We live in a day of amazing confusion.
But what makes the confusion especially disorienting is that those who are creating it don’t act bewildered or perplexed. Instead, when we point out what seems obvious, they tell us with a straight face that we are confused, that these issues are more complex than we could understand, that the problem is with us.
This was especially clear to me during the recent election cycle in California when
- The black candidate was called the “face of white supremacy.”
- Governor Newsom stated the election was “a matter of life or death,” but he is unequivocally for abortion, taking the life of preborn children.
But this is bigger than just the past California election cycle. It’s all across our nation and in current news.
- It’s the school board that silenced a dad trying to alert others of a transgender student who raped his daughter in the women’s bathroom. Somehow the dad—not the sexual assaulter—was the villain.
- It’s insisting that women have the right to choose to take the life of their preborn child (“My body, my choice”), but parents do not have the right to choose if they will have their child vaccinated.
- It’s a culture that defunds the police while defending violent protests.
- It’s an ideology of inclusivism that excludes anyone who states obvious realties such as binary genders.
- It’s a morality that embraces what God clearly declares is wrong (same-sex marriage, transgenderism, state redistribution of wealth, taking the life of the unborn, rioting and lawlessness, etc.) while rejecting the Christian values that allow for law, order, and the traditional family—bedrocks of civilized societies.
If our takeaway is simply that the media has taken sides and frames the narrative for their agenda, that’s only part of the story. The larger issue is more concerning: our country is morally confused.
This is not merely the secularization of a society in a purely de-religionizing sense. It is the re-programming of morality. None of the issues that I mentioned above are portrayed as simple differences of opinion. There is a morality attached to them: it’s deemed wrong in today’s society to question someone’s gender fluidity, to defend the police, to attach justice to equality of process rather than equality of outcome, to say marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman.
We live in a world that calls wrong right, and right wrong. Isaiah 5:20 puts it bluntly:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
I used to read Isaiah 5:20 and think that the outcome of this verse would be obvious—like the emperor’s missing clothes. After all, if people are calling good evil, how hard is that to see?
The reality, however, turns out to be less obvious. It turns out that changing terms and definitions (calling evil good, and good evil), reframing topics (substituting darkness for light), and recasting desires (replacing bitter for sweet) all has a disorienting effect on a society. In time, it’s hard for people who have been morally confused to know right from wrong—and that’s the goal.
Those who are perpetuating the confusion are not just confused; they are rebelling against God. Complexifying the issues and redefining the terms are smokescreens for an unwillingness to submit to God.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (Romans 1:21–22)
So what are Christians to do in a society that confuses and mislabels right and wrong?
1. Recognize the Source of Confusion
Sometimes Christians think they can help by joining in the confusion. Of course, they don’t phrase it quite like that. But instead of standing firm on biblically-clear issues, they equivocate or sidestep by saying things like, “This is a really-nuanced issue, and I can’t answer it directly.” Or they hope to gain the understanding of the world by joining people or organizations that are founded on an anti-God bias for some form of a “greater good.”
Satan is the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). And one of the ways that he brings confusion is by adding complexity—moving people away from the simple realities of truth.
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
This is not to say that issues of our day such as racism, abortion, homosexuality, or others do not have varied factors to their impact on individual lives. It’s not to say that there might not be multiple approaches to how to help or bring change. But it is to say that the Bible’s truth regarding them is straightforward and simple. And if we cannot directly bring God’s Word to bear on the root issues, we are either cowardly or undiscerning.
When people come to us who are suffering because of their struggle with these issues, we should be compassionate and care for the aspects of their lives touched by sin. But we should not struggle to be straightforward in saying what the Bible says on clear moral issues.
2. Bring Clarity through Bible Teaching
A confused society needs a biblically-committed church with a clear message. If people are not going to hear the truth about what the Bible says at church, where are they going to hear it?
If young people are not going to hear what the Bible says about gender distinction, the sanctity of life, justice, and creation from their parents and from their church, where will they hear it?
Christians today are inundated with false teaching that assumes the form of education or news. They need pulpits, lecterns, and discipleship relationships that bring biblical clarity to topics that feel confusing.
(Two resources that I wrote to help are both titled Avoiding Confusion: Interpret Cultural Issues through a Biblical Worldview. There is an educational version for Christian schools or homeschools, and there is a small group version for adult Bible studies.)
3. Declare the Gospel
If Christians need to hear Bible truth to bring clarity to the moral issues of our day, what do the lost need?
They need Christians who have the clarity to see the central issues of sin and salvation.
They need family members, neighbors, coworkers, and friends who will see past the conversations about politics and mask mandates and bigotry to lost hearts who need a Saviour.
They need churches who care enough about reconciliation that they recognize the need of every man, woman, boy, and girl to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
Please don’t misunderstand this call to declare the gospel as a simplistic way of saying, “Cultural issues don’t matter; just tell more people about Jesus.” Cultural issues do matter. But they don’t matter more than a human soul. They don’t matter more than the realities of heaven, hell, and salvation through Christ.
We could invest our entire lives in bringing kindness to human need—and I’m thankful for those who have done that. But if that kindness is divorced from the essential issue of the gospel of Christ, it doesn’t bring lasting help.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Yes, we must boldly speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We must do justly and love mercy (Micah 6:8). But we must also declare the gospel.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)