Christianity, Culture and Compromise

Barb Wire

The pressure to water down the gospel and to simply accommodate to the surrounding culture is an ever present reality. There is always the strong temptation to simply compromise on biblical absolutes in order to be more readily accepted, to be seen as relevant, or to make ourselves “seeker-friendly”.

But we should resist such impulses with all our strength. These suggestions do not come from our Lord but from the pits of hell. And we already have 2000 years of church history to tell us just how disastrous such policies are. Whenever we dilute the gospel or jettison vital biblical truths in order to be cool, trendy and relevant, it is always bad news.

We have seen entire denominations go down this path with disastrous results. The truth is, it is the gospel which should always be challenging, standing against, and influencing culture, and not the other way around. It is the confused, lost and wayward culture that needs to be challenged with the truth of Christ.

But time and time again weak-kneed and carnal Christians keep caving in to culture, and actually tell us we must accommodate to it if we want to stay in the game. Well I have news for these folks: baloney. Their advice is really a counsel of despair, and nothing but raising the white flag of surrender.

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And I get this silliness all the time. For example, I recently had one person tell me that homosexuality is a non-issue, that it is all over the place, and I need to get with the times. Moreover, he said I am on a “vendetta” about this, and I need to just chill. And he even claimed to be a believer! I replied as follows:

The truth is, God is always right and the crowd is usually always wrong. Sorry but I certainly am not buying any of your misguided “counsel” here. Of course homosexuality is an issue – one of the biggest there is at the moment. Not only is this a deadly, high-risk lifestyle sending people to an early grave, but if unrepented of and not forsaken, it is sending people to a lost eternity. Moreover, the gravest attacks on God’s institutions of marriage and family are coming at the hands of the homosexual militants. And all this means nothing to you? And you claim to be a Christian?

Sorry bud, but when God calls something a sin, so should we. And I am so thankful that past believers did not fall for this baloney advice. Wilberforce heard all this nonsense as well. “Um, Wilby ol’ boy, slavery is just not an issue. Everyone has slaves and well, it’s their lives. All your writing comes across like a vendetta. I really counsel you to just ease up here.” Thankfully Wilberforce would have none of that unbiblical and undiscerning silliness. And today blacks the world over can thank him for it.

I will keep standing for biblical truth – always. And given all the ex-homosexuals I personally know, they will say the same. Instead of lying to homosexuals and just going along with the world, we should love them enough to tell them the truth and let Christ set them free.

I am not the only one who knows that this is a suicidal proposal and must be resisted fiercely. Russell Moore has just written a piece, “Can We Trade Sexual Morality For Church Growth?” It is a great article. He begins:

From time to time we hear some telling us that evangelical Christianity must retool our sexual ethic if we’re ever going to reach the next generation. Some say that Millennials, particularly, are leaving the church because of our “obsession” with sexual morality. The next generation needs a more flexible ethic, they say, on premarital sex, homosexuality, and so on. We’ll either adapt, the line goes, or we’ll die. This argument is hardly new.

He looks at past failed examples of this, and reminds us that Christian sexual ethics are always difficult:

Sexual morality didn’t become difficult with the onset of the sexual revolution. It always has been. Walking away from our own lordship, or from the tyranny of our desires, has always been a narrow way. The rich young ruler wanted a religion that would promise him his best life now, extended out into eternity. But Jesus knew that such an existence isn’t life at all, just the zombie corpse of the way of the flesh. He came to give us something else, to join us to his own life.

If we withhold what our faith teaches about a theology of the body, of marriage, of what it means to be created male and female, we will breed nothing but cynicism from those who will rightly conclude that we see them not as sinners in need of good news but as a marketing niche to be exploited by telling them what they want to hear.

You can’t grow a Christian church by being sub-Christian. That’s why there are no booming Arian or Unitarian or Episcopal Church (USA) church-planting movements. But even if it “worked” to negotiate away sexual morality for church growth, we wouldn’t do it. We can only reach Millennials, and anyone else, by reaching them with the gospel, good news for repentant sinners through the shed blood and empty tomb of Jesus Christ. If we have to choose between Millennials and Jesus, we choose Jesus.

He concludes:

Virgin births and empty tombs are hard to believe. Fidelity and chastity are hard to live. That’s why we don’t have a natural gospel but a supernatural one. And that’s why Jesus isn’t a means to where we want to go. He’s a voice calling us to where we don’t, left to ourselves, want to go: the way of the cross. If we want to reach the next generation, they must hear from us a Galilean voice saying, “Come, follow me.” Anything less is just more marketing for an already well-marketed Broad Way. And the end thereof is death.

You betcha. Compromise and capitulation to the surrounding pagan culture is hardly how the church of Jesus Christ is going to make a difference in this world. And we most certainly are called to both be different from the world, and to make a difference in it.

Anything else is just a waste of time.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Bill Muehlenberg
Bill Muehlenberg, who was born in America, lives in Melbourne, Australia. He runs a web-based ministry of pro-faith, pro-family activism called CultureWatch: Bill is widely sought out by the media for comments on social issues, faith issues, and family issues, and has appeared on all the major television and radio news shows, current affairs shows, and debate programs. He is the author of In Defence of the Family; Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, and several other books.

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