This week a Christian School in Kentucky expelled a student when her mother posted a photo of her celebrating her birthday with a rainbow cake wearing a sweater with a rainbow on it. They claimed the student was in violation of her lifestyle agreement with the school and because of the numerous lifestyle violations over the last couple years, she was being immediately expelled. Administrators at the school said the picture “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.”
Someone tell me how exactly it became “okay” or the “norm” for Christians to act like this?
I went to a school like this one. I spent 5th – 12th grade in a very legalistic Christian school. Obedience and conformation to their “normal” was a requirement to remain in good standing with the school. Anyone who deviated from their rules of dress, behavior or thinking was considered dangerous and eliminated from the student body. We had a “code of ethics” and “lifestyle contract” we had to sign. And it wasn’t the last time a Christian entity required one from me.
In college I spent a summer doing resort mission work with the KBC. I spent my summer sweating for Jesus dodging fire ants on the Alabama beaches doing day camps and activities with kids where we told them about God’s love for them. We gave out balloon animals in the local camp ground and reached out to people to share the gospel. The requirement before I could go? A lifestyle contract saying I would vow not to consume alcohol, have sex or commit any other hideously ungodly act.
Later while in seminary I had two more. In order to be admitted to the graduate program I had to sign a “behavior covenant”. Again, no alcohol or sex. And I promised not to seduce the men in my program. Another one for the job I took as a crisis pregnancy counselor for a para-church organization. I would NOT live an ungodly and grotesque life of sin and perversion.
Here’s the thing. These “lifestyle covenants” and “behavior vows” do not work.
Did you know that the teenage pregnancy rate among teens who have made a lifestyle covenant in the True Love Waits ministry is just as high as those who have made no commitment at all? I learned this from a Barna report one time and it startled me. I kept my True Love Waits ring planning on giving it to one of my kids one day. Hum… but the ring and signed paper alone don’t cut it.
And for this sweet Kentucky teenager who was unjustly expelled from her “Christian” school, those covenants won’t work either.
What does God’s word say about lifestyles of godliness?
Read Titus. It’s probably the most under read book out there. Three little chapters we rarely hear preachers preach from. Well, here it comes. I’m about to lay it out for you.
Paul is writing to Titus who he left in Crete to help organize and establish the church started there. Paul talks a while about elders, bishops and the like. Then gets into the importance of doing good.
Chapter 2 is all about examples of good lifestyles. Men, women, slaves. Act this way.
I love 2:11-14. LOVE LOVE LOVE.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
What teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness?
Not a covenant, vow or lifestyle contract.
God’s overwhelming grace is what teaches us how to say “no” to ungodliness. How to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. Grace and grace alone.
Now, scroll down to Titus 3:3-8 and let’s take note of some things.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (Titus 3:3-8)
When the KINDNESS OF GOD APPEARED, HE SAVED US! It wasn’t from the righteous things we have done. And in reverse, our demise is not from the unrighteous things we have done. Pure and simple. It’s God’s grace. His mercy. His kindness. (See Romans 2:4)
Then once we were save by nothing of our own doing or not doing, but by god’s mercy what happened?
– Washing – God cleaned us!
– Rebirth – God re-created us!
– Renewal – God renewed us!
– Generously pouring out the Holy Spirit in our lives – God poured his spirit over us!
– Justified by grace – God hit the gavel on the desk and declared us innocent!
– Heirs of God -We have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places!
– Hope – We have things to look forward to!
Did Paul tell Titus to make all Believers in the church sign a lifestyle covenant so they would devote themselves to doing good? Did Paul give instruction saying “elders and leaders need to be these things so make them sign a contract to make sure they do them!?!” NO!! In Tutis 3:8 Paul very clearly instructs Titus to “STRESS these things”. What things? He wanted Titus to emphasis the wonderful things I just mentioned that grace did for us.
Why? So we as Believers can “devote ourselves to doing what is good.”
Listen Believer. We can not force goodness or any form of Godliness out of a covenant or “lifestyle agreement.” This school in Kentucky can not enforce their students to choose Godliness in their behavior by making them agree to or sign a contract of behavior. The seminary I attended and the missionary union I served under will never ever bind anyone to obedience to a set of behavioral rules by having people sign a contract.
What does God’s word say?
GRACE and grace alone TEACHES US to say NO to ungodly lifestyles SO Stress God’s grace because that’s how we naturally be able to THINK ON doing good things.
What did we learn from the Toby McGuire Spiderman movies? To whom much is given, much is expected, right? So listen Believer. You have been GIVEN so much. The list of promises God has given us is enormous and could fill and entire website! Keys to the kingdom. Everything needed for a life of Godliness. Every spiritual blessing. Made an heir to God. Adopted as his child. These are just a few! A drop in the bucket. So then, if you have been given much, should we not then give much to those around us?
I propose that a much better way to handle this young lady and her rainbow cake would have been to show her the same Grace God showed us and to then teach her the truths of God’s word on who we are in Christ. While she was there getting her Christian education, she needed to be taught how one can be washed, rebirthed, renewed, have God’s spirit generously poured over them, be declared innocent, be an heir to God and thereby gain that inheritance of the saints. How they can have HOPE in the midst of struggles and difficulties. Even if they struggle with homosexuality.
I dare say if the administration had acted in this fashion starting during the 2 years prior to her expulsion when they say the “lifestyle violations” began, we would be singing a much different song. It would probably sound like “amazing grace”. How sweet the sound.
Instead, we hear a melody filled with dislike and judgement. By attempting to “stand for righteousness” they did the opposite. They pushed her away from the righteousness God wanted to make her. It’s so so sad to me.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law,Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:20-21)
We can’t force people into godliness by making them sign a lifestyle contract. It’s ridiculous. Yet, our 2020 American church is all about them. I don’t know how we got to this place. Where we took the emphasis off God and his work for us… and put it on us and our work “for” him. I mean, how can we every do anything “for” an infinite God? It’s ridiculous. We are much better to think of things through the lens of what God has done for us rather than what we can do for God.
I dare say that a much better way to encourage godly behavior is simply to teach and understand everything we are in Christ. When we truly understand the spiritual creation God has re-created us into we would be “eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14) We would not need contracts, covenants or signed agreements. And I dare say, if this sweet gal was being taught the fullness of the gospel and the entirety of what God does for us upon salvation, she would have been compelled by love and grace to choose good works and Godliness. No covenant or lifestyle agreement needed. Grace.
The grace of the Lord like a fathomless sea,
Sufficient for you, sufficient for me,
Is tender and gracious and boundless and free,
Sufficient for every need.
– Corrie Ten Boom
Copyright © 2020 Dacian Keaton Ministries. All rights reserved.
NOTE: This is not intended to be an argument on the morality of homosexuality. I’m happy to share my heart on that manner over coffee sometime. I am not trying to condemn or tell anyone they are wrong. Regardless of your opinions on the mortality of the subject, the truth of Titus remains true.