Posted by: ritagone | January 9, 2013

What To Do When You’re Losing the Battle


You know, every once in a while, there’s an issue that is so complicated and overwhelming that it just stops me in my tracks.

Yesterday morning on Facebook, my pastor, Shawn Thornton, posted an interesting article from The Gospel Coalition by Barton Gingerich entitled “The Millenial Generation’s Acceptable Sin,” in which Mr. Gingerich shared the disturbing truth that – for the current generation of young people – sexual activity outside of marriage is not even an issue anymore; it is standard operating procedure.  Given that reality, the church is in a quandary as to what to do about its stance on this topic.  As Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and noted author was quoted as saying in Gingerich’s article, “We’re just like the rest of the city.  If I preach like that (on sexual ethics), everybody gets real quiet.”

Which raised an interesting question in my mind: if ever there seems to be a losing battle among believers – and especially among young people who claim the name and presence of Jesus in their lives – this seems to be one of the prominent ones.  Decades ago, there was at least debate and hesitation about celibacy before marriage.  Today it seems that you are looked at with bewilderment to even suggest that an unmarried person of either sex refrain from sexual activity until and unless he or she is legally and truly married.  It used to be that the stuff of movie tension was “would she or wouldn’t she”?  No more.  She will.  And, what’s more, among almost everyone in our society around the world, Christian and non, she should.  As I said, it’s hardly an issue anymore.

In other words, as I said, we are losing the battle.

Which brings me to the broader philosophical question this raises in my mind.  Perhaps you can help me understand it, because, quite frankly, I don’t have a great answer for myself.

The question is this: what do you do if you are in a war and fighting a battle that you are obviously losing?

It seems to me that there are only so many options:

You can give up.  Surrender.  Put up your hands, put down your weapons, and tell the enemy that you’re through fighting.  He’s won.  You won’t meet him on the battlefield any more.  The victory is his.  Case closed.  It’s just not worth fighting over.  Pick another hill on which to die.  Move on.

You can retreat, pull back and hope to fight another day.  Lick your wounds, prepare a different strategy and attack, mount a new defense.  You can make a lot of noise and continue to fight, but from a distant tower, where you’re a bit safer.  All very exhausting, with no promise of success.  I think it’s what you do when you want to look like you’re still in the battle, but you’re really and truly not.  You wave your sword, you yell a bit, and you run in circles.  But you’re really not a threat at all to the enemy, and everyone knows it.

You can defect, go over to the other side, take the position that you aren’t enemies any more, that instead, you are friends, on the same page, no need to fight ever again, let’s go have a glass of wine and be sophisticated adults all.  You can throw away whatever legitimate complaints or differences there were between you and whitewash what your conscience told you that brought you to the battleground to begin with.  (I believe this is where many believers find themselves on so many crucial issues today; if they haven’t been able to win any battles, best to convince themselves that those battles weren’t worth fighting in the first place.)

But what else is there?  How else are we to behave, to live and act and represent what we believe to be true biblically in a world that differs so vehemently from the way Jesus told us to live?  Surely we’re missing something here.  Surely I’m not seeing an option that is right in front of my eyes.

Because when I look around me, I don’t see anything much in the way of positive, battle-winning, “let’s take that hill” attitude about the sexual dilemma we’re in.  I don’t see preachers willing to stick their necks out and talk about it from their pulpits because…well, because it’s just not that popular even in their congregations.  It’s right up there with talking about money.  When your young ‘uns are promiscuous (and I use that word deliberately), and when they don’t think anything of it, and when their parents have learned not to think anything of it, it’s difficult to be the guy or gal who stands in the gap and says “This is wrong!”  “This is shameful.”  “This is not what God wants you to be doing with your body.”  It smacks of so much that isn’t cool and hip and cutting edge, and God forbid any of us be uncool and unhip and not cutting edge.

So here’s my scenario: you love Jesus.  You want to be like Him and honor and obey Him.  So how do you fight the losing battles?  How do we all fight the losing battles?  That’s my question – for which this morning I have no answer.

Do you?


  1. I spoke about a distinctly Christian sexual ethic on a regular basis while pastoring NC. In pastoring a church of college students, it was foolish to dance around the topic. Our leaders also gracefully chose to forgo participating in weddings if a couple was unwilling to abstain from sex. The gesture was not judgmental, but rather an acknowledgment that we cannot pretend to say we are Christian if we are unwilling to submit our lives to the Kingship of Jesus.

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