Walking a Tightrope

The first time I watched a tightrope act at the circus, I was terrified…not for myself, but for the tightrope walkers. I was afraid they would fall, despite the safety net below them. Little did I know then, that fifty years later, a tightrope would be in my future, too.

The tightrope is our culture—a society that has decided to redefine what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. The tightrope walkers are Christians.

In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) attempted to redefine life in Roe v. Wade by essentially determining that a baby in the womb may be discarded because it is not a life. Forty-two years later in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court attempted to redefine marriage as something other than between a man and a woman. I use the word attempted because in both cases the Court redefined something they had not originally defined. God is the One who creates and defines life. And God is the one who defined marriage in Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV), when Jesus said “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’…So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

The Supreme Court cannot rightfully redefine life and marriage when they did not establish the definitions to begin with. But they have established these redefinitions as the new legal norm.

Which brings us back to the tightrope…

Regardless of whether you ever wanted to join the circus, these two SCOTUS decisions have forced every committed Christian to become a tightrope walker. We struggle to find a balance between standing on the Word of God without compromise and also simultaneously loving those who need Jesus Christ even while they are in open rebellion to Him.

Hatred and name-calling are not the answer. How can we hope to reach out to offer the salvation needed by our desperately sin-sick world if we respond with animosity? Or if we respond with joy at the prospect of their judgment?

Neither is silence in the face of sin the answer. Silence implies consent.

Isolation isn’t the answer, either. What good does it do to keep our salt in the salt shaker?

Finally, agreeing with these redefinitions simply because the majority—or the government—proclaims it to be true is also not the answer. “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong” (Exodus 23:2 NIV).

The biblical response is to refuse to compromise, but to do it without arrogance. To stand firm without belligerence. To love the perishing, whose minds have been blinded by the god of this age (II Corinthians 4:3-4 NIV).

There will be a cost for standing firm. As our society becomes more and more emboldened in rebellion to the Creator, Christians will pay the price for a perceived lack of tolerance. The cost may be manifested in relationships, in finances, perhaps even in physical safety.

However, history tells us this isn’t the first time Christians have been out-of-step with society. If anything, we should be out-of-step. If we are no different from the world, then what have we to offer?

God has not changed. His plans have not changed. He is still sovereign and He is not surprised by these recent events. How will committed Christians—His children—represent their heavenly Father to a watching world?

Sigh. That circus tightrope act doesn’t look as difficult as it once did, at least not compared with the tightrope before us today. Pray that we seek the Holy Spirit’s help to speak the truth in love – or as the motto of Dallas Theological Seminary summarizes: “Teach Truth. Love Well.”

Good words to follow…for our sake and for the sake of those we desire to reach.

What are your thoughts?