In the Nashville statement recently published online, leading evangelicals stated their biblical convictions about same sex marriage, gender bending and homosexuality. It’s a bold and prophetic word to the culture and should be commended. But as we attempt to recover the mission of the church at redeemer, preparing bold prophetic ministries to our local culture, I wanted to address something in the statement that I want us to avoid. The preamble of the Nashville statement begins with, “Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.”
First, we don’t find ourselves here. We are not marooned on a strange shore after a shipwreck. Its not random. Cause and effect exist. If the Christian life is a long obedience in the same direction, then disbelief is a long disobedience in the same direction. Historic transition? No. Try, “the natural consequence of history.”
Let’s look at US history. Today – what is a boy – is being revised, but there is a long history of these kinds of revisions. In 2015 the US Supreme court in the Obergefell case redefined the word marriage. In 1973 in Roe v. Wade, the supreme court redefined the words, “privacy,” and “baby.”
In 1925, in the scopes Monkey trial in which the Supreme Court overturned a Tennessee state law banning Darwinism from public school curriculum they changed the definition of – human being – the image of God. But let’s go back even further. In 1789 the US Constitution in article 1, section 2, paragraph 3 revises the word human when it states that African Americans are 3/5s of a human being.
Messing with God’s creational vocabulary has an infamous and storied past in our nation. Rightfully, with God in Psalm 2, we scoff at the world for plotting in this way; redefining reality according to its own wisdom. But let’s look inside our own ghetto. Long before the modern culture sought to revise definitions, the church of God had already excelled at it. Long before the world was confounded by the meaning of “boy,” the church was confounded by the meaning of the word “day,” in Genesis chapter one. Justification and submission have proven equally confounding.
And every day you redefine words like sin. Self-justifying and self-satisfying. You redefine words like enemy, fornication, mammon, murder, gossip, pride, anxiety into far more fashionable and acceptable things– what is the biblical definition of backbiting, or the pride of life?
No longer do these words scare us. We’ve taken all the power out of them by redefining them. We don’t engage in debauchery, we just watch it on prime time television. I am not an abdicator I’m a work-a-holic we say – or I am not an adulterer I’m a porn addict – as if both were illnesses that we caught like the flu. We just find ourselves here. Drunkenness? It’s called a tailgate party. What is beauty? A 22 year old pop tart with a 25 inch waist.
How often do we call our sin by its true name and feel its weight? So where do we get off mocking people who don’t know what the word boy means, when we clearly don’t know what the word hypocrisy means. We, the church, lead the culture. It’s our responsibility and privilege as the vice-regent and representative of our LORD and husband, whether we know it or do it intentionally – we lead culture. Long before Stacy and Sarah showed up at the altar to get hitched Jennifer was already frocked and leading the congregation. But the world doesn’t know any better. As St. Paul said of himself in 1 Tim. 1:13-14 that God showed mercy to him in his ignorance. Paul says elsewhere, that the world does not know what spirit it is of.
But we know exactly what spirit we are of as it says in John 14:17. We tamper with God’s word, why shouldn’t the world who doesn’t know any better?
So, if you are going to go on mission, if you are going to get out of the ghetto, if you are going to have a prophetic word for the lost living next door, working the next cubicle, sitting around the Thanksgiving Day table – you need to get your vocabulary straight. You are leading the culture in your neighborhood, workplace, co-op, kindergarten, soccer team, school and shopping center. Before we deal with the speck in our neighbors, friends, families, co-workers or culture’s eye – we must deal with the log in our collective and individual eye. As we hear from the Lord through Dean today, as we address our failure to fulfill the great commission as a church, we don’t just find ourselves here. We’ve engaged in a long disobedience in the same direction. Identify our collective and individual sins – call them by their true names.