Sometimes we are confronted with others who are hostile to the concept of sin. Not that they do it, that anything is sin. Their worldview is rooted in some concept that prevents them from accepting the truth of moral absolutes. Here is an excepert from a conversation with a young friend about this topic.
You asked me how to witness to a girl you met who you overheard talking about her “stripper life”. My short answer was that your two best assets are your walk and your compassion. As I was thinking of this encounter, I thought of a third asset that is a support to the other two: Prayer.
I simply want to elaborate what I believe about sharing the gospel with people who have different moral perspectives. Your new acquaintance is a stripper because it pays well. She has compromised her moral integrity to earn money to pay for college. Sadly, you hear this story from time to time and it hurts.
She finds herself in a position, where she has had to sacrifice some of her self to get here. Perhaps she started from a worldview with no sexual boundaries – was raised in an amoral (there is no definite right or wrong) environment, so she herself has learned no higher moral perspective than survival and pleasure.
Perhaps some former events in her life (rape, bad relationships, incest) have altered her perspective on the value of her self, and her virginity or her sexual purity. Perhaps she is simply motivated to succeed and it is purely a means to an end thing (I will do whatever it takes to pay for the career choice I want) and she is willing to sell her body visually for a chance at the life she ultimately wants to live.
In any of these cases she is not likely to regard what she is doing as “sin”, nor is sin a word that is likely to resonate with her. Like most people she most likely regards herself as a good person. She may regard herself as unfortunate (not having been born into a family who will fund her education). She may regard herself as an underdog or hero – doing whatever it takes to overcome her adversity.
In any case she probably has woven a tapestry of rationalization – why what she is doing/how she is living is OK, necessary, beneficial. She has done this out of necessity to help her avoid feelings of guilt, or deal with friends or family who may not “approve” of what she is doing. This tapestry is more like chain mail than a wall hanging – she uses it to deflect any judgment that she perceives. Because of this, any attack of rhetoric, argument, or discussion of moral truth and her situation will fall clanging to the ground like an ax glancing off her forged steel armor.
In order to get the truth to take root in this one, you will need to live a pure and blameless life (to whatever ability God provides) in her view, fully acknowledging your own sin and your moral culpability in ways that she can experience someone with a different moral perspective. Only then can she experience truth that will pierce the armor she has established to fend of judgment.
It has been said, people only care how much you know when they know how much you care. That before you go telling someone how much you know about the Bible, or other spiritual truths, they want to feel your compassion for them. There is no mental armor that compassion cannot penetrate. There is a simple element of trustworthiness in not expressing judgment on their lifestyle or choices.
A person who rationalizes their own sin so that they can regard themselves as a good person cannot easily be won by judgment, because your frontal attack is hitting the strongest part of the fortifications. You will not overthrow their mental fortification by a frontal attack that batters them with truth and judgment. However compassion bypasses that, and allows truth to leak in around the back. A self-righteous person who is consciously ignoring their own sin, can be absolutely stunned by a genuine believer who righteous in Christ, who can freely admit his own failings while remaining humble and contrite.
That all said, God’s Spirit works in ways beyond our understanding. So when you meet someone who needs the Lord, add them to your prayer list. Your prayers for her do not need to be specific. They can simply start with a twofold prayer – God – do your will in her life, and Use me to accomplish your purpose in her life. If you pray that for her every day for a week, see what else God lays on your heart and what opportunity he provides to do it.
Things that you can do, practically in the near term:
1) Be kind and friendly. Learn her name and recognize her or greet her when you see her again. Treat her as if her lifestyle was no concern of yours, like it was not a valid reason to regard her as different from yourself.
2) Express simple concern for her well-being. Ask how things are going in simple collegial terms (recognize that you are both students and ask about classes and other college matters).
3) Be discrete. Do not share your knowledge about her lifestyle. Even though she may act tough or like she doesn’t care who knows, others may be more judgmental than you are, and their judgment may be hurtful to her. Protect her in this way.
Let that be a starting point and see where God takes it.
I think this concept can be used to witness to anyone who is hostile to the Gospel or to Christians, or especially to the concept of sin. Whether they are a stripper, or gay or a drunkard or drug user or a cheating spouse, or whatever sin issue a non-believer can be caught in.