Fellow Christians: We Have So Much More Than Same-Sex Marriage and Transgenderism to Discuss With a Secular World

Fellow Christians: We Have So Much More Than Same-Sex Marriage and Transgenderism to Discuss With a Secular WorldThis week, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a document called the Nashville Statement, which aimed to define how sexuality should be viewed through a biblical lens.

As you might expect, there has been a tremendous amount of back-and-forth between those who support it and those who don’t. My purpose in this post is not to debate the merits of the statement. It’s to talk about something said in response to it on the “Friendly Atheist” blog:

“I’m tempted to sign the statement myself, only because I think it’ll hasten the downfall of the Christian Right. The more we can connect this document to what it means to be a Christian, the more people will realize the faith is unworthy of respect” (emphasis mine).

The italicized part of this quote just hit me in the gut. Enough that I abandoned another blog post I was 90% done with right now to write this one instead. The Friendly Atheist’s statement expresses something I’ve been concerned about for a while.

Fellow believers, we need to talk.

 

When Christians Make It Easy for Skeptics to Redefine Christianity in the Public Eye

Any Christian with an understanding of, well, Christianity, knows that it would be absurd for anyone to think Christianity is defined by a single cultural issue. It’s a sad day when people are so uninformed that it would even be possible to define Christianity in that way. The author of that blog post is a smart guy who undoubtedly realizes that as well. Perhaps that’s why I found his statement so disingenuous—he presumably knows what actually defines Christianity (more on that in a minute) but is encouraging the promotion of his alternative, distorted definition to make people eschew the faith as quickly as possible.

As a Christian, does that frustrate you? Make you angry? Make you sad?

It should.

But I feel the need to say something today that’s been on my mind for a while now: Too many Christians are contributing to this (mis)understanding of what Christianity is all about, making it easy for skeptics to redefine Christianity in the public eye.

I follow a lot of Christians on social media—both leaders and lay people—so I can see what matters of faith people are talking about at any given time. With our culture propelling issues of sexuality to the forefront of discussion, many Christians have followed suit—letting culture lead the way in what they predominantly share about online.

As a result, if you looked at their Facebook timeline or Twitter profile to get an idea of what it means to be a Christian, you would see link after link about two issues alone: same-sex marriage and transgenderism.

Can you blame non-believers for thinking this is what defines Christians today if this is most (or all) of what we talk about?

You can protest all you want that people have a responsibility to get their understanding of Christianity from places other than social media posts (and that would be correct), but as Christians we have a God-given responsibility to be a compelling witness to the world–both in what we talk about and how we talk about it.

We’re too often not doing that.

As one example, when a transgender “man” gave birth to a baby boy last month, Christians had a field day making fun of the situation. Regardless of what we may think of the story, there are far better ways to talk about it. Show me a link to pretty much any story involving a transgender person and I’ll show you comments from Christians joking about how they’ve decided to be a chair, a dog, or a plant that month (please, please stop these kinds of comments).

You know what I don’t see nearly as many Christians sharing links about?

Articles that talk about the evidence for God’s existence.

Articles that talk about why there’s good reason to believe the resurrection is an historical event and that Jesus is the risen Savior.

Articles that talk about why there’s good reason to believe the Bible is actually God’s word.

Articles that talk about the transformational power of the gospel.

You know, the subjects that actually do define what Christians believe.

Here’s what I would have been happy to see the Friendly Atheist blogger say:

“The more we can connect [a belief in the existence of God, the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, the reliability of the Bible as God’s word, and the transformational power of the gospel] to what it means to be a Christian, the more people will realize the faith is unworthy of respect.”

Of course I wouldn’t want him to conclude those things make Christianity unworthy of respect, but at least we would be working with an appropriate definition of Christianity and could engage on the evidence for the truth of those beliefs.

Truth has nothing to fear.

But many Christians fear talking about these underlying worldview topics because they aren’t equipped with a knowledge of basic apologetics (how to make a case for and defend the truth of Christianity). It’s easier to joke about being a chair than learn about, share, and discuss the evidence for the resurrection. I get it.

But it’s not an excuse.

If we want to be a compelling witness to the world, we need to be very aware of how we represent who Christ is and why He matters. That involves much more than repeatedly commenting on one or two hot cultural topics, and requires that when we do comment on those topics, we do so in a God-honoring way.

 

But wait! The world will never like when Christians state the truth! We can’t back down! These issues are important!

If that’s what you’re thinking as you read this, you’re missing my point. I’m not saying we need to water down the truth, not talk about questions of same-sex marriage and transgenderism, or not talk about what the culture is talking about. I’m not saying the Nashville statement is or isn’t important (this post has nothing to do with the Nashville Statement—I only described it because it was the background for the particular quote I wanted to respond to). I’m also not saying that you personally are guilty of what I’m talking about here.

What I’m saying is that these subjects are dominating what Christians talk about today because we’re letting culture lead the conversation and it’s sadly resulting in a misleading view of what Christianity is all about. As the body of Christ, I believe we collectively need to do a better job of leading the conversation on faith with discussions on why we even believe Christianity is true while engaging with the hot cultural topics of today.

Think it’s not possible? One apologist who does this especially well is Sean McDowell. Sean doesn’t shy away from addressing big cultural topics (such as those addressed here), but his focus remains on sharing why there’s good reason to believe Christianity is true. The “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) with which he speaks and writes is an excellent example for all of us (and is why I asked him to write the foreword for Talking with Your Kids about God).

Yes, people will still misconstrue what we say. People will still confuse disagreement with hate. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim to do better. We can do better and we need to do better.

 

How Do Your Kids Understand Christianity?

As with all of my posts, I want to bring this back to parenting.

There are probably a lot of Christian homes that sound like the social media posts I’m describing. Lots of conversation about cultural topics but not much conversation about the evidence for the truth of various worldviews.

In fact, I get a steady stream of emails from parents asking me how to approach talking with kids about the subjects of same-sex marriage and transgenderism but very few asking how to teach their kids why we know the Bible is God’s Word. Again, it’s important that we talk about those cultural issues, but if we’re planning on pointing back to the Bible as the authority on what we’re talking about, shouldn’t we be sure we’re starting with why our kids should even care what the Bible says?

So let me ask you: What is your kids’ understanding of Christianity right now? Has the culture been successful in redefining what it means to be a Christian in their minds?

Ask them. Ask how they would define Christianity. Ask what it means to be a Christian. Ask how their non-Christian friends would answer those questions. Then compare the answers and bring it back to basics:

Why do we have good reason to believe Christianity is true?

23 Comments

  1. RebeccaLynn on September 1, 2017 at 9:23 AM

    I can’t tell you how much I love your ministry and the VALUABLE message you are bringing back to the heart and face of Christianity. I’m so blessed to be on the launch team for your latest book. You are a voice that needs to be heard! And don’t ever lose heart — those who are listening, hear! Thank you for this. Sharing!



    • Natasha Crain on September 1, 2017 at 12:49 PM

      Thanks so much for that encouragement, Rebecca–it’s a blessing to you have you on the team!



  2. […] For those that are following the recent Nashville Statement, here is an excellent post by Natasha Cr… […]



  3. Dick DiTullio on September 1, 2017 at 10:36 AM

    This is exactly what is behind my new tactic. No matter WHAT the topic, stop, and first ask, “Does God exist?” and then “Is the Bible reliable?” It is only after those two questions are resolved that one can step into all the off-shoot topics that dominate because you now have established a standard of authority to answer the questions.



  4. Alicia San Nicolas on September 1, 2017 at 12:33 PM

    A few thoughts I had from reading this:

    Do Christians really know what Christianity is (fundamental truths/gospel)?

    Many Christians are reactive to issues rather than proactive to faith, both in their personal lives and their public discourse.

    Cultural issues have differed through place and time. (Christian among Hindus today would face different problems than a modern American Christian or a Christian in the Roman Empire)

    It’s probably easier, unfortunately, to confront issues rather than to confront sin with the gospel.

    The apologetics and the truth of the Bible are unchanged since the beginning of the church.



  5. Amanda on September 1, 2017 at 12:40 PM

    Natasha,
    I completely understand where you are coming from, but these “hot button” sexuality issues are the ones that well-known Christians are being forced to respond to, especially those in the public eye. I think it’s more of a “drawing a line in the sand” issue that we, as Christians, are being asked to stand on one side or the other.

    Those who do are praised, those who won’t are vilified.

    Of course, many “everyday/average” Christians feel the push to respond as well, and I can understand why. It causes a visceral reaction to be called names like “bigot” (and worse) and people want to be heard, and in turn, understood. Unfortunately sometimes that does mean that a small minority of Christians that lack both common sense and compassion post mean or mocking things, but I think that’s much more the exception than the rule. I wouldn’t leave a person like that on my Facebook feed for 2 seconds without blocking their posts and probably “unfriending” them.

    I do totally agree with your main sentiment that we make sure we should *also* talk about other issues central to the faith, though, and make a point of sharing those on social media as well!



    • Natasha Crain on September 1, 2017 at 12:47 PM

      Hi Amanda, I agree that this is why so many Christians focus on these issues–the complete distortion of what Christians actually believe by the secular world is disheartening and extremely frustrating (just read the whole post I took that quote from on the Friendly Atheist blog). I would just add, though, that just because there’s a good reason why we want to react by focusing on our response to the cultural issues of the day doesn’t mean that those issues SHOULD become our primary focus. This post was intended to just get people thinking about how they represent what Christianity is about. Talk about these issues and take a stand on these issues, but remember to prioritize and balance what the heart of Christianity actually is.



  6. Jeremy Marceau on September 1, 2017 at 12:55 PM

    Well said Natasha! If we can make a strong and winsome case for Christ many of these cultural issues would be answered in the process. Great blog as always, and hey, you’re next one is already 90% finished!



  7. Andrew Basile on September 1, 2017 at 1:01 PM

    Thank you for stating this so well! When we as Christians allow ourselves to be primarily defined by cultural issues, it also makes it harder for others to accept our love for them. On issues pertaining to culture, God cares about what’s best for us as humans; His objective isn’t to give us ammunition to enable us to sit in judgment over others. God’s priority is for people to come to Him as they are, without delay, rather than attempting to get their lives all “cleaned up” first.



  8. Kenneth Klos on September 1, 2017 at 1:59 PM

    Natasha, I’m not a blogger, nor a social media fan, but I your blogs are always great, and this one seems to hit the nail square on the head. I AM an apologist for our faith, and I CAN provide plenty of evidence for the faith, more than you’d want hear! For parents I’d recommend Wallace’s “Cold Case Christianity” and “Cold Case Christianity for Kids”, which isn’t by Wallace, but I don’t know the author. Wallace’s book is excellent and easy to read, and I’ve heard the book for kids is just as good for them. I’d also recommend the ministry called REASONS TO BELIEVE at http://www.reasons.org for all sorts of apologetics information for believers to skeptics to atheists.



  9. sam on September 1, 2017 at 3:55 PM

    Natasha great post. I would argue the reason for so many foolish comments is due to the fact most people don’t read anything… much less old books…and more importantly their Bible. So rather than adress the heart of an issue they skirt the issue with caustic banter. The problems we face in culture are generally have to do with the order of love (Augustine) and the application of love (Dante). As a Pastor of Families my desire is to raise my kids and to train the kids in our church to think, to love and treasure Christ above all else. When we do those three things our discourse will be dramatically different.



  10. Melanie Fyock on September 1, 2017 at 6:46 PM

    I am so glad I found your blog. What a treasure trove to be sure!



  11. Erin Alexander on September 1, 2017 at 9:29 PM

    “As the body of Christ, I believe we collectively need to do a better job of leading the conversation on faith with discussions on why we even believe Christianity is true while engaging with the hot cultural topics of today.”
    I agree. Maybe even do more than lead the conversations. Become God’s grace, extend God’s grace in those conversations. What you call “cultural topics” is my life. My life. It’s not a cultural concept to be debated. Extend God’s grace to another human being, created by God. Become the christian that says, God values you. Period. No “if’s, or buts…” You don’t have to define right or wrong. God will do that. You have been mandated by Jesus to love your neighbor. When you do that, the debate turns into a conversation.



  12. Tracy Yi on September 1, 2017 at 11:25 PM

    I cannot express enough how much I love this post. I agree wholeheartedly. As Sean McDowell has said, “We need to tell a better story”. The beauty of the cross should be our focus.
    Thank you for reminding us that we can forget the big picture and focus on the cultural things, and often, in ugly ways. I am challenged to tell a better story.



  13. The Samaritan Blog Post | Reasoned Cases for Christ on September 2, 2017 at 3:33 AM

    […] I know that there is a need to understand why we as Christians don’t accept many of the “norms” of our society and to educate the Church about these matters. I also know there is a need to stand up for our beliefs and freedoms. But what I often see missing is the love that is supposed to accompany our criticism. I read an interesting blog post today by Natasha Crain that commented on the Nashville Statement. If you have the time, take a look at it: christianmomthoughts.com […]



  14. Bruce Cooper on September 2, 2017 at 4:05 AM

    Excellent post Natasha, I couldn’t agree with you more. I took the liberty of including a link to your post in a post of my own because God has laid this same concern on my heart also. Thank you for stating what needed to be said. Blessings!



  15. Steve on September 2, 2017 at 7:35 AM

    Ya know. I really agreee with everything you said and the heart of the matter of which needs to be conveyed.

    I personally get hung up with the fact that a LARGE portion of people who are offended and continually bringing this topic up are people who claim to know all the other stuff you mentioned. (Evidence for God, etc.). They lane them selves “Christians” and are building empires of false doctrine that sounds really really good.

    Ironically is the Christians that are tearing themselves apart, imo. How do we deal with that? What is the right course of action.

    I personally fee like it’s much easier to have a rational discussion with a non believer about this issue then someone who has chamged the theology to fit their need.

    So truly, I agree with what you have wrote. I wish we could just focus on Loving Jesus all the time. But how (honest question) do we as apologists and Scriptural Christians do that these days with our opposition largely being….” Christians”?? ?



  16. Janet Trenda on September 2, 2017 at 9:34 AM

    So well said, Natasha! I will keep your quote, “we’re letting cuture lead the conversation” as a reminder to reframe conversations to what matters most. Thanks.



  17. Marcus on September 2, 2017 at 3:23 PM

    Hi Natasha. I appreciate this post, and I believe you’re correct. I would like to add: extending the conversation beyond the two topics you mentioned is admirable. But what would be even more powerful would be if Christians shut their yaps once in a while and put their faith into action. Talking doesn’t really change people’s minds about Christianity – demonstrating the love of Jesus DOES. (And I know that I just made a blanket statement – I know quite a few Christians who actually practice their faith. Unfortunately, there are a lot of resounding gongs in the news right now who are drowning out the voices of love.)



  18. Mel Wild on September 2, 2017 at 9:36 PM

    Amen, well said. I agree, we’re sending the wrong message here.



  19. Cory T on September 5, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    Thank you, Natasha. I love your main point. While I don’t believe Christians have been purposely TRICKED into fixation on these issues, we certainly have succumbed to it.
    The one thing I’d add to your post/thinking is that beliefism will hardly be compelling to anyone. It’s when Jesus-followers actually FOLLOW Jesus (not argue Jesus) that we’re invitational to others. It’s our ACTS of compassion and standing up for justice for the voiceless. So rather than talk to each other about beliefs, I’d go a step further and talk about what those beliefs inspire, how they animate our actions–the What, Where and WHY we show our love to others.



  20. Jill on September 18, 2017 at 5:52 PM

    Hi Natasha,
    I haven’t read through all of the comments posted here. But, I would like to ask you if you think a proper response would be to educate people about where in history this line of thinking or mentality comes from- the homosexual or transgender mindset. I’m not remembering exactly at this moment, but I think it comes from Freud. I think it helps to know the background of why people think the way they do, especially those that are “lost”, or without the Truth. They are looking to fill a void that only Christ can fill, and they don’t know it yet. We, in my family- I have 2 adolescent stepsons- talk about the history of certain issues, like evolution or “lgbtq” issues.
    Thank you so much for your blog and your books!



  21. Robin S on October 4, 2017 at 4:46 PM

    Thank you for your article! I think the main reason the hot topics are covered but not the foundations, is because many don’t know how to validate their faith. Statistics for those who read their Bibles regularly are appalling. I’m not certain many who do read, read more than a short devotion daily, if that. If Christians don’t know the Word, how can they “defend” the faith. Also, growing up in mainline churches as a believer, I’ve come to realize we’ve neutered our faith because we fail to see/believe the power of the gospel. We’ve taught our people when they come to Christ they must change the way they live. How often do we expect when someone comes to Christ, there lives will change, because Jesus just does that. Take away the power of the gospel to change lives, and our words become little more to the world than a weight they must bear. If our young people only see a set of rules among many to choose from, no wonder they are confused. The church I now attend proclaims a God who changes lives. We are taught to expect it, and God is changing lives as we expect. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve grown up loving Jesus and studying his Word. It’s amazing!