The traditional, Biblical morality of “Good” and Evil”, “Right” and “Wrong” is being attacked by a new and fraudulent morality. Among even Christians (and to a higher degree among the unconverted) a new “morality of sensitivity” is taking Millennials and Generation-Z by storm. Even mature Believers are affected by this new “Morality of Sensitivity”.
People no longer primarily judge things, statements, and/or actions as being either “right” or “wrong” but rather “sensitive” or “insensitive”, “inoffensive” or “offensive”1. The main determinant of the insensitivity of a statement is based upon whether or not (and to what extent) it offends the person it’s directed towards. This is very subjective and of course, what offends people oftentimes more than the truth? For example, many of us may remember having that grandmother or grandfather (because their generation was largely unaffected by this disease), say to you: “Don’t you think you’re getting a little plump? You might want to eat less”.1 As insensitive as this may have sounded, it may have been true and was undoubtedly stated in love. But in today’s world, such words are considered incredibly insensitive, unaccepting, and unloving. We are no longer truth-sensitive; Instead, we have become sensitive to the truth.
Symptoms of this new morality of sensitivity are evident throughout our culture and have infiltrated Christian circles and thought as well. For example, consider the nationwide installation of “Safe Spaces” in order to “protect” people’s feelings. Also, the new efforts to encourage and even praise obesity in order to avoid the appearance of “fat-shaming” is a symptom of this new morality of sensitivity. Or the artificially-created difficulty people have in defining what a “Woman” is. Or that nervousness you feel when you speak of gender roles as they were designed and intended by God. Or that men cannot recognize and/or acknowledge that abortion is murder because “they don’t have a uterus” and must be sensitive to this. Or the “seeker-sensitive” language-gymnastics Christians use to omit the word “Hell” or passages about the anger and wrath of God; Or in many cases, substituting the words sin, wickedness, iniquity, transgression, and lawlessness for mere “Brokenness” or “Mistake”. We also cannot forget the exchanging of pronouns which is now ushering in a tsunami of gender dysphoria and is the Trojan Horse to a godless dogma that is hurting, rather than helping your neighbors- all for the sake of being “sensitive”. Adding to this issue is that so many people now assume “sensitivity” is synonymous with being “loving”. When you act sensitively and do not by any means offend someone, then you are considered “loving”.
Truth ends up dying the death of a thousand empathetic sensitivities as we are pressured into joining a sort of “Ring Around the Rosie” game in which we all accept and normalize the abnormal, hold hands in the name of sensitivity to each other’s feelings, and pretend like we’re living in a utopia: all the while forgetting that at the end of the game, “We all fall down”.
But this doesn’t compute with the teachings of Scripture. Scripture tells us that even when we share the Gospel and Biblical truth in love, we will still be deemed insensitive or hateful because the world opposes God and His statutes. Does this mean we shouldn’t try to be sensitive? Of course not. But again, whether or not you’re being “sensitive” (or loving) is now determined by whether the person you were speaking to “felt” offended which is usually inevitable to people who don’t know God or who want nothing to do with Him. We, too, once were followers of this world, Satan, and opposed God’s plan for redemption in our lives (Ephesians 2:2-3).
How are we then to interact with lost sinners far from God? Proverbs 26:28 says that “the flattering mouth works ruin” and Proverbs 28:23 says “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” A lot of Christians in an effort to be “sensitive” or “seeker-sensitive” have unknowingly become flatterers- telling sinners and the culture what they want to hear or at least refraining from telling them what they don’t want to hear. While we must be loving and speak in step with the Spirit rather than the flesh, we’re called to be the Proverbs 28:23 kind of person. We’re called to preach the truth even when no one will follow (Ezekiel 2:3-7; 3:18-21), and we’re called to teach and evangelize transgressors though they rebel against God (Psalms 51:13). Sometimes that means coming across as insensitive in order to lovingly call a rebellious sinner to repentance before God.
Sensitive people are non-threatening to demonic and worldly powers. Satan would love to convince followers of Christ that being “sensitive” is being “loving” and that offending–even for the sake of the Gospel–is not Christlike. The common rebuttal to this is to ask, “Was Jesus not a man of peace?” Jesus gave us His answer: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Jesus sought peace between God and man, which put him at odds against the world which hates God (Romans 5:1). If he had chosen peace or a sort of ceasefire with the world, he would never have been crucified. And he would never have been opposed if he hadn’t preached a divisive, (some might say) “insensitive” truth.
In a very real sense, If Daniel had been “sensitive” and partaken of the king’s food, he would have defiled himself before God (Daniel 1:8). If Ezekiel had not warned Israel of their coming destruction and admonished them to repent for fear of being labeled “insensitive”, blood would’ve been on his hands (Ezekiel 3:18-21). If John the Baptist had not rebuked the king for committing adultery with his brother’s wife, he might have preserved his life and been considered a more respectably-sensitive citizen, but he feared God rather than man (Luke 3:19; 6:18). If Paul had been “sensitive” to the Judaizers and false teachers, the Gospel might not have been “preserved” for the Galatian churches (Galatians 2:5)!
When I think about God’s unmerited goodness and grace toward me, I often think of Ephesians 2 which begins with:
I’m trained enough by the thinking and counsel of the world to know that that sequence of statements right there is incredibly insensitive. Me?? A trespasser, sinner, and follower of Satan? A son of disobedience and a child of wrath? Not only are those descriptions insensitive but if insensitivity is the disregarding of someone’s feelings, then Christ redeeming me in spite of my indifference and opposition towards Him was also an act of merciful insensitivity. Here is a reality you may never have considered: the Gospel itself is an insensitive message. If Christ had been sensitive to our worldly desires and what our unregenerated, fleshly, sinful hearts really wanted (which wasn’t Him), He would never have been crucified and would never have bothered Himself with redeeming mankind.
I’m very thankful that God all throughout Scripture is loving, kind, and insensitive enough to completely disregard my natural feelings towards Him in order to show me that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. God’s loving, truth-oriented, God-centered, insensitivity makes this reality in verses 4-9 all the more precious to me:
How Then Should We Live?
How then should we Christians live? We shouldn’t revel in being considered “bigoted” or hateful” by unbelievers, nor should we seek those labels (1 Timothy 3:7). And we should certainly resurrect the forgotten habit of praying for those in spiritual blindness that way we are seeking their salvation and spiritual wellbeing, and not partaking in mere denouncement of immorality for the sake of it.
Furthermore, we must lovingly and firmly call sinners to repentance and teach them about God’s law and its implications for their unrepentant life (Psalms 51:13) for “by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).
We must not deny God before man (Matthew 10:33) but instead, fear and obey God rather than men (Acts 5:27; Galatians 1:10). We must be unashamed of the Gospel; Not yielding or compromising its substance (Romans 1:16-17; Galatians 2:5). We should lovingly, tactfully, and unashamedly fight to spread and preserve the Gospel and Biblical truth: rebelling against this new morality of sensitivity. We may be labeled “insensitive” and be despised, but so was Christ:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you… Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18-20).
Finally, we must be careful to do this all–not in love as the world defines it–but in Biblical, God-fearing love (1 Corinthians 13).
- Carl Trueman, Strange New World (pg. 68)
- English Standard Version (used for all Scripture references)