Let’s face it. The world we live in is not an easy one to navigate from a moral perspective. A casual assessment of our culture and society in America, or world events in general, could produce a host of topics that create controversy and confusion as to how God’s people ought to view or react to them. Some examples might include topics like evolution, gender roles, homosexuality, gay marriage, terrorism, immigration, America’s international military presence, etc. More than likely, that list included topics you’ve made up your mind about, ones that you are thinking about and probably some you didn’t even know you needed to make up your mind about. Though I as well have opinions, my point here is that there are an abundance of sides to be taken and we as Christians will inevitably find ourselves doing so at one point or another. I recently posted some thoughts for Christians to consider as we make decisions on when we should take a stand and how to choose those issues, so now I want to offer some advice on how to take a stand once you’ve decided you should.
- Be humble. This is necessary even if there is no doubt you are right (a clear biblical statement), but especially important on those “gray” issues that are not specifically addressed in Scripture. You can humbly form strong opinions about a variety of social or political issues, but please understand that there are good people who disagree with you and humbly allow for the differences.
- Be loving. My encouragement would be that if you choose to take a stand on a political or social issue, please do it with love. The need to take a stand for a biblical principle does not give license for being mean. In fact, the more serious and potentially controversial your stand is, the more attention you should give to demonstrating love while taking that stand. Paul urged believers in 1 Corinthians 16:14 to “do everything in love.” I think this manifests itself in two important ways. First, we must demonstrate love toward those who we feel we must oppose or “take a stand” against. Second, please show love to your fellow Christian who does not choose to stand on the same issue. Christianity has embarrassed itself on numerous occasions through the fighting of its constituents.
- Be respectful. Much of the offense attributed to Christians is because they take their stand in disrespectful ways, particularly through speech. There is no reason to name-call, use vulgar or disrespectful terms or be mean-spirited with your words. Kindly explain your reasons and then leave it alone if possible. Debate is generally an ineffective means of changing someone’s mind. Even worse is the horribly impersonal form of debate found in the medium of social media. Whatever the context in which you find yourself discussing your position, be nice and respectful.
- Be evangelistically minded. Use the stand you take to point others to Jesus. Never forget that the most important issue is that of one’s eternal state. If you must take a stand on an issue, make you sure that to the best of your ability you do it in a way that does not leave them less open to the gospel. You may actually be able to take your stand and present Christ at the same time.
My concern as I observe the church today is not that we are taking a stand for what is right, but that we are attacking those we should be loving and disappointing the God we are claiming to stand for. We must take to heart Paul’s statement in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Paul’s reference to the name of Jesus means “as His representative.” My desire is that when we take our stand it is not an act of fear, selfishness or spite, but rather an act of loving ambassadorship for the One who gave Himself for us.