Acceptance & Approval

We hear much today about the need for acceptance.  We are told that we must accept people as they are without any reflection on their attitudes or their conduct.  We are told that it is intolerant to be critical of another person’s beliefs or practices.  We are told that we must not judge another’s lifestyle because no single way of life is superior to any others.  All the while, of course, anyone who dares speak of the objective standard of God’s word is berated and persecuted for being hateful and unloving.

The hidden agenda in this effort is to win approval for all kinds of deviant lifestyles and attitudes.  The way to do this is to get people first to tolerate a practice.  Once the practice is tolerated, then it becomes accepted.  Once accepted, it is then approved.  We see this playing out in the ongoing efforts of the homosexual lobby to bring homosexuality into the mainstream of society, and even of Christianity.

As a propaganda tactic, it is a stroke of genius, and it is working in our nation.  More and more of our young people have been conditioned to the point that they think nothing of the practice of homosexuality.  They bristle at the suggestion that such activity is wrong, because they have been taught that it is never wrong to love.  Political opportunists, the entertainment industry, and social media have all jumped on the bandwagon and have joined forces to demonize anyone and everyone who disagrees with their views.

Those who are believers are pressured from all sides to give in to this tide of opinion.  However, we must not surrender to it because the scriptures teach us that there is a difference between acceptance and approval.  Acceptance is an accommodation that we grant to one another when we have differences on matters of opinion.  In Rom. 14:1-23 Paul spoke of the need to accommodate a weaker brother whose conscience would not allow him to eat meat, or whose conscience led him to observe certain days in a religious manner while others did not.  The point in the discussion is that neither of these things is of eternal consequence.  Paul told the Christians in Rome that they should accept one another as brothers in Christ, in spite of these differences.  This acceptance, however, did not mean that they approved of those practices.  They simply allowed each other to hold his own personal opinions on these matters.

The true measure of approval, from a biblical standpoint, is all about doing what God requires of us.  In 2 Tim. 2:15 Paul said we are to be diligent to show ourselves approved to God by accurately handling the word of truth.  In Phil. 1:9-11 Paul’s prayer for the church in Philippi was that they would abound in “real knowledge and discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

The point of scripture is that we cannot be approved unless we are obedient to God’s word.  God loves the world, but He only approves of those who obey the gospel and live faithfully in His service.  Those who belong to Him cannot approve of any attitude, action, or lifestyle that violates God’s will.  We must accept those who practice such things as the masters of their own destinies, and as citizens of our land, but our acceptance of them as individuals does not mean that we approve of their actions.  God’s word will judge us at the last day (Jn. 12:48).  Therefore, we must live so as to be approved by its standards when judgment comes.