Multi-generationalism, Multiculturalism and Justice

In the last few weeks I have been crossing paths with a couple of issues that people in my “moment” and circle of American Chirstianity don’t seem to talk about a whole lot. I don’t think that’s a bad thing per say- each generation and culture, each age and circle, have specific issues God raises up through them. But it is a bad thing if we don’t adequately listen to God’s call in those previous generations and cultures, and discern if there are things we need to still hold onto today (almost always there are, right?). Hence, again, the need for multicultural and multigenerational communities. The issues I have been crossing paths with:

– Abortion and the rights of the unborn

– Freedom of speech and the public square

– Unreached people groups and mission

From my understanding of the last 20 years of American Christianity, the above seemed to be issues that were heavily dealt with in the 80s and 90s- they at least got much of the white evangelical focus. I’m glad we’ve moved on to think about other things in the 21st century (a testimony of the multicultural and continual missional mindset of the church). But woe are we if we don’t continue to deal with the above.

Thoughts?

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11 Comments»

  elderj wrote @

this is why need our “cloud of witnesses” to keep us connected to the reality that we are not the first or the only to wrestle with how to be faithful to God

  Discipulus wrote @

I think in some ways the church isn’t necessarily doing the best job it could(I’m talking about the church as a whole) in terms of reaching out to people. From my experiences from being in churches in the far religious right I found many of them to be more exclusive than inclusive when it came to some of the big social issues like the ones you mentioned. They offered condemnation instead of offering truth, forgiveness and love. Specifically the religious right has taken an almost hostile stance against people who are openly homosexual and even those who are struggling with the issue and seeking to change. It seems like they have chosen to go with the grade-schooler attitude that gay people are “icky” and it’s easier to tell them that they’re going to Hell than it is to offer them some glimmer of hope that they can change, they’re willing to help and that God has a plan for them (the latter being the attitude demonstrated by Ethnos). I’m not saying it’s wrong for churches to preach the message that homosexuality sinful in the eyes of God, I’m saying the way they approach it is all wrong. If anything, the hostile attitude is driving people away from the church or into churches where their lifestyle is supported and they’re told that it’s okay to be gay. I guess in short, the left is too welcoming and the right is too exclusive. I think the church has been doing a better job in terms of making it’s position known on the abortion issue but lately it doesn’t seem like it has been able to stand up to those who are seeking to “de-God” the country by keeping religious expression behind closed doors.

  bonjee wrote @

Amen, amen, and amen to that last comment!

As an academic, I have found myself determined by my own church “icky”, which was extremely painful, I might add. I was a part of the 80s picketing scene, but in the 90s, I found myself confronted by a very intense challenge by God: when I was in the middle of my own sin, when God came to me and rescued me, he met me in the sin, not with condemnation, but forgiveness and love. How many of us Christians would be willing to go into a clinic and love on the woman? How many of us would be willing to enter a gay bar and minister? Certainly Jesus did (remember, he was scorned by the “religious” for going to “unclean” places and loving the unlovable!).

I think we need to forget left and right, we need to remember that these are both on earth, and we are from above, called to transcend the human judgments and follow our Lord who looked into our hearts, who knows our pasts yet knows more what he can do through our futures. Why have we failed to see other human beings as image-bearers of God? Imagine the grace and love we would show if only we remembered what love we ourselves have been loved with! Imagine if we truly realized what punishments we ourselves deserve by the law we so easily fling on others. I know I deserve to have rocks thrown at me until I die. But Jesus died instead. When I truly realize and live in that, I cannot help but share the grace and tender mercies that have been recklessly lavished upon me.

In short? Yes, the political issues are important. But Jesus didn’t ever say that we’ll be known as his disciples for our political stands, for our TV shows, for our publications, or for our cultural influence. We’ll be known for our love. All the rest should only and always be in his service.

  Floyd wrote @

I have tried to keep quiet concerning this matter, and to be fair, there are many things that have been said with which I agree. But frankly, this matter has gone to the reason that Gail and I became so uncomfortable with the environment at Ethnos that we ended our membership. Any time that we deal with a moral issue that would demand a strong response by Christians condemning a widespread sinful practice which our increasingly godless culture contradistinctively demands that we now accept as normal and healthy, the response is to reject the sin, but practically apologize for having done so. And upon so apologizing, the next immediate action is to reassure those involved in the sin (e.g., homosexuals and those who obtain abortion or encourage the legal and political choice of abortion) of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The problem that is inherent in this mode of ministry is the promotion of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” The principle that Jesus loved and showed compassion for the rejected and the condemned is made muscular and masculine by his easy condemnation of sin and speaking about hell more than everyone else in the Bible combined. Weak exhortation to repentance is really not exhortation at all.

Such is the reason that I became very disapproving of UCSD InterVarsity’s participation in the UCSD gay community’s “Day of Silence.” Their attempts at solidarity with the gay community were met with stony indifference; rather than causing reflection and an open-minded reconsideration of their sinful lifestyles and a new relationship with the Christian community, it emboldened them and further convinced them that they, as a gay community were positionally elevated, even celebrated. Rather than be told that a loving and merciful God is compassionate toward those who have been deceived by a colossal lie that they, gays, are of that sexual preference by nature, and that He can deliver them and restore them to a nature that He created in all of us through which we can express and experience love, we basically acted as if it is “just a sin”, sort of like pissing outside the toilet bowl. That sort of weak preaching is the kind Paul condemned in 2 Timothy 4, when “men would not endure sound doctrine, but take to themselves teachers having ‘itching ears’.”

In regard to this subject, I liked a recent statement by Jay Bakker, the son of the disgraced-then-restored Jim & Tammy Bakker: “When I hear someone bring up the “should we accept homosexuals?”, I usually wonder: Are they asking me to love them the way Christ loved sinners or are they asking me to accept that homosexuality is ok and no longer a sin? If it’s the former: no problem. If it’s the latter: can’t do it dude.
Its curious to me that the people who would call me intolerant for not “white-washing” my beliefs cannot tolerate ideas and morals that contradict their own. I don’t have a “problem” with homosexuals. What I have a problem with is the homosexual agenda which says: Homosexuality is natural and accepted by God and anyone who doesn’t think so is intolerant and fanatical.”

And both that issue, and the issue of the holocaust of abortion(yes, boys and girls, the holocaust–all 45 million American children and hundreds of millions of others worldwide slaughtered by our wicked selfishness and lust), is the reason that Bonjee’s statement that “we should forget left and right,…that they are of this world…” gets no amen from me, but a hearty, “I rebuke you.” We have a responsibility to be “salt and light”, and that means, in a democracy, to be part of the process. Why else have the concept of “social justice”, or my preferred term “moral reform”? The term “social justice” was first coined by early Marxists, and as such should be anathema to any honest Christian , but I digress. Indeed, our blessed place of being able to “speak truth to power” through being in a democracy, a truly unique privilege in human history, is part of Jesus warning “to whom much is given, much is required.” I am sure that it would have been so easy for Christians to have told William Wilberforce, “Don’t get into telling people to condemn slavery, after all, politics is of this world, and God is neither Tory nor Liberal, and is above such narrow notions such as one political party being 100% right on this issue.” The notion that driving SUVs and working for Exxon is somehow of the same level of immorality as working for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, PETA, or GLAAD and Queer Nation is so perverted it shocks the conscience, it would be laughable if it were not so incredibly sad.

Let’s think about our words, brethren, before making them public, we might have to eat them. God may not be Republican or Democrat, but He is pro-family–as He intended it, pro-liberty, pro-immigrant, and most assuredly pro-life. And He wants the people of God in every nation, especially America, to work evangelistically, charitably, and yes, politically, to make their country that of which it is said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Not as a theocracy, but as a culture where He is honored and His Word is adopted as its cornerstone.

Psalm 91.

  yucan wrote @

Floyd, I think you are misinformed about the stance that Ethnos has about homosexuality. I don’t know what you are referring to above, but I think it’s clear in what has been published and said in public at Ethnos that we believe that homosexuality is a sin that should be turned away from, but there is also great grace and support needed in the process of turning/repentance. There also needs to be respect shown to people who struggle with the sin as well (we are all made in God’s image), and so we try to bring respect.

Further, I think it would be more accurate to say that Intervarsity students, as opposed to Intervarsity as an organization, supported the Day of Silence. A bad thing? I think it’s worth discsussing. But I think it’s important to note that it is an attempt by some students to figure out how to show love, as your Bakker quote advocates. Perhaps it is not a good way to do so- I think you bring up some good points that need to be considered. But I think we should show a little more grace as Christians try and struggle with how to exactly show love. Again, not to discount your comments.

  chiafrica wrote @

Sometimes I feel that I care more about being right, than I do about relationships. I think the two things that are important are 1. our growing relationship with God, and 2. our relationships with people. Some may say that #2 (our relationships with people) extends further more to relationships with poor, oppressed, and marginalized people as God is with them, and if we are with them, then it helps facilitate and #s 1 and 2. Also, we may begin to see that we ourseles are poor and in need of a redemptive God.

I’m of the thinking that if we evaluate this sense of morality, we may come to see that things are disturbing on a greater scale. there are hot button issues to evangelicals: abortion, homosexuality, etc. that are sin. they are imoprtant. there are also other points of sadness that we participate it: modern day slavery, exploitation of the poor, reconciling our greed and the way it hurts other people. this is also sin.

i hope that we try to approach these issues and realities of our world in humility, and that we turn away from talk and towards relationships. everyone talk about how homosexuality is bad, but do we know homosexuals? we all like to talk about poverty but do we know poor people?

  belisariusca wrote @

Oh, ok. Yes, let’s talk about relationships rather than “talk?” To chiafrica—-please, please. We are disqualified from talking about the sin of homosexuality until we get to know homosexuals. Let’s see, we have to get to know engagers in the world wide sex slavery trade in order to be qualified to condemn the sin. We should wait to get to know a few kleagles of the Ku Klux Klan before we are qualified to condemn racism. We should wait to get to know drug lords before we can condemn the criminal distribution and use of hallucinogenic drugs. Oh, and let’s get to know some of the porno studio kings before we condemn hard-core pornography, after all, we only condemn what we don’t understand, right?

Give me a break.
The Scriptures speak differently: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful to even speak of what is done in secret.” (Ephesians 5). As one Christian singer once said, “When it is easier to come out of the closet than to clean it, is a sign that the judgment of God is about to fall.”

Every time I hear these comments, what I hear is this message: “Being gay or lesbian is popular now, and condemning it is just so judgmental, and being judgmental is the unpardonable sin. And condemning sin is just not acceptable in a post-modern, university community, that is just so, so, Republican. Unless of course, it is the sin of driving SUVs.”

I think I’ll stick with being right-wing. It’s just so, so…..right. Oh, I have to go now. I need to gas up my SUV….ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

  T.J. wrote @

Chiafrica,

Your response was eloquently compassionate, and I do think entirely difficult to hear, as it challenges me in a lot of ways to step outside simple judgment and pronucniation, and asks me instead to meet people on an individual basis as Jesus does. Thanks for that. I really needed to be challenged in a deep and loving way today, and that definitely was it. =)

  Belisarius wrote @

Yes, yes, yes. We have to relate with people as individuals, like Jesus does, before we can win them out of sin, and to God. Or is that what we’re talking about? Or is it that if we get to know ‘these people’, we are supposed to figure out that what these dear gay and lesbian people are is not sinners in need of repentance, counseling, and a long journey to health and wholeness that will need a sensitivity that most churches would be hard pressed to achieve (especially with families and children). Rather, we are to accept that their sexual preference is actually an in-born orientation, as much of a sexual gift of God as heterosexuality, and that the opposition of other Christians is not upholding righteousness, but bigotry. Therefore, we are to incorporate them into the church, and their sin is not sin, but rather, we are to consider them full equals, with their brokenness to be treated separately, treating the symptoms rather than the cause?

I’ll stick with the former solution, thank you. After all, it is what the Holy Spirit would demand, as clearly taught in His Word.

“Most often, people struggle with pathologies resulting from a deep sense of guilt for one reason—because they are guilty.”—Dr. James Dobson

  Steven wrote @

One the one hand we need to unapologetically preach and proclaim the truth from the Bible. Enemies of God are destined for hell. It’s unpopular but it’s truth. Preach it lovingly, with conviction and without apology. The gospel will cause some to roll their eyes and shut their ears and others will hear the life-giving words and embrace Christ (as he has planned).

And on the other hand we need to have compassion and love. So when men or women who struggle with homosexual thoughts/actions walk into church they not only hear the truth of the gospel and sin, but they also find a place that is compassionate, supportive in their struggle, and providing shelter from judgment as they throw off sin and embrace Christ.

I think the challenge is for the church is to bring both those hands to work together. In the case of abortion – a church could lobby long and hard against abortion clinics, against $ going to Planned Parenthood, protesting (peacefully) against partial birth abortion, etc. AND at the same time also provide services for those who DO choose to give birth, support adoption, support Christian-based pregnancy centers (like NIFLA) that are using ultrasounds to allow mothers to see their unborn child, etc. in order to fight for truth and love like Christ at the same time.

I don’t one can be very effective without the other. I worry that churches tend to go to either extreme, or just don’t impact at all. I think our church tends to lean towards one side and could balance that some.

  belisariusca wrote @

Well, spoken, Steven. I hope that your sense of balance is what wins out at Ethnos. I have had my doubts, but your words give me hope. You words of balance of “law and love combining”, to paraphrase an old hymn about the Word, are simple, direct, and correct. Gives me more reason to pray. Psalm 91.


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