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Through Trials, Part 1: Be Quiet

12 Nov

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“… and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.” Morning & Evening, by C.H. Spurgeon for November 12

I think that this can pretty much summarize one basic struggle I have:

“It is good, that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence, when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust- there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.

For the LORD will not cast off forever, but, though he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men…”- Lamentations 3:26-33

I have trouble being quiet. Can you identify with this? I find when I have a problem, whether with myself or someone else, I tend to talk, a lot. I have had times where my husband has had to stop me and remind me that I’ve explained the same issue to him, in multiple variations, numerous times. He is patient with me, and I’m thankful for that. If it’s not him I talk to, I can easily find a listening ear to unload upon. I do have wise friends, but I wonder at the same time if, my talking is not a sign of my real desire to hear the advice from others, but rather my desire just to be heard, to know that someone is going to listen and that maybe the more I talk about it, the more I can figure out a solution to my problem.

Being quiet seems to be one of the hardest things to do, at least that’s what James says when he refers to the tongue as a restless evil, full of deadly poison, an unbridled member of the body that can’t be tamed. With that in mind, I have been considering the very serious way that talking, rather than listening and waiting, hinders us in our obedience and in our ability to see what the Lord really is doing in the midst of trials and temptations.

The verse I quoted above says “it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” I’m going to ask you to follow with me as I try my best to weave a few passages of Scripture together. Quietness implies submission. Rather than talking or taking matters into our own hands, quietness is a resolve to wait and STOP talking. Quietness involves putting the tongue to rest, and in turn, waiting to see what the Lord will do. Why do we need to wait and see? Because we don’t know the future. We don’t know what an hour, let alone a day can bring. If there is ever an opportunity to display belief in God’s sovereignty over all things, it’s in our call to quiet obedience while we wait for God to deliver us.

Another passage that calls for us to be quiet is in 1 Peter. Peter is calling women, wives in specific, to be like this: “… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” 1 Peter  3:4-6

Here is the passage I want to zero in on. Earlier this year, I was with a some friends and we were chatting about the whole concept of hope and submission to God’s will through trials and one point that was brought up that has not left me was this: Those holy women who were called precious, were called that because of their gentle and quiet spirit, which resulted from their hope in God. Did you catch that? Sarah, hoped in God, submitting to Abraham, and did good, not fearing anything that was frightening. Man did she have a lot to be afraid of.

I was sitting down this morning to read my Bible, and I began as usual with a short devotional from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening (the excerpt I referenced above) and was considering the trials and testing of our faith. That lead me to think about how we struggle with trials and are tempted to despair about God’s desire, even, to save us and rescue us out of trouble. As I was thinking about these things, I was brought back to 1 Peter and when I glanced over the example of Sarah and Abraham, my first thought was “I don’t need to read that story again, I’m familiar with it”. If you’re not, and even if you are, I strongly suggest you go and read it. I wasn’t going to- and there was my first problem. Aren’t we often tempted to say to ourselves that we “know” the Bible and its stories, and therefore have no need to re-read? This is where I think, we are loosing the most because rather than go back, reading with new eyes, and asking for God to continue to reveal himself through his word, we become presumptuous and miss out on the richness of truth.

Here’s what I found, and I’d love to hear from anyone if they see even more than what I gathered. God called Abraham out of Ur, to follow him. This is the beginning of Abraham’s journey of faith. He leaves the land he grew up in, to follow God into an unknown land, and God makes him a great promise or covenant, to bless him and make him a blessing to others. So Abraham responds in faith, and follows God as he leads him into Canaan. When they arrive, Abraham sets up an altar and worships the Lord. But then a a famine hits and as the one responsible for his wife Sarah (Sarai at the time), and all his servants and herds, he begins to make a plan to do what seems most needful to him, setting out on a journey that will ultimately lead to Egypt in order to find food and water to keep those that he loves alive. But Abraham’s one hesitation when he is about to arrive in Egypt is that the Egyptians will see Sarah as beautiful, and harm him in order to get to her, so he asks her to lie for him and say that she’s just his sister. This is incredible. God has just brought them into the land he promised, and he’s promised him a great inheritance, yet we don’t see a mention here of Abraham at any point calling on the Lord to provide or deliver him and his family from the famine. Aren’t we all like this at times when a trial comes? Do we take matters into our own hands, looking to the world for our deliverance, for our needs to be met? Just consider your own temptations and the way this looks in your life, because I’m sure that this is something we can all relate to. There was a real need- yet rather than call on the Lord and trust in his provision, Abraham goes down, into Egypt. We descend much in the same way. Rather than looking up, we look down and around and try to find our way out of trouble using what seems to us to be the most pragmatic of solutions.

I’ll continue my thoughts about the rest of the story in another post, but for now, how do you think Sarah dealt with all of this? She’d been sold out by her husband, was living in a foreign land in the home of the most powerful man in all of the Ancient Near East, and was on the verge of being made another man’s wife- all because of a lie and a plan that were not her own. I can just imagine the fear, the sense of betrayal, the anxiety for her own life and her husband’s life. Yet Peter gives us special insight about Sarah’s attitude and we know that she had that gentle, quiet spirit. She submitted to her husband, and hoped in God. If there is any trial where we can be sure our faith in God’s provision and salvation will be tested, I can pretty safely say that it will be in the context of those relationships we are most tempted to try to find hope and security in. Those people, spouses, friends, pastors, children, whomever we hold close to us and are most likely to want to place our trust in are the ones that are most dangerous for our souls. We can easily transfer our hope in God to hope in a person, and that is a dangerous transaction. To look for salvation from fallen men, a fallen husband, or a fallen wife is suicide. Can we trust in people who are also easily led astray, who don’t always trust in the Lord as they ought, and who just like ourselves are going to make bad decisions, even decisions that will hurt us? No. That is why Peter warns us, wives in particular, to hope in God. He even says that our obedience, our reverent behaviour is the means by which we win a disobedient spouse. Peter along with the Apostle Paul has much to say about suffering at the hands of sinful men, and they prepare us well for these trials so that we are not taken off guard, but rather, we are called to be faithful, patient in suffering, waiting for “the salvation of the Lord”.  Here is where he gets the glory- not just in the act of salvation (whether we experience present relief from a trial, or are given the grace to endure through it even if it’s never removed), but in our overcoming our temptation to doubt him and take matters into our own hands. God does not promise relief from trials, but He does promise strength to endure and provision to find our hope in him, not our circumstances and not in people.

I’ll let you stew over that for now. How are you tempted to hope in man, or a job, or a change of living situation, or relief from physical pain, or whatever very real suffering you are living with? This is a false hope, and rather than trying to destroy our joy, we know that as we read the truth in God’s word, it is there for us so our minds can be renewed and we can be freed from deception. False idols, those people or things or situations we are so easily led to bow down to are no hope at all, and in fact rob us from the one true joy. Once again, the Lord is rescuing us, not simply from these things, but from ourselves. I think what we stand to learn from Sarah’s response to the trial of her faith in particular is great, so I’ll save some more thoughts for later but I hope that for now, these reflections on our trials and God’s clear word on how we can be delivered through them would give you peace today as you think upon the fact that even if nothing changes in your situation, you can hope in him and that hope will not fail, for he is faithful and he will deliver you and give you grace, even if it means you will suffer as result of your obedience.

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Remembering Lola

28 Nov

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”- Psalm 116:15

If you’ve ever had a loved one who’s left home for a long time, you can identify with the joy and excitement experienced at their return. The anticipation, preparation, maybe even plans for a special meal or night out are all part of receiving them home. Well, the reception received in heaven of God’s saints is much greater and more wonderful than any earthly one. One week ago today, my Lola (grandmother) went home to be with the Lord!

In the sadness of loosing her here, I still have such a fullness of joy and peace because I know that she has gone home, and in going home she has finally experienced her faith becoming sight. She is with her heavenly father and He is rejoicing over her. The hope for those of us who know the Lord is that even though we are separated from one another at death, it is only temporary. We will see each other one day, and that day is a day I will look forward to.

I’m so thankful for her life and thankful for the Godly influence she was on all those around her. I probably said it before but I will never forget the way that my Lola prayed. She knew the Lord as her close friend and you could hear it in her prayers. If you ever happened upon her during one of her quiet times, you knew that she was engaged in a solemn conversation, speaking with God, interceding daily on behalf of those around her. If you ever asked her to pray for you about something, you could count on her taking that request very seriously and labouring on your behalf with her prayers. I hope that I will grow to having the same kind of prayer life as her!

I posted this piece about her a little while ago, and I’ll put it up again for anyone interested in reading a little about her life and who she has been to my family and I.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:56

The Christian Life & Work: Working It Out

15 Oct

If you’ve ever tried to get in to some sort of exercise after a long season of being stagnant, then you’re probably familiar with all the aches and pains that accompany a new routine. Sore muscles, thirst and hunger after a workout as your body sweats out the fluids and needs more fuel to burn, the temptation to give up after just a few days, and all the mental warfare that goes on in one’s mind about whether or not it’s worth it to keep on going or to just quit since it’s easier to eat what you want and sit on your couch instead of hauling yourself to the gym or giving up a precious hour for a run or workout, are some of the difficulties you’ll face.

At the same time, if you are really determined to reach a goal, whether it is weight loss or just overall fitness, those challenges, although they may be hindrances at times, will not ultimately set you back. I’ve seen it at times in my own “athletic” life and in the lives of others around me who’ve wanted to get in shape and have shown incredible determination and perseverance in order to get where they want to be. Sacrifice of time and of favorite foods and meals, the prioritizing of plans in order to make sure that every day involves some form of exercise, beating the body into submission in order to make it accomplish what it needs to. It’s hard work and it takes an incredible amount of commitment. No one looses 50 pounds overnight, nor can they increase their stamina after a few 5 km runs. Sometimes it takes months, even years to get where you want to be.

Then there are others who at the first sighting of a McDonalds are off the track and back to their old ways. Getting up early and going out for a run or heading to the gym are not easy things in the dead of winter when it’s -10 degrees and your warm bed is calling you. Trust me, I know what it’s like to be there too.

Maybe we all fit into one category or maybe some of use fit into both at different times. Some of us have the ability to look at a task head on and just dive into it without looking back. For most people though, I suspect that tackling difficult challenges doesn’t come without the desire to quit and give up at any sign of difficulty or challenge. In the Christian life, work can feel the same way. Last week, I was sharing about the difficulty of Christian athleticism when it comes to carrying out the jobs we’ve been called to do, and how often we look at the responsibilities we’ve been given and rather than taking them on, we want to pass them off to someone else who’s better and more able than we are. But if we’ve reached the point where we see areas where we want to grow and we have a goal in mind, whether it be a mom who wants to learn how to better plan meals and cook good food for her family, or a dad who wants to learn how to lead his children with Scripture, or a student who’s trying to get a handle on the whole university thing, we can’t get where we’re going without a game plan.

Being real with ourselves and our weaknesses is, I think, the first place to start. If you decided that you wanted to run a marathon but hadn’t put on running shoes since Terry Fox in 8th grade, then it wouldn’t be a good idea to set out on day one expecting yourself to go much further than a kilometer. Thinking that you can accomplish a huge feat after a day or two of exercise is not only unrealistic but it sets you up for failure and disappointment. The same goes for any type of work or responsibility we’ve been given that we want to learn to do better at. Taking a gourmet-cooking magazine that calls for ingredients you’ve never heard of and requires hours of time may not be the first place to start when setting out to try to conquer the kitchen. This doesn’t by any means mean you can’t get there, it just means you have to work it out so that in time, you’ll be able to do what you set out to do, once you’ve built up the skills and abilities you need.

To use a personal example, one area I’ve struggled in is my personal devotions. It’s something that for years I’ve wanted to be more consistent with, and each time I’ve tried a new Bible reading plan or set a time to wake up every morning, I’ve gone on for a while and then some life change or new set of circumstances comes along and I find that I’m once again struggling to maintain consistency. I get discouraged and then give up for a while.

Recently, my husband and I decided to start reading just one chapter of the Bible each day together. My mom and dad had just been telling us that they’d really been enjoying their time together in the Word every morning and that it was really encouraging and helping them because it was an opportunity for them to come together and focus on a small portion of Scripture, as well as giving them enough time to pray together. They’ve been reading a chapter a day and are all the way to Ruth! Serge and I have never done devotions together. Here and there, we’ve read and prayed and we will sometimes listen to a sermon together, but it hasn’t been something that we have done consistently as a couple. When my parents shared their idea, we thought to ourselves, “Why don’t we try that?”. We’ve both struggled to find ways to read the Bible consistently, and we’ve both found it challenging to tackle plans that tell you to read even four chapters a day, finding that skipping from one part to another often left both of us forgetting the majority of what we read. So, two weeks ago on an early Monday morning, the alarm rang at 6:00 am. I’d like to say we got up then, but we didn’t. It wasn’t till around 7:00 that we hurriedly hauled ourselves out of bed and tried to quietly make our way to the kitchen so as not to wake up Emma, and then we spent about 30 minutes reading and praying. It was great. And the days that have followed have been equally encouraging. Some days we’ve gotten up on time, others have been more rushed, but one thing we both have said to one another is that this is something that is working and helping us both. It hasn’t been as hard to get up with a partner, as it was to get up alone. Rather than dose off mid-sentence while reading, I have someone else to listen to and someone else to keep me awake. And reading one chapter has been more than manageable. It sounds like nothing, but when you start making yourself feel like reading the Bible is a competition or chore, or you begin comparing yourself to others who are able to read ten chapters a day, every day, then you can easily feel like you’re a failure when it comes to being a student of the Word. But that’s not what God has called of us. He desires that we come know Him, enjoy Him, and abide in His word. One chapter mediated on and prayed over, is better than trying to check off a list of several just for the sake of saying you’ve read a lot.

My point is this. Tackling a new task, or trying to grow in any area of our Christian life and work is going to bring us face to face with reasons to feel like failures and make us want to give up. Rather than looking at the mountains we are trying to conquer, I think that wisdom would have us begin where we’re at and build our stamina, one small step at a time. We need to work things out. Concert pianists don’t get there overnight. They spend years in private practicing before ever making it out on stage. An excellent cook doesn’t learn kitchen skills by watching the Food Network. She puts her head to the plow and slowly, one meal at a time, works on building her arsenal of abilities. Christians who want to be better students of Scripture don’t need to feel inadequate because they aren’t able to understand Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. They need to ask God to help them understand His word, one verse at a time, one chapter at a time, using resources that are helpful to them in the place they are at, rather than looking at all the things they don’t know and feeling discouraged because of that.

How about leaving off with a word of encouragement right from the Lord? Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” Isn’t that a comfort today, that in committing to Him whatever work He’s given us to do, He will strengthen and enable us to do it? If our plans are His plans, meaning we are seeking to glorify Him and do all things as unto Him according to His word, then we have nothing to fear. We can begin, knowing very little or even nothing, and God will give us wisdom as we seek it, and enable us to do all the good works that He’s called us to do. That is one of the best things about our Heavenly Father; He never requires of us anything that He will not by His own strength working in us, enable us to do.

The Christian Life & Work: Passing it off

1 Oct

Last week I was supply teaching a gym class of grade 10 girls. I love gym and I love teaching girls. After all, I was just like them only 12 years ago! Yikes. Actually, I wasn’t exactly like all of the girls in your typical gym class. I enjoyed (still enjoy) sports and looked forward to gym more than any of my other classes. But I still remember that 95% of the girls in all my gym classes didn’t feel the same way. Since gym was mandatory up till grade 11, most of the ladies were unenthusiastically forced to run, dribble, kick, and “compete” in all sorts of sports that they would by no means be drawn to naturally. I loved laughing with and at girls who thought sports were just times to braid hair and catch up on the latest high school gossip. Most of my classmates were good-natured and didn’t mind that they looked ridiculous when they would take aim at a soccer ball and send it flying about five feet in front of them, or when they’d try to play floor hockey and end up looking like they were flailing about with an out-of-control stick. It was all in good fun!

Not much has changed. Gym for girls still looks about the same. I was standing by trying to “coach” them as much as a supply teacher can, by giving them pointers like “Bend your knees when you’re standing at home plate”, or “No one is running, you need to come back and help your goalie!”, or “You’re going the wrong way, turn around and shoot in the other direction!”. The funny thing I noticed is that even without much desire or skill, there’s one thing that most of the girls still did. They’d look to the one or two players who were clearly more talented, and try to pass off the ball (or responsibility) to them. As soon as a girl who wasn’t that talented found a ball had come her way, rather than try to do something with it herself like control it and move up the field, she’d quickly look for someone else with more confidence and talent, and do her best to pass it off. It was a funny thing to watch. I couldn’t help but be amused at how natural it was to not want to take responsibility for the job that was given to them in the moment, but to look to someone else to take over for them.

Without turning this into an overly-analyzed metaphor, I was reminded of how many of us can default into the same response when it comes to our relationship to work as Christians. Paul uses the farmer, athlete, and soldier metaphors to paint a clear picture of Christians as workers. All three connote a commitment to a job, a disciplining of the body and mind, and hard work. Just taking a look at the idea of being an athlete, we can see that there’s a lot that doesn’t come naturally but needs to be worked at in order for real accomplishments to be reached. Yes, there are obviously naturally talented people who don’t have to work as hard to see results in athletics, but regardless, in order to be considered a professional in any sport, a lot of work needs to go into achieving that goal. Hours of practice, tryouts for teams, a disciplined diet and workout regimen, rejection, passing up of other lucrative opportunities, suffering and recovering through painful injuries. Athletics are not for the faint-hearted. Its no wonder that in grade 10 girls’ gym, there’s not much of a desire to have your body pummelled by balls when at the end of the day you don’t really view yourself as much of an athlete at all.

But as a Christian, we don’t have that option. We can’t “pass off” our work to someone else or just decide that we’re not really athletes. Maybe we feel like we’d rather be fans, cheering on the sidelines, or the water girl/boy that goes along with the team, but never really makes it onto the playing field. This isn’t saying that those jobs of cheering and water-girling aren’t important, but it is to say that no Christian is called to be anything less than athletic when it comes to how we run our race of faith.

We don’t all have the same jobs and responsibilities but this doesn’t change how we are to perform. Some of us are moms and wives; others are husbands, workers, pastors, children in school etc. Each one of us has jobs to do and carry out that require us to flex our muscles and develop our skills, learn more about our jobs, and do them well. We are not given the option of passing off our duties to someone who’s better, or more interested in doing them than we are.

Take for example being a mom with small children: If you didn’t grow up in a home where your mom cooked meals for you every day, or played creative games and sewed your own clothes, you might look out on your own situation and at times feel intimidated and overwhelmed by Pinterest pressure and the incessant updates of what everyone else is doing with their kids on Facebook. Someone else’s two-year old just learned the entire alphabet, and another lady has knit six sweaters and matching blankets for all her kids, for Christmas, in August! You are a failure. Or at least that’s what it may feel like when you think about whether or not you’re doing a good job at your job. In fact, maybe you feel like you weren’t cut out for this work. Maybe you just see a sea of talented people out there, doing tons of talented things and you can’t seem to make Kraft dinner without it tasting soggy and bland. Or, maybe you don’t even feel like a failure, so much as you’re not even interested in doing any of those things! You’d rather be lounging on the sofa with a good book, or hanging out with friends at the local Starbucks. Here are several possible responses, depending on how you look at your job and responsibilities. One: wallow in false guilt over an uninformed understanding of what your job is and how you are supposed to fulfill it. Two: decide that you’ll never be better at cooking, house-keeping, caring for your children, and just find ways to avoid doing those jobs by buying pre-made food and sitting your kids in front of the TV for long periods of time so that you can soothe your guilt with some online aversions. Three: Keep on doing what you like most, not bothering to ask yourself whether or not you’re being disobedient, lazy, or indifferent to the job you’ve been called to do. Four: Stop, repent from ungodly attitudes, seek God’s word for wisdom and clarity about what you are to be doing, and then learn how to do it well.

I’ve been guilty of numbers one to three many times. But I also know that number four is the only right answer, and when I do that, things change. I’m not a natural at many things. In fact, when I started out cooking for my husband when we first got married, we’d laugh after I’d made dinner, because it had taken me about four hours and I’d dirtied almost every dish in the kitchen. I’ve still got lots to learn, but things have gotten better and cleaner. I know that when I read the Bible, I’m called as Christian to work hard at all I do, and to do it well as unto the Lord. I know that I’m a wife and a mom. I’m also a member of my local church. I’m a daughter and daughter-in-law. I’m a friend. In all these categories, there are things that I need to learn more about and do better in. Even if I’ve failed or don’t have much talent, I need to learn more and do whatever it takes to become “athletic” in those areas. I forget who it was but I think Edith Schaefer (the infamous encourager of making your own furniture out of things like a used leather saddle- seriously who does that?? I love Edith) said that when you don’t know how to do something like sew, pick up some books, read a lot, take a class, and learn. Her advice is true to all of us in any station or situation in the Christian life. We are not allowed to panic and pass our ball off to the next person who’s better at doing what we’re called to do, or just pass our ball off to no one. We can’t say to ourselves, “Well, no one ever showed me how to work hard at school and develop good study habits, so I just won’t try very hard.” or “I don’t know how to lead my family with Scripture since no one did that for me growing up.” or “I just don’t like working at a job, I’d rather spend my time relaxing at home.”. Our weaknesses and struggles with sin are all opportunities for God to show His strength working in us. In 1 Corinthians Paul reminds his readers that not many of them were wise by the world’s standards when they were called to the Lord. We are those same people- not many of us have knowledge and understanding, but by God’s grace we can and will grow. He will enable us, but we also must exert ourselves and learn to flex our muscles and see areas of weakness, lack of talent, and failure, as opportunities for God to do good things through us. Thank God we’re not trying out for a team, and thank God we don’t have to win His approval. All the hard work will be worth it, for the opportunity to show others a testimony of faithfulness in this lifetime. We work because He’s already approved of us because of His Son, and we do it because we love Him and know that in running our race faithfully, we’ll one day receive a crown, a real prize that we can lay at His feet.

Call it what it is. Part 2

24 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This photo was taken from the article  “Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children” mentioned below. The purpose in using it was to point to the confusion surrounding issues pertaining to morality and how we understand them, not as a summary of three categories that all behaviours can be compartmentalized into.* (updated on September 27)

Do words matter all that much? You say “pot-A-to”, I say “po-TA-to”, right? In our postmodern, post-Christian culture, words and their meanings are relative. Truth, if there is such a thing, can be found from within yourself. If you believe it to be true, then it is. Before postmodernism, was the modern age, the result of 18th century Enlightenment thinkers who believed truth was made known on the basis of rational, scientific, and empirical inquiry. For many centuries prior to this, faith was the main means of coming to know the truth. Postmodernism is therefore a fairly recent historical shift in the way that people think. Without a grasp on the significance of postmodernism and its influence on how people perceive truth, Christians will be unable to defend against the tide of anti-biblical thinking, and once again, I want to make the case that it very much does matter what we say, and how we say it.

One of the most current and discussed examples of relativistic postmodern thinking is shown in the way our culture addresses sexuality. The biblical definition of marriage is the union of one man to one woman, for life. The point here is not to outline and defend the Biblical view of the marriage relationship, but simply to state that that is what God ordained as the one union where sexuality was to be expressed and enjoyed. Whether it be through sexual acts outside of marriage or through homosexual unions, the Bible is clear that sinful sexual behaviour is not only harmful and destructive to those engaged, but to others as well. This is not a popular view in the world, where promiscuity and personal fulfillment by whatever means is applauded as the highest good.

For many centuries, conservative views of sexuality were the norm, which is not to say that homosexuality and other types of unbiblical sexual behaviour did not occur, but that the dominant view supported the union of one man to one woman. For the past five decades since the sexual revolution, we have seen the traditional view crumble, relatively quickly, and be replaced with a very different morality. Albert Mohler recently wrote an article in The Atlantic about the sexual revolution where he states that prior to the 1960s when it began to occur, “Divorce was difficult, if not impossible to obtain, and it came with a taint of scandal that could doom professional prospects and personal reputation. Premarital sex happened, but it was discouraged. Homosexuality dared not speak its name, and lifestyles pressing for moral legitimacy today were virtually unknown to most Americans. Adultery was not only censured, but often penalized by both law and public condemnation.” The new morality that replaced old views of sexuality has had and will continue to have devastating personal, familial and social affects.

Here is where the need for Christian courage and clarity comes in to play. With the sexual revolution and postmodern thinking, there comes a strong argument against any absolute views of morality. Since the postmodern world believes that truth is relative, and people must determine for themselves what is good and right, and the only thing that is unacceptable would be to condemn or disagree with anyone’s personal views, Christians must have even more courage to stand for biblical truth even in the face of great pressure to accept and applaud all forms of sexual behavior. What Mohler mentions about the pre-1960s view of homosexuality is clearly not the case anymore. In fact, homosexuality is now applauded and encouraged in the most public forums possible. Parades, political platforms, advocacy groups, television and social media, all participate in promoting and praising the homosexual lifestyle as not only an alternative form of sexuality, but a good and desirable way of life. For example, how should Christians, when discussing the issue of so-called same-sex marriage, use their words to make it clear that they have a biblical perspective on sexuality? By doing just that. John Piper gets the credit for clarifying to me that even though there is a debate that is ongoing about legalizing the union of homosexuals, calling it marriage essentially identifies it as a legitimate union. His purposeful addition of “so-called” is not meant to be inflammatory but to be truthful. I’m not suggesting that we all must use this phrasing, so much as I am calling for Christians to be clear in their thinking and discussions. This may sound like a minor issue of wording but it’s not. Marriage is a union that was ordained by God, and since He created and determined its nature, we must hold to that view regardless of the shifting sands of cultural opinion that are giving way under our feet.

What could this mean for Christians? Will it really matter that Christians refer to it as “so-called same-sex marriage”? Will it matter that pastors preach sermons on texts that call homosexuality a sin? Will it matter that Christian children quietly refuse to participate in events that promote unbiblical sexuality at school? I think that the day is approaching (if not already here), when many Christians will be punished in various ways for their beliefs. Take a look at this short article from Desiring God regarding a case in New Mexico where a Christian photography business would not photograph a same-sex wedding and was brought to court as a result. Just Google Chic-fil-A and see what kind of slanderous things are being said about the company and their position on marriage. Or read the comments of many Torontonians who are enraged that Christian parents (along with other concerned parents) are asking the TDSB to opt their children out of classes where teachers are teaching on subjects such as homosexuality. What about this piece called “Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children” (*warning- some graphic content) written recently on a prominent online site that argues that pedophilia may simply be an illness, one that we must not condemn pedophiles for since it may be beyond their control? Take a look at this article on a film that was shown at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival that celebrates incest. Now that we have seen the normalization and institutionalization of homosexuality, and sadly the increasing charge to normalize other types of sinful sexual behaviour like pedophilia and incest, we are going to face the challenge of holding on to our beliefs, and the necessity of acting in accordance to conscience, against much pressure and potential punishment and ostracization.

We need to ask ourselves these questions. Are we willing to first and foremost be people of the book, no matter what it costs us? Do we have confidence that God’s word is the source of Truth and that His word and all it contains is written for our good, and for the good of the entire unbelieving world. Do we believe that biblical truth is not transient but absolute, and therefore what was written four thousand years ago is still relevant to us today? If we believe this, then we need to live and speak accordingly and as Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to be transformed by the renewing of the word so that we may be able to test and approve what is good and acceptable to God. We will be for the good of all people, if and only if our minds and hearts are fixed on Biblical truths and we learn to articulate them in a way that confronts, convicts, and comforts people with the hope of the Gospel. And most of all, we will be seeking after what is acceptable to God, the only one who we must aim to please.