I read a lot about the Millennial generation (born roughly from 1980 - 2000) and how they're supposedly lazy, self-absorbed slackers.
This week, though, I ran across some evidence to the contrary.
I was called upon to donate peripheral blood stem cells to a cancer patient. To be honest, I'd forgotten that I was on the Be The Match registry until I received a call about two months ago telling me that I was a potential match for a leukemia patient living overseas.
I was assigned to a case-worker of sorts, a woman who took care of my paperwork and walked me through the donation process step by step. I started talking with her about friends of mine who had donated bone marrow or stem cells, and it turned out that we had a mutual acquaintance or two. One of those mutual acquaintances was a student involved with our college ministry.
"You know," she told me, "I've never had a college student decline to donate bone marrow or stem cells when needed." She told me that "grown-ups" say no all the time. They're too busy to donate, or they hate needles, or they just don't bother to respond to her request.
But college students (at least among the ones she's talked to) agree to give 100% of the time. They still believe in the power of one individual to change the world, or at least to change the life of one other person. For Christian students, that gives them the potential to excel as disciples of Jesus Christ and as disciple-makers. That's why my church expends so much energy, time, and money reaching students, a group that many have written off as lazy and selfish and hopeless.
Because they're not lazy or selfish or hopeless. They just need something worth caring about and investing in. I believe in the power of the Gospel to provide that something. And I do believe that a few Millennials who are strongly dedicated to Christ really can change the world.
Why do you think college students and young adults get accused of selfishness and laziness so often? Do you think the stereotypes are accurate or inaccurate?
(Note: I'm out of the office this week. This is the second guest post by my friend and fellow pastor Blake Jennings.)
In my last post, I attempted to make a biblical case against supporting efforts to legalize gay marriage. That may convince those who hold to the authority of Scripture, but it will do little for the majority of our fellow citizens who don't. And if current trends continue, their support for gay marriage will grow.
And so in this post, I'd like to consider a more practical question: how should a follower of Christ who opposes gay marriage engage with a secular society that embraces (even celebrates) it? Let me give you a few principles to guide our response.
1) Don’t Fear. If gay marriage becomes legal throughout the United States, don't run for the hills. Don't retreat from society. Don't panic about your children's future. Don't fear. Nothing can change the fact that our God is in control. If the US adopts gay marriage nationwide, it will only be as part of God's sovereign plan. It will not surprise Him or upend His plan for you or your family. Perhaps in the midst of this impassioned debate, we need a little perspective from the New Testament. Remember that Paul and Peter both wrote during the time of Nero, a tyrannical, immoral madman. The issue facing them was not the legalization of gay marriage, it was the legalization (even promotion) of persecution against Christians. Nero covered believers in oil and lit them on fire to illuminate his garden parties. And yet neither Peter nor Paul gave into fear. They didn't run for the hills or withdraw from the world. They trusted God's sovereignty in the midst of a cruel and godless society. They embraced love, joy, peace, and patience rather than anxiety. And so should we, no matter what happens it this debate.
2) Stand for Truth. Homosexual behavior was accepted in Paul's day, as in ours. Yet Paul did not hesitate to stand for the truth and publicly call it sin (Rom1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9). Neither should we. Speak and vote for that which is righteous. However, as you do so, keep the next few principles in mind...
3) Keep the Gospel First. The ultimate problem for our society is NOT that the majority are embracing gay marriage, it's that the majority have not yet embraced Christ. If that continues, they will spend an eternity separated from God in a very real place the Bible calls hell. Gay marriage is trivial by comparison. So for every word we speak against gay marriage, let us speak a hundred for the gospel. In fact, let sharing the gospel always be your top priority. It trumps politics, social issues, even speaking out about immorality. Make sure that the world knows more about what you're for (eternal life through faith in Christ alone) than what's you're against.
4) Motive Matters. Stand for the biblical definition of marriage, but not to defeat our opponents or protect our nation (remember, that's in His hands - point #1). Do it out of love – love for those who out of spiritual blindness are embracing a way of life that will destroy them (the downward spiral of Rom 1:18-32). We oppose gay marriage in particular and immorality in general not because it offends us but because it injures all those who participate in it. Whether homosexuality, pornography, adultery, lust or any other sexual sin, God outlaws it because it destroys those who engage in it, whether believes or unbelievers (it will not cost a believer his salvation, but it will enslave him and destroy his life and the lives of those he loves). God doesn't want us to be judges leveling condemnation at an immoral society. He wants us to be like firemen boldly rushing into a burning building to rescue those who don't even realize their lives are in danger.
5) Define Your Terms. So many opportunities have been wasted for failure to define our terms! The Bible does condemn homosexual BEHAVIOR and LUST (both mentioned in Rom 1:26-27). But it does not condemn homosexual ATTRACTION. God does not hold us responsible for our temptations; He holds us responsible for our choices (James 1:14-15 – notice that temptation is not sin; embracing lust is what begets sin). So whether homosexual attraction comes from genetics, environment, past experiences, or a combination of these (the most likely explanation, in my opinion), what matters is what a person does when that temptation strikes. They have not sinned if they fight the temptation in the power of the Spirit. We need to make this clear as we engage in this debate. Otherwise, we alienate and crush all who struggle with homosexuality.
6) Make Your Marriage Prove your Position. The health of our own marriages speaks volumes in this debate. We stand for the biblical definition of marriage because we believe that it is truly better for human beings to live in accordance with God’s design than in rebellion to it. But if our own marriages are unhealthy and unsatisfying, we sabotage that position. We need to show, not just tell, the world that embracing God’s plan for marriage really does lead to greater peace, joy, and love.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please add other thoughts in the comments about how we as followers of Christ should respond.
If you haven't done so yet, enter your email address below to receive notifications about new posts:
I'm out of the office for the next couple of weeks, so I'm posting a couple of guest articles. This was written by my friend and fellow pastor Blake Jennings. Since we've been discussing the issue of homosexuality from a biblical perspective for the past few weeks, I thought this was an appropriate time to post his thoughts on gay marriage and how it relates (or doesn't relate) to the civil rights movement. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section.
In recent interviews about his opposition to California’s Proposition 8 (prohibiting gay marriage), famed actor and director turned activist Rob Reiner described efforts to legalize gay marriage as simply an extension of the civil rights movement. To deny gays and lesbians the opportunity to marry the person they love violates their fundamental human rights. Therefore, it is analogous to the racial segregation prevalent in the south decades ago.
If that’s how the gay marriage debate is framed, then proponents of gay marriage have already won. For if it is accepted as an extension of the civil rights movement, then to resist gay marriage is to stand with the racists and bigots who resisted racial desegregation. That logic is leading a growing majority of Americans, including many Christians, to embrace gay marriage as legitimate.
But is Rob Reiner correct? Is the gay marriage debate simply an extension of the civil rights movement? That movement was dedicated to overturning a clear and compelling injustice: based on race, a portion of the population was denied access to basic rights enjoyed by the majority of the population, including access to the best schools and use of public facilities and services.
But wait. In the debate over gay marriage, gays and lesbians actually enjoy the exact same right to marriage that heterosexual men and women enjoy: you can marry any person you want so long as it fits the legal definition of marriage. They are not discriminated against. They have the same access to the civil institution of marriage that a heterosexual does.
So this is not a civil rights issue; it’s a definitional issue. What is the definition of marriage?
And that question, ultimately, is a question of authority. Who has the authority to define marriage? For those who follow Christ, the answer is God alone. Since He created marriage, He gets to define it. And while He has left many of the details to human governments to decide (how old do the bride and groom have to be; how far removed genealogically; etc.), the basic definition has been set in stone since Genesis 1 & 2. Marriage as God defines it is a lasting bond between one man and one woman (Gen 2:24).
In response to this quotation, proponents of gay marriage will often point out that many of the regulations of the OT were set aside in the NT (thou shall not eat shellfish, for example). Or they will rightly point out that many followers of God both in biblical times and today fall short of that definition, pointing to King David’s polygamy or the rampant divorce rate in our churches today. Both points are true. But both are refuted by Jesus Himself in Matthew 19:4-9. He first reiterates God’s definition of marriage in Gen 2, proving that unlike the restrictions on shellfish, this regulation stays. God’s definition of marriage is timeless. Second, Jesus addresses the tragedy of divorce. While God allows it in very limited circumstances, it was never God’s ideal and does not invalidate God’s design for marriage.
As followers of Christ, we must recognize that marriage is not a human institution. It is divine. And therefore, humans do not have the right to redefine it. States may legislate the details, but not alter the basic God-given definition. Therefore, Christians cannot in good faith support gay marriage.
In my next guest blog, we’ll consider a more practical question. Assuming the United States continues on its current path, gay marriage will likely become legal nationwide in the near future. How should we respond? How vocal should we be in our opposition to gay marriage? How do we keep this from being a distraction to what matters most to God: the gospel of His Son?