(For background on this post, see here.) I mentioned that I would get to some recommendations about how to respond to the potential (and in my mind, probable) collision of sexual “liberation” and shocking brutality. Here’s just a short list.
1. Remember that judgment begins with the household of God. Expecting the broader culture to conform to God’s standards when half the church is neck deep in all kinds of sexual foolishness is a classic example of putting carts before horses. Paul has some pretty harsh words for those who berate idolators while robbing their temples (Rom 2:17ff). When the salt loses its taste, God throws it out in the street so that it’s trampled underfoot. How then shall its saltiness be restored?
2. Through heartfelt repentance. Let us never forget that God is ever and always ready to turn and forgive. “Now is the favorable time; now is the day of salvation.” So let us avoid falling into any sort of fatalistic traps that assume that the trajectory we’re on determines our destiny. We may be rolling down the hill, picking up steam, but God is able to make grace abound to us and kick this big ball of culture back the other direction, often in response to the penitent cries of his people.
3. Demonstrate some antithesis. Following repentance, the greatest impact we can have on the culture is to actually be a city on the hill. Let there be a clear difference between sexual relationships inside and outside the church. We need strong, godly husbands, who take responsibility for their strong, godly wives, who joyfully submit to their strong, godly husbands, who…The world is not hungering for a slightly sanitized version of the same rotten trash that everyone else is serving. So settle these things in your own mind now. Purity until marriage. Fidelity and covenant-keeping love for a lifetime.
4. Be faithful where God plants you. When confronted with the depravity and brokenness that is endemic and multiplying in God’s world, the main question that you should ask is this: what is God requiring of me now? What is right in front of my face that God is calling me to do? Resist the pull toward abstractions and airy ideologies. Get incarnational dirt under your fingernails. Go local. Be faithful here, and God will take care of there.
5. Resist the temptation to despair because the world keeps getting in the same hell-bound handbasket. Yes, idolatry is self-destructive and it is frustrating, angering, and grievous to watch God’s image-bearers desecrate themselves and others. Our hearts should break over the futility and defamation in the world. But we must never despair. You are not responsible to change the world. You are responsible to trust and obey where God has placed you.
6. While living faithfully, we must recover a real prophetic voice, as opposed to the limp-wristed prophetic whisper that is tamed by smooth strokes and soothing words from the idolatrous establishment. Christians must never sacrifice the proclamation of Jesus’ lordship for a seat at the multi-culti table. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever sit down with the world of unbelief; it does mean that we should always do so as thoroughgoing, Christ-confessing Christians. With any luck, they will be throwing tomatoes at us before we’re done with our salad.
7. Insofar as is possible, rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. Draw upon the mighty grace of God and refuse to faint in the day of adversity (Proverbs 24:10-11). This includes (among others) the unborn, their desperate mothers, women enslaved through sex trafficking, child-prostitutes, orphans, and the list goes on.
8. Take a lesson from the Proverbs 31 woman and “laugh at the time to come.” When Jesus considers the rulers and authorities amassed against him, he scoffs and laughs at them in derision (Psalm 2). Though things may look bleak now, remember: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. That’s unbelievable news. We must deal with painful and wicked reality, but we mustn’t broker in gloom and doom. Satan’s doom is sure. The Crucified Lord is risen!
9. Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Our tears should have a deep, confident joy undergirding them, just as our joy must be textured by the broken-hearted sorrow of life in a fallen world. Ours is a cruciform Easter-faith. We are called to live crucified lives by the power of the resurrection. The Christian life is full of such exhilarating impossibilities.
10. Pray often for an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the world and a release from God’s chastening judgment. Rebellious blindness holds sway in so many places in this world. Plead with God to lift his judgment and unleash his storehouses of mercy. Pray confidently with the knowledge that , if he so chooses, God could drown the world in grace.