When Christian’s publicly oppose a particular activity some reply, “then just don’t participate in it.” The reasoning is that just because Christian’s are against something doesn’t mean every one has to stop doing it. Is it not enough for Christian’s to be privately against something? Why do they feel the need to speak out against things like gambling, drunkenness, drug abuse, pornography, homosexuality and abortion?
Christians are to be a loving people. Love for others actively seeks their good. As a result Christians have a deep concern for what is good for the community. Christians also recognize that sin is inherently destructive. Sin is not just a difference of opinion about how to live. Those things which God declares to be sin are destructive to the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well being of those who engage in them. Sin is not only destructive to the one who commits sin. Every sin affects others to their hurt. The drunkard’s sin affects his work, his family and his neighbors. The drug user’s sin has profound impact on the community. The sweeping changes brought about by the proponents of homosexuality give a powerful illustration of this reality. These changes do not just affect homosexuals. They have affected the legal definition of marriage, they are affecting our families at public bathrooms, our children in their school locker rooms and the Christian’s ability to live out his Christian convictions. Sin significantly affects the community. Loving Christians cannot abide by the patronizing advice of “just don’t spend your money on it”. Since we love others, we must oppose those things which will destroy our neighbors.
If Christians really believe this then why don’t they speak out against all sin. Why just pick on certain ones? It is true that Christians have rigorously opposed certain sins while ignoring others. It is also true that those who are serious about obedience to the Lord should be opposed to sin in all its forms. In the public arena this is not always easy to do. When the culture begins to actively promote a particular sin the Christian finds himself needing to oppose that sin with equal activity. As a result it seems to some that Christians are just choosing to oppose particular sins. This is not always the case. Christians are opposed to slavery, but very few are publicly fighting against slavery because the larger American culture does not promote slavery. When America attempts to reinstitute slavery expect Christians to be in the forefront of those who decry it as an evil institution. Christians appear at times to cherry pick what sins to oppose because the needs of the community require the Christian to address the sins most problematic or most promoted at that time.
Christians also measure their response to sins based upon the cost to others of that sin. Some sins cause greater damage to the community than others. Cussing is sinful (Ephesians 4:29), but the cost to others of uttering a swear word is not as significant as the cost of rape. The Christian performs a kind of spiritual triage in choosing which sins require a public reproof. We deal with the most destructive ones first. For example, Christians actively and vocally oppose abortion because of the death it brings to the unborn baby, the havoc it causes in the life of the mother and the destruction is wreaks in families and communities.
Christians are commanded by God to actively oppose sin. This opposition starts in the believers own heart as he strives for holiness in all things. This opposition is to take place in the church through believers exhorting and encouraging one another to forsake sin and walk in obedience. In the church believers are commanded to rebuke fellow believers living in sin. This opposition to sin continues outside the church walls. Because we love our neighbors Christians must speak out against sin, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11)