The oldest university in the English-speaking world has changed an academic dress code that had been enforced for centuries. Now males at Oxford will be able to wear skirts, while women can wear a suit and a tie. The university explained: “The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that the existing regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is preparing to support gay marriage in its platform. This after a national survey released yesterday indicates that 65 percent of Democrats now favor same-sex marriage, up from 50 percent four years ago. Overall, 50 percent of Americans support gay marriage, while 48 percent oppose it.
I’m not writing this morning to address the gay marriage debate, a subject we’ve discussed several times in recent weeks. Rather, I’m wondering how Christians who oppose cultural trends in our day should respond to them. The poll indicates that among those who attend church at least weekly, 28 percent back gay marriage (up five points since 2008) while 72 percent are opposed. How should we voice our opposition?
These days I’m reading through Jeremiah in my personal Bible study. Today I have been reflecting on a fascinating event in the prophet’s life. Babylon conquered the Jewish nation and empowered their own governor, but a group of insurgents murdered him. The people then appealed to the prophet to ask God what they should do (Jeremiah 42:2-3). They promised, “whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you” (v. 6).
Jeremiah interceded for the nation, then waited 10 days for God to respond (v. 7). (When I read that, I wondered how often we wait 10 minutes to hear his voice.) God’s word was clear: stay in the land and serve Babylon (vs. 8-12) or face his judgment (vs. 13-22). Despite their earlier commitment to the Lord, they sought refuge in Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to go with them (Jeremiah 43:1-7). The prophet did not give up on his people, however. He continued to speak God’s word to them until his warnings came to pass.
How would Jeremiah engage our culture today? First, he would seek a word from God before speaking a word to others. However long it takes, we must listen to his Spirit, asking him what to say and how to say it. Second, he would speak truth with boldness and compassion. Jeremiah’s stance cost him dearly, but his love for his people motivated his sacrifice. Last, he would stay faithful to God no matter how others responded to him. His example reminds us that God measures success by obedience.
Soren Kierkegaard was right: “If you don’t seek first the kingdom of God, you will never seek it.” Will you seek and speak Kingdom truth to those you influence today?