Naïve evangelicals trying to avoid the reproaches of Christ

Evangelicals, it is time to take heed and be wise. Your must-read of the day is David French, who writes:

Especially among Evangelicals, there is a naïve belief that if only we were winsome enough, kind enough, and compassionate enough, the culture would welcome us with open arms. But now our love — expressed in the fullness of a Gospel that identifies homosexual conduct as sin but then provides eternal hope through justification and sanctification — is hate.

Christians who’ve not suffered for their faith often romanticize persecution. They imagine themselves willing to lose their jobs, their liberty, or even their lives for standing up for the Gospel. Yet when the moment comes, at least here in the United States, they often find that they simply can’t abide being called “hateful.” It creates a desperate, panicked response. “No, you don’t understand. I’m not like those people — the religious right.” Thus, at the end of the day, a church that descends from apostles who withstood beatings finds itself unable to withstand tweetings. Social scorn is worse than the lash.

This is the era of sexual liberty — the marriage of hedonism to meaning — and the establishment of a new civic religion. The black-robed priesthood has spoken. Will the church bow before their new masters?

Here’s the bottom line. No amount of niceness, of social justice advocating, of human-trafficking opposition, of listening to the right bands, of wearing the right clothes, of poverty relief, of reading N. T. Wright—or whatever cool Christian stuff you can align with—will remove the reproach of Christ from you if you choose to follow his teaching on sexuality. You are on a fool’s errand if you are trying. If you are trying to save your life, you will lose it. But if you will lose your life for his sake, you will find it (Matthew 16:25).

Better to have Jesus and his reproaches than to not have him at all (Mark 8:34).

39 Responses to Naïve evangelicals trying to avoid the reproaches of Christ

  1. Travis Henderson June 27, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    “No amount of niceness, of social justice advocating, of human-trafficking opposition, of listening to the right bands, of wearing the right clothes, of poverty relief, of reading N. T. Wright—or whatever cool Christian stuff you can align with—will remove the reproach of Christ from you if you choose to follow his teaching on sexuality.”

    I know you’re very angry about other people being treated as equals, and you were likely typing quite furiously, and your keyboard was probably drenched with your own (very manly) tears, but I think you forgot to put a ‘not’ in there. Shouldn’t it be “if you choose NOT to follow his teaching”?

    • Denny Burk June 27, 2015 at 8:02 am #

      Thanks for reading, Travis. No, it is correct as it is. The point is that following Christ means embracing his suffering. We can’t avoid that suffering if we really want to be his disciples.

  2. Brian Holland June 27, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Excellent post, but I take issue with the word social being used in front of the word justice. I always like to ask the question, “what’s wrong with plain old justice? Why do we have to put the word ‘social’ in there?” We should strive for the biblical definition of justice, and being blind in treating people as equals. The real enemy here is (at least ideologically) is multiculturalism. Unfortunately and tragically the church has never effectively taken on multiculturalism, which is the real driving force behind the gay rights movement, the Bruce Jenner story, Rachel Dolezal etc. In my opinion most Christians are too afraid of being called racist for taking on multiculturalism though, but yet it’s opposed to the Gospel. Ultimately it’s about culture and values and not race, but yet whenever we as a society hold one group of people to a different set of standards than another, we are the ones being racist. I’m accept that saying that there is one standard of right and wrong for all people gets me labeled “racist,” because I take into account the source of those who criticize me as such. The same is true for the gay agenda.

    • Chris Ryan June 28, 2015 at 2:48 am #

      Multiculturalism simply teaches us to respect other cultures. Diversity is a beautiful thing. Everybody’s heritage brings something to the party and those things should be celebrated. Because I embrace multiculturalism I find it easy to find something in everyone to love.

      When I was in college I had a roomie who a closeted gay man. I cringe at some of the things I said about gays back then–and how he had to blithely smile as if what I said wasn’t offensive and mean. It was a mistake and it certainly didn’t win him to Christ. Why would he want to accompany someone like me to church? I certainly didn’t sound like a loving disciple. Fortunately God didn’t give up on me.

      And the reason the church can’t take multiculturalism is because unfortunately Sunday remains the most segregated day of the week.

      • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 10:00 am #

        No, multiculturalism is not about respecting different cultures food, clothing etc. It is ultimately about not being able to say that one culture is better than another. And if that’s the case then we can’t judge the Nazi culture, or the KKK. Some cultures are better, and more just than others. That’s just a fact. The problem with leftism is that it so often confuses race and culture, when in fact, the two have nothing to do with one another.

        And multiculturalism certainly rejects that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong, and that Jesus is the only way to God, as it rejects absolute truth claims.

        • buddyglass June 28, 2015 at 10:08 am #

          “And multiculturalism certainly rejects that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong”

          Perhaps in your mind it does. But I suggest you’ve built a bunch of meaning into the word “multiculturalism” that isn’t necessarily part of the term as used by those who consider themselves supporters.

          • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 10:15 am #

            No I haven’t multiculturalism is closely related to, and almost indistinguishable from post-modernism and moral relativism. Multiculturalism has certainly been a disaster in Europe, where Muslim immigrants have not assimilated. Assimilation has become a dirty word here as well.

            • Chris Ryan June 28, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

              I’m with Buddy on this but concede that at least part of multiculturalism rests on the idea that no culture is better or worse than any other culture. If you want to call that moral relativism, that’s ok. But it doesn’t mean that multiculturalists don’t have our own religions. I wouldn’t tell a Hindu, for instance, that Christianity is “superior” to Hinduism. I would, however, say that acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal savior is the only way to avoid Hell and go to Heaven. The way I see it is that multiculturalism simply embodies Christ’s 2nd Commandment, to love others as we love ourselves…And as far as assimilation goes, who cares? Its a free country. People will assimilate in their own time & space and if they don’t, that’s ok too. We’re all God’s children. So once you’re born, you’re assimilated 🙂

              • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

                Is it OK with you if someone’s culture demands honor killing of women for “dishonoring the family?” I’m just curious as to where you draw the line?

              • buddyglass June 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

                To be sure, some people who advocate multiculturalism also believe “no culture is worse than any other”. These are the folks who defend African Muslims’ right to FGM their daughters.

                Most, however, do not defend that practice. If a culture was totally cool with men marrying 10 years olds, they would not consider their devotion to “multiculturalism” to excuse that practice. That is, they have a notion that some things are “universally wrong”.

                • Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

                  Actually Buddy that’s not the case, in Great Britain for example FGM is illegal, but it’s also not actively prosecuted for fear of offending Muslim immigrants. Again multiculturalism is the culprit. In America we have people who make their living insisting that you can’t hold different blacks to the same standards as other groups. There are people that insist that we should allow areas that are heavily populated with Muslims to have Sharia court systems here, even though it’s directly in conflict with the Constitution. The list goes on and on…

                • Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

                  Here’s an article from the Guardian that talks about FGM not being prosecuted in Great Britain.
                  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/06/female-genital-mutilation-foreign-crime-common-uk

  3. Andrew Alladin June 27, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Living in the USA these naive Evangelicals don’t really have to worry about the type of persecution that Christians in the Middle East, Pakistan, Somalia, etc have to suffer. And by focusing on issues that the secular left finds comfortable (Social Justice, Poverty, Amnesty, Sex Trafficking, Opposing the Death Penalty) they’ll never have to worry about the fall-out from an embarrassing quotation on sexual behavior from Leviticus or Romans.

    No. What really bothers these naive Evangelicals is not winning the approval of the cultural elites: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Slate, NPR, The Daily Beast, etc. It will never happen. No amount of quoting Anne Lamott, or telling everyone how much they love Game of Thrones, Whole Foods, and Starbucks will ever make them acceptable to the arbiters of “coolness.” Maybe they won’t be seen as Jerry Falwell/James Dobson/Kirk Cameron “weird” (something they earnestly want). But they’ll still be seen as “weird.” Christians will never be “cool.”

  4. Jason Kates June 27, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    Thank you for your comments and blogs on this issue. That David French link is great.

  5. buddyglass June 27, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    Seems to me there’s “hate” and there’s “hate”. Contrast how those outside the church view a Tim Keller or a Russell Moore or a Wesley Hill vs. how they view a Doug Wilson or a Bryan Fischer or a Matt Walsh.

    • Brian Holland June 27, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

      I’m confused. I’m not familiar with Doug Wilson or Bryan Fisher, but I agree with Matt Walsh most of the time. Are you implying there’s something wrong with his approach? I’m tired of Christian leaders who are afraid to engage on controversial issues, because they are afraid of being labeled hateful. They are in the wrong profession in my opinion.

      • buddyglass June 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

        “Are you implying there’s something wrong with his approach?”

        I happen to think so, but that’s not relevant to the point I was trying to make.

        Suffice it to say Walsh generates a lot more hatred than the other guys I mentioned, despite all of them being more-or-less “orthodox” evangelical Christians.

        • Dan McGhee June 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

          And there you go – if you use direct, pointed, uncompromising language, you are “hateful.” Lots of the prophets were hated for this very reason. Quit worrying about how the world perceives you. Speak the truth in love. The men you listed, as hated by the world, each speak truth in love. They just do it more direct than you like it, but that’s exactly what is needed in this day.

          • buddyglass June 27, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

            “if you use direct, pointed, uncompromising language, you are “hateful””

            For the record, I don’t cede this point. There’s something about Walsh et. al. other than “using direct, pointed language” that earns them scorn.

            What about a guy like J.I. Packer. Is his language indirect, blunted and compromising? Doesn’t seem so. And yet he’s not on the most-hated list.

            • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 10:11 am #

              Dr. Michael Brown and the late Chuck Colson were on the list of people that GLAD told the media to boycott several years ago. Neither one of them was hateful.

              I think Matt Walsh is one the right track since he managed to have the godless, left-wing website Salon.com write an article titled “Why Jesus would hate this Christian blogger, and you should too.”

              I think too many pastors want to be loved by men, and don’t fear God. That’s contrary to the OT prophets, and the message preached in the NT. It’s been a disaster.

              • buddyglass June 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

                Being on GLAD’s boycott list isn’t the gold standard for hatred. As in “you’re on the list = you’re hated” and “you’re not on the list = you’re not hated”. Presumably there are “levels” to this sort of thing. I’m sure the Westboro guys were hated more than Colson, despite both probably being on the list.

                When I speak to those outside the church who are “social liberals” they seem to draw a distinction between, say, a guy like Packer and a guy like Walsh. They may have the same opinions on an issue, but Walsh makes his living as a provocateur, stating his case in the most incendiary way possible. One of the things people dislike about Walsh is that he seems “smug” in a way other writers (who may share his views about an issue like same-sex marriage) do not. Say, Russell Moore.

                • Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

                  I don’t read Matt Walsh that often, but I prefer his approach to that of most pastors, who seem to think “if we roll over and play dead, maybe this will all go away.”

          • Christiane Smith June 28, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

            the thing is to get the DIFFERENCE between ‘the pointing of the finger’ and ‘truth in love’ . . .

            honestly, I think that may be the problem for many conservative evangelicals, and I think it is something that they can resolve successfully for everyone’s benefit, and yes they CAN use sacred Scripture and prayer to sort this out

            • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

              Christiane, I think (with all due respect) you are asking for the impossible. Jesus promised that if we are truly His disciples, that the world would hate us. That was the main point of the post I believe.

              I am reminded of Tony Perkins, and how kind, patient, and gracious he is towards those who disagree with him on cable news shows, and yet he is vilified as a monster. FRC is labeled a hate group, and gets shot up by a would be mass murderer, and the media ignores it. I truly believe that if most pastors were actually preaching the true Gospel/the full counsel of the Word then we’d see death threats, and a need for private security. Truly these kingdoms are in conflict.

              • Christiane Smith June 28, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

                Hi BRIAN,
                I think we have to try to distinguish between the two.
                ‘The pointing of the finger’ is the result of the sin of pride.
                On the other hand, saying ‘truth in love’ can only be done when it brings the grace of God which changes everything and everyone, and that only happens when the bearer of truth is a humble servant of Christ.

                I think we have to remember what we are about . . . . from the sacred Scriptures, we know that ‘the pointing of the finger’ is not something God wants from us, and that it is rightly interpreted by ‘the world’ as coming from the sin of pride, and is the occupation of mostly hypocrites.

                But ‘truth spoken in love’ is not the same thing at all . . .
                the eastern Christians have a saying, this:

                “If the grace of God comes,
                everyone and everything changes;
                however, in order for it to come,
                we must humble ourselves first. ”
                (Elder Porphyrios)

                • Brian Holland June 29, 2015 at 10:29 am #

                  Christiane, we’re responsible for speaking the truth, but we’re not responsible for the results of how people interpret what we have to say. The Gospel itself is extremely offensive to all of our sinful human pride. We just don’t want to add additional offense by being obnoxious. Again I’m having a hard time thinking of a Christian leader today who is obnoxious on the issues we are discussing (no the Westboro Baptists crazies don’t count), but I am able to think of lots of Christian “leaders” who have cowered in fear of the Left for fear of being called bigots.

  6. dr. james willingham June 27, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    How true! How true!

  7. Rick Menasco June 27, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM Me, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ – Matthew 7:23.

    The most terrorizing words that one who claims he/she is a Christian could ever hear. (Read vs 13-23 for full context)

  8. Erick Erickson June 27, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    You will be made to care one way or the other. Great post.

  9. Chris Ryan June 28, 2015 at 2:35 am #

    You know you could also reverse this: No amount of avoiding sexual sin will remove God’s reproach if you don’t also insist on social justice. The Word calls us to do both things. God will rebuke us if we don’t do both things.

    • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 10:04 am #

      Again why “social justice”? What’s wrong with plain old justice, which is a biblical concept? In a nutshell, justice is about guaranteeing equal protection under the law, and equal opportunities, but you can never guarantee equal outcomes. To try to do so is both dangerous, and wrong.

  10. dr. james willingham June 28, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    Multiculturalism is simply a fact of life, and there are elements in every culture that would be best forsaken and forgotten. In addition, cultures change. Just consider when the missionaries first begin going to the Sandwich Islands and the other South Pacific islands. The women were often topless and, sometimes bottomless, and the missionaries developed the moo moo as a dress that covered the essentials, especially those parts (usually the breasts) that were most objectionable to Western culture in the early 1800s. Then came the change in society in America, and the Bikini arrived. The native people were suddenly faced with a cultural change in the people who had arrived with the “superior” culture. It was all kind of confusing. There are those elements which were crushed or eliminated which actually constituted what might have proven to be a contribution to civilization. Even in Africa and South America there were natives who had knowledge that included the trepanning of skulls to resolve problems involving the brain (blood clots?), methods of cutting and fitting stones which we do not know even to this day, oral records as well as written records which might have provided a benefit to mankind. There was likewise mathematical and astronomical knowledge which would have been of value.

    Early discoveries include Chinese fleets of ships which apparently circumnavigated the globe. In fact a book written by a son of missionaries to China (titled, if I remember correctly, 1322) provided information on one of the fleets having reached America. While the historians tore the work to shreds, there were a few facts that they could not refute. One, as I remember it, was the fact that the author knew the height above the water and the location of the Junks (big ships in this case that could transport way more than the Junks of today) in reference to bays and the positions of those ships in the bays from which the observer made the reckonings to locate the ships or ship on the ocean. The impressive fact is that the author had been a Captain of a British Nuclear Submarine early on in the cold war, a time when the submarine surfaced and the captain had to be able to determine from the stars, etc., where his ship was on the face of the earth.

    The culture of the people of India includes ships that flew in the sky and what were apparently atomic bombs, and, at least, one city was destroyed by an atomic explosion and the remains there are still radioactive.

    If moving rates high on the stress scale, imagine what a change in culture must rate. It is really necessary that we come to an understanding of the Bible’s key to cultural diversity, if we would be able to spread the Gospel to all of the cultures of the world. A biblical culture involves one that is noted for its ability to handle differences, to make adjustments. In short, a good grasp of biblical doctrines which are apparently contradictory on purpose which enable believers to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic, characteristics which will enable Christians to determine, adopt, and maintain cultural differences which are desirable and valuable.

    • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

      Dr. James, I don’t think anyone has a problem with your definition of multiculturalsm. That’s intuitive and common sense. Certainly western civilization has evolved to embrace a whole host of ideas and attitudes that are self-destructive. But multiculturalism as an academic idea is really about how Western Civ (originally founded on Judeo-Christian ideas) is no better or worse than any other society. That’s a best case scenario. Usually it’s about trashing Western Civ and America as backwards and hypocritical, and showing every other culture as superior, including those that still believe in stoning women to death for minor infractions. America has always had the idea of E Pluribus Unum, that we all make each other better if assimilate into the larger culture. I think there’s also the idea that we may have our own cultures at home, but that we become part of the broader American culture when we enter the workforce, or go to school. Nowadays (thanks to leftism) such thinking is taboo, and “unenlightened” and instead of “from many one,” we have multiple countries within a country. The writers and producers of Wheel of Fortune even commented recently that it’s getting harder and harder to do the show since “we have so few shared cultural phrases now that everyone will understand.”

      • dr. james willingham June 28, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

        Brian: There are other ways of looking at multiculturalism than the one you assume, one I do not accept and my score on multiculturalism in my exam for a graduate level position in counseling was 25-30 per centile above the median score, the highest of my scores on the test. And let me say that the only position of real power, the truly strong one is a culturalism that is not afraid of the new or the challenges it might present. This is not based on the fact that they are all equal, and it is not based on the concept of the inferior superior. The real basis is that we operate on the foundation of persuasion with the facts, the truth, the evidence, that can stand the rough and tumble world of disagreement. Case in point, the religious liberty idea first set forth by the General Baptists and then put into precept and practice by the Particular Baptists in Rhode Island by Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke.

        The Baptists are really and truly your first multiculturalists, because they acknowledge the right of others to exist, holding differing views. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the first synagogue in the New World was founded in Rhode Island, and it is still standing and in use at the last account I had. Why did the Baptists do this? Have you ever studied Baptist History and our predecessors and (In some cases) ancestors advocacy of religious liberty along with how much that impressed people, including especially the founding Fathers of America and one George Washington in particular along with Thomas Jefferson?

        The real position of strength is the one that is not threatened by the differences, the position that can allow the differences because it believes that the truth shall win in the end. You might want to read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize and his Nobel Lecture where he speaks of love as being the winner even in defeat and the ultimate winner in the end.

        Personally, I am committed to the Baptist position, because it is multicultural, while maintaining a stance of commitment that will not give up or strike the colors due to overwhelming odds as we are now facing from the forces that the cabal has unleashed upon us. In the end, truth, given its freedom, will win the victory…even if it means death on a cross. We can and will out live, out last, and out die the opposition.

        • Brian Holland June 28, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

          Dr. James, again I don’t think we have any major disagreements here. I think what you’re talking about is the classical liberal understanding of tolerance. I would only add that the culture that is closest to what Scripture teaches is ultimately the superior one. That was in a nutshell, what made Western Civ great, but of course our society is collapse right now due to rejecting biblical truth and moral absolutes, while a lot of people I’ve talked to believe that China will be the next great Christian nation. That of course remains to be seen.

          Regarding religious liberty I heard the late Chuck Colson make the case that the idea itself comes from the Bible, since God gives us either the freedom to obey Him or to disobey Him. In other words we can’t externally force it on others.

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