I am tired of "change the subject" arguments when it comes to controversial debates about truth. You know what I mean. You make a statement about a controversial issue such as violence in media, abortion, or God's standards for sexual purity and you get this: "How can you waste your time worrying about that when there is oppression and poverty in the world? Get your priorities straight."
Here's a news flash: It's possible to care about BOTH! God created us human beings with a remarkable capacity of multitasking. And we can multitask obedience to God as well. I can work for social justice, rebuilding the lives of the poor, caring for widows and orphans AND proclaim God's standard for marriage, respect for life, the all-sufficiency of Jesus' death and resurrection and many other issues. All at the same time. Shocking, I know.
Really, this shouldn't surprise us. All through the Hebrew Scriptures (aka, the Old Testament) God told his people to care for the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed. And he also told them to tear down idols, worship him only, be sexually pure, tithe, and respect life. They were expected to do it all.
When Israel was taken into captivity, there was tremendous pressure on Daniel and his friends to conform to the new culture. But just because there was a new government, God hadn't changed. They said in effect, like Martin Luther did centuries later, "Here I stand. I can do no other, so help me God."
Imagine if you came home and your wife asked whether you had picked up milk at the grocery store. "No, honey, but how can you care about that? There is oppression in the world - focus on that rather than me taking care of my family." Would that fly? I don't think so. And it doesn't with God either.
Listen to Jesus:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the the law - justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23, NIV, emphasis mine)Yes, those things are important. As Christ-followers we must invest our time, effort, and resources in reaching out to those who are downtrodden. It's the right thing to do. But we also must reverence the one true God and resist efforts to change our beliefs to fit our culture. The two positions are not mutually exclusive.
So say you disagree with me. Let's have a spirited debate. But let's not change the subject when we do. Justice, mercy, and faithfulness are critical. And so is a right view of God. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.