t, that’s why we (all) need a savior. The standard is not what we think. The standard is what Christ thinks, and while he calls us to purity he also offers grace and forgiveness for when we fall. So be honest about when you fall, share your struggles with those around you, and let them see the Christ in you more than they see you. Remember, therefore by the grace of God go I. None of us are righteous. We become Christians because we recognize we are sinners. Even if you were a virgin when you got married, if you even thought lustfully about another person prior to that Christ says you’re guilty of sin in your heart. Homosexuality is not some super-sin there is no forgiveness for. The only super-sin is rejecting Christ’s forgiveness when it’s offered.
3. Love people enough to tell them the truth.
It is not Christian to “live and let live” when someone is dying in their sins. The message of Christmas is that God was not content to leave the world dying in its sins, so He gave us His Son born humbly in a manger to become “God with us.” And that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that through him the world may be saved.” Who among us haven’t reached out to dying friends and families with the forgiveness of Christ before it’s too late? We do that because we love them and fear for their eternal souls. Well, people die suddenly and unexpectedly every day. In particular homosexuality is tragically often a death sentence unto itself. Yes, we can love on people to demonstrate the Gospel, but Jesus wasn’t a mime. He spoke words of truth, and spoke them often and with love. Not our humanistic version of sentimentality and unconditional validation we call “love,” but a sacrificial love that says I will risk your affirmation to reach you, and I’ll even lay down my life for you even if you reject me.
4. Don’t accept the flawed premise.
Do we refer to our friends and family members who cheat on their spouses as “Adulterer-Americans?” Do we have a separate identity box on a sign up form for “liars” or “thieves” to check? Of course not, because we don’t define people by their behavior. We define them by what they are—men or women created in the image of God. And that has far more value than any behavior.
God doesn’t want people defined by their sins. He wants them defined as “His.” That’s why He sent us His son to die the death we deserve on our behalf. Do not play along with the game that says people can redefine their own gender based on a behavioral impulse. The plumbing doesn’t change no matter how one desires to use it. You can put windshield wiper fluid in your gas tank all you want, but the vehicle won’t run no matter how much you want it to. It was not designed to work that way.
There is no such thing as a “sexual orientation.” There is only a “sin orientation.” We wouldn’t let chronic fornicators get away with saying they have an uncontrollable urge to act out, so we shouldn’t let the homosexual movement get away with it either.
Having same-sex desires is not the same as acting on them. I have ungodly desires all the time, but the Holy Spirit protects me from acting upon them when I let Him. There are only two kinds of people – men and women – and we can no more redefine all the meaning inherit in those terms than we can redefine gravity to suit our own insatiable desire to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
5. Follow the Apostles’ example.
As a Roman citizen, St. Paul had certain freedoms guaranteed by the Roman Republic just as we have in these United States. Rather than remain silent when he was falsely accused and imprisoned, Paul asserted his citizenship to invoke his rights. He then used those rights to respond to his accusers’ false claims, and also to proclaim the Gospel. We still have the freedoms and liberties in place to do the same.
With every legal and political avenue God has graciously provided we should assert our right to our God-given rights. And we should present our arguments in a way that proclaims and defends the Gospel—never surrendering the moral high ground of our argument in order to try and win the argument. Of course, in Paul’s day the system ultimately sided against him, and he paid the price of his own life for that. So be it, for great is our reward in Heaven. Paul’s name is still remembered 2,000 years later. On the other hand, the names of the men who persecuted him are largely forgotten.
Meanwhile, civil disobedience may be required. The Apostles Peter and John refused to obey the edict against preaching the Gospel, choosing to “obey God and not man.” Our church fathers were tortured and/or martyred because they maintained their allegiance to God and not government. As Polycarp said before they burned him alive for refusing to recognize government as God, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and he never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior.”
Just because government refuses to acknowledge our God-given rights does not mean we now have the option of sinning against God. Our willingness to obey God and not man reinforces our testimony that there is life after death, and this world isn’t all there is. So don’t fear the one that can kill just the body, “fear Him who after you’re killed has the authority to send your soul to Hell.”