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Cultural issues

I confess I watch too much tv. Not necessarily sitting in front of it for hours upon hours a day, but following shows on Hulu and Netflix. Either way, there’s a few shows that i love. My top right now is Parenthood. It’s about an extended family that is dealing trying to be close with each other, but still live independent lives. There is a family with a child that has asbergers, a couple who cannot have kids anymore, a single mom who’s trying to figure her life out, and a single dad who is trying to maintain a relationship with his son and start a recording studio with his brother. I love this show because it is entirely based on relationships. They portray the ins and outs of marriage, divorce, parenting, siblings, and family. You constantly hear the phrase, family is the most important.

I began to think about other shows that I watch. How many of them portray a loving relationship between a husband and wife. Not just a shallow, they “still” love each other, but a real relationship. The only other one I could think of was Friday Night Lights. Every other show seems to highlight the single life, the uncommitted relationship, and sex without consequences. They are cynical towards committed  love, and ruled by flippant passion, but wonder why they can’t maintain a relationship with anyone more than 2 weeks.

I wonder, how long before committed marriage becomes “out of style”. How long before a couple who is committed to each other for life becomes just too boring for pop-culture? How long before I love lucy, and the dick van dyke show become relics of the past? How long until we “evolve” out of biblical standards for marriage.

Or are we there now?

Last night I got asked a question that I had never been asked before. It’s a question that carries with it decades of history and doesn’t simply warrant a quick response. If answered the wrong way, you could be called a bigot, ignorant, and unloving. If answered the right way (or the way they want you to answer it), you could be called a liberal christian or unbiblical. It’s a question that so many people in our city are asking. And unfortunately, nobody has a great answer. Some churches have opened their doors to liberalism and said that it doesn’t matter how you live, as long as you believe in God. Others shut their doors and say, clean up before you come in. Neither response is sufficient for me and more importantly, sufficient to my understanding of scripture. The question I was asked was “Are you a gay-friendly church?” I hope that I didn’t respond with my face how I responded in my head. My first instinct was to simply say yes. We are very welcoming of all people. But somehow didn’t feel that that was sufficient. Then in my head, I thought, I should just say no. We do not believe that homosexuality was God’s intention for relationships. But I luckily didn’t feel comfortable with either.

This question is a huge question because it alienates an entire segment of the population. Nobody wants to hear why the church believes it is wrong. Nobody wants to hear the heart of God behind his plan for man/woman relationships. In the same vain, Christians, including myself, feel somehow attacked with the thought of homosexuality. Whether it’s an attack on their personal preference or that it simply under-defines their marriage, neither side is very comfortable. I guess what I’m getting at is how do we enter into a conversation that get’s to the heart of the issue. How do we welcome homosexuality into our church and treat it the same way we treat other sins. With love and grace. But at the same time, how do we have that conversation and still condone the sin, but love the sinner?

My response last night must have been God speaking through me. I simply said, we believe in the Bible and that everyone matters to God. I hope we can continue the conversation so that the woman who asked the question would understand the heart of God and not just shut off completely.

I guess it’s the city we live in…

I sometimes get very emotional about the thought of the church that my children will grow up in. People are not simply withdrawing from the church, but becoming hostile to it. It’s obvious that people don’t want to hear about God, see Him, or see others experience Him. Just take the backlash from Tim Tebow being a christian.

There’s so many factors involved.

1. We live in a self esteem culture. A culture that says success isn’t important, its self esteem that is. We tell them that they’re the best, that they can do anything they want, and the sky is the limit. But they’re not, and it’s not. instead of teaching self esteem, let’s push people to set valid goals and when they succeed, they will get self esteem. The church is not about self esteem, it’s about identity. It’s about surrendering your identity to Christ.

2. We love individualism. We think that personalizing everything will set us apart from everyone else. As long as I don’t like the same music, dress the same way, talk the same way, wear my hear, buy the right computer, and so on, I can be different. Cynicism is the new humor. We believe that we have a right to make our decisions because we are individuals. The problem is that we don’t live on an island. Our decisions have a profound impact on those around us. Especially in the church. Sin, apathy, and dissention don’t work in churches. Neither does individualism.

3. We hate authority. I sometimes wonder if somehow the word freedom has changed into anarchy. You can’t tell me what to do, we live in a country of freedom. But someone has to be in charge. I hope this is just a stage of life issue and not an entirely generational problem for the future of our country. You cannot function in a church and hate authority. If you want to be a part of a church, you must submit to the authority laid out by scripture. And this is a hard task for some.