The Emmy Awards were held last night. Among the honorees: Zendaya won best lead actress in a drama series for HBO’s Euphoria, which is so sexualized and graphic that even Common Sense Media’s review is forced to use descriptions I will not repeat here. The same goes for their review of HBO’s The White Lotus, which won for outstanding limited series. I could go on.
When a political leader claims that drag queens are “what America is all about,” transgender characters are increasingly featured in video games and on television, and a Texas teacher tells students to refer to pedophiles as “minor-attracted persons,” it is clear that our moral compass is not just broken but nonexistent.
Australia’s Margaret Court, winner of twenty-four Grand Slam singles titles, made news during the recent US Open when she disclosed that she has become a persona non grata in the tennis world because of her Christian beliefs. She opposed same-sex marriage when it was proposed in her country, and the backlash has been severe ever since.
For example, LGBTQ lobbyists are calling for Melbourne Park’s Margaret Court Arena to be renamed. She replies, “They got everything they wanted in marriage, and everything else. So I think, ‘Why, when you should be so happy you’ve got that, are you still taking it out on people if they haven’t got the same beliefs?’ That’s what I don’t understand.”
Closer to home, LGBTQ activists are currently lobbying US senators to support the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would expand same-sex marriage protections with no religious liberty protections. And a Justice Department official recently labeled the religious liberty legal group Alliance Defending Freedom as a “hate group.”
Drag queens as worship leaders
In Ezekiel 5, the Lord says of Jerusalem, “She has rebelled against my rules by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries all around her” (v. 6). Her “wickedness” was “more than the nations,” not because it was objectively worse but because she knew better.
Scripture warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). The more we know, the more we are responsible for what we know.
Satan has added an additional layer of deception in our day.
Not only do many Americans reject the moral truth of Scripture, but they claim the mantle of Christian faith in so doing. From praying for God to bless clinics that perform late-term abortions, to citing Christian “compassion” in support of euthanasia, to enlisting drag queens as worship leaders, to claiming that abortion does not contradict the Christian faith, many so-called “people of faith” have been busy undermining the faith.
When I am a Cowboys fan
Such deception is even more powerful when the ones doing the deceiving are themselves deceived.
This is possible and even popular because, in our postmodern society, we think we are Christians if we say we are. This makes sense in cultural context: I am a Democrat or a Republican if I say I am, regardless of how or whether I vote. I am a Cowboys or Steelers fan if I say I am. In our culture, I am “non-binary” or transgender if I say I am. We think the same way with Christianity.
But relational reality is different. I could not claim to be married to Janet until she agreed to marry me. I could not claim to be a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary until the seminary conferred such status on me. I could not claim to be the pastor of the churches I served until they called me to be their pastor.
In the same way, we are Christians only if Christ says we are. And he says we are Christians only if we have made him our Savior and Lord and thus have “become children of God” (John 1:12). Our religious claims are true only if they are biblical. Our lives are pleasing to God only when we do what he says pleases him.
“Save others by snatching them out of the fire”
Jude warned his readers that “certain people have crept in unnoticed . . . who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality” (v. 4). As a result, he called his fellow believers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3).
To “contend” (epagonizomai in the Greek) is to “make a strenuous effort on behalf of.” This command applies to every dimension of our lives, every day of our lives.
This “strenuous effort” begins at home. You and I need to measure everything we think, feel, say, and do by the authority of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12) under the leading of God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The first step in the wrong direction can lead to all the rest. An airplane one degree off line will miss its destination.
The more our culture rejects biblical truth, the more passionately we must embrace it.
And this “strenuous effort” extends to everyone we influence. The stakes could not be higher: we “save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23) when we lead them from the deceiver to the Savior.
“You can give me the power to do good”
If you and I renew our commitment today to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” our Father will help us.
John Baillie testified to God, “The good that I want to do, I fail to do, but you can give me the power to do good.” Thus he prayed: “Dear Father, take this day’s life into your keeping. Guide all my thoughts and feelings. Direct all my energies. Instruct my mind. Sustain my will. Take my hands and give me the skill to serve you. Take my feet and make them quick to do whatever you ask. Take my eyes and keep them fixed on your everlasting beauty. Take my mouth and give me the words to tell others of your love.
“Make this day a day of obedience, a day of spiritual joy and peace. Make this day’s work a little part of the work of the kingdom of my Lord Jesus, in whose name these prayers are said.”