Christianity in the Public Sphere

There has been a wave of controversy (ugh, I can’t stand that word, and I know I’m the last to the party on this one) over Lauren Daigle’s response in her Ellen interview regarding homosexuality as a sin. Now before I go further, this post is not about Lauren, it’s about the Church as the Body of Christ. Disclaimer over, back to my point.

The responses of her Christian fans ranged from passively dismissive to just downright hateful. I’m not going to suggest that we need a healthy middle ground. Or that we ought to be praying for Lauren and her fans that they not be carried off by false theology or false doctrine (although, we should be.)

The truth is that the Church has to stand on Scripture. And the second we fail to do that, the world is watching and waiting to call us hypocrites.

So far as you live your life in the eye of the public, that is the extent to which you open yourself up to public accountability, and encouragement, but also public rebuke, and correction.

Truthfully, any doctrinal slip up, or theological error needs to be addressed to the extent of its reach. I think about Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches. They were rife with doctrinal errors and false teachers spreading false theology. And Galatians wasn’t written to a single church congregation– it was written to all the churches in the REGION of Galatia. This included major cities such as Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Psidia and Antioch. There were false Jewish teachers spreading the false doctrine of legalism instead of affirming the message of the apostles, which was salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

In the instance of the book of Galatians, the rebuke and correction had to go as deeply and as broad as the false teachings- which was across an entire region.

In Lauren Daigle’s instance, she said that she (we) can’t say what is or is not a sin because she’s not (we aren’t) God. Which is not true. Because God’s Word, the Bible, clearly establishes the definition of sin and gives guidelines for every area of life and human conduct. We CAN know what is a sin, because God told us. And if He hadn’t, Christianity would be pointless, because in not knowing sin, we wouldn’t be guilty. And not being guilty, we would have no need for salvation. And having no need for salvation, Christ’s Gospel becomes pointless. And if our faith in Christ is for this life only, “we are to be pitied above all others” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

What I hope happened in Miss Daigle’s situation is the pastor of her church contacting her and saying, “Hey, I know you are having a rough go with people “attacking” you after your response to what was honestly a trap of a question. Let’s go get coffee so we can discuss the truth according to God’s Word. I want you to be well equipped to answer hard questions like this in the future with grace, but also with sincerity and truth. And that truth is found in the Bible.”

The sad reality is that Lauren Daigle was put in a position many American Christians find themselves in whenever they speak to people outside the Christian faith. In the absence of God’s Word, human tendency is to listen to the voices of the culture around them. Look at Israel’s history. Read through the book of Judges and see how the moment Israel stopped prioritizing the Law, that was the moment they listened to the pagan nations around them and forsook their covenant relationship with God.

We as Christians, if we are to have any sway over the culture in which we live, have got to do 3 things before we can effectively witness the Gospel.

  1. Learn God’s Word – there is absolutely no excuse (other than not having the Bible translated into your native language) for a Christian to be ignorant of the Bible. If you claim Christ, read His word. Really read it. The word of Almighty God is worth more than a casual speed read or skim-through.
  2. Live with integrity- this should go without saying. But people love to pass blame, myself included. Because being wrong is humiliating, and humankind is proud and stubborn. But when we live with integrity, people who would seek to accuse us have nothing negative to say about us. They aren’t rejecting you at that point, they’re rejecting Christ.
  3. Love like Christ- Jesus is our standard of righteousness. We can’t achieve righteousness apart from Christ. So why do we think we can love people if we aren’t walking as He walked? Christ hung out with sinners, yes. But He never applauded their sin or offered them moral gray areas to camp out in. He met them where they were, but loved them too much to let them stay there. Christ calls us to be holy as He is holy; to walk worthy of the Gospel. We have to love people like Christ did; meet them where they are, yes. But don’t leave them floundering in sin, lead them to Christ. Love them enough to tell them when they’re wrong and do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15) I am specifically referring to rebukes and corrections of people who claim to be Christians, not people outside the faith.

Until we do these things, we will continue to see situations like Lauren’s as our culture slips farther and farther away from the Gospel, and the cultural, casual, moderate, “Christianity” infiltrates the body of Christ and waters down the Gospel of Jesus until it’s virtually unrecognizable as Christianity as it is laid out in the Bible.

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