My house is filled with teenagers who ask a lot of questions. Consequently, there’s a lot of discussion around what I call “the culture wars,” modern-day controversies that clash with historic Christian teaching.
I recently edited an article for someone regarding a May 8 vote on NC Amendment 1, which would amend North Carolina’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The subject came up at home. Finally able to vote in an election, one of my children stated their position. Then came the question: what do you think?
My husband and I are about to celebrate a silver wedding anniversary, telegraphing that I favor church-sanctioned marriage for a man and a woman. I view marriage as a picture of Christ and His Bride, the church. That said, I have no quarrel with civil union, which has nothing whatever to do with the church as far as I’m concerned. It merely provides legal standing regarding property rights, hospital visits as “family” and the like. I see no point in enshrining a same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution. Same sex marriage already is illegal in North Carolina.
A hail-storm of questions ensued: Is it “fair”? How can a loving God just reject people and consign them to hell because they “love” someone of the same sex?
We humans tend to accept some things as a natural part of life, of what is. We consider other things, spiritual things in particular, negotiable, open to question or outright challenge.
Quick example: My employer has a dress code. I can wear denim on Fridays only, but not all Fridays. On Fridays when special guests are on property, business attire is required. Sleeveless arms, Capri pants, sling back pumps, mules and exposed-toe shoes are taboo every day of the week.
As far as I know, no one ever has challenged the code. Acceptance of employment includes submission to the company’s dictates regarding what can and cannot be worn on site. Their property, their rules. No question.
In that way, the company gets more respect than God who provides the air we breathe. Something inside us insists on the right to challenge everything about Christianity that goes against the grain of personal preference or popular culture. I’m guilty. I have a sin nature just like everyone else on the planet. Compliance is not my first response.
On Facebook, the nation-sized online community that’s poised to go public, young and old freely post what they are thinking, reading, watching on YouTube or listening to on Ipods, Spotify, Pandora or Rhapsody. There I find a pervasive embrace of peace, love and inclusion that is devoid of biblical perspective. Historic Christianity is widely viewed, even by professing Christians, as narrow, dogmatic and intolerant of other faith systems that proclaim other ways to God, many paths to enlightenment.
Seems to me that most of us fail to grasp the real meaning of Christianity. It’s not a democratic system in which we vote on what we like, majority wins and rewrites everything to suit us. We are not running things. God is Sovereign. Christ is the Head of the Church, the body of Christ. As members of His body, we are blood-bought Company men and women, governed by our relationship with Him. He rules in love, but He does rule.
In its simplest terms, Christianity is a holy God’s offer of rescue to sinful mankind. It’s John 3:16. He alone is God. We come to Him on His terms, His way. Dogmatic? Absolutely. It is an offer. Like an offer of employment, we can accept or not. But once we accept, we wear His robes of righteousness. No wardrobe changes.
I encourage my children to question. My husband and I clearly do not have all the answers. The answers we do have from Scripture don’t always satisfy. Young people are much more attune to culture speak on issues of gay marriage, pluralism and so on than they are to historic church doctrine. Modern-day paganism seems so much hipper.
Still, I’m of the opinion that an unexamined faith is not much faith at all. Christianity can hold its own in the marketplace of ideas. God can handle questions. The real issue is our willingness to accept answers we don’t want to hear and then to do what we otherwise would not.
When it really matters, we can develop a willingness to conform. Today is Friday. I’ll be wearing jeans to the office. Big decision: Gap, Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein or Levi’s?