This morning I want to look at two verses in Titus 2—verses 7-8. This is an admonition from Paul to Titus, his friend, partner, protege, and true son in the faith. Titus is one of the unsung heroes of the early church—a young pastor whose faithful support and constant behind-the-scenes labor made him extremely precious to Paul. Paul writes to Titus with these instructions (Titus 2:7-8): "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us."
I chose that text, frankly, because I'm deeply concerned about the tendency of so many pastors lately to employ profanity, crude and obscene words, vile subject matter, carnal topics, graphic sexual imagery, erotic language, and filthy jokes. Most of you, I know, are aware of the trend I'm talking about. I'm tempted to call it the pornification of the pulpit. The justification usually given is that coarse language and sexual themes are the tools of contextualization. It's a way to make us sound more relevant. Lots of voices in the church are insistent that this is absolutely essential if we want to reach certain segments of our culture.
The apostle Paul said otherwise, and that's what I want to look at in this hour.
When I was considering what subjects might be important for a group of pastors and church leaders as large and diverse as this, I couldn't get away from this issue. The New York Times Magazine recently did a feature article on Mark Driscoll in which this was a major theme. "Who Would Jesus Smack Down?" was the title of the article. Here's the lead sentence: "Mark Driscoll's sermons are mostly too racy to post on [an] evangelical Christian 'family friendly' . . . Web site."
So this is a subject almost everyone (including the New York Times) is already talking nonstop about. And yet it seems to me that people in the evangelical world are not thinking very biblically about it. What language and what kind of subject matter are suitable for the pulpit in a worship service? What gifts and what virtues qualify a man to be a pastor? And what should stand out most prominently when someone analyzes our style of ministry? What would YOU want the New York Times to focus on if they did an article analyzing your style?
A decade ago (in our circles, at least), no one would have considered those to be very tough questions. But now evangelicals are obsessed with this issue, and frankly many are very confused about it. It amazes me how many young men in the ministry today are utterly enthralled with smutty talk and lascivious subject matter—and they insist this is a positive trend.
I'm also appalled at the number of good men and Christian leaders who privately say they don't really "approve" of "filthiness . . . foolish talk[, and] crude joking"; but they feel we need to overlook those trends and keep silence in public—so that the delicate fabric of evangelical unity isn't torn asunder by a controversy over words. Frankly, I think this whole issue probably would not be controversial at all if a handful of respected Christian leaders were willing to step up and deal with the matter boldly and biblically.
Sadly, evangelical tolerance for shenanigans in the pulpit has undergone a monumental change in the past couple of decades—and not in a healthy direction. The most overtly lewd and profane kinds of foolishness have found their way into the evangelical repertoire under the rubric of contextualization. ... READ MORE: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A362