With every generation comes renewed misunderstandings about God and His Word. The human ability to misinterpret Scripture has led to mild disagreements at best and heretical offenses at worst – and this issue has pervaded the Christian church since its foundations. The early church had to deal with heresies such as Arianism and Gnosticism. The modern-day church also has to vehemently reject various false gospels.
With the front end of Generation Z (1997-2015) finishing college and beginning to have a bigger impact on the workforce, it is no surprise that this generation also comes with its own misunderstandings of Christianity as well. Below, we will look at some of the more common ideas that this generation – my generation – has become wrapped up in.
1. Don’t judge. – Understanding Matthew 7:1
Perhaps the most well-known Bible verse by American secularists is Matthew 7:1 – “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It is usually vaguely cited whenever a Christian disapproves of a person engaging in an action (though, strangely enough, you will never hear it quoted when a Christian judges a sin positively). The argument of the person quoting the verse is typically somewhere along the lines of: “You’re not allowed to disapprove of my actions because your God says to not judge people.”
The issue here is the tendency to isolate the verse from the rest of its context. Matthew 7:2-5 provides additional understanding of Jesus’ words:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Here, we see Jesus’ teaching. It is not “don’t judge.” It is “don’t judge hypocritically.” If I point out the sin of others while committing the same sin myself, I condemn myself (Romans 2:1). Within the same sermon, Jesus tells Christians that we shall know false teachers and prophets by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). This is something we must judge to find out. It is not wrong to oppose sin – but Christ calls us to check our own hearts before we condemn others. Christians are to practice righteousness, and we are called to judge, but we are called to judge in a right manner (John 7:24), not in a self-righteous, hypocritical or unforgiving way, but in a way that encourages our brothers and sisters to not stray from God’s flock.
2. Speaking “my truth.” – Refuting Moral Relativism
A prominent theme in Generation Z is of speaking or living “my truth.” This is a fancy way of saying that you won’t compromise on your personal opinions or beliefs no matter what anyone else says, thinks or posits. It is often based solely out of your personal lived experiences and has little factual backing. It is a convenient “get out of jail free” card for the person whose worldview has just been successfully refuted in an argument. Usually, it is employed like this: “Well, that may work for you, but that’s not my truth.”
The issue that typically comes out of this is on the basis of morality of certain things being right or wrong. People will claim to simply be living their truth, and because it is true to them, they don’t have to critically think about any moral issue. In the name of inclusion and inoffensiveness, we have traded objective truth for subjective truth and moral relativism. The issue with moral relativism – also called subjective morality – is that it both breeds contradiction and eliminates justice. If right and wrong are subjective, then what may be considered moral by one may be considered immoral by another. Only one of them can be ultimately right, but according to the nature of moral relativism, they can’t figure out which one of them is, as they have no basis to distribute justice. If both of them can be right, then neither of them can be wronged – or at least, neither of them can claim injustice if moral rights and wrongs are not fixed. Thus, in moral relativism, the one considered “right” is often whoever has the most power.
But Scripture clearly defines that there is a definitive right and wrong – an objective morality. God’s standard of right and wrong is placed within the hearts of us all (Romans 2:14-15), and we see this to be true. When we are wronged, we always appeal to some sort of moral code in which we expect the other person to be aware of – and even those who hold to a subjective morality will appeal to this code. Without God, there is no objective standard for morality, as He is the one who guides us in righteousness (Psalm 25:8).
3. “All religious faiths are of equal value.”
There is perhaps nothing more unloving than not telling someone the truth of the Gospel. If you genuinely believe that those who do not put their faith in Jesus Christ will eternally face God’s wrath upon them, then it is unloving to tell someone that they don’t need to do so. Even if they don’t believe the boat is sinking, it is unloving to not tell them that they need a lifeboat.
If you are a Christian, you believe that there is only one God and only one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5-6). To express that there is any other way to reconcile yourself with God is to deny this truth. The only way for someone to reconcile themselves with God is through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins upon the cross (Romans 10:9, 1 Peter 3:18). Any other way leads to destruction.
4. “God’s view of marriage and divorce is outdated.”
Many in the modern day who oppose Christianity do so because of the limits it puts on sexual conduct, claiming that it has to be within marriage and sexual acts outside of this state are immoral. So what is the significance of marriage?
Marriage is the closest covenantal bond we have to the covenantal bond God makes with us. The Lord promises to have and to hold us forever, and He will not forsake us (Psalm 94:14, John 10:27-30). It is no wonder God hates divorce (Matthew 19:6), as the act is in opposition to God’s covenantal nature toward His people. Biblically, marriage causes a man and a woman to become “one flesh,” and the couple is meant to love and treat each other appropriately with that in mind. While God does provide justification for divorce, it’s nevertheless the tearing of the one flesh into two – and it goes entirely against that. As Ephesians 5:28-30 says,
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
Marriage is not to be a half-made commitment. Marriage is meant to be a permanent commitment until death or until Christ’s return, when we are all married to Christ in an everlasting and glorious kingdom. Contrasting the world’s view of marriage which is primarily centered around what benefit each individual person can get out of it, biblical marriage showcases true love and commitment by putting the needs of your spouse as your own, as you no longer only care for yourself, but they become one flesh with you.
Sex – the most apparent way of becoming one flesh – reflects this. Sex is the highest level of intimacy and vulnerability that two people can reach; engaging in this act outside of marriage is a recipe for brokenness and insecurity. Marriage informs both members of the relationship that their partner loves them for who they are rather than the physical pleasure they can provide.
5. “God doesn’t hate because God is love.”
Many, even some within the church, may claim that God cannot hate because God is love. It is true that God is love (1 John 4:7-12), but many misconstrue this, equating love to total acceptance and approval of anything and everything they do. This is not love. Sometimes love requires that we come at odds against someone by confronting them rather than allowing them to go down a destructive path.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).
The truth is that God must hate because God is love. God loves holiness and righteousness and justice, and so He must therefore hate sin and wickedness and injustice (Psalm 11:5). Indeed, the wrath of God was poured out onto Jesus Christ because He took on our sins and bore them as the Sacrificial Lamb for us.
If God did not hate sin, then we would remain a broken people, seemingly abandoned in a fallen world by our Lord. However, because God hates sin, He restores us to Him through Jesus Christ and gives us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us so that we can walk in righteousness by His grace.
There is no defined truth in this world than in what God has given us through His Word. If we desire to understand who God is, we must go to His Word. Though generations will come against Christianity and the Bible with false claims, the wisdom of the Lord has and will always prevail. Previous generations could not destroy it, my generation will not destroy it and future generations will not destroy it, either. Seek biblical truth rather than trying to discern wisdom through a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Let us all ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) so that we would not fall prey to falsehoods that rise out of our generations, but rather so that we would be ready to respond to those who would promote them.
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