Values are based on what a person thinks or knows is true and real. In philosophical circles, values are accompanied by ethics and morals. In short, what you value is based on your view of what is true, right, and real. They shape everything. Decisions are made based on them. Values determine your lifestyle. They even govern over your understanding of God and his truth.
A popular parachurch missions agency recently changed its viewpoint on who it would hire regarding sexual orientation based on the values of a non-Christian worldview. One of the reasons for rendering this decision was the desire to be relevant to the people being reached for Christ and, therefore, needed to adjust hiring practices in order to be more in tune to surrounding cultural values. Their theory was if they were to minister to society, they needed to relate more readily with it.
The problem with this approach is to consider where values come from to begin with. If they come from you or from the surrounding culture, then welcome to the wild west of determining what one thinks is good, beautiful, right, or wrong based on individual and societal preferences. Of all persons and organizations, Christians are to gain their value-base for living from the standards of the Bible. The Bible is about God. It is not about how to inset personal opinion into making God’s truths fit my truth or affinity. Some will want to argue, but we either believe it or we don’t. We either value it or we don’t. We either base our values and lives on it or we do not.
Another point this agency made while revising its worldview was to rationalize that since its goal was to drive poverty off the face of the earth, it needed to be united with all people everywhere and this move would demonstrate a priority of unity over division. I see this line of reasoning a lot in our anti-Christian culture. I even see it appearing in the church. We live in an amoral society. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong, and everything is fair game. There are no consequences for choices. Tolerance rules the day much more than God’s truth ever thought about governing life. This approach of being united with everyone and everything is extremely dangerous.
What are you willing to be united with and at what cost? Yes, Jesus united himself with people who did not agree with his values. He spent time with them, developed friendships, and wanted them to join him in paradise. However, he was not uniform with them in what they believed or how they behaved. Unity is not uniformity. We must view every person as one created in the image of God. We need what I call, “Not Yet Eyes.”Nonetheless, we must never be so confused and conformed to their views or values that we approve, tolerate, or excuse sinful behavior.
Tell me what you value; tell me what your definition of unity means. I believe in Jesus. I believe in his holy, inerrant word. I believe in the forgiveness of sin. I believe in the value of sanctifying, grace-filled transformation. I highly value being one in Christ. I do not believe my surrounding culture universally values godly viewpoints. I never want to compromise God’s standards. I don’t like the effects of individual or corporate sin. I base these views on an extremely high value of God’s holy Word.
To the parachurch ministry who last week reversed their decision of compromising their views on sexual morality, thank you. Please dig deeper before other catastrophic decisions are rendered. Seriously survey what values you base all of your decisions and morals on to begin with. In fairness, I will too. Remember, while the Bible does, indeed, relate to you and all people everywhere, it is not about us. It is about God! He loves everyone. He is what we value above everyone and everything. He is our truth. He is the one who ultimately forgives and transforms. May we base all we are and do on him!
Jim Dunn is executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church.