Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Choking on the Bible

The blogosphere is buzzing in the last 48 hours over a situation
in San Francisco involving a small group of Christians who
meet on Fridays in the "Castro district" to pray and to engage
the local gay community in discussions about that lifestyle...

Predictably, the locals are more than a little antagonistic
toward the group, and the story made news yesterday because
extreme gay activists literally drove them off the corner, requiring
riot police to provide them a safe escort...

Right-wingers love to proclaim that this country was "founded" on
Judeo-Christian values, and that World Views contrary to those
values are distinctly anti-American... The passage of "Prop 8",
denying marital status to gay couples, has fanned the flames of the
decades-old Values debate, and the not-so-subtle "hint" by some
is that to be American is to be Christian...

Here is the problem I see in this struggle: It is absolutely silly
to expect any demographic in our country to appreciate, AT ALL,
Christian values when they do not, in any sense, accept the
fundamental framework of the Christian World View. It's way past time
for Christians to stop attempting to cram the Bible down the throats
of those who reject it as revelation by God, reacting angrily and
sanctimoniously when our would-be converts repel -- sometimes violently --
an approach that features any kind of strong-arm tactics.

Efforts to shoe-horn Christian principles into the Laws of the Land
usually result in the detractors taking up the wearied weapons of the
"culture wars" and taking their conflict to the streets (and to the
media, who, as a group, are increasingly firmly entrenched in the
anti-Christian-Values camp themselves).

I've maintained for a long time that the "Laws of the Land" should
be primarily about Utilitarianism, that is, focused almost exclusively
on keeping people SAFE from one another, so that conversations about
Values (and everything else) can happen at all. Freedom in America
is a delicate balance between saying whatever you want to say and
respecting the rights of other to say the exact opposite; there isn't
a whole lot of discussion going on in a war zone, and nobody was ever brought
into the Faith through intimidation, condemnation, or coercion.

The Bible is very clear in its insistence that the World is just NOT
going to "get it", and that Biblical Values are, at best, going to
be ridiculed and misunderstood, and at worst, the cause celebre
around which those violently opposed to Christ will rally...

We will not win the hearts and minds of the unsaved -- no matter what
their particular brand of debauchery is -- by clashing with them in
the public square; and if they REJECT our Faith, we can certainly
expect them to fight passionately against what they view as a crusade
to impose that Faith on them. And let's never forget about the
debauchery we Christians find still lingering in our own hearts...

The Christians on that street corner have a "right" to be there, and
the locals have a "right" to speak out against them; I admire the
courage of those believers in attempting to be a light in a very dark
corner, but if Christians "win" the culture wars, will Souls be lost?
And if our country continues its descent into Relative Morality,
as it almost surely will -- a la Sodom and Gomorrah -- will Christians
be found still working to WOO the Unbeliever into Christ's kingdom,
through genuine Love and sacrificial service?

The real battle, anyway, is in the coffee shops and book stores and
neighborhood conversations, discussing the Truths of the faith
one-on-one; the real "fight" is against the "Gay and Christian" mindset
that twists the Scriptures to fit a preferred lifestyle...

...but let's not shove the Faith down the gullet of the Unbeliever.
They don't want it. And that should not come as a surprise to us nor fill our
hearts with hatred against those whom Christ views with compassion.
    knowing this first: that scoffers will come
    in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
    and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?"
    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some
    count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,
    not willing that any should perish but that all
    should come to repentance.

    -- 2 Peter 3:3,4,9



Chris said...

For most of the first 232 years of the existence of the USA, Christian values have been accepted as good. Over the past 50 years, however things have changed. What we see happening in the "culture wars" is a group of people (vigilant Christians) who don't quite grasp the fact that we don't belong to any kingdom on earth, but we belong to the Kingdom of heaven. Because they cling too tightly to the "kingdom" of the USA, we fight unnecessary battles to preserve, or regain, the power that once was not in question.
Jesus came to serve the needy and to love the unlovable. He did not come to establish His Kingdom on earth, but to reveal the Kingdom of heaven to those on earth. Then he left and gave that responsibility to normal, everyday people like you and me with the guidance and help of His Spirit living within us. We can only reveal the heavenly Kingdom to the world if we, ourselves are familiar with it. As long as we try to set up that kingdom on earth, we lose sight of all we've been given.
The real battle - one-on-one conversations, encouraging each other, constantly reminding each other of that Kingdom of which we do belong. What does that look like and why should I want that for myself and why should I want that for my friends and family?
The "cultural battle" is with churches who teach apostacy of all sorts - the Gay Christian movement (who have the two adjectives reversed), the moralists who have forgotten their mission, the name-and-claim-it teaching that tell us that we just don't have enough faith. If we are to reveal Christ, we must get back to loving and serving - period!!!
However, to be true, we do have a responsibility to live as citizens while we are here. We may not belong to this world, but we are here now. We must learn how to live in both realities. As kingdom dwellers in heaven and citizens of earth.

Greg Kern said...

Thanks for your Comment, Chris!! Sure appreciate your insights... I wrote somewhere else on this Blog that an "America as we'd wish for it to be" can easily become an IDOL, claiming to have Christian underpinnings but really being more about, as you noted, establishing the "power" of one social segment over another (and usually with a good bit of acromony and condemnation between the segments)...

Christ's Kingdom -- Changed Hearts that Love and Serve, all for God's Glory -- transcends these earthly agendas. God forgive any of us for ever mis-representing that.