One of the premier events for Christian young people in this country is the Urbana conference. This event is sponsored by Intervarsity Christian ministries and is held every three years. It is one of the largest Christian youth events in the world. The most recent conference was December 27-31, 2015 and was held in St. Louis, MO. Advancing Native Missions had a display there, with a number of staff representing ANM.
Back in our offices in Virginia, we received regular reports about what was happening at the conference. One of these reports noted that social media from the conference was very interesting. There were a number of posts to Facebook and Twitter commenting on the fact that the LGBT community was not represented at the conference. Fascinating. Would you really expect the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender community to be a part of this conference? For some, apparently yes.
The first question that comes to mind is this: Who was posting these comments? They could have been members of the LGBT movement seeking to make their presence known at Urbana. They may have been posted by non-Christians attending the event. (There were over 600 decisions for Christ recorded at the conference.) Both of these groups could, and may have, accounted for some of the posts. However, I think it likely that many simply came from well-intentioned but rather naïve Christian believers. I know from speaking at youth events and to teen groups that many youthful Christians today do not hold the same views about homosexuality that is taught in the Bible. They question whether there is anything wrong with an “alternative sexual orientation.” This is, sad to say, not uncommon today.
So the second question is: How did we get to this place? How did we get to the place where Christians, young or old, do not accept a clearly stated moral position plainly taught in the Bible? The answer is this: We got to this place a little bit at a time.
I am old enough to remember when the common view of homosexuality was completely different than it is today. It viewed as abnormal, a perversion. It could be laughable (cf. Klinger on M*A*S*H). It was considered a mental illness by the medical community—even officially listed as such in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—not being removed from the DSM until 1973). And homosexuality was definitely considered a sin. The Christian community was certain about that—because the Bible plainly stated this. So what happened?
This is what happened. Those in the homosexual community, and their allies in Hollywood and the media, launched an effort to convert the thinking of mainstream America. It started slowly. Then it grew. As I recall, one of first characters that was presented as gay on TV was a semi-regular purse snatcher on Barney Miller, a program back in the ‘70’s. The show also sometimes featured a gay police officer, who desperately tried to stay under the radar regarding his sexual orientation. From such small beginnings the snowball started down the hill. It grew and picked up momentum. Talk shows got on board. Comedians took up the effort. Sitcoms such as Will and Grace made gays main characters. Now, it is hard to find a TV show that doesn’t have at least one homosexual character. Today the snowball is huge. Its presence fills our TV screens.
Along with the increased presence of gay and lesbians in the media, the propaganda came. “We are a minority, suffering discrimination,” we heard. “Give us equal rights!” was proclaimed. Rainbow flags abounded and pink triangles became badges of honor. Before long, to say anything negative about homosexuality was hate speech. And to say that it is morally wrong is not only offensive, it is un-American, even un-Christian.
And so we arrive at the place where Christian young people cannot understand why the LGBT community is not represented at a Christian conference.
There is a principle at work here. I call it “The Raindrop Principle.” Let me explain. How do you get wet in a rain storm? One drop at a time. There may be many drops falling at once. But there are still only individual drops hitting you one at time. And if you get hit by enough single drops you are soon soaking wet.
How did our thinking about homosexuality change in this country? One drop at a time. One image. One slogan on a bumper sticker. One TV character. One joke on a talk show. One political speech. One film promoting the LGBT agenda. Incremental and consistent exposure to a certain idea, a certain view, slowly affected the minds and hearts of Americans, and our entire mindset about homosexuality was transformed.
Homosexuality is not the only example of the Raindrop Principle evident in 21st century America. There are many. We used to think that having a child out of wedlock was not only a sin, it was shameful. Now it is common, and commonly accepted. Living together without being married? Never! Yet now it is not just common, it has become the norm. Christianity was once viewed as the true religion. Now all religions are basically the same. It was once believed that Jesus was THE Savior, the only way to God. Now, Jesus is but one of many ways; all faiths are paths to God. And truth itself… there was a day when we knew (rightly) that some things are true and others are false. But now truth is up for grabs. There is no absolute truth… so it is generally said.
The point is this: You cannot be too careful about what you allow into your mind. We live in a media culture where our minds are bombarded with images, facts, concepts, data, theories, and ideas constantly. Some of these are true. Some are consistent with a Christian worldview. Many, probably most, are not—not at all. We must learn to filter what comes into our minds. Each one of these things is a drop, just one drop. But if enough drops enter our minds (and our hearts) we will end up soaking wet. In other words, we will have been transformed, and probably not realize that any change has taken place . Indeed, we probably did not even know it was raining.