Countercultural Christianity, Part 2
In my previous post (“Countercultural Christianity, Part 1”) I pointed out that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people groups in all cultural settings. But at the same time, I believe that there is a need for God’s people to be more countercultural and less accommodating to cultural trends, at least in certain areas where the culture stands opposed to Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Here are some areas where I believe the church needs to stop compromising with the culture:
(1) Sexual Ethics
Our culture says, “It’s OK to sleep around as often as you want, with whomever you want, and with no lasting consequences for your sexual choices. Go ahead and ‘hook up’ to your heart’s content! If you’re a guy, you might want to wear a condom, or at least be willing to pay for her to get an abortion if she happens to get pregnant. But, hey, live it up!” God’s Word says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4, ESV) Our culture says, “There’s no harm in looking at pornographic or near-pornographic images. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and besides, it’s fun!” Jesus Christ says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28, ESV) And the Apostle Paul says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14, ESV) Many churches will perform wedding ceremonies for couples who have divorced former spouses on unbiblical grounds, without asking any probing questions of such couples or offering them biblical counsel, and without seeking to discern whether there is genuine repentance for such unbiblical divorces. “After all, it’s not our place to judge.” But Jesus Christ says, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9, ESV) Our culture says, “Marriage is what the government, not God, says it is! Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry just like heterosexual couples, and churches should be willing to perform gay wedding ceremonies!” Many liberal churches already perform gay wedding ceremonies, and due to cultural pressures it appears that even some evangelical churches are starting to back down from their formerly strict-stand against homosexuality. But, again, Jesus Christ says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'” (Matthew 19:4-6, ESV; emphasis added) Our Lord’s comments assume that marriage, as defined by God (not the government), is a “one flesh” union between a man and a woman. Gay couples cannot enjoy this natural “one flesh” sexual union of which Jesus speaks, and therefore they cannot be genuinely “married” (at least not in the eyes of God).
(2) Gender Roles and Family Life
Our culture says, “Women should be allowed to do anything that men do, including serve as ordained clergy in the church!” God’s Word says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” (First Timothy 2:12, ESV) (In the context of this passage the Apostle Paul has in view the setting of a church gathering. It is in such a context that God’s creation order dictates that women should remain quiet so as to learn, rather than to presume to exercise official teaching authority over the men. Paul is not saying that women must always, in all situations, be quiet or that they may never teach in other contexts outside the assembly of worship. For example, this passage would not prohibit a woman from teaching a children’s Sunday School class, or even from serving as a professor of certain subjects at a theological seminary.) Our culture says, “In a marriage relationship both the man and the woman should have equal decision making power and equal authority. Enough of this oppressive, sexist talk about the man being the “head” of his family!” But God’s Word says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22-25, ESV). (For those readers who might be tempted to think that this sounds terribly oppressive, I would encourage you to read on in Ephesians 5:25-33 about the husband’s responsibility to love his wife sacrificially, the way Christ loved His church by dying for her. Paul puts a much heavier responsibility on the shoulders of the husband in terms of husbandly duties than he does on the wife in terms of her wifely duties.) Our culture says, “Children should be given the freedom to choose whatever religion they want to follow.” But God’s Word says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, ESV) And, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)
To be continued…