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About this series
A Biblical Response to Today's Most Divisive Issues
Where do you stand on issues like: Truth, Sex, Homosexuality, Abortion, the Environment, and the Church and Politics? More importantly, what does God say? If there ever was a time for Christians to understand and communicate God’s truth about controversial and polarizing issues, it is now. More than ever before, believers must develop convictions based on research, reason, and biblical truth. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s equally important that you’re able (and willing) to communicate these convictions with a love and respect that reflects God’s own heart. This series will help you learn how to respond with love, even in the face of controversy. In the process, you’ll discover the power of bringing light – not heat – to the core issues at the heart of society today.More from this series
Pluralism is, is every opinion or every view holds exactly equal power. There is no absolute, no one can tell anyone this is right and this is wrong.
Let me give you an illustration. Let’s pretend, it’s hypothetical, because it may not be true. Hypothetically, let’s believe this is a black stool. Just hypothetically. It’s a black stool. It’s always been a black stool. If I believe it’s a black stool, someone has the audacity to say, “It’s a black stool; people sit on it.”
But, a brother right here with the striped shirt goes, “That is a blue door. That’s a blue door!” “Why?” “I feel like it’s a blue door. My friends think it’s a blue door. We are into blue doors.”
And, let’s see, a lady. The lady in pink. I love this pink, the lady in the pink goes, “You know what? It is a red window. I mean, it’s just a red window.” And so in our culture, the answer is: Stop! You’re both right. Seriously!
Baha’i, Muslim, Jew, Christianity; living together, homosexuality, abortion. Stop! Everyone has the right to their own opinion and their own view on everything and your opinion is valid. There is only one opinion that is not valid. Someone who has the audacity to say, “For four thousand years it has been a black stool. If you test it, people sit on it. I believe with all my heart, regardless of what anybody thinks, this is a black stool.” And our culture says, “Well, you are an intolerant, narrow-minded, anti-intellectual.”
Now, so what you need to understand is the issues of sexual immorality, the issues of politics, the issues of the environment really are symptoms of a shift in truth. And they have seeped in, okay? I don’t want you sitting here and thinking, Well, gosh, boy, I’m a blue door, red window person. I don’t know how, you know? It’s the culture, it’s the education.
So now, Christians, instead of, “It’s a black stool,” it’s “I believe the Bible is God’s Word. I believe that we are to be light and salt and loving. We are to be light and salt and loving to people who are living together, people who are radical environmentalists, to people who are involved in the homosexual lifestyle, to people who are cheating the people who are loving, because Jesus loves them. But I have to tell you, it would be unloving to do anything less than tell you: He is the Savior of the world and how He says life should happen, and how relationships should happen, and how cities and communities should live and how we should take care of the earth, it’s absolutely true whether you believe it or not.”
But we are still not there because even if we can agree there is an absolute truth, here’s the big question: who gets to say what’s true? Right? Most other world religions believe in an absolute truth. So who says what is true? And on what basis?
In other words, what we have now, and this is us, this isn’t anybody out there. This is us, inside the Church, going, Yeah, I understand the Ten Commandments, no idols. And I understand what Jesus said. I understand what Paul said about sexuality, about immorality, about same-sex relationships. But I don’t, I just don’t really think that’s for today. Because we really love each other. But I love Jesus. I love to come to church. That one song, you know? I love that. That one really gets me. And I want to be a nice person.
And so we have this dichotomy where we can actually, as Bible-believing, loving followers of Jesus - we have now grown so accustomed to [looking through tinted] glasses, that thirty-five percent of the people that are young say, We’re living together but I love Jesus. And I believe the Bible, but the Bible for me is a lot like a salad bar. I like that, I like that, and I like that. Okay? I don’t mean that facetiously. And there is this dichotomy.
But here is what I want you to hear. Here is the compassion of God. People always laugh when I say, “I don’t believe in gravity!” And you step off three stories and we all go, “Ha, ha, ha!” Right? Because what do you know? What is going to happen? There is a big fall.
But if you, literally, can you imagine if you stepped off of three stories, you might live but you’ll probably have a couple broken legs, internal injuries. Now, listen carefully. You don’t have to believe that life is the most precious thing, but if you’re sitting in here today and you have had an abortion like many of my friends, or you urged a woman to have an abortion, you understand what the loss and the pain is like. You understand what post-abortive depression can be like. You have been forgiven and Jesus loves you, but some of you can’t have kids now.
Some of you have been through pain that you, and you know what? You didn’t know anything, it was unintended, many of you weren’t even Christians. And yet, you know what? You don’t have to believe, but the consequences are the same.
And we don’t have to believe that marriage is just between a man and a woman and here’s the design. But sexual immorality, and whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual, whether it’s liars and adulterers and fornicators or others, when we have done those things, the consequences are the same. You feel ripped apart. You feel shame. You feel hurt. You have a kid living in this house and another kid living in this house.
Half of all the women who go through a divorce live below the poverty level. God’s heart and design, when He says, “Thus says the Lord, this is true.” Jesus, remember His last prayer? “Oh, Father, glorify Your Son now. Just like the glory I had before the foundations of the earth. I pray not only for these disciples but for them who will believe through them. Now, Father, I pray that they might be one, even as We are one. Now, sanctify them. Set them apart. Make them holy.” How? “By Your Word, Your Word is truth.”
The apostle Paul would say, “All Scripture is given,” literally, “breathed by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; that the man or the woman of God might be fully equipped to live out this new life.”
God’s Word, the issue in our day is not the symptoms. The issue is even beyond truth. The issue for you and for me is: Is this the final authority? And “light” means that I live my life, whether I feel like it or not, this is the final authority about how we guard our environment and model that. This is the final authority about abortion. Even if we are ones that have been washed, who have had abortions.
This is the final authority when, out of love, when our young people going through puberty, twenty-five percent of all young boys have some level of same-sex attraction. It doesn’t mean they are homosexual. But in most churches that believe the Bible, you say that you have an issue like that, there is no safe place. We have got to have the compassion and the love and the light and then at the end of the day, this is the final authority.
Here’s what I know, hear my heart, hear Jesus’ heart: there is a significant percentage in this room, you’re sitting here, you’re living with someone or you’re having casual sex, or you’re in the lifestyle. Or, even the conviction, you feel like, you only log on now and then.
Or some of you are having an affair or you’re really discouraged with what is happening because there are different seasons of marriage that are really hard and you’re kind of just flirting right now but you can feel, right?
We’re human! The question is: what do we do? How do we be the salt and be the light and not have these compartmental lives? In Paul’s day, they lived with the same thing. In fact, it was far more sexually immoral even than in our day.
The average man, especially an aristocrat, remember, Rome has the rule but the Greeks have the culture. So if you were a Roman citizen, you have a wife and she is for lineage. In other words, she gives you sons. If you’re a Roman man, you have, they had a rule in Rome and they would bring children before you when they were born, if there was a defect, you went like this. Or often, it was a girl, you went like that and they would take them to the dump.
And Christians changed the world because they would get on the dump and then they would pick them up and love them and raise them, much like you all are doing with foster care in this area.
See, the way you bring light is you make a difference. But he would have a woman like that for his marriage. She wouldn’t even eat in the same room. There would be a young gal, usually, who was a slave. He could have sex with her whenever. And then he would go and maybe in Ephesus, the Temple of Diana, and there would be all kinds of worship, but almost all the worship had sexual immorality as part of the worship. And you could get heterosexual or homosexual, just depending on what you felt like that day.
Into that world, the apostle Paul is speaking and saying, “You’re the light of the world, you’re the salt of the earth, you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you have been changed. Here is the new way to live.” And it was hard! In fact, he’s speaking to them and he says to them, in the context of this passage, “We have some guy who is shacking up with his dad’s wife.” That pushes the boundaries even for the secular people!
And so he is instructing them about how we have to live purely. So open your Bibles to I Corinthians chapter 5. This is God’s Word for us to be salt and light when you live in a sexually saturated culture.
He says, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.” So that’s that big, broad word. Fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals. “Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy or swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.”
In other words, you know what he’s saying? You don’t have to criticize the people in Hollywood or the people in the city council. You don’t have to be negative. That’s not my job or your job to judge people outside of the Bible believing Church and say, “They are terrible and they are doing this.” He says, “We don’t judge them.”
In fact, that’s the issue when Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” We don’t judge the outside world. But notice what he goes on to say. He says, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or a sister but is sexually immoral or greedy or an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people.”
So he says, “Not on the outside but those that claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m writing to you not to associate with those who habitually live a lifestyle that is contrary to the truth and the truth of God’s Word, and yet call themselves brothers and sisters.”
He goes on to say, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the Church?” Grammatically, he makes it clear: none. “Are you not to judge those inside the Church?” Grammatically: absolutely. “God will judge those outside the Church.” Then notice the application, “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
One of the greatest myths that has happened in the culture and then in the Church is this idea that we are not to judge one another. You are called to judge one another. But the word judge is not judgmentalism - loving, caring accountability.
You see a friend that is veering off, morally; you see someone treating their mate a different way; or I met a lady two nights ago who, she has a friend that was having an adulterous affair and she literally just said, “Hey, I’m concerned about you.” And just started to talk about it, “Who are you to judge me? You have sinned before!”
See, that’s the attitude that is happening in the Church. And so most of us are either fearful or silent and we don’t hold each other accountable. In fact, this whole passage is the apostle Paul teaching the Church, “When people habitually are living in ways that are contrary to the truth in Scripture,” he would go on to say, “You’re going to judge angels; can’t you judge each other?”
But the judgment isn’t a condemnation. It’s a confrontation, it’s an accountability, it’s Matthew 18. It’s you see someone you really love - because what is going to happen? Death, destruction, pain, divorce, separation, disease, hurt - it’s because you care.
And so you go them, Matthew 18, “Hey, brother. Hey, sister. You know, I’m seeing this. I’m really concerned about you. Let’s talk about what is going on.” They won’t listen. You bring another person that loves and cares. They won’t listen. Well, then, you take it to the church leadership and you say, “You know, this…”
And, see, that has not happened for about two decades in most Bible believing churches. And so over time the leaven has multiplied and churches are filled with people with unbiblical divorces, our churches are filled with people who are living together, our churches are filled with people who are living in the homosexual lifestyle.
And you know what? You can say, “Well, I love the worship and I believe in this, but, you know, who,” (the [tinted] glasses), “who is anyone to tell me what to do?” And Jesus would say, “I am.”
And the Bible would say, “Here’s the absolute.” But listen to why. God sets boundaries for your good. Outside of His boundaries, even the Ten Commandments. I remember teaching that series and I reframed it: God’s Boundaries for Abundant Living. “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
When God gives us commandments, behind every commandment is a heart of compassion, and wisdom, and knowledge. Basically, the wisdom of God, the word, Hebrew wisdom isn’t intellectual. Hebrew wisdom is understanding the pathway by which to live to get the highest and the best from God.
And so He says, “Here’s how you should do relationships. Here’s the plan for money. Here’s the plan for conversation. Here’s how you do leadership. Here’s how you raise your kids.” It’s the wisdom of God so that you receive the very best from God. He loves you.
And so when we say to God, “I don’t want to do life Your way,” we, in essence, are saying, “I know more than God. I’ll be the judge. I’ll say what goes.” And our culture is reinforcing it.
But what happens if we are not salt and we’re not light? What happens to us? What happens to our relationships? What happens to the message of Jesus?
He goes on to say, in chapter 6, skip down to verse 9, he says, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither sexually immoral or idolaters or adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers or swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by His Spirit.”
When I taught on homosexuality, I still remember walking out before the service and there was a guy on the edge and he said, “Hey, this is going to be interesting.” And I said, “Why do you say that?” He said, “Well, your notes say, ‘What do you say to a gay friend?’ And I’m gay and I’m his friend and he asked me to come, so I came!”
And he stood up and we talked for a little while and because where I was in Santa Cruz, we had just lots of people in the gay lifestyle and became friends and learned and I said, “Well, would you do me a favor?” He said, “Well, I guess.” “When I get done,” and he didn’t know we were filming it for small group, I said, “When I get done, I’m going to teach it twice tomorrow. You’ll listen like few people. Would you come up and give me an honest, brutal critique whether I am fair to the homosexual position? Because I quote literature and I want them really to, and even body language. Would you?” He goes, “Okay.”
So here’s the message, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Okay, I get done, come back down, and I’m thinking, and here he comes. And I literally, I remember, I pulled out my pen, got my little pad, I said, “Okay, shoot it straight. I mean, I really want to hear.”
He said, “Well, man, overall, I think really pretty good.” He goes, “How you started, like, blew me away.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you said that those of us in the lifestyle, often, we hear about Christians in general. And then you apologized to the gay and lesbian community.”
He goes, “I’ve never heard you guys do that stuff.”
And then he said, “There are people over here, they call themselves Christians and they hold up signs and they scream at us and they yell bad names and we’re going to hell and they seem really angry and some of them are violent, and we are afraid of them. And you said, ‘They are nothing like Jesus. They are all truth and no love.’”
But he said, “There are other people that you said they call themselves Christians and they say that we can keep living the way we are and this is sort of God’s design and their pastors are homosexuals too and you said, ‘They are all love but not truth.’”
And then, this is, I’m right in the Bay Area, right in the middle of the Silicone Valley. And he said, “When you quoted that statistic that the average lifespan of a male homosexual in the Bay Area is age forty-three, and then you said, ‘How could it be loving to know what is killing a person and not tell them? That lifestyle and behavior a death-style and I care about you.’”
Not some higher, better-than [attitude], but with tears in your eyes. If I knew someone had cancer and I knew what was causing it and I said, “Well, I want to be loving so they’re just going to die.” And he said, “When you said that, I just realized Jesus really brings light, not heat.”
I had a similar friend because some of you are thinking, You know what? I kind of want to forget that passage about, ‘Don’t associate with,’ right? Because in your mind, like, after each service I have talked to people and it’s like, “You know, my daughter is in a lesbian relationship and this is where we’re at.”
Or, “I have one of my best friends and if I say something to my best friend like what you said, we may not be best friends anymore.” Here’s what I want you to hear: I get it.
Let me give you three takeaways as we move ahead.
Takeaway number one is: Get educated. Okay? You have got to understand the issues, articulate them, know what’s going on. You, your friends, you family, your small group.
Second: Model a biblical lifestyle. This is going to be one of the greatest days of some of your lives. When I said that some of you are living together, some of you are in the lifestyle, your body language, people are great. They go, Oh, yeah! I’m one of those. Literally, that’s what… all over the room - but that was like the early Church.
And today, you’re going to get a chance to be clean, to repent, to own it, to say:
God, it’s not what I believe or what I feel. I’m going to live for life. I’m going to be salt, I’m going to be light, I’m going to come and I’m going to receive forgiveness, I’m going to get a new start. And what I know is there are former fornicators and homosexuals and liars and drunks and swindlers and idolaters in this church and they have been washed, they have been sanctified. And I am going to come clean and get forgiveness, and they are going to help me. And I am going to have a brand new life and it may be hard but You will give me life and forgiveness and change and Your bride will get pure. And You will use my life like never before.