I decided not to comment yesterday on Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, feeling that the story I discussed regarding a Christian school’s gender policies was more significant. Now, given the responses to the show—or lack thereof—I wish I had.
What happened on the show was so immoral, and the backlash has been so quiet, that I am grieved for our culture on a level I need to discuss with you today.
I did not watch the show, but this description on Yahoo! prompted today’s response: “Megan Thee Stallion was one of the big winners at Sunday’s 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, taking home the Best New Artist honor as well as Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for her duet with Beyoncé. But it was another Megan duet, ‘WAP,’ that won the night, when she and Cardi B joined forces for their first-ever televised performance of their X-rated sex-positivity anthem.”
The reporter continues: “Megan and Cardi toned down the raunchy song as much as they could in order to make it past CBS censors. ... But the performance was still racy enough that it didn’t air until after 10 p.m. on the East Coast ... And it probably lit up the FCC’s complaint hotline as soon as the hip-hop queens left the stage.”
While Yahoo! lauded the performance, the Associated Press ignored it completely, as did the New York Post. Some commentators voiced their concerns, one calling it “absolutely disgusting and ridiculous,” but others praised “the best performance of the night.”
I remember well the “wardrobe malfunction” that scandalized Super Bowl viewers in 2004 and led to fines against CBS. Now it seems that we are subjected to such “malfunctions” on prime time television regularly.
With the Academy Awards coming next month, I’m not sure whether to watch or not.
Three reasons the Vatican statement is good news
Here’s a story that is as far on the other side of the cultural spectrum as I can imagine: Pope Francis and the Vatican have declared that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.” While the pope has called for national laws for same-sex civil unions in the past, the latest statement reaffirms Church teaching that bars priests from blessing such unions.
The Vatican’s pronouncement states that same-sex unions are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan” and specifies that acknowledging such unions is “illicit.” Those who followed the pope closely are not surprised, given that he has often stated his opposition to same-sex marriage.
This is very good news for at least three reasons.
One: The Vatican’s statement reaffirms biblical truth at a time when such morality is under increasing pressure and rejection. The pope’s stand will hopefully encourage Christians to make public their commitment to God’s unchanging truth as best for all of us.
Two: The Vatican’s statement shows that Christians can engage the culture without compromising their convictions. Pope Francis has famously welcomed LGBTQ advocates to the Vatican and responded to questions about gays, “Who am I to judge?” But his desire to share the grace of Christ has been balanced with his commitment to the truth of Christ. Like him, we are all called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Three: The Vatican’s reaffirmation offers hope for evangelical churches and ministries concerned about their tax-exempt status and religious liberties. For the government to attack the Roman Catholic Church for its moral stance would be politically implausible. The Church’s position gives encouragement to all who join in its convictions regarding LGBTQ issues.
(For more, see Ryan Denison’s article, The Vatican declares same-sex unions cannot be blessed by the church: Why this is loving and gracious.)
Michael Youssef’s seven-step response to our "present crisis"
Yesterday, I voiced my grave concerns over moral compromise within the church, citing a church school whose gender inclusion policies clearly contradict orthodox biblical teaching. Given the moral degradation at the Grammys and across popular culture, countercultural stances such as the one taken by the Vatican are more urgent than ever.
To that end, I’d like to recommend highly a new book, Hope for This Present Crisis, by Michael Youssef. Dr. Youssef is a native of Egypt, a brilliant scholar (PhD in social anthropology from Emory University), and a noted pastor. I served a church in Atlanta not far from his congregation and have followed his ministry over the years with great appreciation.
His new book sounds the alarm: “This is our present crisis—not an external threat from terrorists or warlike nations or a viral pandemic, but a decline of faith, truth, and morality. It is hollowing out our society from within.”
Dr. Youssef explains how Critical Theory and “woke” strategies have led many to reject absolute truth and biblical morality. To this threat he offers a seven-step response:
- Remember the truth: stand firm for biblical morality on a foundation of “irrefutable evidence.”
- Restore the soul: seek the approval of God over others.
- Revitalize the family: pray fervently for our children and raise them to know and love God’s word.
- Reestablish the classroom: care for public school teachers, know what our children are being taught, and consider Christian schools or homeschooling where necessary.
- Respect our freedoms: know our rights, defend the rights of others, and pray for boldness.
- Reform our society: seek moral and spiritual purity for ourselves while praying for our nation and sharing the gospel with all people.
- Revive the church: demonstrate the forgiving love of Jesus at all times as we “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11) and seek opportunities to share our spiritual gifts.
"We need to go and invade these areas"
Author James Clear quotes philosopher and priest Franz Brentano: “What is at first small is often extremely large in the end. And so it happens that whoever deviates only a little from truth in the beginning is led farther and farther afield in the sequel, and to errors which are a thousand times as large.”
By contrast, as Dr. Youssef said in an interview on his book, “We must take charge. Christians have abandoned so many areas of society, from media and the classroom. Instead of withdrawing, we need to go and invade these areas and take them for Christ and not be afraid. We are on the right side. We have read the last chapter, and it says we will win.”
What area of culture will you invade today?
NOTE: As believers, you and I want to know that we’re significant—that our lives have purpose and fulfillment, and that we’re a force for the kingdom in our culture. That’s why I wrote my book, Blessed: Eight Ways Christians Change Culture, and it’s why we’ve just re-released it with the inclusion of the bonus Blessed Small Group Study Guide. This special resource is my gift to thank you for your donation, so please request it when you give—knowing that your investment will help more Christians discern the news differently. Thank you for your generosity.
Publication date: March 16, 2021
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Winter/Staff
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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