The believer, clad in the armor of God, is to lift the shield of faith and enter the culture to combat the oppression of darkness.
- AFA Exec. VP Ed Vitagliano
I’m quickly becoming a pretty big fan of the satirical news site Babylon Bee, the Onion knock-off from a Christian perspective. Its biting wit is sometimes irritating because its mockery can be unfair or downright abusive to the facts, but satire is no easy business. So I cut them some slack and enjoy whenever possible.
A recent, funny example dealt with the subject of American Christianity’s tendency toward “easy-believism” and a no-cost version of discipleship. Like good satire is supposed to do, the faux news story hit the bullseye with the headline, “Hymnals Updated With ‘I Surrender Some’ Lyric.”
The article stated that hymnal publishers had altered the words to the 120-year-old classic, “I Surrender All.”
Babylon Bee said: “‘Singing words like “All to Jesus I surrender” just isn’t in line with modern Christianity,’ a spokesperson for Hymnal Publishing, LLC told reporters. ‘Now, Christians can sincerely belt out lines like “Some to Jesus I surrender, some to Him I conditionally give” without worrying if their hearts really line up with the lyrics.’”
Spot on. In America, we are living in days that are calling for a bold and uncompromising brand of Christianity. Yet far too often we get the exact opposite. While Christians in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere have the courage to die for their faith, some American Christians don’t even seem to have enough faith to stand on the truth of Scripture when an unbelieving culture turns up the heat.
A recent example was the stunning pronouncement by a popular women’s Bible teacher that she believed God approved same sex marriage. Jen Hatmaker ignited a firestorm when she said:
“From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends … Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family.”
There is no doubt that Satan is a deceiver who relies on a bag of old tricks to capture wayward souls in each new generation. When mankind was nascent, the serpent of old asked Eve, “Has God said?” (Gen. 3:1), and the devil continues to worm his way into minds and hearts with the same question.
Has God really said that sex outside of marriage is wrong? Did He really say homosexuality is a sin? Did Jesus really mean it when he said marriage was between one man and one woman?
Yes, yes, and yes. Period. Jen Hatmaker notwithstanding.
So why would an otherwise solid Bible teacher so misconstrue the Scriptures? Of course, sometimes Christians are either taught error or they are themselves mistaken as they try to understand the Bible. This is ignorance of the truth, and we are all susceptible to it. Perhaps this is the category for Hatmaker, I don’t know.
However, sometimes even Christians reject what is clearly taught in the Bible. Why might a Christian do this? There are a variety of possibilities, but this is the one I want to mention here: They are cowards.
Yes, I said it. Deep down, there is a root of fear that has wrapped itself around the heart like a python, and it is constricting the life out of the Christian.
It’s very easy to understand how this might happen. Two of the most potent temptations are (1) the fear of man and (2) the love of praise. Both manifest an unholy obsession with what others think of us.
The fear of man is the negative side of it: I don’t want people to think or speak ill of me. What will my friends say if they know I oppose same sex marriage? What will family members think if I say what the Bible says about homosexuality? What will my gay friends say?
This deep-seated anxiety creates a further fear of repercussions. The fear of man produces a fear of persecution. These Christians don’t want to be called “bigot” and “hater.” They don’t want to lose a job promotion – or even their job.
The love of praise is the desire for people to think and speak good things of us. Many Christians want friends and family members, as well as the wider culture, to applaud them as good people, or for being sensitive, or on the “right side of history.”
For some Bible teachers and other church leaders who fall prey to this temptation, there might also be an attachment to and a desire for wealth and comfort. Being cheered by the people who support their ministries leads to better offerings – but that can disappear if they become “controversial.”
Satan uses these temptations – like he does all temptations – to control Christians (2 Tim. 2:26) and make them ineffective. In the case of the subject of homosexuality, the devil might whisper to the Christian just how controversial the Bible is on this matter. The python begins to squeeze faith to death and then fills the heart with fear.
The devil immediately encounters a problem, however. All this hard work can be undone by the power of God’s word as it shines the light into the dark places of our lives. The Bible is so crystal clear about human sexuality, marriage, and family, it can easily break the python’s grip.
So the evil one begins the process of twisting God’s word and denying its truth. Whether she is ignorant of the truth or simply a coward, Jen Hatmaker has accepted the lies of the evil one. As tragic as that is for herself, she has added to the tragedy by passing along these lies to other unsuspecting Christians.
I am not saying that Hatmaker is intentionally deceiving her followers. But it really doesn’t matter. What’s she’s teaching is wrong – and there are consequences.
Jesus said: “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).
She might be popular, but she is least in the kingdom for instructing people that God approves of sodomy.
Of course, Christians should be the most loving people around. I get that. We should love homosexuals and, if they are repentant, walk beside them to share the burden of their brokenness.
However, the Christian life is also filled with spiritual warfare. The believer, clad in the armor of God, is to lift the shield of faith and enter the culture to combat the oppression of darkness. That means the Christian has to withstand the hail of fiery darts launched by the bows of Satan’s minions.
This is no time for Christians to be weenies, especially as the cultural heat grows hotter and hotter.