Cultural support for homosexual relationships and for so-called “gay marriage” is very strong today — as strong as ever in the United States. And for Christians who are resolved to resist the incredible pressures of pop-culture conformity, we are certain to face ridicule and even various expressions of intolerance. And that leads us to today’s question from a concerned dad, Jason in Toledo, Ohio, who writes in: “Pastor John, what advice might you have for my two high school-aged daughters as they experience ridicule for speaking out against homosexuality?” What would you say to them?
The advice I have to give is eight biblical reasons that they should be thrilled, glad, and rejoice that they have the grace of God working in their lives to stand for truth and for love the way they are standing.
And here are my eight encouragements:
If it doesn’t make you happy to be made fun of, I get that. I feel that. Nobody likes to be made fun of. But let these eight words from God transform your emotional priorities, so that you can stand against the tide of culture.
The Lord of the universe promised you it would come to you just the same way it came to him, because you are following him. Matthew 10:25, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” So when this happens to you, it is a confirmation. You are in his house and you have a wonderful partner in your misery. He is glorious.
You are in great company with apostles and prophets. Acts 5:41, “[The apostles] left the presence of the counsel, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” Boy, if you could come out of a situation where you had been shamed for the name and you could look at Peter and John in the face, as they were rejoicing, you would feel such a glorious camaraderie. It would make you glad.
You do not know if the ridicule is the last word from these people or if God may use your courage and your love and your devotion to truth to change them. And I say that because in the first epistle of Peter you seem to get that kind of change. First Peter 3:16, “Have a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” So you are hoping that they will be led to be ashamed of their criticism.
And then it says in 1 Peter 2:12, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers” — so there you have got those speaking against — “they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” So it pictures something that begins with evil speaking and ridicule and insult, and then they see something about you — they see how kind and loving and faithful and courageous you are. And something triggers, by God’s grace, in their heart and they switch. Don’t assume that the ridicule is the last word.
There is a special blessing from the Holy Spirit for those who bear ridicule for the name of Christ and for the truth that he calls us to stand for. First Peter 4:14, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” I really believe that means there is a special anointing, a special presence, a special ministry of the Holy Spirit given to those whom he gives grace to stand like this.
There is a great reward coming to you because you bear reviling for the name of Jesus. Matthew 5:11–12, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” They say things about you that are not true. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” There is a great reward awaiting you that will make up 10,000 fold for anything you lost here.
I say this especially to young people, because these teenagers might feel like, “My whole world, my whole life is undone, because all my friends are turning against me.” So number six is: God may be preparing you for some remarkably greater purpose in this world — greater than you can dream. James 1:2–3, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Why? Why should you count it as joy? “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
What does that mean?
It is like a muscle. We go to the gym and pick up weights to make our biceps hurt. Trials are like that. Trials make us hurt, make our faith hurt. When Jesus does these things to us, and he lets people come at us this way, he is preparing us for something. So young people, dream your dream of what this steadfastness and this muscular Christianity you are developing might enable you to do someday.
God is absolutely sovereign over the world and he will accomplish all his purpose. Don’t be afraid that right now you look like you are on the losing end. You are not. Isaiah 46:9–10. “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”
Finally, with all that authority, Jesus promises to be with you personally, intimately, close enough to count the hairs on your head. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
So I say to these students: Be encouraged. Don’t become sullen or self-pitying or defeatist or defensive. Amazingly, Jesus said: Rejoice and be glad when people utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. And I know, right now, that sounds virtually impossible. But let these truths sink in and you will see that it makes sense — that joy makes sense. And the Holy Spirit will work it in your heart. We Christians really should be the happiest people in the world with that amazing hope.