How Can We Influence the Culture?

A popular department store chain (J.C. Penney) has caused quite a stir in the news lately with its new advertisement that embraces homosexual lifestyles. I posted the ad on Facebook recently, and I received mixed responses from believers and unbelievers.

But what does this “gay-friendly” advertisement teach us about the culture? I discuss the decline of the culture in detail in my book The Lie (a newly revised and updated edition is forthcoming this year, by the way). This advertisement is a perfect example of how ungodly behavior is becoming more prevalent in the culture.

In The Lie, I make the point that as the church has added evolution and millions of years to the Bible, it has essentially given up God’s Word as its starting point and embraced fallible man’s word. As a result of this biblical compromise, the church is not impacting the culture as it once did in our Western world because much of the church is being influenced more by the culture than it is by God’s Word. Once Christians start embracing millions of years (which includes death, disease, and suffering before the Fall) and evolutionary ideas (meaning we’re all descended from animals), they have decided that Genesis is no longer trustworthy. So why should the rest of Scripture be trustworthy? They have in reality taught this and coming generations that fallible man’s views can be used in authority over the Word of God.

In fact, we contracted with America’s Research Group a few years ago to examine the trend of how the church is not just losing the culture wars, but how it is also losing the coming generation. The results were published in Already Gone. Our survey found that young people who had grown up in churches that did not teach apologetics or that had adopted compromised positions on Genesis were more likely to doubt the authority of Scripture. Why is this? Because the church is arguing based on man’s fallible opinions instead of standing uncompromisingly on the authority of the Word of God.

When believers deal with issues in the culture that promote sinful actions or lifestyles, they must be careful to defend their views from Scripture—not just with opinions. If we operate from opinion only, we really have no more basis than secularists to say—in the case of this J.C. Penney advertisement—that a homosexual lifestyle is wrong. But if we turn to the Bible, the Word of the One who was there at the beginning, we find that in the Garden of Eden, God made one man and one woman (not two men and not two women) and theirs was the first marriage (Genesis 1–2). Taking other relevant passages into account (e.g., Matthew 19; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–11; Revelation 21:8), we can definitively say that “gay” marriage and homosexual behavior is wrong, based on Scripture.

One of the problems we have today is that when generations in the church are taught they can use man’s ideas about origins to reinterpret Genesis, why shouldn’t they then be consistent and use man’s ideas to reinterpret morality? We need to raise up generations who will contend for the faith by standing on God’s Word and judging man’s actions accordingly. Actually, to contend this way is to show love towards those whose behavior is unbiblical.

An article by Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, from Answers magazine offers a great summary  that explains what it means to show love when dealing with sinful issues:

To the homosexual, as to all others, we must speak in love, never in hatred. But the first task of love is to tell the truth, and the sign of true hatred is the telling of a lie. Those who genuinely love homosexuals are not those who would revolutionize morality to meet their wishes, but those who will tell them the truth and point them to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). (“More Than a Revolution,” Answers, December 8, 2009, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v5/n1/revolution.)

If we want to really influence the culture, we must start with God’s Word, the ultimate authority in every area of life, and we must be prepared to defend the faith (answer questions), share the gospel, and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Thanks for stopping here and thanks for praying,

Ken