Does the Bible Provide Guidance for Modern Dilemmas?
By Debbie W. Wilson, Crosswalk.com
Should I attend my relative’s gay wedding? What do I say when someone asks for my personal pronouns? How do I navigate the alphabet soup of gender identity?
Sometimes, I feel like Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, who slept for twenty years and woke to a world he didn’t recognize. How do we navigate a culture that has turned our Christian values upside down? How do we know the right move when Christian pastors and celebrities present opinions that boldly contradict what we once believed?
To make matters worse, people no longer politely discuss differences of opinions. Those who ask questions or raise concerns are called unloving and insensitive. Are there timeless principles to guide us through this quagmire of confusion and division?
Yes! The Bible’s unchanging principles light our way. While the Scriptures may not name your specific question, its timeless truths separate right from wrong, truth from error, and life from death. Let’s look at how the Bible addresses three pertinent questions:
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1. Can I trust my gut?
Because something feels right doesn’t make it right. I’m sure we all remember decisions that felt right at the time, but we later came to regret. “Trust your heart” may sound nice, but the Bible warns that our hearts can deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). The wise learn to trust God over their gut and His timeless truth over their truth.
“There is a way which seems right to a person,
But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 NASB).
2. How do we know what’s right?
Understanding requires more than study and research. Jesus said willingness to do God’s will comes before understanding.
“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17 NIV).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB).
Sometimes, I must pray, Lord, make me willing to do Your will. I need to empty myself of my ideas and desires before I can hear Him. As we humble ourselves before God, He guides us along the right path.
Putting God first, over our own comfort, desires, and the people we love, comes before wisdom. Biblical love is demonstrated through obedience. And He supplies the strength to follow His good will (Philemon 2:13).
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever” (John 14:15-16 NASB)
3. What is the loving thing to do?
Christian Recording Artist Amy Grant recently said she’s hosting her gay niece’s wedding at her estate. Grant told The Washington Post that she received her niece’s coming out as gay as “a gift to … widen the experience of our whole family.” Grant added, “Honestly, from a faith perspective, I do always say, ‘Jesus, you just narrowed it down to two things: love God and love each other.’”
How do you argue with that? We return to the source of truth. God is love. Let’s look at a couple of places where He has defined love.
“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10 NIV).
God’s love seeks a person’s eternal best. God’s restrictions, like guardrails on the side of a cliff, are there to protect us. To encourage someone to leap over a guardrail is not loving.
In the Garden of Eden, the serpent enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Look how much they and we have suffered since they ignored God’s protective limit.
C. S. Lewis put it this way, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
Societies that love their children and citizens don’t give driving licenses to ten-year-olds. Driving laws keep our roads safe for everyone. God’s laws do no less.
According to our culture, love shields sensitive feelings. According to God, love protects eternal souls. Love doesn’t support actions and ideals that cause harm. Love protects even when demonstrating love hurts (John 3:16). Love knows God’s blessing is never found outside His will.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong [causes harm]. Hold tightly to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NLT).
Neither is love pity. Pity caused one of my clients to give up her virginity which she deeply regretted. It caused another to open a door to a pathetic drunk who attacked her. C. S. Lewis offered this thought on love, “Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
Now, let’s take a look at what guidance the Bible provides for four challenging dilemmas Christians face today:
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What does the Bible say about the practice of homosexuality?
The greatest sin is to reject Jesus. But it is not the only sin. The Bible lists many attitudes and actions to avoid. I bring up homosexuality because our culture has redefined the gay community as a minority group that needs special protection and consideration under the law. But Romans 13 says governments are supposed to serve God by upholding His laws. So what does the Bible say about homosexuality?
“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way of having sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved” (Romans 1:25-27 NLT).
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT).
God doesn’t put homosexuality above other sins, but He lists it as a sin (Romans 1:18-32). As with any other unrighteousness, God provides a solution.
“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NLT).
No one must stay stuck in sin without hope. Jesus is greater than our temptations and our shortcomings. Homosexual desires, like any other forbidden desire, should be confessed to Christ and not acted on.
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT).
What does the Bible say about genders?
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...’
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 NIV).
God created two genders, male and female, in His image. To doubt God’s wisdom in how He made us causes only pain and misery. Look at the Psalmist’s words.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be” (Psalms 139:13-16).
Why did God create marriage?
Did you know that marriage is God’s idea? God created humans in His image and instituted marriage. God created Adam. From Adam, He created Eve. He brought the two back together in marriage (Genesis 2:20-24). In some mysterious way, the two working together as one reflects the relationship of Christ with the church.
“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32 NIV).
Any deviation from this mars God’s divinely designed institution.
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Should I attend my gay relative’s wedding?
This question causes heart-wrenching pain for many. They want their loved one to know they will never stop loving them even when they don’t approve of their behavior. Should they attend the wedding to show their love for the person?
Amy Grant feels hosting her niece’s gay wedding fits the biblical command to love God and love one another. A wedding celebrates the union of two people under God. If God forbids such a union, how can we participate in the celebration of that union? How does joining this celebration show love for God or for her niece and the rest of her family?
“It [love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6 NASB).
Jesus was a friend of sinners. But He didn’t compromise His holiness. He invited them to leave their sin and died on a cross so they could (John 8:11).
The Bible warns that believers can be deceived by those who say they speak for God (Revelation 2:14). It provides support so we won’t be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14 NIV). The philosophies of this age need not shake us. The Bible’s timeless truths provide guidance on right and wrong. The Holy Spirit will show us what to say when we face hard questions (Luke 12:12).
“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
Whoever is discerning, let him know them.
For the ways of the Lord are right,
And the righteous will walk in them,
But wrongdoers will stumble in them” (Hosea 14:9 NLT).