Political correctness gets a bad rap. A big part of what we now refer to as “being politically correct,” we once called “being polite.” Try not to be offensive or hurtful. Be nice.
But in Christian circles today, there grows an insidious and dangerous kind of political correctness where the Gospel itself is altered or misrepresented in an attempt to make it more compatible with our carnal nature — more marketable.
For instance, we rarely talk or sing about heaven anymore. Mention of heaven reminds people of death, something they’re not really comfortable with. And if we rarely talk about heaven, you can imagine how often we mention hell — in some cases, never.
We rarely talk or sing about the blood of Jesus or about the cross. Blood makes us uncomfortable.
But most of all, we’ve banished talk of sin.
Galatians 3:24 says “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”
If the law was a schoolmaster, what was it teaching? Most people, when they read through the Old Testament for the first time, find it compelling, but sad — a great tapestry of missed opportunities and unreached potential. For every good king, there are many bad ones. The Children of Israel could be moved, but, like a spring, tended always to return to the same sad shape, something we can easily identify with.
The schoolmaster, called law, teaches many things. Overriding them all is this: We cannot be good enough, we cannot save ourselves . . . we are sinners.
“The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” Of course it was. If we can’t save ourselves, then we need a Savior. Sin will win unless, by grace, God intervenes. It is fundamental Christian truth.
Yet, we’ve practically banished the word “sin” from the 21st century pulpit. We’ve replaced the message, “You’re a sinner and need a Savior,” with one that stresses self-esteem, self-love and self-help. And I’m talking about evangelical churches.
If political correctness means being polite, then I’m all for it. But if it means changing the unchangeable Gospel to make it compatible with whatever values are currently in fashion, then it is evil and will lead to destruction.
Defining Deviancy Down
The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan was not only a United States Senator, but an eminent sociologist. Citing Emile Durkheim’s The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Senator Moynihan coined the phrase, “defining deviancy down.” The idea is that as a higher percentage of people behave in ways once thought deviant, society redefines what it considers deviant — thus “defining deviancy down.”
That’s normal for society at large, but the Church should be the one place where we never find fluctuating standards of right and wrong. We have an absolute standard — God’s word.
Sadly, many are abandoning God’s standard. In order to better relate to the world, they’ve made the fateful choice to become the world. While the world defines deviancy down, Christians are actually chasing it down, chasing after the world in its headlong plunge toward destruction . . . chasing deviancy down, all the while crying, “Me too . . . me, too . . . me, too.”
Non-Christians may make fun of the faithful, but something in them hopes we’re right; tells them that when trouble comes, they can turn to us . . . until they take a look in our direction and see us acting just like them, acting as if we have nothing more firm on which to stand than they have. In the hour of despair, they turn to those who have heard the revelation of God. And they hear our ministers say to them, in comforting voices, “Our message is really just like yours.”
And that’s when hope dies.
But the Gospel of Jesus is not like the message of the world and we shouldn’t waste time trying to convince them that it is. The people of God are nice, but His message through them is often confrontational. Sin is sin and sinners are headed for a cliff. It’s our job, not to join them in the plunge, but to confront them, to tell them the danger of their present path and of the hope that can only be found in Jesus.
Chasing Deviancy Down ©2007-2023
Tom Gilbreath All Rights Reserved
Note from Tom: As this age seems to be spiraling evermore dramatically toward its end, I find it interesting to look back a few years. Over the next few weeks, I hope to repost some of the things I wrote about fifteen years ago. Rather than diminishing the impact, I believe time has given them new power.
“Chasing Deviancy Down” is a short piece originally posted on September 7, 2007. It expressed my concern for what I saw happening in churches and other Christian institutions. After this was written, the decline continued at a quickening pace and, seemingly, for the same reasons.