Written By: R.A. Goodnight
Tolerant. Pro-choice. A new age of human rights. The world of today has done a good job at making a life separate of God appeal to many by using nothing more than an effective marketing campaign. They have been so successful that they have been able to re-label who men, women and Christians are in society. Due to their success, I would argue that all important aspects of modern-day American life have moved to the left of center. If we are being honest, though, the world itself is not solely guilty for the environment in which we now find ourselves. There is a second reason this is occurring.
I can remember as a boy and young man, that men were expected to be men and women, women. There never was discussion or debate about what those two sexes meant. Additionally, there seemed to be an understood definition of what a Christian was, and what they did or didn’t believe. There was a unified defensive that existed to help protect individuals and church congregations when it came to our personal and Christian identities. That defensive was made up of parents, mature individual Christians and The Church itself. It was always there; active and vocal when it came to expounding God’s definitions while, simultaneously, combating worldly ideas.
Unfortunately, the opposite seems to have occurred over the last decade. With the coming of age of the current generation, our collective voices have started to lessen. On some topics, our individual voices and the voice of The Church have fallen all together silent. To a large degree, we have stopped teaching God’s view of men, of women and even of children (both born and unborn). We have fallen silent on topics such as sexuality; and our absence on topics like abortion has resulted, in part, with the continued erosion of family values. Now, throughout the country, members of both sexes no longer hold a Christian view of each other’s roles and responsibilities, marriage, or the protection of life.
So, to all men and leaders in any position, I make these statements – it is in our silence that the perversions of the world have taken stronghold. It is through our silence that we will share responsibility for what individuals believe and for the adults our children grow into. It is not this world’s place to define sexuality, what is considered life or Christianity. As God created all of these, it is for Him to define. It is our responsibility to train others in His ways. Understanding that this is how we take captive and overcome the definitions the world has created; we should not remain silent.
In the recent weeks I have spoken to individuals responsible for various roles. I have spoken to teachers, parents and church leaders. In almost all cases the responses I received gave the impression that there is a general sense of inability to discuss these with our congregations, with individual’s or our children. In two cases, I was even told some churches have made deliberate decisions or rules to not address such issues at all.
Is it really that big of deal to remain silent on such matters? In order to carry this discussion further, here are a few statistics that should be considered:
• More than 4 out of 10 women who had an abortion stated they were active in their church while the decision was being made and at the time the abortion was performed.
(Focus on the Family – Survey: Women Go Silently From Church to Abortion Clinic)
• Of those 40%, 76% said the church had no influence upon their decision (meaning it wasn’t discussed).
(Focus on the Family – Survey: Women Go Silently From Church to Abortion Clinic)
• About 3% of the population do not identify as heterosexual. Think, then, how many family members, friends or fellow Christians are affected by extension.
(Gallup Data – In U.S. More Adults Identifying)
What is my point in sharing such statistics? Although these topics are uncomfortable, we are mistaken if we believe they are not having an impact in our church, on our friends or on our children. So, why aren’t we speaking about them? Think about it – some of our multi-site/multi-service churches in Oklahoma easily see 1,000 people per weekend per location. This means that a potentially large demographic of the audience is affected by the topics previously mentioned. Think of the opportunity this creates for us to be a positive influence and a source of encouragement for these individuals. But, that will be difficult to accomplish if we will not speak about such matters.
Despite the negative statistics I just shared, 64% of pastors (and a similar number of individual Christians) feel unable to address such topics. (Barna – Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture)
Generally, the reasons cited were that they were too political or unpopular. Due to this fear, there was an expressed concern on how audiences, congregations or individuals, would react to these discussions. I understand the concern. But I would argue that we are looking at the situation backwards. We are looking at it from the point of view of men and have forgotten God’s point of view. Allow me to build upon this this idea using scripture.
In Bible history we learn of a man named Jonah. Like modern day Christians, Jonah was tasked by God to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh. (Jonah 1:2; 3:2) However, Jonah believed that no one wanted to hear the message that he had been given. He believed they would not listen. Jonah was convinced that the message would be so unpopular that he attempted to run from God and the task he had been given. He went so far as to board a ship and travel in the opposite direction of where Nineveh was located. (Jonah 1:3) But who was Jonah to decide this about God’s message?
Eventually, God reminded Jonah of his responsibility as His messenger. (Jonah 1:4-2:10) Because of this reminder, Jonah proceeded to Nineveh and delivered the message as God expected of him. (Jonah 3:3) How did the people respond? Was the message as unpopular as Jonah had convinced himself it would be? Notice the outcome as recorded in The Bible, “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” (Jonah 3:5) Even the King responded to Jonah’s message. In the end the scriptures tell us that more than 120,000 people were saved by what was thought to be an unpopular and unwanted message. (Jonah 3:6-10; 4:11)
What is today’s application? There are few of our messages as Christians that are viewed as popular in today’s fallen world. They may be deemed as old fashioned, unpopular or politically incorrect. There will always be those that do not want to hear God’s views. It is true that addressing some topics could result in people unfriending you. It is even possible that some might not come back to your church. All these possibilities are unfortunate. But what about the ‘120,000’ that are waiting to hear what God has to say? Notice the lesson God gave Jonah while he was struggling with his negative, and incorrect, viewpoint, “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…?” (Jonah 4:11) Perhaps there were some in Nineveh that did not want to hear. But God was concerned with those who did want to listen, and he taught Jonah to be concerned with this as well. A timely message for us in today’s complicated world.
That’s the viewpoint I would suggest we need to consider, God’s viewpoint, not man’s. There could be someone you know or someone sitting in the audience that needs to hear, even wants to hear, what God has to say. If we remain silent Satan’s voice will be the what people hear. He will try to define them, mold them and convince them that things God defines as sin are acceptable. The only questions that remain are, will you deliver the message? Or, will you play a part in preventing them from hearing it? Think of the experience your future could hold – one where you positively impacted a person in crisis and introduced them to God. Or one with a whale of a tale.
I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories.