An Alabama county official refused to lower flags to half-staff this week in honor of the victims of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, saying that doing so would signal a lack of resolve in the face of terrorism. While his “soul ached for the victims” and his family prayed “for them and for the world,” he did not feel it was a “valid circumstance” for lowering the flag to half-staff.
A student is given the assignment of writing a term paper defending evolution. As a Christ follower, they feel it will violate their convictions.
An employee is told to fly a rainbow flag at half-staff in front of their office building to signify mourning for the victims of the massacre in Orlando, FL. While they mourn the tragedy, they wonder if the action means they approve of a lifestyle that goes against their biblical convictions.
In the 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire, Olympic athlete Eric Liddell is scheduled to compete in the 100 meters during the 1924 Paris Olympics. However, he discovers that the preliminary heat is scheduled for a Sunday. Being a Sabbatarian, he refuses because it goes against his Christian convictions. The dialogue below reveals how the British athletic leaders try to convince him otherwise.
Lord Birkenhead: Liddell, he is your future king, are you refusing to shake his hand? Does your arrogance extend that far?
Eric Liddell: My arrogance, sir, extends just as far as my conscience demands.
Lord Birkenhead: Fine, then let’s hope that is wise enough to give you room to maneuver.
Lord Cadogan: Don’t be impertinent, Liddell!
Eric Liddell: The impertinence lies, sir, with those who seek to influence a man to deny his beliefs!
HRH Edward, Prince of Wales: There are times when we are asked to make sacrifices in the name of that loyalty. And without them our allegiance is worthless. As I see it, for you, this is such a time.
Eric Liddell: Sir, God knows I love my country. But I can’t make that sacrifice.
As a Christ follower, how do we practice our beliefs in an increasingly antagonistic culture? When do we stand firm and when do we compromise? How far can our convictions stretch before they break altogether and mean nothing?
Fortunately for us, the book of Daniel in the Old Testament provides some insights as to how we can live out our convictions in a culture that either ignores or rejects God.
Based on the example of Daniel and his friends, there is a time to suggest a compromise (ch. 1) and there is a time to stand firm in our convictions (chs. 3 & 6). If necessary, we must face the consequences for our choices. And God may, or may not, rescue us from the punishment. Regardless of the outcome, however, we need to be obedient and follow God (3:16-18).
I counseled the student writing the paper on evolution to present what the teacher asked for. The student could quote the teacher’s sources and give what was required. At the end of the paper, the student could then present what Scripture says on the subject. It was a compromise designed to meet the requirements while at the same time declaring their personal convictions.
The worker attached the hardware for the rainbow flag to be raised, but did not participate in any further ceremonies. They performed their duty without endorsing the decision.
As time goes on, Christ followers will face more and more situations where we will have to decide how far our conscience can stretch. May we have the wisdom of Daniel to know when to compromise and when to stand firm.
After reading the news over the past 30 days, I’ve come to the conclusion it is time to weep. We should weep for a culture where …
After three and a half years of discussions & debates, polls & planning, the congregation of First Central Baptist Church voted last night by a three-fourths majority to change our name to First Central Bible Church. The move was prompted by a recognition that the label “Baptist” is no longer a positive one in today’s culture. Since our church is committed to following the Scriptures, it made sense to replace “Baptist” with “Bible.” Keeping the first two words, “First Central” helps us maintain our heritage.
Since the change grew out of a desire to remove any unnecessary barriers that keep people from coming to church and hearing the gospel, we must rededicate ourselves to reaching our community with the life-giving message of hope and forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ.
Public schools are becoming the battleground in a clash of cultures.
“Obama Administration to Give Schools Guidance on Transgender Use” – The title of the article appears to be misleading. Rather than giving guidance, the “federal government will tell public schools across the country on Friday morning that they should allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.” If they don’t comply, they stand to lose Title IX funds.
“President Obama: Accept Transgenderism or Else” – Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College has written a response to the letter from the Administration. Burk takes his response back to a basic binary truth, that God created us in his image as male and female (Genesis 1:26-28). Jesus himself recognized this as good and right (Matthew 19:4). “Understanding this binary used to be common sense, and this traditional understanding is no less true even if it is less common.”
“From Agender to Ze: A Glossary for the Gender Identity Revolution” – Joe Carter, an editor for The Gospel Coalition has provided a glossary of 31 terms used by the gender identity movement. As Tim Challies points out, it reads like a dictionary of depravity. While it is not for the faint of heart, the list “should help you better understand the linguistic radicalness of the gender identity revolution.”
Certainly, much to pray about.
For one of the few Mondays in recent memory, I didn’t spend the day thinking about church. Instead, I participated in the justice process—I was on jury duty. (I was originally asked to serve while I was in Russia, but delayed my service until yesterday.)
I checked into the 4th floor jury pool room at the Hampden County Superior Court at 8AM, and then spent three hours waiting, watching TV, reading a Stephen Lawhead novel, and people watching. They had a big screen TV in the jury pool room with Good Morning America on at the time of check in. Later, they played a video on the MA justice system which was informative.
I must say I was amazed/dismayed at the quality (or lack thereof) for what passes for entertainment on morning TV. It seemed like it degenerated by degrees with each hour of the morning. Good Morning America was a mix of news, culture, and trending issues. Rachel was a mix of pop culture interviews, cooking tips, and gossip. Wendy was pure, unadulterated gossip. The View was a discussion of gossip. Good thing I had a book to read, though the volume on the TV was loud enough to be a distraction.
Sometime after 11AM, me and 120 of my closest friends were taken down to Courtroom 2 on the 3rd floor. We received an orientation from the presiding judge, and met the Assistant DA and his assistant, as well as the two defense attorneys. We then learned that we were part of the jury pool for a criminal trial that might last up to two weeks. The defendant was accused of committing murder in 2014.
As it turned out, I was juror #127. They started with #2 and worked their way through the pool to find and seat 16 jurors. I must admit to having mixed feelings. I was willing to serve, but I really didn’t want to give up two weeks to do it. It would be an inconvenience to sit on a jury during the day and do church work and sermon prep at night. Rather than ask God to get me out of the task, I decided to simply leave it in his hands.
By 3:30PM, they were up to juror #70 and had chosen 20 prospective jurors. The judge asked the remaining 50 of us if serving on a two-week jury would be a hardship. Several hands went up and they were excused. Since I couldn’t claim a hardship such as having young children at home or caring for aging parents, my hand stayed down. By the time His Honor asked a few more questions, there were only 7 of us left in the pool of prospective jurors. He then asked if the rest of us were willing to return on Tuesday to continue the selection process. I was honest enough to admit I was willing, but I would prefer not to. Fortunately, I was excused and on my way.
Since MA implements a one day, one trial system, I have fulfilled my obligation for another three years.
After arriving home, I started my usual Monday task of mowing the lawn. I began praying for the trial that justice would be done. I prayed that …
When did television become so amoral? At first blush, you naturally assume I mistyped my question and meant to say “immoral” rather than “amoral.” But no, it is not a typing error. I meant to say amoral.
To call something “immoral” means that there is a recognized standard of right and wrong and people willingly choose to do what is wrong. “Amoral” means that there is not a recognized standard of right and wrong, but people act according to their own personal standards of right and wrong.
Based on that definition, we are living according to the description found in the final verse in the book of Judges in the Old Testament. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
In the past week, I have been struck by how amoral television has become. Here are three examples from the few TV shows I happened to watch recently.
The Catch (ABC) – A splashy, sexy show introduced last month about a female private detective cheated by a con man, and the chase is on. In the first episode, the female private detective admits to sleeping with random strangers. In the third episode, she works inside or outside the law depending on the situation, and has a stolen painting in her bedroom. In the fourth episode, she helps the con man escape an FBI agent. Meanwhile, the con man’s female partner murders one “mark” and sleeps with both men and women.
Once Upon A Time (ABC) – Now in its fifth season, the show adds a new twist to every fairy tale you’ve ever read. In the most recent episode, the writers added an LGBT element by having Ruby kiss Dorothy, offering “true loves’ kiss” to rescue Dorothy from a sleeping curse. In the opening episode of their spring season, OUAT introduced the idea that you can work your way out of hell by settling your “unfinished business” in a positive manner.
Blue Bloods (CBS) – Over the course of the sixth season, Danny Reagan, a seasoned NYPD detective, has been chasing a serial killer. In the most recent episode, he shot and killed the man, even though he was unarmed. When Danny’s sister, Erin, an Assistant District Attorney, asked if he shot in self-defense, Danny responded, “It was justified.” Over the course of six seasons, every member of the family, save Danny, has slept with someone they weren’t married to.
If you said that these were exceptions to the rule of wholesome entertainment, you would be deluding yourself. You can find a multitude of other examples of amoral behavior just by watching the previews of different programs.
The writers and producers of television and movies seemingly have the agenda to demonstrate that any and every form of behavior is perfectly acceptable. It is up to each one’s individual standards of morality as to whether it is right or wrong. And if you disagree or find it objectionable, then you need to be tolerant because others may hold to a different standard.
Judges 21:25 certainly describes Television and America in 2016. We are doing what is right in our own eyes. What we fail to realize is that the book of Judges also describes the chaos that descended on the nation of Israel because they chose to follow their own standards rather than God’s laws. We delude ourselves if we believe we will find utopia by following our own rules. Doing what is right in our own eyes is not a recipe for freedom and happiness. Amorality and tolerance will only lead to disaster and judgment.
Watching television today requires a heightened sense of discernment and vigilance. You cannot shut your brain off and “veg out.” You will unknowingly adopt values which are unbiblical and ungodly. After every episode, show, movie, ad, and commercial, you have to ask yourself, “What does Scripture say about this?”