Christians in nearly any context will have to biblically object to these culturally expected policies and practices. No matter the situation, we must start with the authority of Scripture, explain why we cannot acquiesce from what is clearly taught in Scripture, lay out how we will disobey the policy only enough to avoid sinning while maintaining respect for all, and then accepting the consequences and trusting God to sustain us through them and bring ultimate justice in the end.
As our culture becomes less and less “Christian”, we will increasingly face situations in which we are pressured to participate in or approve of activities that are sinful. As I write, the Supreme Court is considering just such a case, in which a Christian web designer is suing Colorado over a policy that would essentially force her to design websites for same-sex weddings. Christians in wedding-related professions have faced this situation for several years, but it is spreading far beyond that industry. Christians in all walks of life are threatened with similar scenarios. A Christian family may be invited to the same-sex wedding of a friend or family member. A Christian supervisor may be directed by superiors or company policy to participate in Pride Month events . Christian parents may face situations in which their children are forced by school policy to participate in Pride Month events or be exposed to overly descriptive or graphic curriculum on sexuality. And these are just scenarios dealing with homosexuality. There may be mandatory work social events in which excessive drinking is essentially required, work or school policies that require active support of causes that directly contradict Scripture and lead to the degradation of society, or the expectation of working in a dishonest way to increase profits. Possibly the most likely scenario for any Christian involves transgenderism and the use of pronouns clearly inconsistent with biology, which I cannot cover briefly here, so I will cover it in the next post. And there is a myriad of other such situations that any Christian may encounter.
Approaching the Situation
Clearly, all Christians need to be prepared to respond biblically to any of these scenarios. While such a prospect is new for American Christians, it has been the norm throughout the history of the Church, as Peter makes clear:
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
-1 Peter 3:13-17, ESV
In this passage, Peter basically outlines how Christians should approach these situations. This begins with approaching the situation with the right perspective. Peter points out that no matter what happens, blessing will come to those who obey Christ. Whether no harm comes to you because you are doing good (which Peter says is generally the case) or you suffer for the sake of righteousness, you will be blessed, whether in this life or the next. Therefore, we should approach the situation without fear, trusting in the sovereignty and goodness of God over and above what any human can do. We must fear God rather than man, which is the point of Isaiah 8:12-13, which Peter is directly referencing in verses 14 and 15. Next, we must start with the objective of honoring Christ as of first importance. We must honor and obey Christ in whatever we do, so however we decide to act in the situation, it must honor and obey Christ. Then, we must always be prepared to give an answer as to why we decided to act in that way. This means we need to have a well-thought-out reason from Scripture and be able to explain it. But we must do this with gentleness and respect, honoring our opponents as people made in the image of God. So any conscientious objection must be both logically robust from Scripture and lovingly applied with the ultimate objective of glorifying Christ.
Knowing Your Opponent
With that in mind, we must prepare for battle. Arguably the most famous line from Sun Tzu’s Art of War is: “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril”. He wrote this around the fifth century B.C. about military battles but it applies equally to spiritual battles. Make no mistake, when we face these situations we are at war and must therefore take on a wartime mentality, following his advice to know both ourselves and our opponents. First, we must recognize that the people who make and support these policies are not the enemy, neither are the people who want to coerce us to support their sinful lifestyle. Instead, the true enemy is the devil who has blinded and enslaved them. Therefore, we must always approach our opponents not as the true enemy but as those held captive by the true enemy, whom God can free from that captivity. He may even choose to use the humble and winsome demeanor with which we approach them as part of their salvation. Paul says as much when telling Timothy how elders are to approach such conflicts:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
-2 Timothy 2:24-26, ESV
Just as it would be foolish to treat an enemy harshly who is about to defect to your side, it would be foolish to alienate someone whom God may save (and therefore make your brother or sister). The Gospel that says that all people are dead in sin and cannot do anything to be right with God is inherently offensive, so we have no need (or Scriptural warrant) to offend people any further. In everything, we must avoid offending God altogether and endeavor to offend people as little as possible.