Pastor John MacArthur, who recently stated that the newfound evangelical “obsession” with social justice diminishes the gospel, now has an equally ridiculous follow-up statement: Evangelicals are way too eager to please the culture.
That’s surprising… considering how many evangelical beliefs go against the will of the American majority.
For example, despite the clarity of 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man”), leading evangelicals have been debating for several years whether women qualify to be elders or pastors in the church. Many capitulate to cultural preference rather than submitting to biblical authority on this and other similar issues. Some have tried to redefine the role and proper functioning of the family. Others seem to want to deconstruct — or simply ignore — what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage.
Yes, how dare some Christians disobey God’s will by allowing women to become leaders in church? That’s what happens when you trust feminists over apologists.
As for divorce, even setting aside the idea that some couples decide to call it quits, there are times when even Christians should find it morally acceptable, such as when abuse is present. Instead, MacArthur implies that all divorces are avoidable and that this is because the couples didn’t give their marriage a sincere try.
So why are more Christians disagreeing with conservative theology? Maybe it’s because their interpretations of what God says changes over time. In any case, it’s not because they’re following culture. If anything, it usually goes the other way around, with conservative Christians catching up to the rest of us when it comes to issues like morality and civil rights. (It was Bob Jones University that banned interracial dating until 2000 and white evangelical churches continue speaking out against LGBTQ rights, the existence of transgender people, evolution by natural selection, climate change, sex education, etc.)
I wish those Christians would please the culture. Would homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia be nearly as rampant if not for toxic religious doctrine to support it?
Fortunately for MacArthur, the United States is not exactly the liberal utopia he thinks it is. Far from it. Especially with Donald Trump in the White House surrounded by evangelical policy advisers.
That’s not to say the culture always gets it right. Intolerance and bigotry are everywhere and we can’t blame churches for all of that. It also presents an opportunity for Christians. They could easily take the lead on speaking out in favor of black lives, against systemic racism, and with an acknowledgment of their privilege. They can talk more about systemic poverty and donate more tithes to local food banks and homeless shelters. But that’s a hard sell for a group of people who still can’t find a way to justify baking a cake for a gay couple that wants to pay for it.
The bottom line is that the Church needs to get back in the business of doing the right thing, which is often synonymous with doing the hardest thing. It needs to be unafraid to get its hands dirty and speak uncomfortable truths to its most privileged members. That’s how to be counter-cultural these.