Jeffrey L. Samelson
There was a time when society’s values were by and large the same as Christian values. That hasn’t been the case for quite a while. But many within the church seem to operate as though everything the culture considers good and worthy is what believers should consider good and worthy.
Before you say, “Yeah, that reminds me of . . .,” stop and check the values you actually hold. Are they against the values God lays out for us in Scripture?
What are Christian values for marriage? It is a lifelong relationship between one man and one woman designed for companionship, sexual intimacy, and both the bearing and raising of children (Genesis chapters 1–2). Sexual relations are only to be between husbands and wives. Divorce is something acceptable to God only in very narrow circumstances (infidelity and desertion—1 Corinthians chapters 6–7).
Are those your values—really? Too many of us nod in agreement at God’s Word, but when the rubber meets the road our true values emerge. “This divorce is okay because, well, my sister’s been really unhappy for a while.” “People shouldn’t marry until they’re in their late 20s or 30s and are ready to settle down, and if our kids sow some wild oats in the meantime who can blame them?” “I still feel funny about same-sex marriage, but I have gay friends; I don’t want to say they can’t do what they want to do.”
How about children? Scripture makes it clear that they are a blessing that belongs with marriage and that having many of them is God’s gift of a good thing (Psalm 127:3-5). Again, too often we agree but then add our “buts.” “But if we have another child we can’t afford the nicer house and can’t travel the world in our 50s as we planned.” “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but my friend didn’t feel she had another option.” “But if we have more than two kids people will look at us funny.” “But we really can’t afford children right now; it just makes sense to wait until we’ve taken care of our careers first.”
Really? How could the Lord who supplies every need give us such gifts without also giving all we need to welcome and care for them? Yes, God has given us the ability to plan our families in ways unknown to earlier generations, and every couple’s different situation leads to different decisions. But are choices about children being made from faith and informed by Scripture or informed by society and made from other motives?
Check your values. What do your credit card statement and checkbook say about what’s important to you—the latest gadget, the newest fashions, the coolest car, the smoothest beer? Jesus reminds us to store up our treasures in heaven, not on earth, and to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness—and every material need will be met (Matthew 6:25-34).
Christians are by faith different, and Christ still calls us to think, say, and do what is different. Our values matter—not just for us, but for the world. Jesus said we are “the salt of the earth,” but if we lose our saltiness, we are “no longer good for anything.” (Matthew 5:13). What’s important to us shows others how important the Lord and his love are. So we repent of our wrong values and turn to Christ for forgiveness and then “let [our] light shine before men, that they may see [our] good deeds and praise [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Contributing editor Jeffrey Samelson is pastor at Christ, Clarksville, Maryland.
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Author: Jeffrey L. Samelson
Volume 101, Number 9
Issue: September 2014
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