Thursday, March 27, 2014

Single Focus on Social Change

Talk about intimidating!

Can you think of two more blockbuster issues in North America today than abortion and gay marriage?  For us evangelicals, it can seem as though the ground under our feet is slipping away, like sand as we stand on a beach in the lapping surf.

Perhaps you’re tempted to simply stand and become a bystander, and let other people grapple with these blockbuster issues.  Yet, particularly if you're an unmarried evangelical, like me, have you ever realized that we are in a unique position to advance the cause of Christ regarding both abortion and gay marriage?

Think about it: most women who consider abortion – along with the men who’ve impregnated them – are single.  And how many people considering same-sex marriage are currently in heterosexual marriages?  See – these are singles issues, and who do you suppose has the most access to North American singles?  Other North American singles – especially those who belong to Christ!

We’ve got our own mission field right here where we live.

We evangelicals know where we’re supposed to stand on these issues, even if where we’re standing seems like the proverbial beachhead of civilization as we believe the Bible teaches it should be.   And where we’re standing is being lapped away by the surf of relativism.

It’s one thing for us to sit in church or a Bible study and agree with our pastors and popular evangelical personalities when they teach about how God’s Word views same-sex marriage, and how society discards lives it claims are inconvenient.  Yet we can do more than just agree with what the Bible teaches.  We can testify to God’s truth with our own lives, in our personal spheres of influence.

Most of the activism being seen in the public square on these two topics appears to be coming from older, married Christians – people who may not possess much credibility among those actually making the personal decisions that, cumulatively, are directing the outcomes of these debates.  Meanwhile, where are we evangelical singles in this mission field of blockbuster issues that directly affect our fellow unmarrieds?

Okay, so taking a stand for Christ’s truth isn’t as easy as it sounds, is it?  For one thing, both of these blockbuster issues share a key sex component.  Considering how much our society openly worships sex these days, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that both abortion and gay marriage have as much to do with sex and interpersonal relationships as they do legislation and morality. 

But, for a variety of Biblical reasons, our church leaders haven’t historically encouraged us to talk about sex.  As evangelical singles, we may consider ourselves to be an unlikely group of people to champion the lives of fetuses, and heterosexual marriage.  After all, we’re supposed to be chaste, sexually inactive people, for whom marriage has been deferred, however temporarily.  How could we possibly be relevant ambassadors for God regarding such sexually charged issues?  How can we lovingly and effectively engage our friends, co-workers, and family members who may hold different opinions than we do on these topics?

Why not try doing it one person, one friend, one co-worker, one relative at a time?

Blockbusters issues like abortion and gay marriage can be intimidating because, as social norms change, it’s easy to forget that societies don’t change without individual people actually changing.  In other words, the continent of North America isn’t waffling on these two issues; the people who live here are!  Society is a collection of people; people like you and me.  Societies don’t make decisions; people do.  And God places us where we are – here in one of the wealthiest, best-educated, and technologically advanced societies our planet has ever seen – for a reason.

And what is that reason?  The same as it’s always been:  To glorify Him, and that involves testifying of His goodness to those with whom we come in contact!  Some people call it evangelism, but even that can sound intimidating to many of us.  But think about it:  everything you do, everything you say, and even everything you don’t do – it all tells people around you something about what you believe.

So, what are your life and your lifestyle telling people about your belief system?  Are you glorifying God with what you’re saying, even non-verbally?  Even when it comes to blockbuster issues like abortion and gay marriage? 

Remember, however, that to glorify God, we have to allow His Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in our lives.  Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It’s hard to see how berating people who advocate for abortion, or mocking those who advocate for gay marriage, models the Fruit of the Spirit.  So how do we advocate for those things that honor God – in ways that also honor God?

First, we probably can all agree that the time to be hesitant about committing to Biblically based standards in these two politically-charged has passed.  We can no longer ignore abortion and gay marriage.  So when you hear about these issues in the media, and especially among your friends, co-workers, and relatives, don’t shrink away from the discussion.  After all, timidity regarding truth is part of what has gotten us into this ever-expanding morass of moral relativism.

When we interact with other people – people who are made in God’s image, remember – we need to model the Gospel appropriately.  Christ only displayed His anger once – when He was clearing out the moneychangers in the temple.  Otherwise, He displayed pity upon people who did not agree with Him.  And so should we.

Pity.  Not contempt.  Remember the Fruit of the Spirit!  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness, and self-control.  Matching vitriol with vitriol is not a hallmark of Christlikeness, is it?

Consider, too, the ways in which you can develop interpersonal relationships with people who don’t agree with you on abortion and gay marriage.  Christ did not flinch from associating with people whose morality did not approach His own, and He did not prohibit His disciples from associating with them, either.  There is a difference between associating with people who do not believe in Christ, and copying their sinful lifestyles.  If we spend all of our time cloistered within our “sacred huddles” or “Christian ghettos,” then how can Christ use us to influence society for His glory?

For example, would Christ refuse to be friends with somebody who is gay just because they are gay?  Would Christ de-friend a person simply because she’s had an abortion, or he encouraged his girlfriend to have one?  Christ never taught His disciples to disassociate from people because they’re sinners.  Shucks, we’re all sinners!  We should use discernment regarding the lifestyles and behavior patterns with which we choose to associate, but the same sins we see in others mimic the sins from which Christ has saved us.  Perhaps He wants to use us to do the same for our friends, co-workers, and relatives.

Just because abortion and gay marriage are blockbuster issues doesn’t mean that Christ can’t use people like you and me to influence our society in ways that glorify Him.  After all, Christ doesn’t save countries or societies; He saves individuals.

Singularly.  One at a time. 

That’s how blockbuster battles are won for the One.

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