Scarcely a week goes by when BreakPoint listeners and I don’t hear about some prominent Christian seeking to arrive at an accommodation with the broader culture in the name of “relevance.”
A recent high-profile example involves a prominent New York City pastor whom I greatly admire, in which he and his wife justified their not taking a position on same-sex marriage because “Jesus [never] addressed it on the record in front of people.”
Let’s set aside his questionable hermeneutics, and instead focus on the futility of what he and others are trying to do. I certainly do not question his good intentions: I’m certain he believes that talking about controversial issues will only get in the way of his trying to bring people to Christ, and I understand that.
Let’s also set aside the issue of what kind of disciples this avoiding of two thousand years of settled Christian teaching can produce. Again, for now let’s focus on the futility of trying to arrive at an accommodation with a culture that is continually, to borrow a phrase, moving the goal posts.
My friend and colleague Roberto Rivera recently illustrated this point at BreakPoint.org with regard to movies and television. For the past few decades, many Christians have eschewed previous criticism of specific content such as nudity, sexual situations, and violence for what was considered to be a more "nuanced" approach. And I’m one of them.
But as Roberto noted, while this was happening, producers, screenwriters, and directors "doubled down" on the objectionable content. A show like "Game of Thrones" contains levels of nudity, sex, and violence that would have been unimaginable even a decade or so ago, even on pay cable.
And there’s no sign that this trend will reverse itself. The price we’ll pay for nuance and being conversant in cultural trends will be to rationalize watching things that are frankly harder and harder to justify watching.
As another colleague of mine put it, Christians have to realize that there are things that no Christian can “blamelessly watch.” At that point we have to willingly embrace being “out-of-step” and being thought of as perhaps “strange.”
So as Roberto Rivera put it, “we might as well be holy,” since seeking an accommodation with the culture is, in his words,” a “loser’s game.” As soon as we bend a little, they insist we bend some more and then some more again.
The same is of course true in the area of sexual ethics. No sooner did Christians concede that some hypothetical committed same-sex couples should perhaps be treated in ways similar to the way that married heterosexual couples are than the proverbial goalposts, as we said, were moved even farther.
Time magazine proclaimed the plight of transgendered people “America’s next civil rights frontier.” In the blink of the cultural eye we went from that hypothetical committed same-sex couple to denying that “male and female created He them.”
As Roberto put it, “There is no winning or even staying afloat in this game, so we might as well not play at all. We might as well intentionally embrace our status as outsiders and not care what people think of us.”
Now, does that mean we abandon the culture? Absolutely not. We engage the culture with truth and beauty where we can. But we do not participate in the unlovely and the obscene.
In other words, we need the courage to be different, which as Roberto pointed out, is an essential part of what it means to be holy—to be set aside. The fact that the alternatives will get us nowhere should make our choice obvious, if no less courageous.
Please come to BreakPoint.org to read the whole article by my friend, Roberto Rivera.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: July 10, 2014