A private school in Manhattan is encouraging its students to stop using the terms “mom,” “dad,” and “parents” because the words make “assumptions” about kids’ home lives. Instead, children are encouraged to use the terms “grown-ups,” “folks,” “family,” or “guardians” as substitutes.
In its push for gender inclusion, the school wants its students to substitute “people” for “boys and girls.” Rather than lining up as boys and girls, they are to line up alphabetically or by types of shoes. If someone says, “a boy can’t marry a boy,” they are encouraged to respond by saying, “People can love and commit to whomever they please, it’s their choice who they marry.” Instead of wishing each other “Merry Christmas!” or even “Happy Holidays!,” they are to say, “Have a great break!”
When I saw the story, I assumed it was about another highly secularized school at war with Judeo-Christian morality. Multiple examples of such conflicts are in the news these days. For instance, a curriculum being considered in California seeks to displace Christian culture and recommends that teachers instead lead students in a series of songs and chants to the Aztec gods (whom the Aztecs traditionally worshiped with cannibalism and human sacrifice, by the way).
It turns out, the school in Manhattan is Grace Church School. A school official explained their language policy: “As part of our Episcopal identity, we recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity.”
Why we must be spiritual “fruit inspectors”
There are two kinds of threats in our fallen world: those we can identify and those we cannot.
Examples of the former abound: a New York bill that could force schools to teach sex education to kindergartners and gender identity to second graders; the escalation of forced marriages and physical violence against Christian women around the world; and the Biden administration’s push for taxpayer-funded abortions, for instance. Like an Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid that missed our planet on March 5 but will return in eight years, we can see these threats coming.
Other threats are not obvious until they are dangerous, like a meteor that caused “Earth-shaking booms” over Vermont on March 7. Such threats are especially insidious because, by the time we know we are in a conflict, it can be too late to respond.
This is true medically of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments. It is true geopolitically with rising threats from China and elsewhere. And it is true spiritually as well.
In fact, I fear threats from within the body of Christ far more than those from without.
Jesus warned us to “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). How are we to identify them? He told us, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (v. 16). Ultimately, our Lord assured us, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (v. 19).
In the meantime, it is vital that we be “fruit inspectors” of those who claim to serve and represent our Lord.
The Bible is an anvil
Grace Church School is an example of this challenge. I wholeheartedly agree that we should “recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity.” Every human is created in the image of our Creator (Genesis 1:27), someone for whom Jesus died (Romans 5:8) and therefore a person of sacred worth.
However, we do not “recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity” by violating God’s word and will for humanity. Scripture not only tells us that we are loved by God (John 3:16)—it also tells us how to live our best lives and how to relate to others in truthful, redemptive ways. When we alter or reject biblical revelation on sexuality or any other issue, however kind our motive might seem, we do far more harm than good.
The Bible has been likened to an anvil—we do not break God’s word; we break ourselves on it.
This threat of internal compromise in the body of Christ is growing exponentially today. As I have written previously, for the first time we are facing widespread claims that religious freedom is being used by evangelicals to harm others and thus should be disallowed. We are being caricatured as homophobic, bigoted, and dangerous. We are seen as the majority oppressing the minority. If we stand for biblical truth, increasingly we will stand alone.
Such pressure is especially difficult for those whose institutional futures are in question. Religious schools who affirm biblical morality could risk the loss of Title VI federal assistance for their students, inclusion in the NCAA and other organizations, and even their tax-exempt status. Trustee boards composed primarily of businesspeople will be sorely tempted to concede their moral codes rather than risk their institution’s financial health. Similar risks await religious hospitals, adoption agencies, churches, and other ministries.
The time to choose is now
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss practical responses for pastors and other evangelicals, focusing on an outstanding book I will review and recommend. Today, let’s close with this prediction by Jesus: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24–25).
However, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (vv. 26–27).
The rain is falling, the floods are rising, and the winds are blowing.
The time to build your house on the rock is now.