A holy man is a mighty weapon in the hands of God.

Robert Murray McCheyne

In this chapter…
…enter the world of the culture wars.
…learn that character counts, but not enough.
…discover why purity is so important to God.

America is in a culture war, and things are not going well for our side.

Take one example – the so-called reality TV programs that have dominated American television for the past several years. They are nothing less than an invitation to voyeurism, concocting lifestyle situations that are foreign to biblical values (and probably to most Americans), while millions mindlessly watch.

Is some media elite in America bent on destroying all that most of us would deem good and holy? Many experts think so.1 Those who seem to despise Judeo-Christian ethics are often in the positions of greatest influence in America – educators, intellectuals, Hollywood movie producers, TV personalities, and liberal politicians.

In his book Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America,2 James D. Hunter describes two sides of the conflict of ideologies:

  • On the one side, he identifies the “orthodox” group – those who have a commitment to some definable, external, objective authority. From the perspective of the evangelical, this authority is God and His Holy Word.

  • On the other side, Hunter finds the “progressives” – those who are more frequently given to rationalism and subjectivism. For them, truth is not an absolute but rather an unfolding reality of the way things are.

And caught in the middle more and more is the Bible.

Using (and Misusing) the Bible as a Guide for Life

Of course, whenever people appeal to the Bible for support in the cultural war, their arguments are meaningless to those who oppose God’s standards. But recently we’ve seen the confusion that comes when people who hold positions foreign to God’s Word also appeal to the Bible for support.

Nowhere was this more clearly illustrated than in the summer of 2003, when Rev. Gene Robinson was installed as the Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire.3 This appointment would have drawn little attention outside New Hampshire’s Episcopal church had Rev. Robinson not been openly gay for seventeen years. The fifty-four-year-old priest married in 1973 and fathered two daughters before divorcing his wife in 1986 and moving in with his gay lover.

When Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today show (June 10, 2003) asked Rev. Robinson how he would respond to those in the Episcopal church who planned to leave the denomination as a result of his confirmation, Robinson responded, “I would say to them, you know what? This breaks God’s heart that you would let something like this stand in the way of our commonness in the body of Christ.”

How can those opposing Bishop Robinson and those supporting him both appeal to the Bible for support? I believe it’s because people have chosen to use the Bible to support their point of view instead of trusting the Bible enough to let it change their point of view – and their way of life.

In this chapter, I want to explore what the Bible says about the distinctive lifestyle that is actually meant to be the norm for all those who follow Christ.

A Distinctively Biblical Life Will Affect Your Character

Many educational institutions today are seeing the need to develop character in students. As a result, character education courses are springing up everywhere. Character education is an effort to develop virtues that are good for the individual and society. While most would agree that character education should be infused into the environment of education, not all agree on what character traits should be taught.