Part three: THE APOLOGY TOUR
NOTE: In my last blog I made the point that there are always two. If you missed it, then it could be helpful to pick up that key principle before you leap into this next blog entry. Because when it comes to the word “apology” the same point is pertinent.
There are always two.
And Joshua Harris’s Apology Tour is a perfect exhibition of this fact.
The word apology can go one of two ways when it is being wielded in regard to the purity movement.
The first form of apology seeks to:
distance the apologist from the Truth and curry favor with the popular crowd.
To accomplish this it uses phrases like, “I’m so sorry that my stand for these ideas upset you.” Or, “Wow! I should never have spoken so boldly — I realize now that made you feel uncomfortable! I’m so sorry!”
This first form of apology leads to things like “kissing marriages goodbye” and “kissing Christianity adios.” It stares the Church in the face and rejects it in order to gain the applause and the fancy of the purveyors of modern social correctness.
If you desire your Christian faith to work, grow, and thrive, I’m going to encourage you to avoid this form of apology like the plague. Unless, that is, you really are desirous to end up where Joshua Harris currently is.
The second form of apology is quite different from the first. It seeks to:
give reason for why standing for Truth is the most wise and appropriate course and, in so doing, risks the good opinion of the popular crowd.
This second form of apology says things like, “I care so much for you that I’m willing to brave your revilement by speaking the truth.” This form of apology stares the popular culture in the face and loves it with the Truth of Jesus Christ. Historically, this is known as Christian apologetics.
A Defining Moment
In 1992, I was surrounded by a group of Christians and asked to apologize to a crowd for sharing my unpopular thoughts on sexual purity. This occasion was a defining moment for me. In fact, I would say that memorable evening in Monroe, Louisiana, twenty-seven years ago is a big part of who I am today.
I was on a tour at the time. I wouldn’t have thought to call it an Apology Tour — but it sort of became that.
I was on a bus with about thirty other missionaries and we were driving to Monroe, Louisiana. I was twenty-one years old at the time and was in the throes of a deep work of grace upon my life. The matter of sexual purity had become a prominent theme in my walk with God. But to me, the matter was far more than sexual purity — it was how to love my future spouse as Christ had loved me. And, for the most part, I had kept my thoughts about all this to myself. I knew I was carrying around some very unusual thinking patterns and, to be honest, I wasn’t looking for an opportunity to have those thoughts criticized.
But, alas, the opportunity for criticism came.
On the bus ride a sub-group of about ten of the missionaries were turned backwards and sideways to engage in a rousing discussion on Christian romantic relationships. I was not the leader of the discussion. In fact, I was on the fringe of the conversation not actually intending to participate. But the question was posed to me, “Ludy, which way do you lean?”
I don’t remember all I shared, but I do remember saying, “I love my future wife right now, even though I’ve never met her.”
The ringleader of this small ten-person gathering was deeply disturbed by my statement. And she made her thoughts on the matter known to all.
“You can’t love someone that you haven’t met!” She stated it emphatically as if it were obvious to everyone present and that it was equally obvious that I was an absolute idiot.
I responded to her with a simple statement and a winsome shrug of my shoulders, saying, “Well, nonetheless, I do love her.”
Later that night this conversation came back to bite me.
We had arrived at a church in Monroe that was hosting a large youth rally that same evening. We hadn’t been there but fifteen minutes when the leaders of the rally asked the leader of our team if there was anyone in our troupe that could deliver a short message on the topic of purity that night at the event.
My leader shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “I have no idea.”
It was at that point that one of the small band of ten talkative bus passengers from earlier that day piped up. He said, “Eric Ludy has a lot to say on that issue.”
And there it began. I never wanted to speak on this topic. I never sought out opportunities. They have always landed squarely on my lap.
That night, as I sat in my seat awaiting my . . . um . . . execution, I knew that what I was about to share was not going to be popular. You see, I have this superpower. I can read an audience like a book. And I knew this audience was not wanting this. But, I knew that I knew that I knew that God was asking me to speak.
I have rarely in my life been nervous to speak. But that night in Monroe, I was shaking.
I argued with God prior to being called up onto that stage. I pled with Him to give me an out. I pled with Him to give me a different message — a message more pleasant, more popular. He was silent in response. And right before they called my name, I said, “God, I’m willing to do this for You. I just ask that You go with me.”
I spoke on inward purity that night. And I spoke with humility and love. I told that audience that God desires purity in the inner heart and not just an outward gloss of dutiful religion and abstinence commitments. I told them that God sees past the outward layer down into our souls; that He knows our thoughts and discerns our motives and intents. I told them that God cares about these things. I told them that God desired to move inside each one of them and clean house — to clear out all the stuff that is dark and replace it with all the stuff that is light — to clear out all the stuff that is selfish and replace it with all the stuff that is loving. I told them that the first steps forward down this path of cleanliness is humble repentance.
Good solid Truth, right?
At that point in the Christian youth culture, this sort of thing was strictly forbidden. This sort of “guilt-mongering” was “distasteful” and “insensitive.” And with my superpowers, I discerned these unspoken, unwritten rules. And as a result, I trembled as I spoke.
As I finished, no one clapped. I took my seat amidst total silence.
The speaker that came onto the stage as I left it chuckled into the mic awkwardly and then stated loudly, “Well, I’m not here to preach holiness!”
I was publicly shamed that night. The message was clear to me as I sat in my chair staring woefully back towards the stage and watching the rest of the night unfold. I had betrayed the team. I had violated the unwritten laws of the Christian youth culture. I had brought conviction over sin and that was deemed wrong — very wrong. I had dared to use the word repentance.
My team confronted me afterwards. They were mad and disturbed, not only because I had represented our team that way, but rather I had made them all uncomfortable. I had made them feel that they were wrong. And there was nothing worse than that.
My team demanded an apology.
Joshua Harris is still crusading around on his Apology Tour. And though I would have never thought to call what I’m doing an Apology Tour, I guess it sort of is. But, these two Apology Tours are very different, one from the other.
Josh’s apology is cow-towing to the status quo — seeking to not offend, craving the good opinion of the crowd in Monroe. He’s chuckling into the mic and declaring, “I’m not here to preach holiness.” He’s currently declaring to everyone that he is unashamed, but he is ashamed. He’s ashamed of the Word of Truth. He’s ashamed of his Christian heritage. He’s sorry for speaking up about purity. He’s willing to trade out his birthright for a bowl of red stew, er, I mean, for a spike in his public approval rating.
My team confronted me that night in Monroe and demanded, “Eric, you need to apologize to the team for what you said and did up there tonight.”
I simply said, “I can’t do that. I said what I said out of love. And I said what I said because it is true.”
And here I am twenty-seven years later being presented with the very same terms of peace. Anyone from the socially-correct crowd would tell me, “Eric, you need to apologize for what you and Leslie said all those years back, just like Joshua Harris has done.”
From a social approval standpoint, I understand why Josh would want to distance himself from taking a stand for purity. It’s distasteful to the popular crowd. It’s unappetizing to those who want to savor the fruits of darkness. But it is life to those who crave more of Jesus Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 2:15-16.)
There are always two.
There are those who hate the Truth and cry out, “Crucify Him!” And there are those that love the Truth and pick up their crosses and join in the fellowship of His sufferings.
Every true child of God loves the Truth. They cling to it as if it were their lifeline. The Truth is not offensive to the Christian, but delightfully freeing. And that’s because the Truth makes no “Josh Harris” sorts of apologies. Truth speaks boldly out of love and deep care.
Yes, Truth hurts at times, but it is given to make us whole. It is given that our lives may increase. It is given that intimacy with Christ may grow.
I thought I had hung up my Nikes twelve years ago on this topic, but here I am. I’m realizing that I’m still an apologist for sexual purity and this is my Apology Tour.
Right now, the Church of Jesus Christ is looking for a few courageous sheep to jump aboard the missionary bus and head out on an Apology Tour of their own. Where are the men and women that will stand unashamed of Jesus Christ in an age and generation that considers it doofish, doltish, and deranged to do so?
Now before you jump to your feet and run out to catch the bus, please remember — there are two Apology Tour busses headed out from the bus depot (just like there were two trains in the purity movement). Make sure you select the bus that prizes the Truth of God’s Word and not the one that constantly questions its integrity.
Other blogs in this series:
August 9 – Blog #1 – What’s a Father to Do? (A Christian father’s response to Joshua Harris’ recent renouncements of purity, his marriage, and his Christian faith)
August 12 – Blog #2 – There are Always Two (How to choose the real and lasting version of purity)
August 13 – Blog #3 –The Apology Tour (How to live unashamed of God’s Truth in our morally declining culture)
August 15 – Blog #4 – The Marriage War (What causes Christian marriages to fail?)
August 20 – Blog #5 – The Mud and the Stars (Does purity lead to beauty or heartache?)
Honorable Manhood Program:
8-week online program for men of all ages, March 1 – April 19.
Ellerslie Discipleship Training:
Be discipled by Eric, Leslie and their team in Colorado for 1 week, 5 weeks, or a season!
A BOOK TO READ:
Leslie and I have twelve books on the topic of sexuality, purity, romance, and relationships. Out of all those books, if I needed to pick one to give my kids that I believe would best pass along the vision, the beauty, and the power of God’s ways — it would be this one.