Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Next?

There is an interesting little point-and-counterpoint over at Christianity Today.  It is titled “If the Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, What Next?”  The three authors make various points, the first one being worried that churches will “exclude and ostracize”, the second who says, “We must offer—even mandate—robust premarital counseling for church members” and the last who “would be honored to spend time in dialogue with gay couples.”

There is nothing horribly wrong with what is said by any of the authors of this article.  It is a little annoying to hear the constant whining from “pastor” types today that we must be ever-so-careful not to ruffle anyone’s feathers when we talk about sin.  But that is not the point here.

My guess is that some editor at CT dreamed up this trendy title and theme, and then asked these three to write something (quickly) about it to ‘catch the wave’ of interest on this topic with the current Supreme Court hearings on the matter.  The problem is that very little of what is said has any direct connection to legalizing same-sex marriage.

If the Supreme Court ‘legalizes’ same-sex marriage, the ‘what next’ for Christians and the church ought to be . . . nothing different than before.  That wouldn’t make much of a trendy article, but that’s the nature of reality often.

Consider the (very related) matter of sodomy:  before it was legalized it was contrary to the revealed will of God and thus immoral, and Christians and churches should have said so whenever the matter came up.  After it was legalized, nothing changed in regard to the church and Christians.  Before it was legal, it was not the only sin, though it was one with some serious consequences.  After it was legal, it was still not the only sin, but will remain one with serious consequences.

The case is exactly the same with same-sex “marriage” – which is not marriage at all.  But even now many people have deluded themselves into think it is.  Even now the church and Christians need to be explaining to people the truth that same-sex whatever-that-is is not marriage, and pretending that it is does not make it so.  What civil law says bears no direct connection to the reality of such matters.

Should the Supreme Court ‘legalize’ same-sex “marriage” none of that will change, just as marriage will not change.  If that should happen, what then?  Well then, Christians should continue to do what they always should have been doing about marriage:  confessing the truth about it.  Our culture, including and especially the Supreme Court, cannot affect the mission of Christians and the church.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The ‘Environmental Crisis’ and the Christian Faith

A recent article in Christianity Today contains a theme that is becoming a bit over-worked in establishment evangelical circles.  The article is about the broader implications of the Christian doctrine of creation.  It is not bad, but the author seemingly cannot resist the urge to load Christianity onto the bandwagon of “environmentalism” when at one point he says:

All of this adds a further dimension to our thinking about the present environmental crisis. If being made in God's image involves stewarding the natural world, we need to steward in a Christlike way, as servants rather than as dictators. As Christians, we can share with all humanity a concern for preserving the environment for future generations. And we can share with other faith communities a sense of preserving the Earth as a divine gift. But we should want to go further, and proclaim environmental responsibility as a consequence of living under the lordship of Christ.

It is striking that Genesis 1 ends not in the creation of Adam and Eve, but in the Sabbath day on which, as Scottish theologian David Fergusson says, "the whole creation glorifies its maker." That is, resting in, rejoicing in, and living out the Sabbath praise of God is regarded in Scripture as the very summit of earthly existence—the purpose for which it was breathed into being. Viewed this way, we humans are called not just to "use" material reality for our own ends, but to hallow it, to reverence it as God's gift, to work for its flourishing, and, in this manner, to be viceroys of the world over which he graciously superintends.

First of all, what, exactly is “the present environmental crisis”?  People have been using this terminology for decades now, and yet, when I take a walk “the environment” is still there.  The ever-present “crisis” language is clearly not just wrong, but deceptive.  Here is a Christ-like quality for Christianity Today to consider:  truthfulness.

Also along the lines of deception is language about “servants rather than as dictators” of the creation and that we should “not just ‘use’ material reality for our own ends.”  God told human kind to “subdue” the earth, which necessarily involves using it and thereby changing it.  All the theological mumbo-gumbo talk incorporating environmentalists lingo you can muster does not change that.

God made the earth for our use, and He made it in an amazing way such that, even when we make mistakes with the earth, it is very difficult for us to destroy it.  (Isn’t God tricky that way?)

This never-ending attempt by evangelicals to kowtow to environmentalism is yet another manifestation of the triumph of culture over Christianity.  It is not helpful, it is not “prophetic” and it amounts to a betrayal of the Christian faith.

Monday, March 18, 2013

All the News That’s Fit to Print (or Speak, or Digitalize)

The other day I listened and considered the Fox (at least on the radio) News slogan:  “We report, you decide.”  Since the “yellow journalism” days of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, news outlets have professed, and inconsistently worked toward, the ideal of being factual and unbiased.

It is, of course, impossible to be completely unbiased.  But making those biases open and recognized, and trying to get the facts straight, is an admirable set of goals.  The problem is that even these noble ideals in some ways hide what goes on in today’s “news reporting.”  What I am about to mention is especially the case with radio news, TV news, and any format that tries to condense the news into the smallest space possible.  It is also the case that this happens with all networks, wire services, and news outlets.

We can understand this problem by thinking about the slogan, “We report, you decide.”  Even if everything reported is completely accurate and unbiased, there is something important hidden here.  You can see this if you think about the unstated corollary of the slogan.  Consider what would the slogan would have to say IF the intention was to be completely open:

“We report, you decide, BUT we decide what to report.”

Fox News is supposed to be somehow different from other major networks.  But at least when comparing the daily radio reports, Fox News tends to report on almost exactly the same things reported on by all the other news services.

It’s not that there is nothing else that could be reported.  There are a few little outlets you find here and there that do decided to report different things from the mainline news services.  When you listen to these and are accustomed to the usual mainline reports, it is striking the wildly different perspective one gets when listening to “the news.”

One final note:  mainline news, including Fox News, tends to report political news in terms of what some politician says about the matter at hand, and very little else.  This is just another example of “we decided what to report.”

This whole system seems to be ingrained beyond reform.  But it’s not fair, and it’s not balanced.  It’s not even close.