by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
We live in a world so filled with contradictions that finding truth can seem challenging. People clamor for diversity but insist on ideological conformity. Others cry for inclusion but quickly exclude anyone not fully adherent to their feelings and thoughts. Autonomy and individuality are worshiped as empowerment, while protesters extoll the need for a united community. The culture ironically denies the existence of God and rejects His tenants, yet simultaneously prays to Him for help in the midst of tragedy and turmoil.
While these contradictions can be found in almost every facet of our culture, they are particularly numerous and extreme in regards to gender and sexuality. For instance, sex is no longer an accepted reality, yet boys can become girls and girls can become boys. The culture says, “you are born gay and can’t change,” but your gender is “assigned” and totally malleable based on your feelings at any given moment. Though the pronoun “they” is grammatically plural, it must be used as a singular pronoun if requested by a gender fluid person. “Love is love” is the theme of the day, but those who espouse it are quick to call others bigots and homophobes if they fail to fully embrace what they mean by it. Christians are said to hate gays, but Christians have been the first on the scene when tragedy befalls the gay community. “Science is King,” but if it contradicts pro-LGBT+ ideologies and/or narrative, it is ignored. LGBT+ identified people—while only making up 4% of the population—claim marginalization while 64% of Americans support gay marriage. 
Given this litany of contradictions, it’s no wonder youth plead for “safe spaces.” Such a sea of inconsistencies makes it seem as if there is no way of ever finding truth and, consequentially, knowing who you are. Media of every type broadcast these conflicting messages on repeat as the dogma of the day, hour, or moment.
Might it be that the cacophony of contradictory messages is at the root of much of the troubles of our day? Where is truth amid the maddening rhetoric? Where is north or south, east or west? What is up and what is down? Where is the anchor we can hold, or the rock upon which we can stand? We seem to be a people tossed by every wind and doctrine. We search for an identity that is unchanging and an assurance that is grounded in something bigger than our ideas, feelings, or perception of ourselves.
As I read the headlines of yet another mass shooting, watch the latest gender-bending awards show, or talk with youth in churches across our great country, I see the confusion brought about by our contradictions and our inability to clearly embrace truth. To cope, we craft our own realities based on our sense of autonomy and individualism, hoping that each will bring meaning. But real meaning is not found in “artisanal living.” Real meaning in life is found in God alone (Jn. 14:6).
Despite what our culture says, youth want to know truth. They want to know there are absolutes and boundaries because those boundaries allow them the freedom to experience a sense of safety, security, and serenity. Truth enables them to experience life free from the fear of being called a name, rejected by peers, or shunned by their social circles. Why? Because their definition of self is defined by truth outside of their opinion or the opinions of others – God’s Truth. Youth need a place to breathe, see, hear, taste, and feel the goodness of God’s created world, as He created it.
Our desire for personal autonomy and individualism may seem new, but it’s not. Neither is it solely a youth problem; rather, it’s mankind’s problem and it has been around since our beginning. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam one simple command, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16).
Man was given everything needed to sustain life, including a partner. Together the two were completely exposed (naked) and unashamed. They fellowshipped with God and enjoyed his physical presence, intimacy, and innocence. Yet they believe a lie from the devil, a lie that the devil still whispers in our ears to this very day. The deceiver said to the couple, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of [the tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).
This satanic appeal is a simple plea directed at the most basic of human desires for significance and trust. Are you as good as you can be? And do you trust God that He is truly good? With a simple statement, the devil convinced man to forsake the anchor of truth for the floating buoy of a lie. At that moment, life changed in a way neither of them expected. What they thought would deepen their intimacy and satisfaction only brought a greater sense of isolation and distance from their Creator and from each other.
Despite their disobedience, God loved the man and the woman and provided coverings for their now-self-aware nakedness. As they peered back through the fiery swords and cherubim standing guard at the gate of Eden, they longed for the intimacy they once freely experienced. Choices have consequences.
While our world has radically changed since those first days in the garden, the reality of man’s weakness and our propensity to solve our own dilemmas, rather than submit to our divine Savior, continue to exist.
Though the cultural landscape looks as though it is fighting hard against God’s Truth, I am convinced we are, in fact, fighting to find His Truth. We want Truth but have no idea where to acquire it. We, like Adam and Eve, continue to take matters into our own hands. We pretend to be autonomous and free only to discover we have traded our freedom for the yokes of slavery, addiction, and self-identification. Our created realities only limit our human thriving and repress our ability to be the redeemed selves God desires us to be through the redemptive power of the work of Jesus.
Jesus is not a contradiction, but the revelation of all that God is in a form we can recognize, relate to, and who is one of us but yet not us. Paul put it this way, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form. And you have been made complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:9-10). It is only in our surrender to His design and will for us that we find the completeness we so desire. It is only in Him that we are able to be far more than we could have ever hoped or imagined (1 Cor. 2:9).
The life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the gospel (1 Cor 15:3-8). It is The Truth that liberates the captive (Luke 4:18), gives identity to the confused (Jn. 1:12), transforms the sinner (1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Pet. 2:9), and adopts us as His beloved sons and daughters (1 Jn. 3:1-2). This is the Truth, and it is the message that pierces the confusion and contradictions. It is the anchor for our longing souls. The gospel is what we teach at Living Hope Ministries and it is the truth that transforms lives for the glory of God and our great joy. It is our only hope, our living hope (1 Pet. 1:3)!
http://news.gallup.com/poll/210566/support-gay-marriage-edges-new-high.aspx 2017 Gallop Poll. Accessed May 23, 2018.