Pastors have long been pleading with their flocks to wake up. I think the awakening is about to come, in at least one sense: if persecution comes, as I proposed as a strong possibility yesterday, it’s going to be a veritable earthquake shaking us out of bed.
And then we’ll be running around our bedrooms wondering where our clothes are.
In other words, I’m not sure we’re ready to wake up. We’re not quite ready in terms of the depth of our knowledge and relationship with God, but we’re really not ready to encounter contemporary culture.
I recently ran a small and non-scientific Twitter-recruited survey of opinions on same-sex “marriage” (SSM). I was mostly interested in the reasons people would give for opposing SSM. Here are some of the answers I received:
- “Broadening the definition of marriage will be detrimental to the already detrimented state of marriage today.”
- “It is against God’s original purpose of marriage and nature’s laws.”
- “Opposite sex – God. Same sex – devil. Opposites attract and it has always been that way according to God and scientific laws placed by God in the universe.”
- “Its wrong, God made man & woman for natural & moral purposes.”
- “Because God defines what love and marriage is, not society or governments.”
- “Genesis 2:24-’One flesh’ – the union between a man and a woman!”
- “Same sex couples need to know they are poking their finger into the eye of God.”
- “It is abhorrent before God. ’Nuff said!”
Other than some seriously questionable thinking on “opposites attract” and “scientific laws,” I don’t disagree with a word here. I wouldn’t express all of it in the same words, but it’s all good in its way—as long as Christian believers are talking with Christian believers.
Yet I’m picturing these survey respondents as parents teaching their teenaged children about homosexuality and SSM. Then I’m seeing their children at school, where homosexuality is celebrated and SSM is promoted. How does the conversation with their non-believing friends go? Suppose what they had to offer were one of the answers from the list above:
“You Christians don’t believe in equal rights for gays. That’s homophobic and it’s bigoted. What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing’s wrong with us. Same-sex couples need to know they are poking their finger into the eye of God.”
“Huh!? That’s weird. And besides, you know you can’t bring religion into politics. So tell me again, what’s wrong with you?”
If that’s all the Christian student can say in support of his position, what’s he going to do next? What’s he going to feel, other than that he’s done something wrong by standing up for God? What’s he going to think, other than that there’s probably no good reason to believe what he thinks he believes? How will he stand up against hostility next time? How will he hold firm to his beliefs? What beliefs does he genuinely hold? I mean genuinely; with the benefit of insight and reasons to hold them. Are they his beliefs or his parents’?
Conversations like that are happening everywhere, except I’m sure most of them are happening in the privacy of students’ minds: If she asks why I’m against SSM, I’m not going to have a good answer, so maybe there isn’t a good answer, and maybe it really is weird and wrong to believe what my church is telling me about it, so I’ll just lay low and stay in church until I’m out of the house and my parents can’t make me go, and then I’ll quit.
This, I am convinced from observations much wider than my little survey, is the condition of American Christianity: we’re standing for the right thing but on a weak foundation. I don’t mean that the Bible is weak, or that it’s weak for us to trust in God’s word. I mean that we’re weak in knowledge, insight, and training in those things that would strengthen our faith in God’s word, especially in view of the increasing challenges with which our culture is confronting us. This damages both our evangelistic effectiveness and hinders our effect on society, not to mention its dampening effect on our own spiritual condition.
Surveys show that 50% to 80% of students walk away from the faith after high school.
I chose the topic of SSM for this survey because it is both hot and hard to handle. It is not, however, impossible to manage. There are of course sound scriptural reasons for supporting genuine man-woman marriage. For those frequent conversations in which Scripture is not admitted into the discussion, there are many solid secular reasons for it as well. The problem is not in any lack of answers, it’s in our preparation to provide them.
This series will continue, as I have much more to say on this.