The term “professing Christian” is often used to imply that someone is not a real believer—and rightly so. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father.
Doing the will of the Father is not always difficult. The Pharisees banked on this. No one thinks less of us when we give generously to the poor or treat people kindly. But our Father’s will is sometimes difficult; and it is most difficult when it is most unpopular. Thus, our faith is proved not by whether we generally obey, but by whether we obey when people will hate us and exclude us and revile us and spurn our names as evil (Luke 6:22).
This is a standardly biblical point, but it is also made with great force in a quote often attributed to Martin Luther, though actually from Elizabeth Rundle Charles’s Chronicles of the Schoenberg Cotta Family:
It is the truth which is assailed in any age which tests our fidelity. It is to confess we are called, not merely to profess. If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.
Knowing this, and knowing that we must test and examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5), we should be concerned to ask:
What is the doctrine which the world and the devil are today attacking? Where is the point where the battle rages in the 21st century, that we may test our loyalty and courage on this point?
Although there are many battles raging, as there always have been, there are very few that place believers in the peril of being hated, excluded, reviled, spurned as evil. Some might say creation versus evolution; but while that is certainly a doctrine against which the devil has laid siege, to preach it is not to court hatred and exclusion. The danger on that battleground is derision—being scorned for unscientific and unsophisticated beliefs. This same is true of the gospel itself. To believe that Jesus is the son of God now in power, having been raised for our justification, is quaint and superstitious; it does not evoke ire in people so much as entertain them. So too the inerrancy of Scripture, which is laughable but not hateful. Even to preach hell will garner more amused disgust than censorious outrage. Boldly affirming these doctrines, you will be mocked as a laughingstock, but not spurned as evil. The world can afford to tolerate a clown.
But what is it that the world will not tolerate? What part of the Bible, should you speak it in public, will evince not laughter or scorn, but screeching and outrage? What scripture is regarded, not merely as an outdated heresy, but as a dangerous blasphemy? What biblical truth is hated as evil?
A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression… The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church…
For a man…is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake… But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint… Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord… Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (1 Timothy 2:11–14; 1 Corinthians 14:34–35; 1 Corinthians 11:7–9; 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:3–5; Ephesians 5:22–24)
This is the blasphemy of the modern day. This is where the battle is being waged. The world does not very much mind Christian piety—faithfully living out our God-given duties—provided we perform it as androgynous persons. The duties that are common to all Christians—e.g., John 13:34—these do not offend them.
It is the duties which are unique to each sex that require silencing. Apologists for inerrancy and young earth creationism are not pariahs in the secular workforce. Men who preach the lordship of Jesus and the coming judgment are not protested on university campuses. It is those who dare preach masculine and feminine piety, grounded in the creation order, rooted in the fatherhood of God—they are the ones canceled and ghosted; defunded and deplatformed; slandered as misogynists and vilified as evil.
This is where the battle rages.
We have spent much time here detailing how the world is set on obliterating masculine and feminine piety. We have further argued that this is religious; when you obliterate sexed piety you are left with unsexed impiety, and unsexed impiety is the devil’s end game. Androgyny is literally paganism.
In other words, we believe that masculine and feminine piety are gospel issues.
But whether or not biblical sexuality is a gospel issue doesn’t practically matter today—because to ignore it, to fail to preach it, is to fail the test of fidelity. To flinch on this point is to be put to flight and disgrace, and prove one’s disloyalty. Whether or not you think androgyny versus sexed piety is a gospel issue, it is undeniably a faithfulness issue.
There are many captains and generals on the battlefield today who are hiding in their tents. And there are many more who are one field over, busily reenacting the medieval Battle of Worms, complete with period costumes and real blood, sweat and tears—BYO in little bottles—rather than fighting in the modern Battle of Obergefell, where they might, for heaven’s sake, really get wounded, have to exert themselves in earnest, and maybe even be caught crying.
The murmuring of these men, as they larp the Reformation, about how frivolous and phony the fighting on the other field is, about how inconsequential the outcome, does not go unnoticed by the soldiers there. Those who can tell a real battle from a reenactment are not impressed by the renfair brigade’s loud voices, clear bugles, and bold battle cries.
There are only three kinds of professing Christians in the pulpits of the Western world:
- The sexually immoral, who, though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, not only do them but give approval to those who practice them;
- The cowardly, who, though knowing God’s decree and seeing in their pews hard women bearing the sword, soft men with flowing hair, and all other manner of impiety—and knowing that such will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9, NASB)—say nothing for fear of their jobs;
- The faithful, who, knowing God’s decree, and the futile ways that they themselves inherited from their fathers, strive to not be conformed to these former passions, but to struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, calling all people to similarly submit themselves to the Lordship and law of Jesus according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God (cf. 1 Tim 1:8–11).
Only one of these men is safe from the wrath to come. It is not on the basis of his works; no man’s piety is sufficient, regardless of how well he lives in repentance. It is on the basis of his faith—a faith that he has shown to be living, by living it: obediently striving daily to submit to the duties of manhood that God has given him, and to call others to the same. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, the sexually immoral, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).