Christianity, Culture and Compromise

The pressure to water down the gospel and to simply accommodate to the surrounding culture is an ever present reality. There is always the strong temptation to simply compromise on biblical absolutes in order to be more readily accepted, to be seen as relevant, or to make ourselves “seeker-friendly”.

But we should resist such impulses with all our strength. These suggestions do not come from our Lord but from the pits of hell. And we already have 2000 years of church history to tell us just how disastrous such policies are. Whenever we dilute the gospel or jettison vital biblical truths in order to be cool, trendy and relevant, it is always bad news.

CompromiseWe have seen entire denominations go down this path with disastrous results. The truth is, it is the gospel which should always be challenging, standing against, and influencing culture, and not the other way around. It is the confused, lost and wayward culture that needs to be challenged with the truth of Christ.

But time and time again weak-kneed and carnal Christians keep caving in to culture, and actually tell us we must accommodate to it if we want to stay in the game. Well I have news for these folks: baloney. Their advice is really a counsel of despair, and nothing but raising the white flag of surrender.

And I get this silliness all the time. For example, I recently had one person tell me that homosexuality is a non-issue, that it is all over the place, and I need to get with the times. Moreover, he said I am on a “vendetta” about this, and I need to just chill. And he even claimed to be a believer! I replied as follows:

The truth is, God is always right and the crowd is usually always wrong. Sorry but I certainly am not buying any of your misguided “counsel” here. Of course homosexuality is an issue – one of the biggest there is at the moment. Not only is this a deadly, high-risk lifestyle sending people to an early grave, but if unrepented of and not forsaken, it is sending people to a lost eternity. Moreover, the gravest attacks on God’s institutions of marriage and family are coming at the hands of the homosexual militants. And all this means nothing to you? And you claim to be a Christian?
Sorry bud, but when God calls something a sin, so should we. And I am so thankful that past believers did not fall for this baloney advice. Wilberforce heard all this nonsense as well. “Um, Wilby ol’ boy, slavery is just not an issue. Everyone has slaves and well, it’s their lives. All your writing comes across like a vendetta. I really counsel you to just ease up here.” Thankfully Wilberforce would have none of that unbiblical and undiscerning silliness. And today blacks the world over can thank him for it.
I will keep standing for biblical truth – always. And given all the ex-homosexuals I personally know, they will say the same. Instead of lying to homosexuals and just going along with the world, we should love them enough to tell them the truth and let Christ set them free.

I am not the only one who knows that this is a suicidal proposal and must be resisted fiercely. Russell Moore has just written a piece, “Can We Trade Sexual Morality For Church Growth?” It is a great article. He begins:

From time to time we hear some telling us that evangelical Christianity must retool our sexual ethic if we’re ever going to reach the next generation. Some say that Millennials, particularly, are leaving the church because of our “obsession” with sexual morality. The next generation needs a more flexible ethic, they say, on premarital sex, homosexuality, and so on. We’ll either adapt, the line goes, or we’ll die. This argument is hardly new.

He looks at past failed examples of this, and reminds us that Christian sexual ethics are always difficult:

Sexual morality didn’t become difficult with the onset of the sexual revolution. It always has been. Walking away from our own lordship, or from the tyranny of our desires, has always been a narrow way. The rich young ruler wanted a religion that would promise him his best life now, extended out into eternity. But Jesus knew that such an existence isn’t life at all, just the zombie corpse of the way of the flesh. He came to give us something else, to join us to his own life.
If we withhold what our faith teaches about a theology of the body, of marriage, of what it means to be created male and female, we will breed nothing but cynicism from those who will rightly conclude that we see them not as sinners in need of good news but as a marketing niche to be exploited by telling them what they want to hear.
You can’t grow a Christian church by being sub-Christian. That’s why there are no booming Arian or Unitarian or Episcopal Church (USA) church-planting movements. But even if it “worked” to negotiate away sexual morality for church growth, we wouldn’t do it. We can only reach Millennials, and anyone else, by reaching them with the gospel, good news for repentant sinners through the shed blood and empty tomb of Jesus Christ. If we have to choose between Millennials and Jesus, we choose Jesus.

He concludes:

Virgin births and empty tombs are hard to believe. Fidelity and chastity are hard to live. That’s why we don’t have a natural gospel but a supernatural one. And that’s why Jesus isn’t a means to where we want to go. He’s a voice calling us to where we don’t, left to ourselves, want to go: the way of the cross. If we want to reach the next generation, they must hear from us a Galilean voice saying, “Come, follow me.” Anything less is just more marketing for an already well-marketed Broad Way. And the end thereof is death.

You betcha. Compromise and capitulation to the surrounding pagan culture is hardly how the church of Jesus Christ is going to make a difference in this world. And we most certainly are called to both be different from the world, and to make a difference in it.

Anything else is just a waste of time.

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8 Replies to “Christianity, Culture and Compromise”

  1. This post made me think of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Kings 18:21-40

    (Read 1 Kings 18:21-40)
    Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator, Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event encourages all God’s witnesses and advocates never to fear the face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things, really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord’s image and his favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed, convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope, had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only, not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more than they that saw it.

  2. Hey Bill, I use to have homosexual urges but I looked to Jesus and the bible and sought some counselling. Now I no longer feel the same way and with the light and love of Jesus I will find myself a beautiful girlfriend and marry her and together we will start a family. That’s the Christian way and the only way. I couldn’t have done it without your guidance and support. You’ll always have a very special place in my heart.

  3. Fantastic Toby. Give the glory to God who redeems us from the pit. I have seen with my own eyes the transformation of former homosexuals. Their whole physical appearance changes. I bumped into one the other day that I had not seen for some years and I hardly recognised him. He seemed bigger, more manly and at totally at ease with himself.

    But Bill, even among this coalition there those who compromise. It is an infection that will invade us all unless we are constantly on guard. Tim Keller is part of this coalition and when asked whether homosexuality was a sin he fluffed it, shifting attention onto others sins such as lying and stealing. But since when has a nation been brought down by lying and stealing. Why bother to undermine your enemy by getting him lie, steal, or smoke when you can get him to engage in sexual sins?

    For Keller, sin is not an affront to a Holy God but simply not the best way for us to live. He would say that it harms us – not that it would plunge us into hell.

    Robert Gagnon, the superman of homosexual theology [1] should be read by every Christian who is serious about arguing against homosexuality from a Biblical view point. Buy his book, ‘The Bible and Homosexual Practice,’ but above all read and re -read this his critique of Keller. [2] Learn it and then use it in your churches when useful idiots talk about the way churches need to repent of their homophobia..


  4. Yeah Dave, i give glory to god on a daily basis, and i feel so much better, day by day. It is not an easy path for me, and i have to stay focussed, for temptation feels like it’s just around the corner. But i know that if i stay true to Jesus i will become a stronger and better person. I don’t understand why i was born with these attractions though. Why must some of us carry this burden through our lives? Why?

  5. Thanks Toby, but of course if you are a biblical Christian you know exactly why, and have no more need of complaint than anyone else! It is called Original Sin. Every single one of us is born with a selfish and sinful orientation, away from God and toward self. So we are all in exactly the same boat. Some have an orientation or predisposition to anger, or to over-eating, or whatever. So we all have a cross to bear in that sense. But the good news is that Jesus Christ is in the change business. That is why he came – to set the captives free. And every single one of us is a captive to sin and self from birth. So focus instead on what Christ has done for you!

  6. Good article Bill, well done.

    Yes Toby, we all have our Cross to bear, all born sinful and sin is at our door. Its no different from the heterosexual asking why they have lustful thoughts, attractions and feelings for the opposite sex. Being born in sin touched flesh is a burden, but through Christ we stay in control of it and dominate it, crucifying those affections and lusts.

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