Cultural Discernment: An Example

While discussing Wednesday’s post with a friend and colleague, he shared a story that demonstrates the need for cultural discernment—what I called “loving judgment”—among ministers of the gospel.


My friend had spent the past few weeks speaking with a group of missionaries from a decidedly post-Christian nation. These missionaries were lamenting the state of the nation, giving as an example a recent church retreat at which half the attendees shacked up in cabins with their respective boyfriends or girlfriends. Bad enough that so many church members would be engaging in extramarital sex; far worse that they would feel free to do so at a time of ostensible devotion, under the watching eye of the church.


Sadly, our story does not end here. Speaking to my friend, one of the missionaries remarked, “I’m just learning not to judge. Things are different here.”


Culturally sensitive, perhaps—but nothing about this approach is biblical, Christian or even loving.


Real love—of the sort Christ offered the Pharisees, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.—calls sin what it is. And then it calls those trapped in the deceitfulness and living death of sin to new life in Christ. Refusing to pass judgment on sin is refusing to preach the gospel. The bad news of sin is part of the good news of grace.


Remember, God has already spoken judgment on sin. A day is coming when he will manifest that judgment in a display of righteous, awful wrath. It is not love to hide this message from those on whom it will fall. Love the nations enough to call them out of the darkness of sin into his marvelous light of grace.


Call sin, sin. Then speak life and love.

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