“Back in the day” (early 1980s) the State College, Pennsylvania, City Council was having an open forum about a housing ordinance that would have forced owners, regardless of their own beliefs, to rent their properties to all people, including homosexuals. What shocked me was when one of my friends testified in front of that whole crowd that he had been struggling with same sex attraction but had repented. He was arguing against the ordinance. I had no idea of his struggle because he had reoriented and was happily pursuing life. After graduating from college he married and continued in the faith. I heard years later that he was still faithful to his marriage and his Lord. His response to the Biblical standard for sexuality was to repent of his shortcoming. He found grace. His story, though it illustrates repentance unto life, is obviously not the only reaction that people have to the truth from God’s word.
In that same general time period a co-ed was attending our Penn State Christian student fellowship. When it came to light that she was having a same-sex relationship, I went to her and shared my concern based on the Biblical description of the folly of the direction she was headed. She listened for a short time and then got up and left the room. While our fellowship tried to reach out to her, she basically fled, which illustrates another response when light shines. Another co-ed who claimed to be a Christian moved in with her boyfriend, and when I was asked to go talk with her, found about the same initial response. Some people run from the light. J. Vernon McGee, illustrating the effect of light, said when they went to the barn at night and turned on the switch, the birds would start to sing but the rats would run.
Since those days in the not too distant past, a much more sinister reaction to the light has been on the rise which is reminiscent of some of the most gruesome accounts in holy writ. One account is of the first murder where two brothers bring their respective offerings to God. One is accepted and the other is rejected. In a fit of rage after realizing that his act of worship was judged to be unacceptable, Cain rose up and killed his brother. “And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12b). Cain, like many vocal modern day sinners, felt judged, excluded, not affirmed, and not celebrated in his action. God was not impressed, though Cain thought his religion was as good as Abel’s. So Cain killed Abel, the representative of what was truly righteous. Abel’s very existence was a rebuke to Cain and he couldn’t stand the light which so clearly contrasted with his own evil. So he rose up with deadly violence. He smashed the light bulb.
Smashing the light bulb is the reaction that has been getting the attention of the national news media as well as governors and other politicians. It is essentially what has happened to bakers, photographers, florists, and pizza shop owners who have been quietly going about their own business until someone asks them to help celebrate what they consider to be patently wrong based on what the Bible teaches about the sanctity of marriage. Instead of repenting, or merely turning away, these modern-day Cains are not content until the light bulb is smashed.
Not all people who struggle with sin are like Cain. Some repent, some run from the light and hide their sin. These are not militant. However, the ones who are militant gain the spotlight. The militants get the news coverage. The militants bully businesses and politicians into making policies calculated to mainstream their evil. Like Cain, they want their sacrifice to be accepted.
An insidious branch of militants are those who claim to have God’s blessing on their sin. They are found in traditional Christian mainline denominations changing their documents to accommodate their lifestyle. The first ordained homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church in America divorced his wife with whom he had two daughters and “married” a man. He has since “divorced” that partner. The Bible clearly states that a bishop “must be the husband of one wife” but what is that compared to the desire to “love who I want to love”? Just forget the scriptures, change the church canons, trample the truth in the streets, and smash the light bulb. All the while he offered the sacraments and claimed to join the succession of bishops dating back to the apostles. God was not silent about Cain’s sin, nor is He silent about these who so blatantly pervert the word of God while claiming to be His advocates. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).
Because smashing the bulb has become increasingly visible as the response to truth, the task of proclaiming the gospel has become more difficult. The gospel message is that Christ has died for our sins and includes the importance of confessing and repenting of sin. Jesus came saying, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15b). The Apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Here, the pre-requisite to forgiveness is confession and repentance of sin. If the definition of sin is changed so that what the Bible calls sin is not called sin, where is the repenting? If there is no repenting of the sin there is no forgiveness. How then shall they repent of sin if they are told it is no sin to violate God’s word?
That is the present problem. Churches have capitulated to the Cains who are bringing their perverted offerings and are yet expecting God’s blessing. But “sin lieth at the door” and there is no true repentance so there is no forgiveness. The blind have led the blind and they are both in the ditch claiming to be acceptable with God, but “a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isa. 44:20).
Does God have a word for us? Listen. “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (Isa. 66:5). Just as Abel’s blood cried out to God for justice so do the fragments of perverted justice cry out to God for relief from those who so maliciously have smashed the representatives of light.
There is a word, too, for those who have done the smashing. It is not yet too late. There is still time. “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”