Responding Biblically to Cultural Opinion
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1–4, ESV)
This charge that Paul gives Timothy, and indirectly me, is both wonderful and weighty and holds a warning. Wonderful because God has graciously called me to preach his word...amazing and undeserved! Weighty because the charge is "in the presence of God and Jesus who is to judge all when he comes again." Weighty because I must preach accurately and rightly (2 Tim. 2:15). And I will be held accountable for how I shepherd HIS flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). Warning because there is a negative promise which states that people will NOT endure sound teaching, will take heed to false teaching and turn from the truth...making shipwreck of their faith (1 Tim. 1:18-19).
People throw a lot of opinions around on Facebook® and comment sections on a variety of blogs. We read or hear opinions being stated as truth everywhere we turn. Opinions...not necessarily (or often) truth. I must be committed as a pastor, and we must be committed as the church that God obtained by his own blood, to be slow to speak, prayerfully and humbly and always considering what God's word has to say about a specific subject, and then (and only then) speak humbly, graciously, yet straightforwardly, so as to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" when it becomes necessary.
One such "subject" that has made it necessary for us to speak up made its way around evangelicalism these past few days. A World Magazine's article on December 11 introduced its subscribers to Wheaton College's new "gay celibate Christian." The article begins:
Three months ago Wheaton College, one of America’s leading evangelical undergraduate institutions, hired Julie Rodgers to provide spiritual care for students. Not surprising in some ways: She has a master’s degree in English, has mentored inner-city youth, and speaks at Christian churches and conferences. One surprise: She openly identifies as homosexual."
You can read the entire article here. The article is an easy read. And it all sounds good and nice, and well...logical and acceptable as far as opinion goes. But listen, "upon further review," as many of us will hear tomorrow as we watch an NFL game, the "opinion-laced" logic that is stated is not biblical and, therefore, is not acceptable and must be responded to with complete patience and teaching. We must be on guard (be prepared) to think through these enormous issues biblically (and not just have an "opinion" on it). Some issues in our culture are "cut and dry" and easy to identify as unbiblical. But this one is slippery and carries with it growing ramifications regarding the church's freedom in our society.
THE front for the cultural war against the church and the truth of God's word is in this arena. The time indeed "has come" when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Nevertheless, we must continue to humbly and patiently preach the word accurately and not drift from it into the ever-changing opinions (and beliefs) of our culture.
Owen Strachan helps us immensely as he writes a very good and biblical response to the dangerous, potential "wandering off" from the truth that the World™article tempts evangelicals (like us) towards. Please take the time to read his response here. Seriously... take time to read it so each of us would grow in our ability to engage the culture with biblical wisdom and truth. (You can also read this post to help gain some very helpful theological perspective on the issue of "Gay Christianity.")
More and more the truth will be difficult to share with others because it does serve to correct and rebuke and train in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). And, as our culture believes that pretty much anything goes, anything that we have to say that might be "corrective" will be seen as "hate speech." May God give us discernment and humble boldness to declare his excellencies and to not shrink back in fear (Heb. 10:32-39) as we engage our culture with the truth of the very word of God.