Society will always be changing, and with it, those who will both embrace and oppose it. There are always appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle the changes, regardless of what they may be. A couple personal examples: As a husband and father, I do not act in the same way as someone who has not yet married, because I am now responsible to more people. As a man who is now “middle-aged”, I do not run around and treat my body as if I am still in my 20’s. As a pastor, I realize that my actions can affect and reflect upon a larger body of believers, with all of its rewards and consequences. As a Christian of roughly 35 years, my life must reflect a pattern of leadership, maturity, growth and Biblical knowledge that would not be expected from a relatively young Christian.
One of the toughest challenges for me mentally, has been navigating my way through the redefinition of terms that are near and dear to me; an onslaught against my identity that transcends mere cultural categories, but warps our very understanding and threatens the authority of Him who established it! I believe that God works with us where we are at, but we need to submit to the Creator’s View to properly know the world around us, that which harms or helps, and how we are brought into relationship with Him. Let’s look at some modern “redefinitions” and how they are authoritatively defined by God in the Bible:
“Humanity” – Defined by modern culture as one of many species of animals, evolved to the point of reflection and responsibility towards those other species, which we had to overcome to survive! Defined by God as the unique culmination of His Creation, created in His image with the responsibility to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:27-28).
“Gender” – Defined by the world as a fluid category, where you are defined by your feelings within a whole range of self-identities. Defined by God clearly as male or female, and that discovering God’s purposes for oneself within those definitions brings meaning and satisfaction.
“Marriage” – Defined (currently) by the world as a formally recognized union of two adults attracted to each other. Defined by God as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman, for life!
“Truth” – Defined by the world as a statement which is perceived as accurate based upon one’s own experiences or interpretation. Defined by God as that which conforms to reality as God designed it!
“God” – Defined by the world as a superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having over nature, and based upon one’s own experiences or interpretation. Defined by the Bible as the Creator and Absolute Ruler of the Universe, the Source of all True Morality & Natural Law, and the Supreme being over all!
“Spiritual” –Defined by the world as relating to any religious belief or experience, thought to benefit self. Defined by God as an actual reality that transcends our natural, physical realm, of which we are a part!
“Good” – Defined by the world as anything to be desired, approved of, giving pleasure, or enjoyable. Defined by God as that which follows His established Moral Law and Will; anything that pleases Him!
“Christian” – Defined by the world as anyone professing to be one, based upon one’s own perception of having kept part of the tenets of Christianity. Defined by God as a (true) follower of Christ who believes in Him as the Christ, the Son of God, and obeys His Commands (1 John 3:23).
“Love” – Defined by the world as an intense feeling of deep affection. Defined by God (primarily) as a sacrificial action on behalf of another for their “Good”, and/or, obeying God from the heart!
"Hate” – Defined by the world as a feeling of intense or passionate dislike, and would currently include anything which does not affirm or celebrate the validity of another’s viewpoint. Defined by the Bible as essentially “rejection”. Good hatred would be rejecting the ideas/things that lead you away from God. Evil hatred would be a rejection of anything that would be rightfully attributed to God.
There’s many more! What has been yours? Feel free to respond with your additions!
You can see from just the above list that any in-depth discussion on spiritual matters requires coming to an understanding of the fundamental categories, and a clarification of common misconceptions. As a final example, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:4 “I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.”
So also, I write this short message out of love for you…NOT so that you feel better for a moment, but that you come to a better place in your walk with God, which has eternal value! May the Lord bless your conversations as you rub up against the redefinition of terms with your loved ones,