We come now to the last of our topics related to people walking away from the faith: “Lifestyle and perspective, including homosexuality, feminism, secularism, and pluralism.” Confusion and doubts about these issues often contribute to drawing young people away from the faith.
The downward path might develop through questions like these. First, how do I maintain a Christian lifestyle among the temptations that accompany leaving home, making new friends, and entering a new work or college environment. Second, these thoughts may lead to a deeper consideration; why exactly is the Christian lifestyle worth following? Faced with the rising crush of the world’s opinion, is the Christian lifestyle that I have been taught too narrow? That seems to be the opinion of a lot of smart people I am getting to know. Finally, can I broaden my view and adjust my standards on these issues and still be a Christian? And if not, maybe I will embrace the world’s direction – it does appear to be the modern and enlightened way – and just drop the Christian identity altogether. Is this what walking away from faith over lifestyle issues looks like?
A timely scripture that speaks to this exact topic is I Timothy 6:20-21. “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ – which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” For a letter written almost 2000 years ago, these verses are incredibly fresh and relevant to today’s discussion. The world’s view on lifestyle matters is held up as the enlightened and knowledgeable opinion. But Paul refers to the worldly approach, “knowledge falsely called”. It is not true knowledge at all; it is better called profane.
Profane is not a word we hear much these days, but it is a powerful description of the world’s approach to lifestyle issues. In I Timothy 6:20, the Greek word translated “worldly” in “avoiding worldly and empty chatter” is the word bebēlos (βεβηλóς). It means, “primarily, permitted to be trodden; hence, unhallowed, profane, opposite of sacred.” According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, “it is that which lacks all relationship or affinity to God”.
I love Vine’s description, because as believers we have just the opposite; a definite relationship and affinity to God. And our lifestyle should reflect this. The New Testament writers make clear that our lifestyle – which grows out of our relationship and affinity to God – will be in marked contrast to the world. It is a case of the sacred vs. the profane; a comparison we will explore in upcoming posts.