I hate writing these words that I know no one really wants to hear. Goodness knows much (and probably too much in some cases) has been said about the ruling last Friday. But the thing that kept coming to mind as I sat listening to a sermon about Micaiah was an article I read by a Christian who said that the efforts of the church to stand up for what we believe God says about right and wrong were wasted.
As was pointed out to me, the author didn't specifically use the word "wasted". But the idea that was conveyed was that all the money spent trying to prevent the normalization of sin that we see happening now could have been better spent on humanitarian efforts, helping the sick and poor.
While I can appreciate his zeal to reach those in need (and I agree we should certainly be giving to those causes) what people need even more than having physical needs met is the Gospel (and I noticed a call to spread the Gospel to those in need, along with physical help, was conspicously absent from the article). It is true that there are many who are in desperate physical need around the world, but I cannot agree that the efforts and money given to standing for biblical principles are all for naught.
Many people argue that the Gospel is about love. That is true, and indeed we are able to be saved because of the love of God. It is also His love for the world working in our hearts that motivates us to minister to those in need and go to the ends of the earth (including our own backyard) to share with people that we can be saved.
But therein lies the other side of the coin. Saved from what exactly?
In our own "backyard" of America today, there is a massive effort to ostracize people who claim to know what is right and wrong. "Judge not!" people cry, indignant that anyone would dare tell someone else how they should be living their lives. It's gotten to the point where many are hesitant to make any moral judgements at all, even about something as horrific as mutilating another human being.
But there is such a thing as right and wrong. There is such a thing as objective truth. And these things are not based on any humans feelings, but on what God says in His Word. He is the source of truth, and we cannot claim that right and wrong does not exist because God says that it does. He makes it clear that He will judge our actions and hold us accountable for the actions that are wrong, whether we will acknowledge that they are wrong or not.
This isn't even about the one sin that everyone is talking about after last Friday. We all have our own sins that we struggle with, and each one is enough to condemn us to an eternity in hell. I think it is a mistake to forget that. The thing that I find disturbing about all this is the larger movement in American culture to abolish the idea of sin at all.
We cannot only care for physical needs and ignore spiritual needs. We cannot say we want to proclaim the Gospel to the lost and not include both sides of the coin. Jesus loved us enough to die to save us. From what? From our sin. From sin that separates us from God and places us under His judgement.
When our culture gets to the point where we are hesitant to define sin, we are in a dangerous place. If there is no right and wrong, if there is no sin, there is no Gospel message.
If we are going to fully reach the needy around the world, we need to address their physical needs, and their need for Jesus to save them from their sin. If unbelievers in the modern American culture are going to recognize that they need Jesus, we need to start with speaking the truth in love and explaining why.
If we want to show love to others, we will not blur the lines by implying that there is no truth. If we want to show love, we can't ignore right and wrong because someone might not want to hear it. If we want to show love, we can't act like no right and wrong exists to avoid offending people. We are not showing love when we only talk about God's love and ignore sin, because people need to see the full picture to be saved.
If you have read the story of Micaiah, you know that his stand as the lone person telling the truth made no difference. King Ahab did what he wanted to do anyway, and King Ahab suffered the consequences. So were the words of Micaiah a waste, just because they brought about no visible results? No, because Micaiah did what God told him to do. He stood for truth, even when no one wanted to hear it.
For those Christians who attempt to stop the "normalization of sin" in our culture? I can't accept that it makes no difference, or that their efforts should have been spent elsewhere. Without an idea of right and wrong, there is no reason for people to need Jesus. Without our sin, there was no reason for Jesus to die to pay for it. Understanding the Gospel starts with understanding our sin.
The truth of the Gospel, of Jesus saving us from our sin, is what will ultimately set people free - but no one will know the truth if we won't love the lost enough to be willing to speak it.