One of the things the Church is up against is the external pressure from the unbelieving world to cave on the authority of Scripture. But one of the reasons the world badgers and mocks the Church is because the Church sends signals of insecurity and vulnerability to the world. The Church doesn’t trust her Lord and His Word and telegraphs to the world that we can be bought. And the Church does this by letting professing Christians in its midst cave on the authority of Scripture on pious sounding grounds.
I don’t spank my kids because I had an angry father who sometimes hit me, and one time I read an article online about how statistics showed that kids who are spanked tend to have anger issues and struggle with addictions. So when our kids misbehave, we do timeout and color pictures of the tabernacle, the temple, and Jesus on the cross. Pretty sure little Jimmy is really starting to see the biblical theological connections between his temper tantrums and the gospel. Planning to share this at small group on Friday.
I don’t mind saying I’m the head of my household, I mean duh, it’s in the Bible. But I would never (ever) dream of saying my wife has to “obey” me. Sounds like she’s a child or my slave! We always talk through everything and then on those really, really (really) rare occasions when we just can’t agree (like Taco Bell or Pizza Hut!), I shrug my shoulders and give two winks, and she gets the idea that it’s time to play the complementarian game. And if I guess the one she’s thinking, she gives me a high five and there might be some Song of Songs snuggling later tonight.
I know that the Bible says that homosexual acts are sinful, but it can’t be sinful to remain a celibate single man who wears tight fitting clothes and gets his hair and nails professionally done every two weeks (pedi and mani of course) who totally longs for the resurrection (and same-sex fulfillment — without actually acting on it). And of course, it’s not a sin to cultivate many close “spiritual” friendships with other same-sex attracted people (handsome ones) and live with them in the same house (and cuddle during movie nights on the couch).
Don’t get me wrong: I totally believe in male pastors and elders. But when it comes to understanding the needs of women, you can’t really expect a man to understand us, especially when we’ve been abused and mistreated. Paul said that the older women should teach the younger women, and I’m pretty sure Paul was thinking that those same older women would teach the pastors and elders how to appropriately pastor hurting women. It’s not like they’re “in charge” or anything, but if the pastors don’t listen to them and do exactly what they say to do, you should really find another church.
Now here’s the point: In each of those scenarios, the person may be a well-meaning Christian, but they are in rebellion against God. And they are in rebellion specifically by caving on the authority of Scripture. They need loving correction, admonition, and discipleship.
And what happens over time, when you have nice, well-meaning people in churches saying these kinds of things, believing these kinds of things, and doing these kinds of things without gracious but firm confrontation, there is no defense mechanism. Of course, not everyone will want all of these things at once. But if the non-spanker wants to confront the effeminate man or the softy-complementarian wants to confront the lady-counselor gal the appeal can’t really be to Scripture. Of course it can be, but it will be a hypocritical appeal. And therefore, it will be an appeal without any authority. In other words, without honest submission to God’s Word and a sincere commitment to doing whatever it says to do, the Bible just becomes a grab bag of aphorisms and shibboleths that serve to confirm whatever it is that we already think, even while everyone is still saying that it’s “inspired.” But they clearly don’t believe that. This is just relativism-lite, relativism with Bible verses. People say Christian-y sounding things in order to manipulate others, run power plays, crush the weak, and get what they want in the name of Jesus. Sound familiar? No wonder that’s exactly what the world is doing. They learned it from us. We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. In other words, we are the problem.
But there’s a fifth scenario, it’s the people in the church who say they believe in the absolute authority of Scripture over every area of life, the ones who believe with all their heart that God still speaks in His perfect, flawless word, and every single word in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is pure gold. Those people are the fifth scenario, the ones confronted with these scenarios (and many others like them). Maybe they are confronted with those scenarios in their own hearts, in their own families, or in close friends. What will we do? Will we be obedient to Christ, tell the truth in love, and confront the disobedience, or will we hope they figure it out, hope it just gets better, hope someone else helps, hope the pastor gets to that in a sermon some day? You see, the folks in the fifth scenario are perhaps even worse because they know something is wrong, but they make excuses for why they can’t speak up, for why they can’t do anything about it. They’re afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of what people will think, afraid of losing friends, afraid of the fallout.
But whom do we trust? Whom do we truly fear? Do we fear God or do we fear man? Do trust in horses and chariots or do we trust in the Lord our God and His Word?