by Rod D. Martin
July 6, 2015

Dear Travis,

I’m grateful for your feedback on my op-ed regarding polygamy and the sexualization of everything. It is sad that we’ve come to this. It’s important we understand why.

What has happened in America is, in a very real sense, the church’s fault.

Only half of Evangelical Christians vote, and their pastors either will not preach the full counsel of God — and anyone who thinks the Bible doesn’t speak to things like marriage and sexuality and abortion and theft hasn’t read it — or actively oppose any civic involvement at all. Shortly after gay marriage first became a serious issue, a poll found that 2/3 of Americans were accepting of it: not supportive, but willing to allow it. Six months later, that had flipped to 1/3.

The difference? You switched opinions if you’d heard even one sermon on the issue.

Pastors are far more powerful than they realize. But failing to be good stewards of that power, they are in very real and imminent danger of losing their tax statuses, their buildings, big chunks of their congregations, their reputations, and for those who compromise, far more than anything material. We’re losing the country because we wouldn’t stand up when we had it. The answer is not to stand down now.

This is not a call to politicize the pulpit, by the way. It is a statement that it’s not an either-or: we have to stop acting as though, having decided that drinking water is important, we no longer need to breathe. God has blessed us with self-government in our nation, just as He has done in our churches. Why are we so willing to fight for the one and forfeit the other?

This is also not a call to subordinate the Gospel. Quite the contrary. It is the failure of our churches to reach the lost — and crucially, not just to reach them but to disciple them as well — that has led here more than anything. Lost men will vote for what they believe in, period. They must be regenerate if they are to be sanctified, or if they are to sanctify the culture around them.

This is not to say that we can’t work with lost people: we can, and we do. But in the long run, doing so is like building on sand.

Politics is urgent: there is always some desperate need of the moment, and it really is desperate and it really is a need. We neglect it at our literal peril. This doesn’t mean that every pastor has to personally walk a precinct. But he should certainly support those who do, and nowhere more so than in his teaching and preaching of God’s truth as applied to the real issues we actually face daily. Murder is real. Theft is real. The issues in I Samuel 8 are real. Ignoring them — and failing to equip the saints with a thoroughgoing understanding of them and their application — is folly to the point of malpractice.

But if politics is urgent, the Gospel is fundamental. Evangelism is essential. Nothing good can truly be sustained in the culture except on a foundation of regenerate men, and “how will they hear without a preacher?” It breaks my heart that, right here in our own home state, 93-98% (depending on who’s counting) of the people of Miami-Dade County are “unchurched.”

Why? How did we allow that to happen? What are we going to do about it? And as long as we’re at it, what are we going to do about the lost people in Swift Creek, and Rocky Bayou, and Destin?

You preached a fantastic sermon yesterday, not least because it was evangelistic. You have become more evangelistic with time. You need to continue. [Southern Baptist Convention President] Ronnie Floyd’s call to a new Great Awakening might well be heard now. People under threat frequently rise to the occasion better than the comfortable. We should never desire that situation, but when it presents itself, to paraphrase Rahm Emanuel, we shouldn’t let the crisis go to waste.

The opportunity presented by the marriage ruling is as great as the loss it delivers: it gives us a chance to get off of the single issue of marriage and onto the broader issue of why God’s order for sexuality is better. Not just right: better. And that will become every bit as much an evangelistic tool as it will be an offense.

You are doing a great job. God needs great men, in this time more than most. The lukewarm He will spew out of His mouth; but perhaps more important still, the weak shepherds will get their sheep eaten.

Your friend,