By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
News headlines give you a sense of where the world is currently and where it is headed. But the Bible does that too. When I combine the two in daily reading, I have personally found that it helps me understand the world, God’s mission for now and the future as well as my role in that mission. For instance, in the Bible, those who believe in God are told that it is essential that we train our children early in God’s ways. Probably the two most quoted passages about that particular subject are from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Proverbs 22:6. The first passage from Deuteronomy tells believers to pass on Godly values to children. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to start very early in training children in the ways of God. What I have found is that if we do not follow this wise advice, we leave children vulnerable to people who will teach them ungodly values, which oppose the teachings of the Bible and eventually bring soul-damaging harm to them. Here’s an example. It’s a headline from an online article in Newsweek: “Sex Offender Busted As Drag Queen Who Reads Books to Children In City Library.” The writer of the article talks about Drag Queen Storytime, which is an organization that gets drag queens to read to children in public libraries and other places. Yes, that means men dressed up flamboyantly as women. I first read about drag queens reading to small children in a fine article by Royal Alexander in the local paper. What’s the lesson? Train children at home and in church about what proper sexuality is Biblically speaking because even small children are targets of the devil. The Newsweek story shows one obvious danger is that a drag queen program aimed at children, exposes kids to sex offenders. But what is also troubling about this program is that it has gained the endorsement of some teachers as well as some librarians. It is promoting homosexuality to children at an impressionable age in order to alter their views on sexuality. I found a similar program that almost literally described its mission that way. It’s called Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH). On their website they say about their goal, “DQSH (Drag Queen Story Hour) captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where everyone can be their authentic selves.” (Oh, really? What’s the goal here, five-year-old drag queens?) Obviously, God anticipated this kind of thing when he inspired the Bible writers to warn his people to reach out to children and teach them his ways early as possible. We would be wise to heed that advice.
The second headline is from a National Public Radio story featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. It reads, “How the Southern Baptist Convention Covered Up Its Widespread Sex Abuse Scandal” Ms. Gross conducted an interview with Houston Chronicle writer Robert Downden who wrote an investigative series in the Chronicle about sexual abuse in the SBC Gross said, “That series led the Southern Baptist Convention to commission an independent investigation.” She adds that the investigation led to a report that “confirmed widespread abuse and attempts to cover it up and discredit survivors who came forward.” The radio story featured victims who were disbelieved when they went to church leaders and congregations and reported being sexually abused. The Bible warns us that there would be false prophets among the faithful. Jesus himself warned us that not everyone who calls me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). So, God knows that the enemy Satan will enter people inside the church and these people will cause trouble. In fact, Jesus also pointed out to his disciples, “Have I not picked 12 of you and one of you is a devil?” The devil gets into all of us sometimes. That’s why we are allowed to repent. But some inside the church will not turn around or repent. What is worse however is when religious leaders commit sins and the church backs them up in their wrongful acts. In many of the national and international sexual abuse scandals in the church, those who were caught were sometimes just moved around to other areas by church leadership. Women have told me about either pastors or lay leaders who have sexually harassed them or family members. I also know of pastors who are involved in financial scandals or ethics scandals and their churches don’t even seem to notice or care. Is it possible for Christians to promote a gospel of justice and righteousness if we ourselves are sometimes guilty of turning our backs on injustice in the church itself? When people cannot get relief from the church, they tend to drift away disillusioned. Often when I meet people who have left the church, they tell me the reason was due to their being mistreated by someone in the church. A young woman who has been sexually abused or sexually harassed in a place where she sought spiritual assistance and strength is probably going to leave the church and possibly the Christian faith. Satan wants that. It doesn’t have to be this way. Matthew Chapter 18 tells us what to do when someone is offended in the church. Apostle Paul advised the church to; put some people out of the church, separating them from the flock. A good shepherd protects the flock from wolves.
Jesus told his followers to spread the gospel to all the world. That is why Christians evangelize. It’s called the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Today, that commission is being challenged by young people in the church. Check out this headline from an article in Christianity Today. It reads “Half of Millennial Christians Say It’s Wrong to Evangelize” Apparently, according to the report, “Many young people in the Christian Community want people to come to Christ. They just don’t want to speak up about it.” Again, the Bible is not caught off guard. Apostle Paul predicted that a time would come in which people would not endure sound doctrine. What he meant was that people would reject basic, sound Christian beliefs. He knew that would include people in the church. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier. We are not training our children in proper Christian doctrine as well as previous generations did. As a result, they are being trained by a secular society that is hostile to Christian beliefs. They also spend a great deal of time being influenced by vile music, rebellious celebrities, and a culture that is moving away from things Christian. But when Jesus himself is being challenged and ignored by young people sitting in our own church pews, this should cause concern. It should perhaps, also spark changes in how we teach youth. Vacation Bible School programs could be re-tooled to anticipate that we are living in a culture that is hostile to the faith. Our children need to be prepared to practice being Christian on school grounds and playgrounds where they may be attacked for belonging to Christ. We are not the first generation to have to face this. The very first Christians had to as well. God sustained them. He’ll sustain those who are faithful to him today and in the future. But we have to recognize the times our children are growing up in and prepare them. Don’t we owe them that?
Here’s one more example of the rejection of sound doctrine in today’s church. It’s a headline from a few months ago. It’s from Iowa and was run online on the site for The Gazette. It reads, “Iowa’s United Methodist Church Issues Directive Permitting Same-Sex Marriage, Gay Clergy.” God was clear in both the Old and New Testaments that it is a sin to practice homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 says men should not have sex with men. Romans Chapter 1 also speaks against practicing the homosexual lifestyle—gay or lesbian. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 even teaches that practicing the lifestyle can keep people out of heaven, unless they will repent and leave the sin Yet, despite all these clear prohibitions, some inside the church continue to defy God’s standards on sexuality. How can this possibly work out? How can a church be successful defying God? How can people reject his guidance and call themselves true believers? Jesus himself commented on that when he asked, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I command you (Luke 6:46)?”
These headlines reveal that God has seen in advance all that is happening and all that will happen. He is allowing believers to know what time it is. But you have to read your Bible, pray and surrender to God’s will in order to prepare for what is coming. Jesus made it clear that he wants to find believers doing the work we should be doing and living lives we should be living when he returns. Next time you log on to your computer to check the news, take a Bible along. It will help you truly understand the world we live in and the role God wants us Christians to play in it. Not only will God help you understand the news, he’ll help you understand what he wants you to do about what you are reading.