“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Rachel Levine was ceremonially sworn in as a four-star admiral Tuesday, making her the highest ranking official in the commissioned corps and leader of six thousand Public Health Service officers. This story is making news because she is now the first openly transgender four-star officer in the uniformed services. Last March, she became the nation’s highest-ranked openly transgender official after being nominated for US Assistant Health Secretary by President Biden.
In her response this week, she stated, “May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.” Her hope is the point of my article today.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice for her children
The sexual revolution continues to advance in our culture. For example, the Pentagon has spent $15 million in the last five years to treat 1,892 transgender troops, including $11.5 million for psychotherapy and $3.1 million for surgeries including “sex reassignment” procedures.
People magazine is featuring an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis and her transgender daughter. Jamie Lee said, “If one person reads this, sees a picture of Ruby and me and says, ‘I feel free to say this is who I am,’ then it’s worth it.”
Vienna’s Natural History Museum has found a way to display art containing nudity that has been banned on social media platforms. According to the Washington Post, they will showcase it on a subscription-based website “most closely associated with sex work.”
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow shared with People magazine her sex advice for her teenage children: “I will always just encourage my children to really listen to themselves, listen to their instincts, listen to if something, you know, feels right and to act from that place.”
My wife and I were watching primetime network television the other night when ads appeared for children’s products featuring LGBTQ advocacy. From dolls to toys, cartoons, and movies, the push to normalize LGBTQ behavior among the youngest members of society continues apace.
Our culture has fully embraced Friedrich Nietzsche’s edict, “There are no eternal facts as there are no absolute truths.” Note that he made this declaration as an absolute truth.
Two wrong choices and a biblical mandate
My purpose today is not to relitigate LGBTQ morality or the postmodern relativism of our day, issues I have addressed often in the past. Rather, it is to ask the question: How can Christians live and raise our families in a culture that is forcing its norms on us in unprecedented ways?
From school curricula to popular culture to political advocacy, unbiblical morality is more endorsed and enforced than ever before in American history. We can retreat from society into protectionist enclaves, but this seems to keep our salt in the saltshaker and our light under a basket (Matthew 5:13–16). It also violates Jesus’ Great Commission to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) by being his public witnesses where we live and around the world (Acts 1:8).
The other extreme is not a biblical option, either: we must not compromise biblical truth for the sake of social acceptance. Denominations and churches that have abandoned biblical values in their quest for relevance are declining at alarming rates.
The biblical approach is to remain committed both to biblical truth and to biblical compassion by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) wherever and however we can.
“Broken heart syndrome” and “rage rooms”
The number of Americans with “broken heart” syndrome has steadily risen over the last fifteen years. This condition, called stress cardiomyopathy, reflects a temporary weakness in the heart muscle due to a surge in stress hormones. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
One response to the challenges of our day is the introduction of “rage rooms,” where people can relieve their stress by breaking things. The owner of a company called Smashit says business took off during the pandemic, fueled by frontline workers, people dealing with seasonal depression, and patients partnering with their therapists for sessions.
The darker the room, the more obvious and powerful the light.
Let’s reframe the challenges of our culture as opportunities for Christians to show our critics the practical difference Jesus makes in our lives. When we learn about hurting people, let’s pray for them and then look for ways to help them. When we learn of leaders making unbiblical decisions, let’s pray for them and then look for ways to share biblical truth with them and the larger culture in a spirit of humility and grace. When we find ourselves being accused of intolerance, let’s pray for our critics and then demonstrate compassion that forgives and serves.
The greater the need, the greater the opportunity. The higher the mountain, the harder the climb.
A pastor’s powerful hope
I am not suggesting naivete—we need to guard our children and our minds from the onslaught of unbiblical morality in our day. We need community with fellow believers to encourage and strengthen our resolve to follow Jesus. But we can also step up to the challenges we face with courage that trusts our earthly lives and eternal lives to our Lord. Whatever happens to us, the best is yet to come.
I experienced this reality earlier this week in a powerful way. A pastor stopped by my office to visit. One of his adult sons has been dealing with brain cancer for many years. In fact, he has already outlived all medical expectations. And yet he has a wife, seven children, and lives each day with purpose and significance.
I asked this pastor how he could live so joyfully while carrying the burden of his son’s illness in his heart each day. He smiled at me and said, “We know where he is going.”
Why do you need his hope today?