Today is as good a day to be disliked as any, I suppose. Herein, I plan to opine on LGBTQ issues, transgenderism, and, if I'm feeling especially cranky, maybe women pastors. I can hear the internet creaking in protest already. I hit "publish" on this one with a trepidation born of not being a masochist—but also with the pronounced suspicion that many will energetically prove my forthcoming point with regards to the location and criticality of the battle lines drawn by the secularist generals of the day.
Speaking of long sentences, consider two more:
"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."
This quotation (often erroneously attributed to Martin Luther, though actually written by some Luther biographer since lost to history) is needful in this day of jelly-legged Evangelicalism, I fear. The apocryphal Luther wants to open our half-shut eyes to the cowardice we often rechristen kindness. Let me explain. We will often gladly fight on the fronts of social justice, racial reconciliation, and charity to the poor, but notice what these all have in common: All three of these are areas in which we are prone to find wide overlap between the values of secularism and our own (at least, what may seem like wide overlap, but that is for another post). Courage is not needed in places of basic agreement.
In each of these arenas, we often find ourselves fighting amorphous enemies like "poverty," standing shoulder to shoulder with humanists and Hindus. But what of those "little point[s] which the world and the devil are at [this] moment attacking?" If I may perform some desultory cultural exegesis, I'd say that our two biggest fronts are first cousins: LGBTQ celebration and gender fluidity.
I say these are first cousins because both the person who wants to chart his own borders with regards to his sexuality and the person who wants to rearrange his sexual organs really just want to be God. It's not about being a certain gender or sleeping with a certain person; it's about being God. It's about being the Sovereign Lord of your own identity. Behold the gospel of expressive individualism first preached at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now to my point, where is the Church in this?
I'm not saying the majority of churches are dancing in the Pride parades, though some are. And more will. But what we really have a lot of are church-mouse-quiet Christians, trembling scared in their makeshift bunkers, just hoping the secular soldiers will leave them be if they pinky promise not to say anything really offensive. "As long as I don't say anything about this sex stuff, they'll let me keep the rest of my Bible intact down here in my Evangelical bomb shelter. Maybe we could even ordain a few women as an olive branch?" But wait long enough and they'll raid the shelter. Thus always are tyrants. Trust me, the thoughtcrime prosecutors are already unionizing.
In each of these areas, there is profound fear in the heart of the average Christian to engage. Still worse, many self-styled Christians have not only abandoned the breach in these fights, but joined the opposition! But if we don't fight in precisely those areas where the culture is breaching the granited walls of orthodoxy, we are unfaithful servants. If we say to our Commander, "Sorry, can't help there. I'm busy guarding the rosebushes by the pergola out back," then we are unfaithful servants. It's at the breach where the soldiers stand or fall, where they are proved or disgraced.
So watch. Note those pastors, churches, and movements which give way where the culture is attacking, choosing rather to fight on the enemy-less fronts. Such institutions are like goalkeepers stalwartly safeguarding the sideline benches or basketball players keeping a close patrol of the wrong hoop—of course no one's attacking you! You're not defending what's being attacked! Note them and—I don't say this lightly—leave those churches.
Now, I must be clear on one point, because those most likely to vigorously amen and head-nod their way through this piece are in danger of a particular Gospel-perversion on this subject that we need to head off at the pass. Consider the Apostle in 2 Timothy 2:24–26,
"The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."
We—and I mean the "we" who love theological precision and tightly argued doctrinal fidelity—are prone to quarrelsome and combative jerkitude, n'est-ce pas? "Gentleness" is rarely attributed to those who love the words of Paul. This must grieve Paul. Friends, mistake not cowardice for kindness, yes—but likewise be sure not to mistake blustering bellicosity for loving correction. We fight like Christ on the cross, by dying. May the tears and the blood be our own, even as we plead with the bloodied victims and wounding aggressors of the secularist regimes.
I'll leave you with the following exhortation, this time actually from Luther:
“It does not help that one of you would say: ‘I will gladly confess Christ and His Word on every detail, except that I may keep silent about one or two things which my tyrants may not tolerate... For whoever denies Christ in one detail or word has denied the same Christ in that one detail who was denied in all the details, since there is only one Christ in all His words, taken together or individually.”
Let’s practice not caring so much about our tyrannical overlords, shall we? Thus always to the secularist tyrants.