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Generations come and go. What was, is no more. Your preferences and pleasures will be passé—in time. We must wrestle with whether we’re willing to index forward to these new times by engaging the here and now, or are we going to commiserate with our old friends, in our rectangular, red brick church buildings, sitting in our sanctuaries, about how things used to be.
Adam and Eve wore fig leaves. We dress differently today because things change. The unfortunate thing is that the one group that seems to be the most unwilling to change is the Christians. We seem to be always looking backward, holding on to what used to be while the world moves into the future, with or without us. Do you feel the tension?
Perhaps the tension you feel is about giving up on things that should not change. I understand that problem, for sure. Some things should never change, though I’m not talking about the unchangeables. What if you were a pacesetter in showing the culture how to live well in an ever-changing world? Too many Christians are ditch people: they either won’t change anything, or they are open to changing everything. Where’s the middle ground?
I understand the ever-shifting Overton Window, which is a huge problem when it pertains to shifting morals. Morality should never change, but I’m speaking of another issue where we should be on the leading edge, showing folks how to adapt to the culture so Christians understand how to live in it without compromising God’s Word.
The unchanging ditch person believes that change equals compromise, which is an attitude that keeps them trapped in the past while simultaneously losing ground to the culture’s new moral standards. They sense the increasing paganism of our country, which is real, and it bothers them as it should. Rather than thinking through the contours of change, they refuse to move forward.
A wiser response is cultural engagement. Keeping up with the times by staying relevant should be intuitive and pneumatic because we are the only ones who can bring clarity and common sense to cultural evolution. There is nothing that should paralyze us with fear. We can step into the evolving future because we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture and the Spirit’s empowerment. We also have each other.
In June 2015, our culture made one of those shifts. The gay community capped off a forty-year plan to legalize gay marriage. While Christians have been yelling at gays for decades, the gay community has been strategically and methodically dismantling an entire culture’s worldview regarding homosexuality. Now the world believes God made Adam and Eve, and Adam and Steve.
The gay community had a more layered and intellectual plan to corrupt and devalue the Bible. Historically, Christians stuck to their guns by saying that homosexuality was a sin, which it is, but that was the extent of their reaction. While we were stating the obvious, the younger generation of believers was not as opposed to gayness. There are two reasons our youth responded differently from older generations.
Let’s take a look at the culture’s strategic and methodological approach by reviewing the gay timeline. The implication that I want you to see over a sixty-year span is that the culture was always working behind the scenes, while Christians assumed that God’s Word would always prevail.
If you have not picked up on it, let me say it out loud: we’re not in Kansas anymore. Suppose you’re unwilling to accept that things have changed, and you’re reluctant to index forward to this generation. In that case, you will not add gospel value to a society that desperately needs God’s wisdom in ways they can understand.
The thing that is missing in my gay timeline is sound, humble, and practical biblical engagement from those who know how to connect with today’s culture. Though each of the four timelines lessened dramatic responses toward gays, all four of them are similar in that they lacked relevant and practical engagement.
My dad’s generation hated gay people. My gen reacted by thinking that being gay was weird. Those who came after us were more tolerant as the gay community became more proactive in propagating their worldview with a multimedia approach. By the time we got to this century, the groundwork had worked, and there was a new generation that was willing to say, “What’s your problem? Stop living in the past.”
It was only a short step to vote “yes” to gay marriage. Where the world is today tempts too many awful reactions from some believers. Many of them angrily tear up cyberspace with their rants. It’s easy to feel defeated, afraid, or angry about sin’s encroachments and our permittance. Perhaps it would be an excellent time for you to reflect on a couple of questions.
If you think you can separate yourself or your children from the culture or gay people, you’re living in an illusion. Secluding and sequestering from society worked when the world was smaller. It’s not possible to bury your head in the sand today. Even if you ignore the problem, it’s an ineffective plan for your kids, neighbors, and church friends. It would be best if you stepped into the future with wisdom, clarity, and practical solutions from God’s Word.
You must activate your gospel initiatives (if you have not already). Two vital aspects of the gospel for this discussion are humility and courage. Your attitude toward what is happening to our world will establish the tone in which you will engage it. Humility and courage must be ruling your mind.
The temptation to fear is real because the enemy is a roaring lion who hates Christians. God has not given us a spirit of fear, which has to be more than a biblical cliche. It’s so easy to self-censor yourself because of the fear of blowback. There was a time when the opposition was not as aggressive as it is today.
A humble attitude toward gays will govern how you talk to your children about them. If self-righteousness rises in your heart, as though you’re better than them, the words that come from your mouth will not work redemption in teachable hearts. If you have sinful anger, hate, or other detestable thoughts toward gays, you must address your problems before engaging others.
The gospel is clear: we’re all the same in that we’re equally rotten to the core (Romans 3:10-12). Nobody has a righteous advantage over any other person. Though your wickedness may differ from theirs, you put Jesus on the tree, too (Romans 3:23). If you stratify righteousness or sin, you have started the conversation outside biblical assumptions. Only the penetrating and transforming power of the gospel makes us different from other sinners.
Transformation is a gift given, not something we merit (Ephesians 2:8-9). Your attitude toward gays should be loving, though not without the courage to speak the truth. Your children should not hear hate or anger from you when you talk about the gay community. If you hate them, your children will either emulate your anger or embrace the gay’s version of love, which is devoid of biblical conviction. A humble playing field says there are no righteous people, no not one (Romans 3:10-12).
With a broken heart for all sinners as your starting point, you will position yourself to bring God-glorifying, theologically precise answers to the gay problem. Christians should have the most intelligent, persuasive, and practical conversations about how to think about and engage others in gay issues. You can do this with humility and courage.
Part of how you can convey the Christian message regarding gender and roles is how you live them out inside your home. Do not underestimate the power of your example. You want to teach your boys what it means to be a man while leading your girls into biblical womanhood. If your home is full of confusing messages about being a man, woman, husband, wife, father, or mother, you will blur the lines while making your children vulnerable to what the world offers.
Part of why a person looks outside a biblical paradigm is because their home life is an abysmal picture of what it means to be a Christian, male or female. We can add to the gay confusion by confusing our children. Men need training on how to be men. Women need to know it’s okay to be a biblical woman, and they don’t have to bow to the feministic version of womanhood.
Are you motivated to step into the fray? We have lost ground. If you are interested in continuing to think about how we are to live in a gay world while leading the next generation through it, here are some questions for your consideration—to keep the conversation going. (If you want to learn more about how to think about and engage the gay problem, go here and look for the “sex” topic.)
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).