It is obvious that the church in American culture is facing some cultural challenges. Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land and has spawned some rather disturbing trends. Houston’s city officials have requested the sermons of local pastors who stood in opposition to HERO, the city’s attempt at political correctness toward the LGBT community. More and more Christian leaders will be asked in public forums about their position on same-sex marriage, and more controversy will rise out of their answers. When we look at this issue along with abortion, the decline of evangelistic growth in the church as a whole, and the church’s inconsistency in practice and statement concerning marriage (with the high divorce rates among professed believers), it is tempting to lose hope.
But I’m not going to adopt a sky-is-falling approach. If we’re to be biblically honest, the sky has been falling ever since Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree in the garden. Let me remind my fellow believers, we live in a fallen world. And this fallen world is sinful, will act sinful, and will not of its own accord move toward biblical standards, but away from them.
We must also remember we are not the first, nor the only group of believers facing a society whose values are diametrically opposed to the teaching of Scripture. The Greco-Roman culture of the first century slaughtered people for entertainment, worshiped a host of idols, and adopted sexual practices that could even make our culture blush. Fast-forward to the twenty first century. Believers in China face not only an antagonistic culture, but also a government that doesn’t want Christianity to be a part of its nation. Believers in Muslim nations face governments dominated by religious ideology that mandates the death of infidels. Believers in Europe face governments and a culture whose secularization and rejection of its Christian roots makes America look like a Sunday School culture. We are not the first and will not be the last Christian sub-culture to face direct and difficult cultural barriers.
So what do we do? Do we stand by while what is left of our religious freedom is trampled? Do we give up? Do we retreat?
No, I’ve read the end of the story, and Jesus wins—which means we win. We must not retreat, back down, or give up. We must hold to the truth of Scripture. We must consciously adopt an approach to living that is consistent with biblical not cultural standards. We must not be afraid to fight for the gospel truth or even to suffer for it. It is in the crucible of an antagonistic culture that genuine Christianity can not only exist, but flourish. Look at the first believers. Roman emperors hated them. Culture detested them. Other religions ridiculed them. Yet they preached, they made disciples, they advanced, they flourished. The early believers stood on the truth of God’s Word, lived by it (contrasted with the wickedness of their culture), and preached the gospel to others. They hoped in the Christ who was their Savior. Thus was their success. Their example is our prescription and hope.