August 12, 1997
Southern Baptists, the largest non-Catholic denomination in the United States, have challenged the moral direction of The Disney Company, one of America’s corporate giants, by urging Baptists across the country “to refrain from patronizing” any of Disney’s enterprises. This protest includes any other company that promotes “immoral ideologies and practices.”
While most of their leaders feel this will not change Disney policies, the SB’s feel they will be making a statement about deteriorating family values and at the same time demonstrate that “Christians love Jesus more than our entertainment.”
This denomination does not want to alienate people from the church and from God but at the same time, they want to protest the promotion of a particular sinful lifestyle. To do this, they must have God’s hated of sin and His love for sinners. Even if they have it, they will be criticized and misunderstood. It appears the Southern Baptists have taken on a difficult and complex task.
Consider Jesus. He was called the “friend of sinners” because He ate and drank with tax collectors and prostitutes who gladly followed Him and listened to His every word. However, most of the Jewish religious leaders considered themselves above this rabble. They looked down on Jesus and even accused Him of belonging to Satan because He associated with these people.
Today, Christians wrestle with how to hate all sin yet at the same time be friends with people who struggle with it and need to know God. We don’t want to be misunderstood or accused of hating people. We need to remember that we too were once immoral and caught up in sin. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 names specific sins).
Even though the Bible says we now are “washed, sanctified and justified,” full victory over those old enslaving habits may mean avoiding certain places, even certain people. For instance, Christians converted from alcohol know it is easier to obey God if they stay away from situations where people are drinking.
Christians who have never had a problem with alcohol know the destructive power of a drunken lifestyle and feel sorrow over those caught in this or any other trap. So while we need to avoid that and all other sin, we also need to pray for those caught in sin, care deeply for them and hopefully share with them the liberating good news of the Gospel.
The downside is that excessive drinkers seem to feel rejected when we refuse to drink with them and may even think that we hate them. They misunderstand our stand against alcohol and criticize us as “wet blankets” or worse. At that, I sometimes lose my perspective and forget how God sees those people. Beneath the surface of their addictions and other sins is a soul for whom Christ died, a person of worth and importance. Sometimes I see only a drunk or a dealer or a liar or a thief.
What about those who do not actually commit certain sins but see nothing wrong with them? Scripture says, in some cases they are blind and need their eyes opened. If the leaders of Disney Company are openly supporting sexual behavior that God condemns, the stand taken by the Southern Baptists may open their eyes.
Before anyone is quick to criticize this denomination, remember that Jesus also stands against all sin. He said, “If your brother sins, rebuke Him” and “anyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Sin is so serious that He took drastic action to save us from it.
Therefore, whenever Christians take His powerful stand against sinful behavior and stand in disapproval of anyone who supports it, we must also convey His radical love for those who are guilty. While it will be misunderstood and criticized, this may not be as difficult and complicated as it appears—it is the same way we try to treat our children.