The landscape for Christians in our culture is changing rapidly. Things that were unimaginable just a few short years ago are now commonplace. Things that were celebrated just a few short years ago are now considered contemptible. Two recent events illustrate what I’m talking about.
On April 29 NBA player, Jason Collins, announced that he was gay. He is the first NBA player to openly come out and one of the first, if not the first, active professional in the four major sports to do so. It wasn’t the announcement that caught my attention, after all coming out is a rather regular occurrence in our society. The fact that it was an athlete in a major sport was going to happen sooner or later. What caught me by surprise was the reaction of the sports community and especially the media sportscasters. Traditionally professional athletes have represented the rugged, he-man element of our culture, associate with sexual exploits as it relates to women – sadly so (I.E. Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant). Now there is a new hero in sports – celebrated for his bravery and fearlessness in coming out. The view of one writer is representative: The overwhelming support that Collins has received in the NBA and elsewhere reveals that homophobia is on the wane in the United States. In this age of less-overt prejudice, anti-gay bias has taken a peculiar new form. Those who don’t like the celebrations of Collins’ bravery have countered with aggressive, prideful lack of interest. In fact the subtitle of the article was Jason Collins’ coming out reveals a new, peculiar form of homophobia. Now anyone who supports traditional marriage and doesn’t consider this as particularly newsworthy is guilty of prejudice, anti-gay bias and homophobia for their silence! Some days you can’t win. This would never have happened thirty years ago in our country. Some people call this progress.
The second example happened at a high school track meet in Texas. As the final runner on the Columbus High (Texas) 4X100 team crossed the finish line in first place he raised his hand and pointed to the sky. You’ve seen it down a hundred times by athletes at all levels. This simple gesture, however, was deemed a violation of the “excessive celebration rules” and the team was disqualified from running in the state track meet. Apparently honoring God is no longer deemed good in our culture. It’s excessive.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not weeping over the passing of the “good ‘ol days”. The days of Ward, June, Wally and Beaver are not coming back. In fact I’m not surprised that our country is headed in this direction. I fully expected it. So what’s my point?
My point is simply this – How will we as Christians who hold to Biblical morality respond? How will we respond when we are seen as the problem and not the solution? How will we respond when we are viewed as dragging society down instead of lifting it up? How will we respond when our views are in the minority instead of the majority?
We can become angry. We can march with our placards held high. We can write letters to the editors in protest. We can bring lawsuits. And we can hate what’s happening from here to eternity – but none of that is going to change the inevitable. You don’t have to agree with me, you are entitled to your opinion, but short of divine intervention I don’t see anything that is going to stem the tide of wickedness and immorality in our culture. Unless I miss my guess it is going to get worse.
That’s not to say that we should sit back and do nothing. What we need to do – and what we have ignored for too long – is the Biblical approach. In our desire to rescue our society we have substituted many things for the right things, relying on the good instead of the best (in all fairness some Christians have practiced both the good and the best – but far too few see the best as the ultimate answer). Living in a culture that was at least as ungodly as our own, the Apostle Paul told us exactly how to live counter-culturally. Romans 12:9-21 is worth reading again. Here’s the best response:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Admittedly the future for Christians in our country does not look rosy. The issue, however, is not how bad it will get but how well we will respond.
Stay in the Word