Standing against the Spirit of this Age

Standing against the Spirit of this Age

Every age has prevailing ideas, ideas so pervasive that they are nearly accepted without question. Our age is no different. I’ve written before in these pages about one of those ideas, the belief that we are sexual beings. You can read that article on Zion’s blog (see link below).[1] Here is a brief excerpt from that article:
We are sexual beings isn’t merely asserting that sex is a part of the human experience; it’s asserting that sex is everything, that sex is at the core of our being as humans, that expressing our sexual desires is at the heart of our identity…
Yes, sex is a part of the human experience, even having the blessing of God within the marriage of husband and wife (for the purposes of one-flesh union and procreation), but it is not of the essence of being human…
Instead of accepting the assumption we are sexual beings, we would do better to confess the historical truth that we are religious beings. We are wired to desire God, to know Him, to fellowship with Him. Scripture declares that God has set eternity in our hearts, so that our hearts instinctively yearn for fellowship with Him. Knowing God precedes all else. True fulfillment is found in knowing Him and in being known by Him. Our identity is not found in any sexual behavior or preference, but in our created and redeemed status as children of God. The need to appreciate this truth cannot be overstated.
In this article we tackle another (false) prevailing idea. It shows up everywhere, in movies, in inspirational speeches, on bumper stickers and posters, in books, all over social media. Parents counsel their children with it and children dream in line with it. It sounds like this: be true to yourself; you need to find yourself; be your authentic self. Although it takes different forms, the underlying idea is the same: internal sense is king; authentic desires are queen.
While there is a kernel of truth in these statements (it’s important not to let peers, for instance, pressure us into ungodly and unhealthy behaviors), the kernel has been saturated in poison. Perhaps it would be easier to see in the following statement from former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He’s writing here for the majority in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), a case which (sadly) upheld the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade. He writes:
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
Justice Kennedy, an intelligent man, here utters nonsense, completely unlivable nonsense (We would never, for instance, apply such ideas to sports or driving – that every person gets to define the game or the rules of the road for himself. That would be madness!), but he has masterfully captured the spirit of our age. A person’s internal sense is sovereign. Nothing from outside the person has any bearing on the person’s identity or liberty. Being true to oneself is all that matters.
The spirit of the age insists that the highest ethic does not come from a source beyond the person, but from within the person; that’s what’s ultimately behind the slogan find yourself and be your authentic self. The highest ethic is being true to one’s internal sense.
This is why our age considers it perfectly normal to define people by their sexual desires: gay, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, etc. Authentic desires are queen. And this is why our age regards it as a reasonable thing for a man to claim to be a woman and vice versa. If internal sense is king, then this is completely reasonable. One’s created nature as male or female is irrelevant. The body doesn’t matter. The Creator’s work and words don’t matter.   
If, however, reality exists independent of our internal sense (it does), this belief must be rejected. If identity is determined by a source beyond us, beyond our desires (it is), this belief must be repudiated. Please note, though, that we are saying that the belief must be rejected and repudiated; we are not saying that the people who have been deceived by the belief are to be. Love requires us to draw near to them with truth and compassion.[2]  
How then do we stand against the spirit of our age? Or, putting it positively, how do we confess the truth of God in a concise and confident way? I offer two starting points. And please understand, these are starting points. They are not exhaustive, but they are critical in countering the spirit of our age and in positively confessing the truth of God.
1)       The Creator always comes before the creature.
2)       Use the Creator’s words.
The Creator always comes before the creature.
Another way of expressing this is the fear of the Lord. Ecclesiastes succinctly expresses the idea: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Fearing the Lord means putting the Creator first – always. The thing missing from the spirit of our age is the Creator. Reconsider the sloganized expression of the spirit of our age – find yourself, be your authentic self – they ignore the Creator. They set the self up as sovereign, as the chief determiner of identity and reality. And the truth of the matter is that the self is not qualified for such a task.    
Here’s the truth: you don’t need to journey within to discover yourself because God tells you who you are. You are His creature. You bear His image. You are a male or a female and that is beautiful and good. You have a mother and a father and certain responsibilities toward them and their representatives. You have neighbors who need you (siblings, classmates, teammates, etc.). You have a people and a place where God has planted you. And you have a God who has redeemed you. This is who you are.
You don’t need to journey within to find yourself; you need to hear the Word of your Creator. He tells you who you are and reveals your identity in your vocation. The journey within only takes you into an internal sense that has been warped by sin and into desires that can deceitfully lead you astray, away from what God the Creator has called good. Letting your internal sense and desires be king and queen is a recipe for disaster.
Begin here: the Creator always comes before the creature. His will revealed in His work (i.e. creation) and in His Word (Christ and Scripture) determines reality and our identity.
Use the Creator’s words.
The second point builds on the first: use the Creator’s words. More specifically, use the Creator’s words to define reality and identity. He doesn’t define people in sexualized terms; He defines mankind as male and female.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28).
Male and female, these are the Creator’s words. Use His words. This means that we do not define people in the sexualized terms in vogue today. We may speak of a man with same-sex desires or of a woman who identifies as a man, but we do not label a person by their sexual desires or internal sense, i.e. gay, lesbian, homosexual (or even heterosexual!), or trans. These are not the Creator’s words. The creational words of male and female must remain.
With His words firmly in place, we can speak about a male’s or a female’s internal sense and desires. When we do so, we will, no doubt, discover desires out of line with what the Creator has called good in creation. We will discover the same thing in our own hearts – because Scripture teaches that our internal sense and our desires have been bent and twisted by sin. They are out of line with what the Creator has called good. So we cannot turn to them to define reality and identity. They are not reliable.   
We must also acknowledge that our bentness IS NOT LIMITED to sexual desires; it includes ALL OUR DESIRES. Every last one of us has been bent by sin and has desire upon desire out of line with what the Creator calls good. And that means that WE ALL need a Savior. This is why the spirit of this age is so pernicious and dangerous: it leads us to believe we don’t need Jesus, specifically the Jesus who redeems us from sin-twisted desires and false beliefs about reality. And this is why we must stand against the spirit of this age.   
We cannot begin with the assumption, as the spirit of this age does, that our desires or our internal sense are morally good and trustworthy. Instead, we turn to our Creator who is good and trustworthy and we use His words. To stand against the spirit of this age – that reality and identity are determined by our internal sense and our desires – we must learn to put the Creator before the creature and to use His words to define reality and identity. – Pastor Conner    

[2] I have written numerous articles on how to draw near to those struggling with same-sex desires and/or gender identity issues. Several of them are posted on Zion’s blog ( and more are available upon request.

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