12 June 2012

the anti-

For some reason I continue to be amazed by the number of Christians who seek to portray a publicly acceptable 'faith' because they do not like being viewed as negative by culture.  So much being done in the name of Christianity seems to have a better foundation in popular perception than in the pages of sacred text.  More often than not it is the supposed inclusion of an all-embracing spirit that trumps the high demands of the written word.

Cyclically, I often make a return to someone, somewhere (many times a blog or popular culture elitist) who is trying to decry the traditional church for being too anti- in what it asserts.  The claim is made that those who are for traditional conservative biblical values are giving the church of the inclusive and loving Jesus a bad rap, for he went to all sorts of sinners and outcasts and did not have a "judgmental" attitude.  Jesus is love, don't you know.

I wonder, then, why the earliest recording of Jesus' preaching was a call to repentance in order to be ready for the kingdom of God.  Or, why he felt it necessary to tell the woman caught in adultery to go and leave her life of sin.

If Jesus had encountered gay marriage, which it appears he did not, then why do we quickly suppose that he would buck Jewish Torah and heritage that a man would 'leave-and-cleave' to his wife?  If Christianity opened up the doors to a floodgate of nonjudgmental attitudes of acceptance, then why does the apostle Paul feel it necessary to decry homosexual behavior (which was a shock to nobody in said Jewish-Christian culture, but a statement against the Greco-Roman one) in his own right?  (And, for those who may stumble here accidentally and raise my hit count to 5 . . . please forego all of the interpretive gymnastics one must maneuver to even make Romans 1 not refer to homosexual practice.)

The case against my position is straightforward: We don't want to be the anti- people, who are too judgmental that we run people away from the truth.  Yeah, how well has that trend-reversal been working?  The church's lack of moral compassing and making public statements of ethics has certainly made no impact on our culture's overall decline.  Our silence has not drawn people to the god-of-the-giant-group-hug, but rather proclaimed loudly that our faith has no teeth - it does not matter if you accept it or reject it.  We may receive praise from the popular press, the blogs and the nonChristians, but such commendation is fickle and fleeting at best.  For today we will be praised for our openness, tomorrow we will have to give yet another inch or we will be damned once more.  And the church is often on the wrong side of history when it plays to popularity.

One question I would like to throw back onto the table of discussion is this: What is so wrong with being the people of the "No!" on issues of morality?  If the church says no to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage and no to abortion, so what?  Is there no honor in seeking the cessation of those activities which destroy life and push God's creation against its natural order?  There is an important statement to be made here: not only is the church against murder, it is against the murder of unborn babies.  (Or, perhaps it is time that we not be too judgmental of those who murder and turn the other cheek, just like Jesus said.)

I'm not claiming a slippery slope here.  I'm looking at the choice between right and wrong.  God's law and our bent desires.  God design and our cracks.  Slippery slopes can be navigated, stepping of the cliff . . . not so much.  And I have to think that the church has walked right off the edge of so much of this debate - with all sorts of people coming out in favor of ungodly activities in the name of their faith in the God whose creation is being distorted.  It is not for biblical reasons of nonjudgmentality, but for the feel good statements of kumbayah humanitarian tingles.  For some reason, there is a sense in which we want to *speak* the truth IN LOVE! rather than being balanced enough to SPEAK the TRUTH in LOVE.

As a Christian I am anti- certain things.  That does not define all of me, but it does make up a necessary part of my existence as one who is in the world but not according to the world.  Like Jesus, I will engage people from every walk of life.  I will not, like the Pharisees, cast people away as labelled sinners but will extend the love of God in every way possible.  And I will show that this love of God is a love that says "No!" . . . just like the harsh and powerful cry of a mother who is watching their child walk into the road. You see, I am convinced that we have forgotten that love is demanding; showing someone that you love them doesn't always entail taking them out for ice cream sundaes.  There are times when being the people entrusted with the work of God's love must carry out their work by standing firm against the rolling tides of popular opinion and show that truth still remains.

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