A Word from the Pastor
From time to time, we hear urgent calls to rally the Church to “take a stand" on certain social and/or moral issues. We can only expect this trend to increase as the West continues to lose its religion and secularization continues to go global.
In the past two weeks churches and church members have likely received two such pleas:
• The Asian Alliance has “Sounded the Alarm!” regarding a Taiwan bill to promote “marriage equality" and is asking every church to encourage members to sign a petition against "the legalization of same sex marriage in Taiwan"… even though outside petitions have little impact on the government of any sovereign nation.
• Franklin Graham (as well as several evangelical bodies in Singapore) has called on Christians to boycott Disney’s recent remake of Beauty and the Beast because, “[Disney] is trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out!”
There may be some among us who feel it important that we clarify GBC’s position on these matters, and even strengthen our Statement of Faith to address them. GBC’s position is clear: We believe the Bible is the absolute authority on all matters pertaining to Faith (and the practice of our Faith). So regarding secular issues, I can only clarify and strengthen my own position:
1. God’s Word outlines the expectations He has for His children while at the same time recognizing that His creation has neither the inclination to turn to Him nor the capacity to live according to His expectations. As objects of His grace, we who are believers should unapologetically seek to openly live our lives according to the standards of Christ. However, we should not expect the world to be able to live according to those standards. Outside of Christ, every person is an object of God’s wrath and so is in the process of perishing. They are chained to their sin and are living in spiritual darkness. They have no choice but to blindly stumble toward the grave. To be clear, boycotts, petitions and protests have no power to change their condition or their ultimate destination.
2. Unless we are preparing our families for lives of monastic isolation, we cannot spare our children from the influence of the world. We must therefore be diligent to inform and prepare them to face competing or alternative truths with the Truth of the Gospel. We must seek to fill their heads and hearts with the good news that the Gospel softens even the hardest hearts and ultimately has the power to transform lives. If we do not equip our children to impact their world with the Gospel, the world will surely impact them (and us) with its profanity.
So, every believer must daily decide that to which they expose their hearts and minds, and we must continue to preach and teach the Truth of God’s Word. And we must remember the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, “'All things are lawful' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up (1 Corinthians 10:23).” In light of this, every one of us—as stewards of God’s resources—must decide in what we will invest. Do we want to support, through our purchases the lifestyle of anyone—actor, musician, businesswoman, shopkeeper—who is selling their wares in the public market place? What standards will guide us in this regard?
However, I believe that public calls for boycotts, protests and petitions are unproductive… and even harmful, for the following reasons. First, it can feed the secular stereotype of “Christian Hypocrisy.” If we consistently expose our hearts to secular media we are inevitably blunting our sensitivity to the kinds of sin that we do not find offensive, simply because the laws of Christ are consistently flaunted in all forms of secular media. This is what should offend us most! For example, we don’t protest the deception we see in Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen, we find it entertaining. We don’t boycott the objectification of women in James Bond movies. And we don’t hesitate to expose our hearts to murder in, well, every single action movie… so we would do well to tamp down our moral outrage. It is awkwardly selective and yes, it is hypocritical.
Second (and more importantly), it can be hostile to the Gospel. Jesus didn’t boycott the Samaritan woman, or the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t protest the Roman government that enriched itself through the injustice of slavery. Nor did he launch a protest against the little taxman who was stealing from everyone. He was singularly focused on proclaiming the Good News. Jesus knew, that when hearts and minds are captured by the Gospel, behaviours change and culture is transformed! Anything else is wasting Gospel energy and opportunity. We cannot be loyal to the standard of our Heavenly Father, (who, “is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance 2 Peter 3:9”) while at the same wasting Gospel opportunity on protests, boycotts and petitions.
May God grant each of us wisdom as we seek to steward His resources and our children in ways that consistently season our culture with salt and light!