Several years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of the LaGrange Daily News expressing my displeasure about a political cartoon they printed vilifying Chick-Fil-A for its stance supporting traditional marriage. And while Chick-Fil-A’s stance on traditional marriage and the LaGrange Daily News are not the subject of this Pastoral Nugget today, I haven’t been able to get something I said in that letter out of my mind. Responding to the issue at hand I simply said, “By printing that cartoon, you added your voice and gave legitimacy to those who hold that belief. The intent of my letter to you today is to tell you: It’s not okay!”
Three words: It’s not okay. On the surface these don’t seem like very powerful words, do they? But when spoken and meant, they are extremely powerful words. But note what I said, “When spoken and meant, they are extremely powerful words.” I submit to you today that somehow America seems to have lost her moral voice and no one is speaking those three words and if we do speak them, they are merely words from our lips and not the belief of our heart; we don’t really mean them.
I am reminded of the story of a monk named Telemachus. Telemachus lived during the time when Roman Gladiators participated in an awful spectator sport that featured death, dismemberment, and Christian martyrdom at the Roman Coliseum. Observing this horrendous spectacle, Telemachus went into the arena and attempted to stop two Gladiators who were engaged in a life and death struggle. The spectators in the coliseum became indignant and stoned him to death. However, as the result of his actions, Honorius, who had inherited the empire of Europe, put a stop to these barbaric displays. Yes, it cost Telemachus his life. But because he, one man, found the intestinal fortitude and the grace of God to stand, the course of history was changed. What message did his actions communicate? “It’s not okay!”
We live in a time in America when things have become inverted. We call evil good and good evil. The Bible warns of such a time in Isaiah 5:20(KJV) when it says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” We are there. And it’s not okay.
I can give a litany of things that give credence to what I am saying today. To name a few, we now have abortion on demand where in the name of a woman’s right to choose, innocent babies are slaughtered in their mother’s wombs. The institution of marriage is under siege. There are those who seek to redefine this holy union of one man with one woman for a lifetime, to a man with a man, a woman with a woman, a woman with two men, a man with five women, and I even heard of one instance where a man wanted to marry himself! And for those who choose traditional marriage (many are just living together) 50% end in divorce. But did you know that according to Pastor Mark Gungor, couples who are virgins when they marry have only a 5% divorce rate compared to 50% for everybody else? We know the traditional family unit is under attack when 41.0% of births in America today are to unwed mothers. And more often than not, the biological father is nowhere to be found.
As bad as the statistics are that you have just read, there is something that frightens me more, and that is the silence of the church regarding these statistics; it is deafening! I can’t help but wonder where the Telemachuses are today. Where are those who would courageously stand and say, “It’s not okay?” Where are those who would place their own lives in peril to change an action that needs to be changed? Where are the preachers, thundering from their pulpits the message of repentance, redemption, morality, and change? Where are those who would sound the alarm and awaken a country that has lost her moral voice? Where are the preachers, deacons, teachers, singers, laypeople who would dare to rise and say, “It’s not okay?” It is only when we, the silent majority, begin to rise and speak that we will see true change come to America.
According to my friend Bill Barker of Appalachian Regional Ministries, if last Sunday was a typical Sunday in America, seventy-five churches, sixteen of whom were Southern Baptists, met for the last time. Following the morning service, they walked out of the building, padlocked the doors, and ceased to exist. Some closed due to population shifts. Some closed because they forgot who they were and why they existed. Some closed because they were built around programs, promotions, performances, and personalities. However, most closed simply because they chose to do church their way, not God’s way, and nobody stood to say, “It’s not okay!”
I believe we have lived to see the prophecy of William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army, fulfilled. He said, “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.” We are there because, as Christians, we have not stood and said, “It’s not okay!” In fact, just this past week God was booed and jeered at the Democratic National Convention. I wonder where the outrage was from those who believe this is not okay?
In Chuck Coalson’s DVD, Breaking the Spiral of Silence, it is stated, “You don’t really believe something until you act upon it!” I believe Christians and Christian churches all across American today are guilty of saying we believe Biblical truths and standards, when we never act upon them, or at a minimum, do not vigorously defend them when attacked.
I challenge you today that when you find yourself facing a situation where somebody needs to say something – say it! It’s just three words. Go ahead and practice verbalizing them aloud right now. Say, “It’s – not – okay.” You may be surprised what a difference you can make when you say those words – and mean them! What a difference there would be in America if we all would learn to say, “It’s not okay” and mean it. Remember, “You don’t really believe something until you act upon it!” Have you acted upon your faith lately by speaking against a situation when somebody needed to say, “It’s not okay?” If you don’t, who will?