The Times They Are A-Changin’
“These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
In recent years we have seen a dramatic shift in the cultural landscape of America. Secularism is overtaking Christianity as the predominant worldview in our culture, detaching us from the biblical absolutes we once held dear as a nation. Everything is seemingly up for grabs in a relativistic free-for-all where many are determined to shake off the “restrictive” cords of biblical morality and redefine right and wrong for themselves. This is nothing new. It has all happened before.
In fact, in the Old Testament, the record of Israel’s history is replete with the stories of God’s chosen people wanting to throw off the rule of God to be like the heathen nations around them. After a time of sinful departure from God, judgment would come, as God warned it would, and the people would cry out to God to save them. After a time of sincere repentance, God would raise up a deliverer who would come and put down the enemies of Israel and reestablish the rule of God among the nation. This cycle repeated itself until ultimately the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were taken into captivity; first Israel by the Assyrians, and then later Judah by the Babylonians.
Even in their time of exile, God’s still spoke to His people through prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, and later through others like Haggai and Zechariah. He also had civil leaders like Nehemiah and Zerubbabel whom He used to rebuild both the city of Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord. At such times as these, God would speak of another Deliverer Who would come and bring a new age of freedom to His people. These prophecies can be found in passages like Jeremiah 23:5-6, which says, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.” These prophetic promises of the coming Messiah revealed that, despite the judgment of God on the land due to the people’s sin, there was still a future promise of salvation to those who would put their trust in God. Thankfully, as Jeremiah also said, “the Lord will not cast off forever” (Lamentations 3:31).
A common feature seen in Israel’s history is being played out on the national stage of America today. Those who honored God saw His blessings come upon their land, bringing both peace and prosperity. However, after a time, subsequent generations who had not seen for themselves the delivering hand of God, forgot where the blessings came from and began to serve other gods. We see this happen almost immediately after the generation that possessed the land of Israel under Joshua’s leadership passed away. “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals…” (Judges 2:10-11). They forsook God and His law, worshipping instead other gods that better suited their own sinful purposes. Thus began the cycle of sin, judgment, repentance, and deliverance we spoke of earlier.
I love America, but She is not special in the sense that She is immune from the same judgment that many other nations have suffered after turning away from God. And make no mistake, America is turning from God. While there are still many faithful believers who love God and are faithful to His Word, our nation as a society has begun to identify itself with a secularist worldview that denies morality based upon biblical absolutes. You don’t have to look passed recent history to know that is true.
What was once considered sacred is now reviled, and what was once clearly identified as evil and aberrant is now not only tolerated, but it is celebrated. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) This describes a nation who has redefined good and evil for themselves, not according to righteous judgment, but according to their own desires.
This redefining of absolutes can certainly be seen in the Supreme Court’s move to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states. The High Court actually took it upon themselves to redefine for a nation what only God has the right to determine. However, perhaps even more chilling is the move to redefine Christianity by a “new” understanding of scripture that more than softens the passages that deal with this issue. According to some who are writing and speaking today, the Church needs to “rethink” their position on this issue. The “intolerance” toward same-sex unions is due to a “faulty understanding” of the historical context in which these verses are set.
Some people that are trying to “school” us in this new interpretation of scripture are obviously very inexperienced with the scriptures, and their arguments are riddled with poor biblical exegesis. However, some of the voices speaking, while certainly compromising the plain truth of scripture, are having an effect on some in the Church, due to their influence and notoriety. Some are feeling the pressure coming from a very hostile minority, backed by a large segment of society, that are telling us to change or else! Perhaps those who feel they have much to lose by way of crowds or support may be feeling the temptation to “reconsider” their view point. Others are refusing to speak up altogether, endeavoring to ride the fence between love and compassion on the one side and compromise on the other.
Admittedly, these are difficult times, and we don’t want to be misunderstood as to why we stand where we do on the issues that confront our society, but we CANNOT begin to speak the language of compromise. The reason that sin has to be identified and dealt with is because confession and repentance always precedes forgiveness and regeneration.
The lie that is being told by the proponents of same-sex marriage is that anything less than acceptance of the gay lifestyle is intolerance and bigotry. That is simply nothing more than provocative language intended to intimidate and coerce the Church to capitulate. We cannot and we will not. To do so would not be love and tolerance. It would, in fact, be exactly the opposite. You cannot call endorsing and promoting a lifestyle that is completely antithetical to God’s will “love.” It is not love to encourage anyone to disregard the laws of biblical morality to their own detriment.
The Church loves the gay community. We love the lost world wherever it is found. We too were lost, and we were not saved by any virtue that we ourselves possess. Rather, we were saved from our sin and our destructive lifestyles by the same grace we commend the sinner to today.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
I read today an article on social media about a man who is suing Zondervan Bible Publishers of Grand Rapids, Michigan for 70 million dollars for emotional damages caused by passages in the Bibles they sell that call homosexuality a sin. Of course, Zondervan does not translate the Bibles they publish. That is done by a team of scholars, but the story is emblematic of the crisis of morality we face as a nation. If we don’t like the truth, so we endeavor to erase it, rewrite it, or suppress it; anything but embrace it. To do so would mean accepting responsibility for our choices that violate God’s righteousness. The scriptures describe this perfectly in the Gospel of John.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21)
Times, cultures, nations, and societal mores may change with the prevailing wind of public opinion, but God does not. His character is unchanging, and that is good news for us. Because He never changes, He can always be found right where He was when we left Him. If the Church in America changes Her position on any issue because of pressure from those who want to silence the voice of God on matters of morality, She contributes to the downfall of our nation. More than that, She deprives the wayward world of the only light that can lead them home to the One Who stands ready to forgive every sin and remove every stain.
When the prodigal son had had enough of his own ways, he came to himself. When he did, he realized he was looking into the hog pen to which his own sin had brought him. Sometimes it takes coming to the end of ourselves to find ourselves. God will not set aside His truth for America, and He may let us experience the dark side of our choices as a nation in order to let us see where our own ways have led us.
The good news for America is that God is on the other end of that long road home, ready to receive and restore the prodigal back into His loving grace and favor when he is truly willing to return to the Father’s house. The hour is late for America, but God has the porch light turned on for us still.