“You can’t say that” is today’s edict used to control a society and culture. Every generation thinks it is the first to experience the culture war of the day and not learn from its past, which is a grave error. Not seeing the past clearly is the power behind the evil that takes advantage of a society’s blind spot. We suffer from thinking that anything old is outdated and then seek to do it differently. It is “chronological snobbery,” according to C.S. Lewis. Those in power will then wield power to control that culture’s narrative and push its agenda.
Why sensor what we say?
Because to control a narrative is to control thinking. If you only hear one thing and it is never questioned, or when it is, it’s vilified, you mold those who had never thought or been taught about it before or had it contradicted. The first heard is the first believed. That is why our children are the most important. To frame a child’s mind is to control the future.
What don’t they want us to say?
To put it bluntly, there is such a thing as sin; everyone is guilty and will answer to a very real and living God. You can’t say there are consequences to their decisions, especially if they involve God. To say what has been believed and taught for thousands of years puts control on those who want to rebel against such things. Truth lasts because the facts back it up. The only way around facts is to say that everything is wrong, backward, and no longer relevant to advancement, and to say otherwise is evil.
The apostle Paul was a unique man who went from being one who would force compliance with control and power to stand in the face of that very power and then declaring the truth. He gave his life to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to cultures full of sin and vulgarity. But to make a difference, he had to be willing to open his mouth boldly regardless of the cost. Those in power earnestly tried to shut Paul and the other apostle’s mouths. Whether by imprisonment, beatings, and threat of life, they wanted to control what they said. But they refused to be silenced. No matter how they try to stifle our voices, we must do the same. We must fight to be heard.
If the gospel is to love God and our neighbor, I must speak up to save my neighbor. Doing so, I love God by loving who and what He loves. Here in lies the caveat. You must first know what love is. Love is not passivity, nor is it blind. Being nice isn’t always loving someone. Ignoring sin very well be helping someone die in their sin. I must call sin sin so that people can truly be saved from it.
How do I know what sin is?
The only one who gets to define sin is the author of righteousness. God alone, the Creator of everything that is, the first and the last, is the author of all. Paul warns us about those who knew God but who refused to worship Him, His way, or by His righteousness.
Romans 1:18 NLT 18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. It isn’t enough for them to be wicked and do wicked themselves. They desire to suppress truth with wickedness.
For an eye-opening look at our condition today, one only needs to read the rest of Romans 1. It isn’t old and outdated. Paul dealt with what we are dealing with today, which is still horrifying and accurate.
Romans 1:19-32 NLT
19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
That is what they don’t want us to say. We are attacked, ridiculed, canceled, and defamed. Yet, we are not the authors of new ideas. We are simply those who have looked back over history and have seen the destruction and chaos that ignoring these truths has caused. Truth is truth and is not subject to opinions. We must be counted with those who remain faithful to the truth regardless of the cost.
And yet, for now, we still have time. There remains hope in this. Even the most obstinate and hateful such as Saul of Tarsus, can have their blind eyes opened to the truth, becoming Paul when confronted by Jesus and His righteousness. Those who are blind today can become the most prolific champions of our day when they meet Jesus. How will they see him without us?
We are all needed to show forth the truth. We must stand up, open our mouths, and refuse to be silenced if we care about our neighbors. There is an eternity to face, and each of us is accountable for what we have done with the lives we have been given. Paul made the most of his. Let’s do the same.