BreakPoint: Costly Views on “The View”

Don’t Crack Under Cocktail Party Pressure

You’re in the spotlight and you’ve just been asked about a controversial issue. What do you do?

Martin Luther, the Christian reformer who challenged the sale of indulgences five hundred years ago, is often credited with this stirring quotation:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him.”

Okay, well maybe Martin Luther didn’t actually say that. Nor did Abraham Lincoln say, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” But just because a quotation is mis-attributed doesn’t mean it’s an inaccurate summary of what the purported author believed. As a matter of fact, this passage not only closely mirrors something Luther wrote in a personal letter, but it’s consistent with the life he lived.

More importantly, this quote is true. The temptation is strong to faithfully proclaim every aspect of God’s Word except the one most controversial in our time.

We saw that recently when well-known pastor Carl Lentz appeared on ABC’s “The View.” Lentz spoke boldly and in no uncertain moral terms about the issue of racism. As well he should. Christians should condemn racism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

But when asked directly about abortion, and whether or not he considers it a sin, Lentz couldn’t give a straight answer. Instead, he spoke of having a “conversation,” of finding out a person’s “story,” where they’re from and what they believe. “I mean, God’s the judge,” he concluded. “People have to live by their own convictions.”

Predictably, the progressive studio audience heard this as an affirmation of the so-called “right to choose,” and rewarded Lentz with thunderous applause.

This upset a lot of pro-lifers who felt that this highly visible pastor had squandered a chance to speak up for the unborn. Lentz quickly took to social media to defend his word, but the damage was done. A watching world had heard a famous Christian pastor buckle on a crucial issue of our time, right after taking principled stands on other issues—issues, and this is key, that wouldn’t cost him anything with the ladies or audience of “The View.”

Now Lentz is not unique. He’s just the latest victim of what my friend Michael Miller calls “cocktail party pressure,” the urge to tone down or disavow Christian beliefs found to be distasteful in our culture. Typically, these are the so-called “culture war” issues like life, marriage, or religious liberty.

Watching Lentz on “The View” reminded me of the doctor-assisted suicide vote in Colorado last year. I was heartbroken when pastors of Colorado churches told me they didn’t want to take up the issue from the pulpit, because it was “too political.” But many of these same pastors have no hesitation whatsoever when addressing issues that are also so-called political ones, like racism or refugees.

Contrast this with someone like Ryan Anderson from the Heritage Foundation. Although not a pastor, Ryan is among the most articulate defenders of natural marriage even in the face of blistering ridicule. I’ll never forget the image of him on Piers Morgan’s show, banned from the stage, seated in a hostile crowd, graciously explaining the Christian view while the liberal hosts hurled abuse at him.

Folks, it’s so very easy to be courageous on issues where our Christian convictions are in agreement with talk show hosts and the larger cultural ethos. But we’re not just called to proclaim the truth when it’s easy. Faithfulness means standing up for what’s right precisely and especially when it’s unpopular—even when it will cost us, socially, financially, maybe even mortally.

And it’s all of us, including those of us not on television, who face this kind of pressure ourselves—the pressure to tone down or abandon what we believe. That’s why it’s crucial to decide ahead of time—before the talk show or the cocktail party—where we stand, and to always be ready to give an answer when we’re asked.

 

Costly Views on “The View”: Don’t Crack Under Cocktail Party Pressure

Check out the links in our Resources section for great materials that will help you be equipped to stand for truth, remembering the Apostle Peter’s words: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. and do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. . . 1 Peter 3: 14-15 NASB

 

Resources

The Faith: Given Once for All
  • Charles Colson, Harold Fickett | Zondervan Publishing Company
How Now Shall We Live?
  • Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey | Tyndale House Publishers | September 1999

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  • TheCharK

    I liked what you wrote and then shared it with my spouse. We pastor in a small Canadian church. Last night I led a Bible study on Luke 10:25- 37, that tells the conversation and embedded story Jesus told to illustrate something. The passage is normally called The Parable of the Good Samaritan. This morning my husband & I discussed the passage further. I had totally missed the point he raised – I think because I am predisposed towards being a ‘Pharisee’. Do ‘this’ and you will live. The “Expert in the law” wanted to provoke a debate. He wanted to test Jesus’ orthodoxy. Jesus instead, by his brilliant question and story highlighted orthopraxy. What his story also might reveal is our inability to live up to the high standards of God’s law. (Do we always stop by the side of the road to inquire whether a stopped vehicle needs our help?) Yes, the standard is clear. The challenge is our inability to consistently, faithfully do these things, except through the strength and power of God’s Spirit. We need to walk in humility, even as we hold high standards of righteousness. Jesus, in this passage, gave the rabbi’s mode of dialogue: answer a question with a further question, that can drill deeper into the heart’s motives on the issue in view. Here in your article, that issue is abortion. Do we need to become more skilled in asking counter questions, not to avoid making our position clear, but rather to help the questioner think about their position on the issue at least a little differently?

    • Robert Cremer

      I don’t claim to have all the answers, but just showing the mother the sonogram picture of the baby growing inside of her can help her make the right decision for life. Few, if any, words are required.

    • Tyler

      I think this is an interesting point, because talk shows are not meant for depth or complete understanding of any issue, but the clear distinction between his comments on racism and his waffling on abortion reveals a lot about either his worldview or his willingness to be open about certain issues. Given unlimited time (away from a tv camera), I wholeheartedly agree with your point, but if being on a TV set under extreme time pressure yields unequivocal answers about racism, what explains the slower approach with abortion?

      • TheCharK

        Fair point, Tyler. But also, a good question that penetrates the ‘debate’ mindset or the idea that I’ve got to keep my ‘talking points’ in view, may have great value if it sticks in someones heart and mind, even if the questioner doesn’t hear a response. Which is certainly relevant for all the listeners who hear the question and turn off their tv’s still thinking about the good question.

  • Jeff Pittman

    Hillsong Church and Carl Lentz have a jagged history when it comes to leading a consistent witness. Simply look at the video out there with Lentz and his interactions with Justin Bieber – particularly taking vodka shots with a person ( Bieber) who has a self admitted public history with substance abuse generally, including alcohol. That is not what looks like “pastoring” a person well, in my view. Not totally surprising to hear these words from Lentz – he is after all, the pastor who thought it wise to include the Naked Cowboy as a part of his women’s conference. Some things you can’t take back……

    • Nina Flora

      sad..so sad.

  • Dani vind

    Pastor Carl Lentz was on the 700 Club (CBN.com) Thursday, Nov 16, and he was asked about how the comment he made about abortion on The View. Here’s what he said, “If somebody who’s not a Christian asks me about sin, the logical question is to first ask them, who is God? Because if God is the one who sets the mark for sin, and not sin (I think he said), I’ve got to first ask what you believe. So, my point, in that moment, was not to give someone with no context of who Jesus is what sin is. Why give them an answer that they’ve already used against Christians and give that more fuel.” I would caution some of those who think he let them down with his response, to reflect on the woman who had been caught in adultery five times and was going to be killed. How did Jesus deal with those who thought themselves crafty in how they put their question to him? Not exactly directly, either. You can watch back dates of the 700 Club anytime at their site. It was about 40 minutes into the program that pastor Lentz talked about the comment.

    • Tyler

      Point taken, I actually 100% agree with you, but again, why is it that he doesn’t apply that same logic to the racism question?