Recently, Bruce Jenner, Olympian, has come out declaring himself Caitlyn Jenner. I have been pretty shocked at the sheer volume of articles that have been put out on the Internet about this issue. Our culture has been fascinated with this issue, and many Christians have responded as well. I think that we, as church planters and pastors have an obligation when it comes to these issues. But, there are good ways and not so good ways that we can respond to issues in culture.
As Christians, we are people of truth which means we make exclusive claims about truth just like everyone else does (whether they admit it or not). We are to speak the truth on issues in our culture. However, the way we speak truth is also important. We are to speak hard issues out of love even if they are not received that way. When we speak truth in love, we glorify God which is our aim and our motive.
With that being said, here are several principles for us to consider when dealing with issues in culture.
1. Speak Compassionately.
We’ve been going through the book of Ephesians as a church and just finished up Chapter four. At the end of four, Paul says to be people that forgive one another as Christ forgave us. As we think about how Jesus has forgiven us, we should show the same compassion to the world around us. Sometimes, we, as Christians can be the most uncompassionate people in the world. The transformed life requires us to be those who are compassionate to those around us. Before Jesus, we, also, were living a life of rebellion to God. To speak compassionately, we have to understand that we’ve already been shown great compassion. I don’t understand what type of psychological issues Bruce Jenner has gone through to get to this point, but his life is brokenness on display that all of humanity also faces.
2. Speak Biblically.
Just because we are people of compassion does not mean that we are people of compromise. We believe the Bible is our source of truth and as a result of that it has truth claims to say to us. American culture today, by in large, says, “What is right for you is good no matter what anything else says.” Biblical Christianity disagrees with this claim pretty strongly. We believe the Bible should inform culture and not the opposite way around. When we come across issues like these in culture, we need to have a biblical response, not an opinionated one. The Bible is clear that God forms and fashions us in the womb. It is He who directs our very DNA, and it is not an accident that we are created the way we were made. To speak contrary to that is to say that God Himself screwed up when He created us.
Truth and compassion go hand in hand. We need to speak the truth in love.
3. Think Missionally.
When we speak to these issues, we need to understand that many will hear what we are saying. We need to see these opportunities to make much of Jesus and engage people with the truth of the Gospel. We need to make sure that we are speaking clearly on these issues with communication that make sense to the world around us. We, too often, communicate our immediate disgust without understanding that this is an opportunity to share the truth of God to others.
4. Preach the Gospel.
When we do have these opportunities, the first thing people need to hear is the Gospel. The Gospel is that we are all broken and in sin. We are not good people but evil people. The solution to our sin is not to dress it up or to fill it with some scheme of man that we think will make us happy. None of that will make us happy and will just leave us with more emptiness and more brokenness. We need Jesus Christ. When we have the opportunity to share, speak the Gospel boldly. Jesus offers hope to the sinner no matter what sin he has transgressed. And to all who repent of their sin and believe in Jesus, they will be forgiven. The Gospel is our only weapon against the sin of this world. It is the tool God has ordained the church to use as the Holy Spirit is the only one who has the power to convict, regenerate, and redeem.
5. Watch Hypocrisy.
You and I may not struggle with transgenderism, but you may struggle with pride, gossip, selfishness, greed, lust, and many other forms of sin. We need to make sure our message is consistent that all sin is wrong, and all sin is rebellion on God. Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on more public sin because it distracts us from our own struggles. As Christians, we realize that even though we are followers of Jesus now, we are not perfect. We are constantly striving to be “imitators of God as beloved children” (Eph 5:1). Speak honestly and speak truthfully, but make sure your the message is clear that we were sinners who are saved entirely by the grace of Jesus and nothing of our own effort. The doctrine of grace reminds us of our past depravity but even more of our great Savior and what we’ve been forgiven.
Culture will always be producing all sorts of things that go against our worldview. We shouldn’t be surprised of those things. We need to make the best use of our time because the days are evil (Eph 5:16).