PERSPECTIVE: Pay the price
In recent years, the homosexual agenda in America has taken major strides forward. Hollywood, as usual, has set the pace in seeking to make this immoral lifestyle mainstream. From comedy to drama, television has set the pace in presenting homosexuality as normal and anyone opposed as bigoted or homophobic. The same is true of movies.
The attempt to sway public opinion and public policy seems to be working. A recent poll indicates that now more than 50 percent of Americans accept gay and lesbian unions. The legislative battle continues to rage across the country, with New York on the brink of making these unions legal.
Perhaps the most egregious and heartbreaking gains on this issue are the continued acceptance and affirmation within the old mainline denominations. Presbyterians, who have been inching their way toward acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy, took the final step a few weeks ago. John Calvin must be turning over in his grave. Episcopalians walked down this moral slippery slope a few years ago and accept gay and lesbian clergy for ordination. Bishops have also been elected in the same manner.
I would suggest that public opinion ebbs and flows in our culture. As the influence of biblical truth wanes, so does the public opinion regarding issues addressed in Scripture. Consistently, denominations begin the slide when they devalue Scripture and remove it from being the infallible and inerrant truth of God. The truth of Scripture becomes another opinion among many, and is marginalized as archaic. Interpretation becomes an ever-moving target shaped by culture rather than culture shaped by scriptural truth.
Little by little across generations, the Bible has been inched out of the public domain in America. Sadly, we look more and more like the cultures of Great Britain and Europe. The church has declined dramatically, and Christianity looks more and more like the embryonic churches in Corinth and Laodicea than the vibrant Spirit-filled church of Pentecost. Immorality, commitment based on convenience and itching ears mark many in the American church.
Before you think I have lost heart, let me hasten to say that biblical Christianity marked by exacting discipleship has always been in short supply. Cultural Christianity has played a major role in America, but New Testament Christianity that calls for holy living and standing on the truth of Scripture without compromise has always faced serious challenges within our society.
What can we do? First, pray for God to purify and revive His church. The power of the church is its Holy Spirit empowered walk of faith evidenced by holy living, not its standing in society. Peter said that repentance begins with the household of faith. Faced with cultural decline, the antidote is not louder protest in the streets, but louder living in the neighborhoods. May the Holy Spirit fall fresh upon us and the consequence of His in-filling be spiritual living, not spiritual froth.
Second, we must not fall prey to the cultural norms set by non-biblical, ambivalent opinion. We have one standard for truth, and it is the Word of God. It is all we need for faith and practice. The Bible is clear in regard to immoral actions such as fornication, adultery, homosexuality and every other kind of sexual deviant behavior. Our standards cannot be determined by cultural values set by a changing public tide of opinion, and cannot be established by the vote of a denominational body. Biblical truth is absolute truth. Homosexuality or any other issue must be vetted through the biblical filter.
Third, training of our children regarding these matters must become a priority. Far too much of the training of our children comes from movies and television. In addition, the public school system has become a seed bed for contradiction to biblical values, and the universities openly defy and debunk biblical truth. We must counter daily with biblical teaching and living the truths that transform a sinner into a fully-devoted follower of Christ. Time at church is vital, but it is naive to believe a few hours at church will compete with the hours of bombardment of untruth and half-truth our children face daily.
Every year in America the line of demarcation between true followers of Christ and the world becomes more defined. Standing on truth and for Christ becomes more costly every day. Pay the price. It is worth it!
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.