Monthly Archives: November 2015
The major identifier of any Christian should be our identity in Christ. It’s not about our “conversion story,” or where we are in our “walk of faith.” Creating an identity out of something with no inherent worth or value will always lead to frustration when others don’t place as high a value on that thing as we do.
Take for example the story of Michael Sam, the former NFL draft pick that was also the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team.
Before the combine, before the draft, Michael Sam was a decent football player barely hitting the radar of NFL scouts. Most scouting reports had him listed as a little too small and a bit too slow for his defensive position. But he was nonetheless headed for the NFL combine and would try to make an NFL roster. Then, the relatively unknown player from the mid-west decided to have a press conference to announce that he was gay.
In the world of sports this was only news because there was no openly gay players and Sam would be the first if he could make a roster. For the most part though, NFL scouts, coaches, and owners sort of…yawned. They weren’t looking for a poster-child for social causes or to break new sporting ground. They were looking for talented football players that would help them win championships. Because, at the end of the day, wins is all that matters.
I never cared much for Thanksgiving. That’s a funny way to open a post about Thanksgiving but, the truth is this day never really had a lot of meaning to me. For whatever reason I never saw this day as more than a day off, a day to relax, eat, and play or watch football (or both). Then something happened.
The natural process of life: getting married, having kids, getting older began to change my attitude about Thanksgiving. I saw a desperate need to foster an attitude of thanks and gratitude in my own life. Instead of constantly pursuing more I wanted to be grateful for the many blessings God has given to me and my family. In fact, each night when our family prays we thank God for His “many blessings, like food, clothes, and a warm bed.” And why shouldn’t we?
Taking a quick glance around our world I see hungry people, men and women and kids with no homes, people being forced from their homeland for one reason or another, war, abuse, violence, and sin. The truth is, our world is not a very pleasant place. There is much to be discouraged and disheartened about. But, there is also much to be thankful for.
But, little did anyone know that with this new movement in church culture came a new movement in social culture. The tradition of courting/dating was replaced with the hookup culture; and extended into a generation that now uses technology to be “friends” and find dates for casual sex. Traditional engagement was replaced with cohabitation as a form of experiment to see if two people are compatible. Marriage for life was replaced with no-fault divorce and an easy out mentality. Even the definition of marriage slowly but surely has been replaced to mean, quite literally, anything a person wants.
It’s a cycle that is becoming easier to see. As church teaching became fluffier, more focus-on-yourself-because-you’re-a-good-person-centric; the church turned out less disciples and more attenders. The attenders are now abandoning their “Christian” label in favor of something more inclusive; and adopting theological positions that reflect this desire. As a result the church is shrinking as true believers are left wondering where so many people went. So yes, I agree that Christianity is not dying, we aren’t about to see the end of the church; we are only seeing a reflection of decades of shallow teaching in a sin-soaked culture.
Planned Parenthood has used this smoke and mirrors tactic for many years, but recently, thanks to the efforts of groups like the Center for Medical Progress and Live Action, the shiny exterior Planned Parenthood has tirelessly defended is now terribly tarnished. In fact, if it were not for their partnership with the most pro-abortion president in American history, I have no doubt Planned Parenthood would be nearly non-existent. They are sustained primarily by our tax dollars, secured by President Obama and defended by his administration.
Now that the smoke is dissipating, Planned Parenthood is working night and day to preserve their reputation. This can be seen in their decision to “stop selling baby body parts.” While they continue to claim that they’ve done nothing wrong, and are within the boundaries of the law, they suddenly decided to release a statement about their decision. An article carries Cecile Richards’ statement:
Have you ever considered walking away from church?
That question has become a central topic in many churches, conferences, and publications. The rise of the “dones” is a phenomenon that is both interesting to watch and terrifying. For many pastors and church leaders it is a nightmare that they are facing and trying to figure out. For church culture commentators it has become a routine topic of discussion.
So, who are the dones?
The dones are the most committed, involved, faithful members of a congregation. They are leaders in ministry; they are teachers; they are the biblically educated; they are the givers. And they are walking away from church. They don’t relocate to another church, and they aren’t retreating to house churches (not all of them). They are simply walking away from the organized, institutional church…forever.
Some will be quick to judge and say that these are backslidden people that need to “get right with God,” and get back in church. Others are little more judgmental and claim that these are people that “may not be saved at all.” Name-calling and judgment won’t stop the dones from walking away so it might be a better use of our time to figure out why they are leaving.
Last week the country flipped out over the decision by Starbucks to use red cups for Christmas this year. Accusations of religious persecution and limiting free speech abounded as self-proclaimed Christians blasted Starbucks for the red cup design. Social media lit up and arguments got heated as “offended” people made their feelings known.
Despite employees saying that Starbucks has never prohibited them from saying “Merry Christmas,” some urged patrons to tell their barista their name was “Merry Christmas” so they would have to write it on the cup and say it. Hilarity and absurdity ensued from there.
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed as Christians reminded us all that they were there to get a cup of coffee, not be evangelized or reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. Some even cautioned us from expecting a secular organization to act religious or in any way celebrate Christmas in a biblical way. Good advice.
What does not seem to be so common is common sense. The HERO ordinance would have allowed transgender people to use whatever bathroom, shower, locker room, or facility they chose. This means, in very simple terms, that any person can claim to be any gender they want in order to gain access to the facility they want. To put it plainly, men, particularly sexual predators would have immediate access to women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.
George Washington Law School professor John Banzhaf put the measure in perspective by noting that women would see it as an invasion of their “sexual privacy.” He said:
I have long been an interested party in how the Gospel propels us into social involvement. The idea that as Christians we can stick our head in the sand and pretend everything is okay in our society seems both unbiblical and counter-intuitive to what Scripture teaches. That we should be active in helping “the least of these” and doing everything in our power to champion them seems obvious given the Bible’s teaching (see the book of James).
What I have come to realize is that many churches, pastors, and Christians are the least active, least involved (seemingly the least concerned) about matters that have come to be known as “social justice” issues. Whether this is due to such issues becoming highly politicized, or whether it is a result of poor theology is unclear. What is clear is that far too many Christians have little concern for anything that faintly smells political.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting we all quit our jobs and run for political office. That calling must be clear as the person called to run for office will need every ounce of grace and strength God will grant. But as Christians we cannot sit on the sidelines and bemoan the state of our culture and society (politically or morally) while we do absolutely nothing. No one like a backseat driver or am armchair quarterback.
So while a few churches have taken any interest in the world outside their Bible-insulated walls, most have stayed content to meet each week to condemn society, gossip about sinful neighbors, and remain idle. This is lamentable at best. And I wish more churches would connect the Gospel to local and global action that reaches beyond week long mission trips. In fact, I firmly believe that if most churches became involved in “campaigning” for change in their communities we would see our society changed into something more in line with our theology.
But, to be honest, I am not optimistic or hopeful that this will happen.
When a Christian person refuses service to a gay person it is all over the news. Every news outlet in the country carries the story and wags their head at the “shameful” treatment of the poor gay people. By the end of the day everyone has seen the story and knows the basic details of how this innocent gay person (or couple) has been terribly mistreated by the awful Christian person (or couple).
Instances of overblown media attention include the case of the baker in Colorado that refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding; the florist in Washington that refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding; and the printer that refused to print t-shirts for a gay-pride parade. (Just for good measure let’s throw in the pizza shop that refused to provide pizza for a gay wedding.)
In each of these accounts a Christian business owner is exercising his or her right to live and do business according to their faith. They are refusing to provide service – not because they hate the gay people – but because they do not want to show support for gay marriage, something their faith will not allow.
But, have you ever heard the mainstream media (MSM) report on the large amount of support these Christians received from the gay community for doing business according to their faith?