Jump Start # 2233
James 1:27 “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Don’t let the world taint you, is what James is telling his readers. The relationship of the Christian to the world is a key principle to remaining righteous before God.
- John said: Love not the world, neither the things in the world
- James said: friendship with the world is enmity with God
- Paul said: do not be conformed to the world
- Peter said: we are aliens and strangers in this world
These principles are hard because we live in this world and we must function in this world and this world makes rules and guidelines that test our faith and it often makes it difficult to be a Christian. I have a friend who was a colligate hurdler in track and field. He recently was applying for a PhD program with a university. One of the questions he was asked on the application was, “Has your gender identity changed since birth?”
This is the world and the times we live in. Many major corporations have sensitivity classes to deal with these cultural issues. Certain words are not allowed to be said, because they are “insensitive.”
Purdue University’s on-line writing lab has guidelines to learn to write in “a professional, non-biased, non-sexist way that is ethically sound and effective.” One example given was the word “man.” The guidelines state that the word “man” no longer stands for mankind, or humans, but strictly males. To continue to use the word “man,” is sexist, offensive, bias and non-professional.
Many Bible translations are following similar concepts. The New American Standard Bible is releasing an updated version next year. It will use the word “human” rather than “man,” when speaking about mankind.
These are the times we live in. Sensitive. Touchy. Easily offended. Too many already carrying chips on their shoulders and just waiting for someone to knock one of them off.
Here are some observations:
Many of these things we will have to participate in even though we may feel that it is a waste of time and nothing more than an exercise in political correctness. Some people are going to be offended no matter what you do. If you say anything they will be offended because you even talked to them. If you do not say anything they will be offended because you did not talk to them. A person doesn’t know what to do. But to be a stick in the mud and proclaim that “I’m going say whatever I feel like,” probably means you’ll lose your job and you may have a hard time finding another. For my friend who was applying for a PhD. Program, he could have skipped the gender question and that would be all it takes for him to be immediately denied and turned down.
There is a difference in not liking something and something violating Scriptures. Peter said in Acts, we must obey God rather than man. Company policies that make you violate your convictions and your faith are wrong. And, it may come to a point where you have to find another job, but realize our overly sensitive times and recognize the difference between dislike and violation of Scriptures.
Some of us preachers may have to look at the things we say. Our jokes, our illustrations, the words that we use, these may offend some people. Now we can be stubborn and dig our heels in and declare, “let them get over it,” or we can modify our words for the times. The message of the Gospel will offend. It has and it will continue and that we will not change. The Gospel offends those who believe in evolution. It offends those who want to live together without marriage. It offends those who are irresponsible and not accountable. It offends the wicked and the unrighteous. It offends those who want a say in God’s plans. Our message offends and it should. It is when someone is bothered that they will be pierced to the heart and want to change. When the audience feels that everything is find and everyone is fine, there is no reason to change. Paul said we persuade men. That persuasion was to change their ways and their thinking. What needs to be the cause of the offense is the word of God, not our careless or rude use of the language.
In explaining the Bible and teaching the word of God in this culture today, we may need to show that often the word “man” means mankind or humans. But there are limitations as to far this goes. God is not a woman. God is not a divine parent. Although He is presented in the masculine form, He is not a man like men walking around today. God is a holy and divine spirit. Cultural changes can make one lose the meaning of a passage and kill it’s effect if we are not careful.
Finally, back to the gender question that began all of this. One’s feelings might change, but a person’s gender does not. A person can have body parts added, or taken away. A person can take all kinds of hormone injections and pills to change the way they look, but none of those things will change the chromosomes that they were born with. This is getting very confusing and messy in our culture. It is not politically correct to say this and probably sexist and even goes against what I just wrote above, but in general men are stronger than women. Generally. You see this in the world of golf. There are men’s tees and women’s tees. You see this in basketball, there are women’s teams and men’s teams and the two do not play each other. Now some may be offended by all of this. In time, we will see men who couldn’t make it in men’s sports, declaring that they are a woman and competing with women. Gender identity is based upon feelings, not biology nor science. Feelings that swing with the wind and have no foundation, especially in Scriptures, are going to follow the drumbeat of culture and society. We march to a different beat. It’s the Gospel call that we listen to.
Don’t be offensive on purpose just because you are unwilling to change or have too much pride. But know the limits. Present the Gospel in a fact based discussion and stand your ground as necessary.
These are turbulent times, but they have always been that way! People love darkness because their deeds are evil. It is easier for some to try to change the Gospel message than it is to change their lives.
We preach Christ crucified!