Approval or Disapproval
When you think “Romans 1” what comes to mind? “I am not ashamed of the gospel…” (1.16) Right? Immediately following that great declaration of assurance is a warning: “the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness…” The chapter continues even listing condemned actions, especially in verses 29-31. The Spirit inspires Paul to let everyone know, blatantly, what God abhors; penalty worthy commissions of unrighteousness which will bring about the wrath of the Almighty, who will adjudicate and sentence: “those who practice such things deserve to die”. The warning is then extended: “they not only do them (the sins listed) but give approval to those who practice them”.
How do you show approval? In school, when two fellas squared up to each other the other kids would chant, “fight, fight, fight”, not only approving of such an altercation, but encouraging it to happen. Aging, chants of college years find the call to fight replaced with the call to chug. As humans, we like to see the drama of a taboo being broken or practiced. We find safety in statements like, “I didn’t do anything, I just watched.” The statement from Romans 1.32 doesn’t say “righteous people give approval…”, it plainly calls approval-giving people “unrighteous”.
“I don’t gossip, I just listen”. This statement contains all the same (lack of) righteousness as, “I don’t make porn, I just watch it”. Take a moment and read back over the negatives given in the chapter, do you show your approval to any of these things? This is harder than you may think! When you stop monitoring the gossips the WILL gossip about you. Are you prepared to be talked about by your coworkers? Friends? Classmates? Social media?
How do I respond? Logic dictates there are only two results: approval and disapproval. The way we show this is where we want to muddy things. This is also where our evangelism should begin. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure God wants me to participate in ___”. This statement begins with lamenting fellowship and goes on to tell them the fellowship you desire is with not only them, but your God as well. Your goal is to save their soul, right?