The High Cost of Denying the Obvious: Part 1
Deception is Satan’s favorite tool.
—Dr. C. Mark Corts, pastor3—
You’ll recall from your childhood that the hero of the Hans Christian Andersen children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a boy who is too young to understand or care about peer pressure. When the king marches by, he knows what he sees and speaks his mind: “The king is wearing nothing but his underwear! How silly he looks!” His words eventually free up the townspeople to admit what their own eyes are telling them. “Hey! He’s right! The king has been tricked!” The shamed monarch realizes the truth but continues to march in the processional anyway.4
Sadly, the storyline of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is repeated countless times in America today—but only to a point, and that’s the sad part. Social pressure and political correctness are so intense that if “The Emperor’s New Clothes” had unfolded the way events typically play out in modern day America, the townspeople would have turned to the lad and shouted him down, calling him stupid, foolish, bigoted, hateful, and mean.
Take, for example, the sparks that flew on and after the Thursday, July 16 edition of HLN’s “Dr. Drew On Call.” Among Dr. Drew Pinsky’s guests were conservative journalist Ben Shapiro and Zoey Tur (formerly known as Robert Albert “Bob” Tur). A reporter for Inside Edition, Tur was born male and remains a male biologically, but he claims to be—he “identifies” as—a woman. 5,6 The panel discussed Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to “become” a woman. Ben Shapiro asked why the culture was “mainstreaming delusion.” He referred to Caitlyn Jenner as “he” and “him.” He further said, “It turns out that every chromosome, every cell in Caitlyn Jenner’s body, is male, with the exception of some of his sperm cells.…It turns out that he still has all of his male appendages. How he feels on the inside is irrelevant to the question of his biological self.”7
Why are we mainstreaming delusion?
—Ben Shapiro on the culture’s celebration of Caitlyn Jenner’s transgenderism—
Shapiro also addressed Zoey as “sir.”8 When he did that, Tur reached up, grabbed him by the neck and angrily replied, “You cut that out now, or you’ll go home in an ambulance.”9 When accused of being rude, Shapiro said, “I’m sorry, it’s not rude to say that someone who’s biologically male is a male.”10 According to Shapiro, Tur subsequently threatened him, saying, “I’ll see you in the parking lot.”11 The next day Tur used his Twitter account to agree with another tweet that suggested it would be fun to see the transgendered reporter curb-stomp Shapiro. American Nazi skinheads are responsible for the practice of curb-stomping, where the perpetrator forces his victim to bite a street curb before stomping the victim’s head.12 Ben Shapiro, we should note, is an Orthodox Jew.
Ben Shapiro is not the bad guy here! Actually, he’s doing all of us a favor when he says that society is mainstreaming delusion, because it is! Jenner’s transition was widely—and wildly—celebrated.13,14,15,16,17,18 Even President Obama rushed to praise Jenner,19,20 just as he would rush only a few weeks later to immerse the White House in rainbow lights to commemorate the Supreme Court’s decision mandating same-sex marriage nationwide.21 Several Republican presidential candidates tiptoed around the issue of Jenner’s transgenderism, but one said he would welcome Caitlyn in the Republican Party.22 Rush Limbaugh warned against this approach: “We should not be celebrating…lionizing…encouraging this. These people have a very serious problem, and they need treatment. They need help, not encouragement.”23
Not all that long ago, everyone knew what gender he or she was, based solely on having a male or female body. Not today. If a person “feels” like a member of the opposite sex, that individual can identify as a member of the opposite sex and, in an increasing number of cities and states, can legally use the restroom assigned to the opposite sex.24,25,26 Thus, not only are homosexual crusaders and “transgendered” individuals denying the obvious; society is as well. We must respect them as people, of course. Respecting them, we are compelled to expose the lies they believe (see 2 Cor. 10:4-5).
Christians should feel a keen urgency in this matter. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul wrote about the heavy cost of denying or even ignoring the obvious.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (NIV)
Here are some important observations about these verses.
- The word translated plain in verse 19 means “visible, clear, obvious, known.”
- Just what is plain or obvious? That which “may be known about God,” and it is plain “because God has made it plain to them.”
- The verb translated made…plain in verse 19 is the verb form of the word earlier translated plain in the same verse.
- Them here refers to individuals “who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (v. 18). To suppress the truth, one has to deny the obvious.
- The things God made plain about Himself include “God’s…qualities” that otherwise would be “invisible…—his eternal power and divine nature.” These “have been [and are] clearly understood from” God’s creation.
- All of this renders people—even those who don’t yet know any more about God than what creation tells them—“without excuse.”
To summarize a key point, people are without excuse because of what God has clearly revealed or “made…plain” to them. We can understand better just how plain God’s revelation is when we examine another verse containing the word translated plain. In Acts 4, the Jewish authorities were angry with Peter and John for having healed a man in Jesus’ name and then proclaiming Jesus as the only way to salvation (see Acts 3). Conferring together, the Jews said, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:16, HCSB, emphasis added). In this verse, the Greek word translated obvious is gnostos, which means “well known” or “notable.” It is the adjective form of the word ginosko, which means “to know.” Against this backdrop, the word translated plain in Romans 1:19 also appears. It is translated as evident in Acts 4:16. Just how evident was the miracle? So evident and obvious that the Jews were forced to admit, “We cannot deny it.”
Unlike the Jewish authorities in Acts 4, Americans today are denying the undeniable.
Unlike the Jewish authorities in Acts 4, Americans today are denying the undeniable. This is a futile and dangerous pursuit, so it’s vital that we add our voices to those of Ben Shapiro and Rush Limbaugh. They, like the lad in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” are pointing out the obvious. By God’s grace and with enough voices, perhaps those who are now being misled will awaken to the truth.
Next time we will look at nature—creation—and explore some of its clear revelations.
Part 2 is available here.
Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
Scriptures designated NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scriptures designated HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.
A pdf of this article is available here.
3C. Mark Corts, The Truth About Spiritual Warfare, (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 61-74. The title of chapter 5 is “Deception: Satan’s Favorite Tool.