Non-Christians Behaving Like Christians? A Respectful Response to Carey Nieuwhof

pexels-photo-56926The last thing I want to do with this blog is to use it to start arguments or quarrels. That’s not why this was started. The last thing we need to be doing within the Kingdom of God is to be fussing with each other over trivial matters.

However, there is a mindset among many pastors that I think is dangerous. It could adversely affect how disciples of Jesus are made. Allow me to explain…

For starters, please understand something. I don’t know Carey Nieuwhof. He has a blog as well as a podcast. I read his stuff. I listen to his podcasts. He has an incredible mind. He is a gifted communicator. I have a lot of respect for him and for the ministry with which the Lord has entrusted to him.

He said something in a blog post last year, however, with which I must take issue. I hope I present my case clearly and with the utmost of respect.

In that blog post, while discussing his reflections on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that effectively eliminated the definition of marriage in the United States, Carey asked this question of his readers:

“Why would we expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?”

Carey then listed a number of behaviors that he apparently considers to be Christian, such as waiting until marriage to have sex, not smoking weed, not cursing, things like that. He then points out that a growing number of people today aren’t even pretending to be Christian; it is pointless, therefore, to assume that those people would want to adopt Christian morals.

Carey’s point is well-taken; as followers of Jesus, we ought to aim to introduce people to Christ for a change of heart first and foremost. The behavior will change when the heart changes.

The problem with Carey’s point, from my view, is that he is placing it into the wrong discussion.

If the issue being discussed was whether Bible reading should be made mandatory by law, then Carey’s point would fit perfectly. But that’s not what the issue is.

The issue is: what is the Christian’s responsibility before God to a society that attempts to define something to be right that God has clearly said is wrong?

If I read my Bible right, the Christian needs to take a stand on the side of what is right.

Salt is a preservative, preserving what is right and good. That becomes our responsibility when society wants to go the wrong way. Such a stand by a Christian would most certainly be counter-culture (a term used by Carey in his post that accurately describes the Christian life!).

That would be enough for a Christian to stand up and point out the biblical answers to today’s issues. But there are practical reasons for doing so as well. Here are a few:

1. God’s design works…for everyone.

Carey would certainly agree with this—and he did in the same blog post. But it is one of the vital reasons to contend for what is right and true in the public square; God’s design works. Everyone benefits. Society benefits. It works.

2. We cannot idly watch society destroy itself.

Jesus stated that the second greatest commandment was like the greatest commandment (love God wholeheartedly). That commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. How on earth can we claim to love our neighbors and at the same time silently watch them destroy themselves with falsehoods that they have been persuaded are true? The answer is, we can’t.

3. Society’s slide into depravity demands a warning.

We knew that once the definition of marriage (one man, one woman, for life) was removed from society, that all sorts of abhorrent stuff would seep up to the surface and demand to be recognized as normal. Sure enough…now this story out of New Mexico, where a 36-year-old woman and her 19-year-old son have begun an incestuous relationship that has been given a “clinical name:” Genetic Sexual Attraction—“intense sexual desire that can arise between genetically related people who are united in adulthood.” When society starts thinking that something like this is normal, it demands a warning from Jesus’ followers.

4. Every law passed is a moral statement declared.

Think about this for a moment. Have you ever heard a bill signed into law by a governor or a president where the chief executive is quoted as saying, “Yes, we know that this new law  is wrong. We know that this new law  is going to hurt a lot of people and do significant damage to society. But we’re going to do it anyway?” Neither have I. The opposite, in fact, is true; the proponents of the bill or law continually try to convince society that their proposal is good and right. Do we allow them to make those statements unchallenged by what really is true and good? I, for one, don’t think so.

None of these reasons indicate that I wish to force unbelieving people to act and behave like believing Christians. But I do care about people. I care about society. I care about our nation. And when a nation observes God’s design, everyone wins.

I know I’m just one little guy who pastors one little church who has one little blog. My voice isn’t very loud. But we as followers of Jesus will have a lot to answer for if, at this critical moment in world history, we remain silent while our society tries to convince itself that what is good and what is true is relative to each individual.

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