What a week!
This past week, quite the famous family appeared in probably every news headline, twitter update and facebook newsfeed. Honestly, I'm kind of tired of hearing about it. Nevertheless, there is something missing with all this.
Without giving any recognition by name to the major network channel or family (be it obvious,) there was a flurry of reports and an onslaught of Christian warfare (and I use that term extremely loosely) against, mainly, the network. I say warfare, not because it has been spiritual, but because it has been a fleshly rising up against a world system. As you read this, perhaps you’re saying, “Fleshly warfare? What makes it fleshly to take a stand against this turn of events?” To the which, I answer with three things:
1. The manner in which the family representative approached the subject that has caused such controversy.
2. The outburst of criticism from Christians towards the airing network.
3. The lack of inward meditation on our own depravity
Let me unfold these three points, quickly. If you disagree, that’s okay. Let us have that line of separation without resentment. There is a perspective that needs to be seen with regards to the Gospel and what has happened.
They Will Know Us By Our Love
Again, without giving credence to either of these parties, the manner in which controversial questions were answered in an interview with a very secular magazine were, at best, distasteful, and at worst, anti-Christian, anti-Gospel and plainly, unloving. Why? Let me quote Jonathan Edwards as he wrote his “Resolutions” – which if you’ve never read, is a must!
What I’m getting at here, is that the answers to the questions were not only skewed Biblically but were a bold and unashamed pointing of the finger to someone else’s sin rather than using it for an occasion of sharing the Gospel in love and reflecting on his own depravity and helplessness without the intervention of Jesus.
Unbiblical, you say? Yes, he stated that to start with sin, start with homosexuality and morph out from there. This is un-Gospel and unbiblical. The first sin, the origin of sin and it’s development was not homosexuality. It was the root of unbelief. Eve was deceived into disbelieving God and Adam willfully disobeyed and disbelieved what the Lord had commanded of them not to eat. It was rooted in the desire of unbelief that God was holding something precious back from them. While one could argue that homosexuality is that same desire of unbelief, it was not the original sin that caused the fall of the human race! All sins have morphed and evolved from that spiritual fall and death – not from the act of homosexuality.
So why quote Jonathan Edwards’ Resolution 8? Because that resolution embodies the Scripture’s approach to loving mankind’s soul. The nastiness of his response to the magazine’s interview was not loving. It was abrasive and harsh and uncaring. Consider Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.”
Am I attacking this man? Absolutely not, nor do I claim to know his heart. He has taken a stand against a sin that, more than likely, he’s never struggled with. The magazine asked him about it, knowing and expecting what his answer would contain. Him knowing that it would be published nationally – maybe worldwide – still gave an answer unfitting to the character of Jesus we’re called to emulate. The network has every right as a business to suspend him. I’m sure he’s signed something in a contract somewhere stating that, if he were to speak against something the network endorses that suspension or termination could occur. That’s business in America. We should expect these things from a world system but should also not be found in the number of people who think his response was so very holy and Christ-like.
With Meekness and Reverence
I say all that to segue into the second point of using the loose term warfare. The absolute attack on this network pouring out on every social media platform is unnerving. People like this family. Reality, though? This is not truly reality television. It doesn’t take much to see that most of it is scripted; and goofy at that. Yet, viewers have taken great offense at this suspension. There’s been a mob of criticisms and downright rude comments against the network’s decision. What has happened to the “live peaceably with all men if possible” mentality that Romans 12:18 propagates? How about Jesus’ command to love our enemy (Matthew 5:44) – love, not attack them like some horde of demons coming to eat all your Bibles in your home. This is television.
Now, you may be saying, this is the problem with America. No one wants to stand up for what’s Biblical. Maybe you’re quoting Jude in your head. This is contending for the faith, though. Consider I Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
Meekness and fear or reverence are the key fruits that must be woven into our answers. You answer within yourself whether the magazine interview was conducted with meekness. How is his answer going to win souls for Christ? How does it make the Gospel effective in his life or anyone else’s life that endorses it? Our end goal must be the next verse, (16) “Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”
When No One Else is So Vile
Remember Jonathan Edwards’ Resolution 8 above? His main objective in said resolution was this; rather than judge, slander, condemn someone’s sinful behavior and puff himself up like the Pharisee, he sought to be the publican that smote his breast when considering how sinful he, himself, really is! He sought to approach these kinds of situations in life as though he’d been through them, which instantly brings to mind our own depravity and imbues us with rich compassion towards others.
Paul felt this way when in I Timothy 1:15 he said, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” And again, I mention Luke 18:13-14, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
It’s interesting that he quoted I Corinthians 6:9-10 but left out verse 11, strategically.
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
That can only bring humility, compassion and love for people. Not hardness and abrasive words. There’s no room for passing judgment. Preach the Gospel. Let the Gospel be the offense, not our proud, television controversy-stirring words.
“As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Romans 9:33
Such were some of us caught in sin and filthiness! Ask yourself - if someone had said these kinds of words against your life before Christ, would it have rendered any kind of love? Let me answer that for you: nope.
Let us learn from this. There is a time to speak and when that time is come, let’s always be ready to give answer for the hope within us with all the fruits of the Spirit. Let us not be found in the midst of controversy for controversy sake. They will know us by our love!
When you’re faced with something like this, consider that person. Consider that, perhaps, no one was so vile as you. It doesn’t mean we tolerate sin in our lives or families or churches. It doesn’t mean we approach their sin like we’re duck hunting. There are no calls, no decoys, no guns, and no show.
It means we approach it like Jesus did. We come to them like a nurse before they see the Physician. We prescribe them a prescription for forgiveness and healing and liberty; the Gospel! The Physician must be the one to see them and reveal their terminal case and He must also fill the prescription.
Then, and only then, if we’re suspended can we rise up in anger…no, wait…what did Jesus say in Matthew 5:44, again?
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”