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I had a very profound moment this week. I sat with a dear sister from the church, catching up on life and ministry. We spent the first half hour loudly praising God and exalting Him for His grace and mercy. Somehow we began to discuss some current issues in Cayman, together lamenting the pain and sorrow we see in so many lives. Then she said something that arrested me. She said, “I’ve had to admit that I am the one living the alternative lifestyle.”

That comment blew back the clouds and I could see in the clarifying light of biblical truth. A cog turned and clicked into place. I’ve been guilty of referring to a range of sinful behaviors as “alternative lifestyles.” In doing so, I’ve been assuming something about my own Christian identity and the state of the world that I ought not. It’s here that her comment helped me so much.

You see, all this time, like most Christians I know, I’ve been assuming that my lifestyle, a Christian lifestyle, was or ought to be the mainstream lifestyle. I’ve been relying on a certain kind of Christian privilege that comes from most people in the country thinking of America as a “Christian country.” That’s meant seeing sin as deviant–not only from biblical Christian norms but also–problematically–from so-called “American norms.” Despite my Bible belt upbringing, I’ve long known that “American” is not a synonym for “Christian.” I’ve had to stridently distinguish the two for Middle Eastern Muslim audiences who often conflate them. Yet, somehow, I’ve continued to think of America as in the main “Christian like.”

But Christians, as far as I can tell, have never been a super-majority in the country (despite the inflated membership figures used by major denominations). And though we can speak of a “Judeo-Christian ethic” as part of the warp and woof of the country, that’s still a far cry from the country being comprised of a majority of genuinely born-again Christian citizens from whom we could expect Christian behavior. In fact, the vast majority of citizens are persons lost in their sin and needing rebirth through faith in Christ. We are traveling through vanity fair, not living in the celestial city.

Truly, the Christian is the one living the “alternative lifestyle.” Or, we should be. Is this not what the Scripture constantly holds out to us as a description for how we ought to see ourselves and live? We are to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them” (2 Cor. 6:17). We are not to conform any longer to this world (Rom. 12:1). We may not have friendship with the world lest we make ourselves hostile to God (1 John 2:15-16). We “must no longer walk as Gentiles do” because “that is not the way we learned Christ!” (Eph. 4:17, 20). We who are in Christ are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). In short, we are the strange ones that this fallen world does not recognize because it does not recognize our Lord.

The world goes on its merry way skipping toward judgment and wrath. In these last days, just as Jesus said, men are marrying and giving in marriage just as they were in Noah’s day when the flood came. Rather than arguing for the assumed privilege that comes from nominal Christian identity, we who live an alternative lifestyle should work harder than ever to make Jesus known so people may escape the wrath to come. We have an invitation to give: Come to the water of life. Come, eat the bread of heaven. Comehave life more abundantly. Come live–not for unrighteousness and which ends in death, but for righteousness in Christ which leads to eternal life! Christ Jesus came into the world born of a virgin, Incarnate, lived a sinless life to become righteousness and holiness from God for us (1 Cor. 1:30), then offered himself to God as an atoning sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath for those who believe (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Those who receive this Christ enter an alternate life, an alternate reality, full of love, truth, forgiveness, joy, holiness and hope. The world needs this, not our privilege.

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20 thoughts on “Accepting My Alternative Lifestyle”

  1. Sherry says:

    Hear, hear! The last line sums it up, “The world needs this, not our privilege.”

  2. Karen T. says:

    I definitely agree with your point of view. Actually, I liked all of it except the 2 sentences with the word privilege. Funny, how things can strike people differently. Also, in your list of what Jesus has done for us, I’d add a part about rising from the dead. Thanks for giving this truer perspective to what it means to live an alternative lifestyle.

  3. ForeBarcaLB says:

    Thanks brother Thabiti. We are the arch practitioners of the alternative lifestyle, or we should be.

  4. Jake says:


  5. kathy meyer says:

    Then why do the majority of born again Christians listen to the same type of music the world does, has the same type of music in their churches, and believe things like an occasional drink is fine, etc etc. They are no different. They claim to be a Christian, and talk like they are separate, but they still want to be accepted by the world.

    1. Luke says:

      @Kathy : Listening to music, or even viewing art created by non-believers does not equate to one being of the world. God can work beauty even through the hands of those who will not see paradise, and we can take joy in those creations. I believe your issue with alcohol is a cultural one fueled by problematic theology. It is quite clear that scripture teaches to avoid drunkenness, but it certainly does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol. Wasn’t Jesus’ first miracle to turn water into “fine” wine at the wedding celebration? Let’s be careful not spread prohibitions and legalism that scripture doesn’t support.

    2. Kirk says:

      I can’t help but notice Kathy that you appear to be using the internet.

      As to brother Thabiti, excellent as always. Although sitting here watching the snow come down, I have to imagine living an alternative lifestyle in Cayman this time of year has to be a tad easier. :)

    3. Paul L. says:

      Kathy, you are an [redacted].

  6. John K. says:

    Great reminders of what it really means to be called a “Christian.” I would contend many of us have a long way to go on our individual journeys. The tension of being in the world but not of the world exists for all of us who claim to follow a risen Christ. How that plays out on a daily basis may vary in expression, but praying that our outward behavior is rooted a desire to emulate Christ and not the Christian “culture” at large…but alas, easy to point out…harder to follow. Bless you, brothers and sisters and thank you TA for the thoughtful piece.

  7. Thanks, Thabiti. This was a really helpful article. When I saw the title of it, I wondered where in the world you were going with it, but the article opened my eyes to something I should have seen all along.

  8. Veronica says:

    thank you “We who are in Christ are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). In short, we are the strange ones that this fallen world does not recognize because it does not recognize our Lord.” amen and amen.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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