The central thing that believing Christians have to learn in our current cultural challenges is how to deal with the full court press. We have to learn how to break the press.
At the same time, in order to do this successfully, we have to learn how to dismiss irrelevancies. We do not need to learn how to break the press “when the gym ceiling is over thirty feet tall.” We do not need to learn how to break the press when the opponents “are wearing the darker uniforms.” We do not need to learn how to break the press when “their water boy is a girl.” We simply need to learn how to break the press.
So what is the nature of that press? The culture of unbelief that surrounds us is demanding that we cede control of definitions—to dribble off with my analogy, the right to define is what we call “the ball.” They are demanding control of the dictionary, the control of all definitions, which reduces to the right to shape all expressions of reality. And when we surrender the ball, they will try to turn our appointed game of basketball into a game of Calvinball.
But in order to keep the ball round, and the hoops secure at ten feet, we have to learn how to play a little Calvinistball. God set the rules of the game on the sixth day of creation, approximately 6,000 years ago, and that’s the way it will remain. When God speaks, the mountains stand fast. When God declares it, the boys stay boys and the girls stay girls.
The big confusion for most Christians today is the difficulty we have with the content of the proposed redefinitions, rather than the mere fact of their redefinitions. We go back and forth in our minds over whether this particular change is “a big deal” or not. But the big deal is the rule-changing, and who has the authority to do it, and not necessarily the rule change considered in itself.
Our secularist lords are always and everywhere trying to shape our reality by means of their words. They want to do this with history, with philosophy, with morality, with gender, with food, and with politics. This is why they hate free speech as much as they do. This is why they want to criminalize dissent. We must counter this by refusing to budge on anything, which we do in the name of the eternal Word.
God is unchanging, and His purpose of salvation is unwavering.
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:17–18, ESV).
In order to break the press, Christians must learn, from the outset, to have absolutely “no problem passages.” This is the only way to break the press—holding fast to the hope set before us, which in turn is grounded on God’s unshakeable Word. Once the exegesis is settled, the fight to stand fast begins. If you want something else, you want something that has never existed in this sorry world. Try another planet, one where serving God gains universal applause. You might have some trouble getting there, but once that is done, everything is fantastic.
Why do so many Christians waver as they do when the issue is as clear-cut as whether there is a fixed, natural, creational distinction between men and women? That is the big E on the eye chart, isn’t it? The issue is not insight, the issue is courage. If you were to be confronted by a lynch mob, and the leader asked you what two plus two amounted to, and you said four, and the crowd roared noooo!!! and somebody in the front row started waving the rope, and the leader asked you to try again, what you would be facing would not be considered by most of us to be a math problem. This is not a math problem. It is a test of courage, not arithmetic.
It is very easy to get all the little Sunday School kids to say “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” This is because when you teach them to chant this, they are trafficking in truths like “Jesus loves the little children.” But they will grow up, and they will read their Bibles (some of them), and they will then encounter passages that say that Paul returned a runaway slave to Philemon, Noah survived a global flood in a floating zoo, that the ancient Jews were not to suffer a witch to live, and that wives should be obedient to their husbands.
What this does for many Christians is turn them aside into a life of intellectual dishonesty. They start ordering the preferred menu items of a faith that “works for them,” assembling on plates in front of them various “Bible bits,” “psalms of inspiration,” and other doctrinal sweetmeats. All of it is theology à la carte.
The end result is the affliction of the present hour, which is that we have far too many delicatuli, as Tertullian called them—silken Christians. As Thomas Watson noted, they want to glory in the transfiguration of Christ on Tabor, but have nothing to do with a very different kind of transfiguration on Golgotha. But Golgotha is where all the true authority comes from.