“Truth is abhorred by the masses,” cautioned the seventeenth-century Jesuit priest Baltasar Gracian. If you don’t accept that observation, try making any of the following comments around the break room at work, or even in the Sunday-school room at church:
- “Only Christians will go to heaven; everyone else is going to hell.”
- “The husband is the head of the family.”
- “Homosexuality is a perversion.”
Then just sit back and watch the fireworks explode! You’ll most likely hear the terms intolerant, bigot, uneducated, and arrogant hurled at you (and those are just some of the nicer words you can expect). By the way, don’t be surprised if you hear such harsh judgments coming just as frequently and forcefully from the lips of Christians as from non-Christians. In increasing numbers believers are either abandoning or holding much less tightly to the truths that have been historically embraced by Christians.
Such a charge certainly demands supports, so let me offer some from both personal experience and statistical evidence.
Big Stink in a Small Town
I pastor a large church in a medium-sized town two hours away from Dallas, Texas. Situated right in the middle of the Bible Belt, our church has been described by Christianity Today as the new “Mecca” of evangelical Christianity. A few years ago a member of our church brought me two copies of two children’s books from our local library: Daddy’s Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies. Both books tell the story of a child being raised by a homosexual couple. In Daddy’s Roommate, a young boy’s parents divorce so that “Daddy” can live with his homosexual lover, Frank. The little boy is understandably perplexed by the relationship and asked his mother about his father’s new “friend.” The mother gently explains that “being gay is just one more kind of love” and that “Daddy and his roommate are very happy together.” When the little boy asks what Daddy and Frank do, Mom explains that Daddy and Frank live together, eat together, and sleep together. Each activity is accompanied by a drawing, including one showing Daddy and Frank together in bed.
It just so happened that the week the books were brought to my attention, my sermon—part of a serious on the book of Genesis—was on God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. One of the applications I made at the close of the message was that no society can afford to condone what God has condemned and that there comes a time when Christians need to take a stand against evil. I read from Daddy’s Roommate and focused on the picture of two men in bed together. “Here is a library book—purchased with your tax dollars—promoting sodomy, which is illegal in the state of Texas (since then the court has overruled this law), is largely responsible for one of the deadliest epidemics in history (AIDS), and is an abomination to God … It is time for God’s people to say, ‘Enough’!”
I explained that I had already spoken with the librarian about removing the books, but she refused to do so. So I asked our church to petition the city council to remove the books. To make it easier for the city council, I also decided not to return the books to the library so that the council’s decision would be whether or not to repurchase the books I was keeping. (I later wrote a check to the library to cover the cost of the books.)
I could never have imagined the firestorm that ignited as a result of that message. Media outlets including the New York Times, Associated Press, NBC Television, ABC radio, and Rush Limbaugh carried the story. PBS sent a crew to Wichita Falls and filmed a documentary on the furor that divided our city. I was fervently denounced by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), People for the American Way (PFAW), the American Library Association (ALA), and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (which later threatened our church’s tax-exempt status). The editor of the local newspaper wrote an editorial condemning me for promoting censorship and suggesting that I should be jailed for my act of civil disobedience.
When we eventually persuaded the city council to pass a compromise regulation giving three hundred adults the right to request that a book deemed offensive be moved from the children’s area to an adult section of the library, the ACLU filed suit in federal court to overturn the council’s action. According to some legal experts, the ACLU won that challenge, not because the regulation itself was unconstitutional, but because the council’s actions were influenced by people of faith.
But what surprised me the most during the two-year ordeal was the reaction of many Christians on our church’s stand against homosexuality. One prominent minister of a large denominational church in our community stood in his pulpit one Sunday during the furor and said that he was “not called upon to judge, but to tell others about love.”
Most alarmingly, when Christians were reminded of the biblical teaching on homosexuality, common replies included:
- “Those prohibitions were unique to the culture then, but they don’t apply today.”
- “Science has taught us a lot about homosexuality since the Bible was written.”
- “That may be what we believe but not everyone accepts the Bible.”
Of course, all of those responses beg the same question: Are there absolute truths that apply to all people at all times, regardless of their faith—or lack of faith?
This material is taken from Hell? Yes!:…And Other Outrageous Truths You Can Still Believe by Dr. Robert Jeffress. Copyright © 2004. Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, 2375 Telstar Drive, Suite 160, Colorado Springs, CO 80920. All rights reserved.