Two compelling issues have made the headlines these past few days and both indicate a very sorry trend that as Christians we can, once again continue to ignore or, we can acknowledge the necessity to truly engage in dialog in the forum of the public domain with urgency. It is not simply worth our effort – it is now, as always, imperative.
First, it is with great sadness to witness the abdication of the Supreme Court to even hear, let alone rule on fundamental moral legislation. It can be argued this pathetic trend of secular progressive cowardice began, at least in earnest, with the Roe v Wade decision favoring abortion, or the voluntary ending of human life. It has continued all but unabated since then with the Lawrence v Texas decision in 2003, striking down sodomy laws as one example.
With regard to traditional marriage amendments to state constitutions – a historically recent phenomenon since almost all original state constitutions never even bothered to define marriage as the culture then would have considered homosexual marriage unions unthinkable – The Supreme Court of the United States has declared the issue as settled and further debate merely academic. In their minds, the homosexual agenda will prevail. It is generally understood that almost immediately 30 states will sanction homosexual marriage.
The second topic of conversation and debate is the recent announcement by 29-year-old Amanda Maynard to end her life on November 1st. She will be surrounded by her friends and family, in her bed in her Portland, Oregon home. She has grade 4 glioblastoma. She was told, and she believes she has six months to live. Never mind that there are recorded patients with GBM who are living far beyond their prognosis. Amanda has determined she will die on her own terms by her own hand – in a state that has legalized suicide. If only Amanda knew that death is the enemy, not her friend, and it can be defeated. At the very least, there is no limit to the kind of palliative care she can receive for her condition. In any event, her story is tragic and she needs our prayers for God’s grace and her salivation.
I think it important to put these developments into perspective and to place the real issue on the table: We are now and certainly have been since Our Savior walked this earth [to be] in spiritual warfare. “We” did not lose any battle here. The vast majority of Christians who do not and will not accept the idea of marriage as holy matrimony as anything other than between a man and a woman, know that God is still on His throne and His laws and His judgements are supreme to all others. This is true and it simply does not matter what newspaper editorials or broadcast journalists will tell you. If there is any defeat here that Christians must be prepared to discuss it is the major blow to common morality and sensibility. But no amount of legislation could have stopped that from happening anyway. Homosexuality and suicide were once illegal in every state of the Union. Now they are not. There is nothing more to be said. We must deal with it with grace and courage.
To the issue of spiritual warfare I believe it is crucial that every Christian understands he or she is in a spiritual battle. Regardless of our innate aversion to fight, God has equipped us to do just that. (Ephesians 6:10-12) Only unbelievers place any real significance on political or cultural perspectives and so whenever possible, we should be prepared to discuss the implications only from a spiritual standpoint. Any other tactic is often and ultimately a waste of time. “Awareness of the spiritual battle around us is very important. Not only awareness, but vigilance, preparedness, courage and the right weaponry are crucial elements of engaging in spiritual warfare.” So states the authors of a very good reference piece on this subject. Read more.
We are drawing closer and closer to the very heart of the matter here: That is the manner of how we will work out our faith as we face growing apathy in our churches and emboldened enmity from our critics and enemies dwelling among the unbelieving secular humanists dominating our legal, educational and media industries. These are the people who alternately and ultimately shape, indoctrinate and adjudicate how the culture thinks and behaves, both here and around the world. If we thought the Church has been a combatant in that particular battle, sadly we would be mistaken. In my opinion, we have already “lost” at least one generation – arguably two to the forces of “rational” thinking.
Ultimately there will be the time when we may be faced with real tests of our faith; the kind of tests that Christians in other parts of the world are already experiencing. The problems we have been seeing on the horizon are now at our doorstep. Can we really imagine that “business as usual” will be enough to hold back the assault on our families, our communities and our country? I would not want to bank on that.
I believe it is only a matter time before some appeals court will rule that preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is practicing hate speech. Will we stand behind the first amendment and hope that will be enough to prevent the state from confiscating our personal property, levying criminal or civil fines – or even prison? Already property rights have lost significant meaning from eminent domain as just one example. Now business owners are facing severe penalties and public humiliation by freely exercising their beliefs which include not openly participating in sins against God. Is this true separation of Church and State? When critics of our beliefs press their cause, Christians are supposed to remain quiet or be accused of being judgmental. But when we hold to our beliefs, we go to court – and often lose our basic and our most fundamental rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Anyone care to debate me about the real oppressed minority?
The point is this: We must not assume the enemy is anything other than evil. Tyranny is the straight jacket of the evil one and we are facing this tyranny waged with supernatural determination. What could possibly make us think we can fight back with weapons of our own devices – like “Marketing techniques, counter-philosophies, persuasive words of human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:4), rationalism, organization, skill, entertainment, mystique, better lighting, or better music[?]*
We should know that we did not necessarily need to drive homosexual marriage from the culture. Instead, we need to war against the “logismos” (human wisdom) the Apostle Paul speaks of. That’s the stronghold or fortress of the enemy imprisoning any who have not received spiritual wisdom by rejecting God outright and seeking some other belief system. We see our neighbors locked inside from the truth on virtually every essential issue of our day.
There is much to do and much to discuss regarding the topic of spiritual warfare, but it must begin with and certainly include the understanding that there is only one weapon that is completely effective in this battle.
In my more than 45 years as a believer, I have lead or participated in dozens upon dozens of Bible studies and I have come to understand one of the basic issues we must all face. Too many of us are lacking a good understanding of the over-arching metanarrative of Biblical Theology. My experience has informed me that only when we do understand the narrative, we are more at ease in meeting the advances of moral revolution and discussing and debating them with compelling confidence. I am no longer amazed when rationalizing people respond to the rationale of scripture and in particular the Gospel of Jesus Christ when presented this way.
” Biblical theology is absolutely indispensable for the church to craft an appropriate response to the current sexual crisis. The church must learn to read Scripture according to its context, embedded in its master-narrative, and progressively revealed along covenantal lines. We must learn to interpret each theological issue through Scripture’s metanarrative of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. Specifically, evangelicals need a theology of the body that is anchored in the Bible’s own unfolding drama of redemption.” Albert Mohler
We cannot rely on proof-texting to appeal to the psyche of an erudite, but confused and indoctrinated people. It is always scripture from where we draw our knowledge and understanding of the world. But every great book can be distilled to the essential narrative. This is how the Bible enables us to form our essential Christian Biblical world view. It is our world view that equips us to examine, evaluate and explain everything – including good and evil.
So it is time we marshal our resources. We must prepare ourselves with righteous prayer and then put on our armor and prepare for the battle. But take heart in this inescapable spiritual fact. No weapon on earth – no nuclear stockpile, no fleet of submarines, and no ballistic missile array can match the power of one weapon: the sword of the Spirit – the Bible. (Ephesians 6:17) It seems astonishing how much comfort that can bring yet how devastatingly effective it is in wounding, confounding and defeating the enemy.
But I fear the time is upon us now – not later – for us to prayerfully consider the effect of vigorous, effective preaching against the corruption of this new world order; this shredding of traditional values and moral clarity and denounce it for what it is. It will take real conviction to be sure as there is much ground we have allowed to fall into enemy hands. As for courage – Fear not. The Lord is with us.
One more thing if I may mention for pastors and church leaders: take the time to read, download and prayerfully consider implementing an important piece of polity language in your church covenants. It is found here.
Be blessed and be prepared.