Recently, Lauren Daigle made headlines when she was asked about her position on homosexuality. Here’s what she said when asked if homosexuality is sinful:
“I can’t honestly answer on that, in the sense of I have too many people that I love and they are homosexuals. I can’t say one way or the other, I’m not God. When people ask questions like that, I just say, ‘Read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out let me know because I’m learning too.’”
You can read two different takes on this issue from Patheos colleagues–read this one and also this one. By any measure, Daigle was pigeonholed. She has now experienced what Christians should expect to have happen in all corners of society. The Word we believe and follow contains teaching on sexual ethics–homosexuality and transgender at the forefront–that causes people to dislike and even hate us (Deuteronomy 22:5; Romans 1:18-32). This is true even if we are not outspoken on sexual ethics. Simply being a Christian, and simply going to a church that holds the biblical position on the aforementioned matters, is enough to bring a storm of persecution upon us. I do not think Daigle is an outlier. Her experience in being ambushed with the above question will be the experience of many believers in coming days. We can all sense what a tough situation this is for Daigle, even as we can all get ready for such a moment.
This last sentence matters. We need to get ready. We can do so by recalling the example of John the Baptist, who was beheaded for bearing witness to Christian sexual ethics (Matthew 14:1-12). We need to remember keenly the apostles, who rejoiced to suffer for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41). We must never forget the teaching of Paul, who confessed at the outset of his letter to the Romans that he was not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). These examples and many others remind us that the Christian is not merely responsible for telling the truth when called upon; the Christian has the privilege, the joyful opportunity, to speak life where death reigns. If we suffer for our doctrine, if we are persecuted because of the gospel, if we encounter hardship because we proclaim the whole counsel of God, we rejoice. We know that we will be blessed if we are persecuted (Matthew 5:10-11). Our reward, if we are faithful in such moments and instances, will be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:12).
Here is my belief based on these texts (and many others): I believe that the mere speaking of truth has supernatural power. I do not believe that Christians are responsible for figuring out an extra-complicated manner of Christian witness depending on the degree of secularity in a culture. I believe that Christians are called to speak the truth in season and out. I believe that when we speak God’s truth, we speak with the very authority of heaven. Our words are more than normal human speech when we tell of the things of God. The Word of God is above nature, above the ordinary, cosmic in its effect and power. When we simply and humbly tell the truth–whatever the motives of our questioners, even our interrogators–we glorify God in a profound way.
What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5? He says that in being an emissary of Christ, he specifically did not formulate “plausible words of wisdom,” but rather focused on the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Do not miss this: power of the spiritual kind comes from the truth. The demonstration of the Spirit occurs when a Christian declares the Word of God. This is what Paul did. Yes, he engaged his interlocutors carefully and thoughtfully. But he was not martyred by accident. Nor were his fellow apostles. They were killed because they told the truth, truth that the natural man rejects, truth that the natural man hates.
It is not pleasant to observe a professing Christian be ambushed by someone who wants to trap them. We are witnessing something wrong, something untoward, something that should not happen. Further, it is not bad for a believer to seek to be winsome and winning in public, to build whatever bridges they can with unbelievers. But we do need to know this: whatever platform we carve out in the providence of God is not given us for its own sake. If we are truly a Christian, and we truly have some measure of influence, that influence is not our own. We do not own it. That influence is God’s. That platform is God’s. Those opportunities are bought and paid for by the bloody cross of Christ. That chance to answer a hostile question, a question that could possibly derail all the hard work we’ve put in to have a public voice, is a chance given us by God for the glory of his name.
There are hard questions every believer will face, to be sure–if we’re in a closed country (or a secular university or a hostile tech company or a hospital with strongly pro-LGBT policies), we will need to pray and ask God for wisdom on a regular basis. There are gray areas we all will face. We want to approach such circumstances in the lives of other Christians with compassion and humility. These are no easy callings that we are discussing. This is the way of the cross, and it is a way that will cost you everything–respectability, money, possessions, and more. In truth, it has already cost us everything. We cannot forget that–as past voices knew so well–our life is not our own. We were bought with a price, and we are called to spread the gospel of grace, and to tell the truth in every dimension of life. If moments like the one Daigle faced come to us, we must remember that we do not own ourselves. We are slaves of Christ. Like the apostles, we do not grimly bear the cross of our Lord. We rejoice that we can suffer with Jesus, the one who has united us to himself. We remember that God will personally and specifically reward us for every single act of faithfulness in his name. Whatever comes, we are always in God’s hands.
Do not be fooled. God will ultimately triumph over those who disobey him, and he will exact vengeance–perfect and undiluted vengeance–on all who attack his people in any form. Even now the blood of the martyrs cries out to God; even now the number of the faithful dead increases. As we know from Revelation 6:9-11, all this will be made right. Everyone who suffers because of their obedience to God in a Satan-patrolled world will be honored on the last day. Whatever cost we must pay for our biblical beliefs, let us remember these things. Let us be ready to speak, to tell the truth, and to give a reason for the hope that lies within us.
Much as we tremble to say it, whatever the cost, it will be worth it.
Readers wanting a burst of hope in these trying times can pick up my brand-new book. Always in God’s Hands is a 365-day devotional sourced from the God-intoxicated writings of Jonathan Edwards. It is my hope that this book can play a small part in stimulating the kind of God-honoring, world-defying faith outlined briefly in this post.