Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Our Disturbing Contemporary Culture

A few weeks ago, at the Q Conference I attended in Washington, DC, we were greeted by the US President (via video). I initially found it remarkable and assuring that we have a President who affirms his stance with us in the cause of Christ. In fact, he wanted us to know he had just come from an Easter prayer breakfast, which reinforced his message of solidarity with the 700-800 Christian leaders in the audience, as well as underscored how meaningful is the resurrection of Christ for him and us.  But I was sitting next to a member of a conservative think tank in DC, and I couldn’t help but ask him how genuine the remarks were. His assessment, given the ongoing actions of the administrative, was somewhat skeptical (and cynical).  He reminded me that this is the same administration that recently signed off on withholding any government funding to those in the medical field who withhold surgeries due to conscience (e.g. performing an abortion). And then there was ABC interview, and his statement affirming gay marriage, and in the process, radically redefining marriage.

More recently, I was at a major Portland event, a fundraiser for a major Christian ministry, and again, a political leader (the mayor of Portland) came and praised the cause in which we share in. And yes, I admit, there was a part of me (naïve perhaps) that wanted to again believe he really stands with us (stands for something).  But given his celebration this morning of the action the President took yesterday on gay marriage (“I’m so fricken happy”), as well as his own professed gay lifestyle, you can’t help but wonder—are we just being used? Politicians are so artful in saying what people want to hear, that I find it hard to avoid a growing cynicism deep within myself. It’s not that I put my hope in politicians, nor that I have been prone to believe most of them.  I’m just amazed at how brazen they can be in saying one thing and doing another in these days.

But then, pastors can do this as well. Again, there was yet another disheartening news item regarding a Christian leader and sexual perversion. A nearby pastor of a Baptist church is being investigated for placing a camera in the women’s restroom of his church. It is both amazing and disturbing that people can say just the right things, preach just the right things, and posture themselves to suggest a certain stance with Jesus, and yet be so defiant in their behavior.

This is not directed towards homosexual behavior, so much as it is at the growing perverse sexual misbehavior that is defining our landscape. It is directed at a growing number who conveniently use Jesus or the Bible in their statements, and do it with a casualness (and often a thoughtlessness).  I find few have really taken any time to seriously search the Scriptures, interpret Scripture on its terms (not theirs), and truly hear what God has said and is saying on themes regarding the life of the unborn or sexual purity (let alone sit down with careful theologians to engage in serious dialogue).  Far more are interested in the subject of human rights (the right to an abortion, the right to a marital union, etc.), but few seriously are asking the question—by what authority (or to whom) should I be submitting my life to? Whose right is it really? Whose institution of marriage is it (divine or private)? If any union that is consensual is legitimate, where do we draw the line next?

All too many quote from Scripture without really studying Scripture—put words in Jesus’ mouth without pausing to truly listen to what He has said regarding, life, sex, marriage, holiness, and godliness.

There is hesitancy in letting my thoughts be posted, as I work hard as a pastor at showing grace, not getting involved in politics, and not allowing my ministry to be defined by single issues (like gay marriage or abortion).  The church has too often been known for what it is against, and not for what it is for—for being graceless rather than graceful.  But there are times you have to speak, lest a moral confusion pervade and consume our age. We are radically redefining what is not ours to define and affirming latitude on subjects where there is no latitude. 

The irony is that some of the headlines would suggest the President took the moral high ground on what might be the great civil rights struggle of our time.  Really?  If the high ground is defined today as redrawing the design of marriage (what I would say is actually defying what God intended-a faithful and pure union between a man and a woman), or providing funding and law so women can have an abortion (with no one speaking up for the unborn), or defining people largely by their sexual orientation (when our identity as people made in the image of God is so much higher)—then you can’t help but wonder—what is the low ground?

  • Marlene
    10:44 AM, 11 May 2012

    I could not agree more! If scientists can create a living cell in the lab and marvel at their creation of life, how is it that unborn children with many living cells are not considered life? Go figure

  • Jeff
    11:08 AM, 11 May 2012

    Well said John, and thanks for saying it.

  • Larry Gadbaugh
    6:42 PM, 11 May 2012

    Thank you John, for your courage and discernment. You have reminded me that convictions about absolute truth cannot be consistently held, unless a leader first serves the invisible audience of One. When we depend on the power of politics for our moral direction, we become double-minded at best, blowing with the wind (Jas 1:8). Let’s keep praying our leaders — secular and church — fear the Lord, and let us put our hope in Christ, not in man.

  • Bess Springer
    4:02 PM, 12 May 2012

    John, thanks for your courage. Ibelieve every pastor who believes in the Scriptures as God,s Word should speak on this from the pulpit this Sunday. This is the time for us all to be bold and speak the truth in love.

  • Debbie Hays
    8:24 AM, 14 May 2012

    I’m so glad that you said what you did. When I first began reading your blog I was rather worried. As you probably know, I have never been for this President, have never liked his policies and have never believed for one moment that he was a believer in the Christ that I know, love and serve. None of this president’s actions and none of his voting records have ever supported that notion… which is too bad. I agree that the true, praying ‘church’ .. the church that stands for Christ and Christ alone and in the power of His Word is the only answer for this country. BUT… I also believe that along with getting on our knees, we desperately need to get out and VOTE. We need to stay informed in regards to political issues and KNOW who and what we are voting for. May the great I AM, Who still lives, live on in and through us. Your sister

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