1. Your primary focus should be on your relationship with God. Dating can distract you.
2. You place yourself into unnecessary temptation and sin. Dating can defile you.
The following is a letter I wrote yesterday to our local newspaper the Wilson Times. Since it may never make it in the black and white, here is a copy. At the time of this writing, voting on NC amendment one was still taking place. At the time of this writing, it is voting day in NC. As we all know, one of the most controversial items on the ballot was Amendment One. As I’ve read the editorials of this Wilson Times and have watched the vigorous debate over this issue it seems to bring out the worst out of both sides.
As a pastor and a Christian, it has been very intriguing to watch the Christians in the city of Wilson as they handle this controversial issue. Although I personally supported the amendment, I think some of the zealous passion Christians have shown over this amendment has been misguided. Christians must indeed stand firm on the truths of Scripture despite the cultural milieu of the day. However, I am terribly afraid that through this vicious debate over the marriage amendment, Christians in our city have indirectly tarnished the mission Christ has called us to do. Our task as Christians is not necessarily to create a Christianized American but to proclaim the hope the everyone can find in our Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians we want people to realize the treachery of their sins so that they can find peace and forgiveness at the cross of Jesus. At the cross, Jesus absorbed the wrath deserved for our sins and as Christians we believe that forgiveness comes through the perfect son of God, Jesus Christ. The message of Christianity is the good news that salvation is found in and through Jesus. That is the center of our message and that is the purpose of our churches existence.
My fear as a Christian is that through the commotion of this amendment, our enthusiastic passion has indirectly communicated to our city that our churches care more about a Biblical definition of marriage than people finding hope and joy through Jesus. As Christians, we must share the good news of Jesus to both the heterosexual and the homosexual in Wilson and pray that all would repent and believe. Because no matter what NC or the United States will ever decide on the issue of marriage, it never changes the centrality of that mission. Even though we might disagree with our neighbor, we still must love our neighbor and point them to the hope and joy that can only be found in Jesus. May we fight to spread the good news of Jesus in our community with the same passion and ferocity we had with the marriage amendment.
Christians have the broad reputation of being closed minded. And lets face, based on the way we interact with people who think differently than us, it is easy to see how the world gets that opinion of us. When we encounter someone who disagrees with us, we tend to belittle them and ignore them. For example if we sit down with an atheist we brush them off and just think they are morons. When we encounter a person who is a homosexual we just ignore them, call them sinners, and move on. As a result, Christians have come across of prideful, superior, and closed minded. As Christians, we need to engage the culture, not isolate ourselves from it. If we are going to enter into the public square and state what we believe, we must be prepared to dialogue about our beliefs. For example, if we are going to claim that this is one God, and his name is Jesus, we must have the respect to dialogue with our atheist friends about our worldview. If we expect them to listen to us, we need to at least have the kindness to hear them out as well. This does not mean we accept their views, but just that a dialogue about these things take place. So often, when someone disagrees with Christianity we get angry, take our toys, and go home. We don't even try to reason or give an apologetic for what we believe. We do not try to understand their perspective, we just get up and go away.
I remember a time in high school where I went out to dinner with a friend of mine for the sole purpose of arguing with this atheist class mate. The whole conversation was unhelpful as we both began to get angry, hostile, and mean. Needless to say, it didn't go well! Although we are told to give a reason for everything we believe, we must understand that conversion is a work of the Spirit. No man can convince another man to become a Christian. It is a work of the Spirit alone. As we engage in healthy cultural discussions, we must be filled with prayer as we ask the Spirit to break down walls and soften hearts. The reason we often get so angry and hostile with those who disagree with us, is because we think we can actually change their minds! It is not us but the Spirit, and as you go out and engage in conversation always be filled with love, always be filled with grace, and share the amazing story of what Christ has done for us!
If we are going to reach our culture with the beautiful truth of the Gospel, we must at least be willing to sit down amicably and have a conversation. Don't create unhelpful stereotypes about atheists, homosexuals, Muslims, or any other group that Christians so quickly write off. Don't create blanket judgements that prevent a conversation that could lead to a Gospel presentation. As Christians we are called to be missionaries to the world. This means engaging with the world views around us, and encouraging a healthy dialogue about these controversial issues all the while showing the love of Christ and sharing the truth of the Gospel.
How have you handled those who disagree with you? How can we foster better communication? How can we better engage those around us with the Gospel?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!