It's a struggle that's played out across the arc of human history. From kings and shepherds to leaders to layman, we all fight the same internal battle: fear God or fear man? At some point, every one of us has tried to do both. And as most of us know, that almost always ends badly. We keep hoping that we are the one exception to Jesus's words in Matthew 10:22: “You will be hated because of me.” We're so focused on avoiding the discomfort that we forget the promise follows: “The one who stands firm will be saved.”
Standing firm in today's culture is probably the hardest thing you can ask a Western believer to do. Not because it will cost them their lives – like so many millions of people overseas. In some ways, that decision would almost be easier. Here in America, the choice of standing firm is an emotional one. It can be a painful, heartbreaking experience that ostracizes you, ridicules you, ruins your business, or destroys your career. Courage, in the face of those odds, can be hard to muster.
Bakers, florists, photographers and others who profess Jesus Christ are facing the hardest of tests to let their lights shine before others. Being under the spotlight only complicates things. Singer Lauren Daigle knows that better than anyone after an interview put her squarely in the middle of a cultural fight she had no interest in discussing. After an appearance on “Ellen,” an interviewer asked her whether she thought homosexuality was a sin. It was a “gotcha” question, to be sure, designed to see just how far Daigle would go in defending a faith that could put her on the outs with the mainstream crowd she's started running with.
“I can't honestly answer on that,” Daigle responded. “In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don't know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can't say one way or the other. I'm not God.” To those of us who work in the trenches of the cultural movement, it was a hard answer to swallow. Like a lot of you, I'm a fan of Lauren's music. She has an amazing gift from God to use for His glory. Now that she's crossing over into other genres and becoming more popular, she also has a tremendous opportunity as a witness for Christ.
That can be a blessing, FRC's Sarah Perry pointed out on last night's “Washington Watch,” and it can be a burden. “Without her knowing it, she's instructing the next generation – because we look to people who have traveled the path before us and who have stepped on their platform as a standard-bearer for truth.”
What happened in that moment, when she was confronted with a tough question, is the same thing that's happened to people twice Lauren's age – pastors, spiritual leaders, men and women in positions of authority. We all fall short. That's why, ultimately, this conversation isn't really about her. It's about us. How do we respond when the opposition is the fiercest, and the temptations to sidestep who we are in Christ are strongest?
“Standing firm is a very unpopular stance. Standing for truth is unpalatable in the general market. We understand this just by virtue of the work we do here in Washington, D.C. It has a tendency to set people's hair on end, because that is the nature of the culture right now ... For a 27-year-old, this is a very difficult position to find yourself in ... But,” Sarah points out, “If He's called you to it, He's equipped you for it. And that means saying some pretty uncomfortable things ... I do not want there to be an attitude of chastisement or segregating her to a different segment of the kingdom because she's done something we disagree with, because we really have an opportunity to change the dialogue here.”
In the end, it's not our opinion that homosexuality is wrong or that adultery is wrong – or that there's one way to heaven through Jesus. The exclusionary nature of Christianity is not of our making. God's Word is clear. From Daniel to Daigle, people have been put in compromising situations like these. The only difference is that these days, we've been led to believe that loving people and acknowledging biblical truth are somehow incompatible. That's not true, and it's certainly not the example Jesus set.
As the late Billy Graham would say, you have to love people enough to tell them the truth. “There have been times that I've wept as I've gone from city to city, and I've seen how far people have wandered from God ... I know many people will react to this message, but it is the truth. And with all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth. God loves you, and He's willing to forgive you of all your sins. The cross is offensive because it confronts people. Even so, it is a confrontation that all of us must face.”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Family Research Council.