The Culture War continues to rage, and the issue of the day is “transgender.” From “Caitlyn” Jenner to Target to school bathrooms, transgenderism is on people’s minds, and our nation is divided. How is the church to respond? Are these issues we need to be vocal on? Or would it only push people away?
The answer depends on our end goal.
As Christians, what is our mission? It should be to reconcile people to Jesus Christ. We have been saved by Christ, and we get to share in His gospel of reconciliation. Our hearts should beat for those who have yet to experience the love and mercy of God. Jesus commands us to give our lives to this mission and His church.
Paul, furthermore, called us to no longer look at people from a human perspective, but through the eyes of the gospel. We should not be worried about how the world defines others; rather we should be concerned on the condition of their souls.
Yet Paul also warns in 2 Corinthians 6 that we are “limited by our own affections,” that we fall short of the mission because of our focus on earthly matters. In order to truly see others through the eyes of the gospel, we must get our priorities straight. We must prioritize the gospel of reconciliation.
But where to begin?
The answer is in properly prioritizing God’s three institutions of society – the family, the church, and government. Though God created three institutions, only one of them is eternal and only one is commissioned with reconciling others to God: the church. It is the church that holds the hope for all mankind through Jesus Christ our Lord. If the other two institutions want to impact eternity, they can only do so to the extent they support the mission of the church.
The best thing we can do for our family, for example, is point them to the church, God’s family. It is in the church our loved ones will experience life and purpose. Their work in the church will never perish and will never be in vain. The world will give us other priorities, like a 401K, higher education, a career, a spouse, and so much more. None of these things are bad, but living our life for them is. The best thing we can do is raise up our families to use these things for God’s kingdom, where none of these things will perish.
The same is true for government. The law in and of itself is very good, but the law can never save. Yet too often as Christians we believe simply changing the law is the hope for our nation. In the end, however, we will find hope in the law leads to legalism and despair and ultimately back to death.
The law must be used instead as a tool to lead people to the one true hope, Jesus Christ. The law is a moral teacher and a guide. It sets up roadblocks to what the Bible calls evil to make it easier for the people to do what is right. Through the law our government can serve as a moral compass, telling people there is no hope or life in sin, protecting and guiding them from it.
For ultimately, government will either point people toward the church or it will pull people farther away. It often does this through its laws and the example leaders provide. Government cannot save, but it can direct people to the institution that has been equipped with the power to save through Christ.
An example from “Sally”
Let’s take the transgender issue, for example, through a fictional character named “Sally.” Sally is a girl, but she is conflicted and confused. She feels like a boy. She then, as our culture encourages her to do, puts her hope in finding her “identity” as a boy. The government decides to encourage her in this and makes it easier for Sally to “become” a boy.
But when Sally “identifies” as a boy, perhaps even subjecting herself to hormone treatments or surgeries, she finds … she is even emptier than she was before. For she put her hope in this new identity, worse yet invested the sense of who she is in this this identity, and it has not fulfilled her deepest needs. As the Bible says, hope deferred makes the heart sick, and now she is in a worse place than she was before … and the government helped her get there.
But had the government kept its priorities straight, fulfilling the purpose of why God instituted it, it would have answered Sally’s inner conflict very differently.
Instead, it would have said, “Sally, I am sorry you feel this way. And I know you think if we allow you to embrace this new identity, you will fulfill your hope and needs. But Sally, this will never fulfill you. I know this is hard for you to understand, but because this will never fulfill you, we cannot allow you to take steps down this path. Rather, we are going to block it for your own benefit. We want to make it easier to find what you really need, which is Jesus, rather than harder. We want you to find God’s church.”
Back to the mission
Everything we do we must have the gospel of reconciliation in mind. Satan, this world, and our flesh will work hard to get our eyes on the temporary, worldly battles, but we most hold onto God’s promises and work to build His kingdom through the church with Christ as its head. Our labor there will never be in vain. And by putting our focus there, we will experience Christ more than we ever have before. This is the frontlines, where He is fighting and has been fighting for the past 2,000 years.
So, yes, engage in the issues of today. But don’t make good morals and good laws your end goal. Rather use them and government for His kingdom and point the lost to Christ and His church. Join the frontlines. Build the church!