Article

TRANSCRIPT: Addressing cultural issues from the pulpit: What pastors should and shouldn’t do

Apr 29, 2014

One of the things that I hope to see us change is there are some people for instance who will address abortion when it is Sanctity of Human Life Day. They will address some of these issues, but they will address them only topically and all together. Now, I think of Christian citizenship on the Fourth of July: that’s fine and appropriate to have those special emphases days. And I think it’s good to step back and say okay, today we are going to talk about racial reconciliation because it is Racial Reconciliation Sunday, or something like that. But that can’t be all that we do. We have to be, as we are preaching through the text, we have to apply the text which means that we are coming through and we are saying where are my people not seeing this? How does this apply to—

So for instance one of the things that I am convicted about is that when it comes to the issue of abortion the devil is working in one of two ways: deception and accusation. So what he wants to do is to say to that young woman or to her parents—and it doesn’t matter whether or not that person says I am pro-life. It doesn’t matter what the ideas are that that person has—when you see the two lines on the pregnancy test, then what happens and what the devil wants to say is what he said in Genesis chapter 3, “You will not surely die.” This is going to solve this problem, and you are going to be able to get over it.

I read an article that just grieved me to the core of my being because it was by an abortion clinic worker who said people assume that the people who come in here are secularists and liberal progressives; they are not. She said most of the people who come into our abortion clinic are Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists. And what they say is this: the Roman Catholics say I know—and they are not people who are saying oh, this isn’t a child; this is just a blob of tissue. These are people who say I know what I am doing is wrong, but I am going to go to confession; or I know what I am doing is wrong, but I have prayed to receive Christ and “once saved, always saved.” Now, that is the sort of deception that says, “Let us sin all the more that grace may abound.”

And then the devil wants to work at the level of accusation. So nobody is more pro-choice than the devil on the way into the abortion clinic, and no one is more pro-life than the devil on the way out of the abortion clinic because now he is turning and saying I know who you are. I know what you’ve done, and you stand accused before God.

When I look at the demographics and I realize in every single congregation you are going to have women in that congregation who have aborted. You are going to have men in that congregation who have empowered abortion. And then you have men and women in that congregation who are going to be placed at that moment of decision. You have got to speak to all three of those groups at the same time and speak to the one and say there is accountability before God. The devil is lying to you and deceiving you. So you speak to those who think they are too good for the gospel. And then you speak to those who think they are too bad for the gospel—who think when they say sinners they are talking about people who lose their temper in traffic; they are not talking about people who have aborted a child—to say no, if you are in Christ you have been crucified, you have been raised from the dead. So you speak to that explicitly and you get that out.

And the same thing is when you think about the ubiquity of pornography. I think we have had some really abstract preaching that talks in general terms that doesn’t really address the fact that we have people in our congregation right now who are just erasing their histories on their computer and assuming that that is erasing the history in their hearts. You have got to address that directly.

And if you are calling people to repentance—if you are talking to Zacchaeus you have to talk about stealing money. And if you are talking to the rich young ruler you have to talk about covetousness. So if you are not addressing ethical issues it’s not only that you are not discipling people; it’s also that you are not actually preaching the gospel. Because you have to get at—repent of what! Throw yourself on Christ for what reason? So you have to address those things. So I think that has to be in the ongoing ministry of the word. So you are preaching through any given text, and you are saying what is happening in this text, and how would the people that I am talking to find themselves in this same situation? I think that’s necessary.