The State of Christianity in Contemporary American Culture, Part 2
The State of Christianity in Contemporary American Culture, Part 2
Read part 1 of this series
By Andy Pope
Something is very different in Christianity today from what I observed in my youth. We seem to be very confused as to what is sinful and what is not.
Long before the age of 30, when I made a conscious choice to follow Christ, I was exposed to the gospel through the Catholic Church that my mother insisted I be there. assist. As a young boy attending Sunday school, it was pierced in my head that I should not steal, kill or lie. It was not stuck in my head that, for example, homosexuals “were going to hell”.
It was in the 1950s. In general, gays stayed “in the closet”. Like many other taboo subjects, the subject was rarely discussed. But then, in the early 1970s, I saw a massive increase in the number of people who felt free to “go out” and proclaim their identity. The city of San Francisco in 1974 was an astonishing phenomenon. People openly admitted they were gay – and were happy and proud that they did.
It was then that the subject began to be discussed much more openly than ever before. And it was then that the response of conservative Christians was heard.
In fact, it was practically all I heard at the first church I attended. (That, and the issue of abortion.) This brings me to my first observation:
In modern American Christianity, an undue emphasis is placed on certain sins (and so-called sins) to the exclusion of other much larger sins.
If we devoted as much energy to teaching people not to steal as to trying to solve the “gay problem”, we would have a much safer and healthier society.
If we put as much energy into anger management as we did into protesting in front of abortion clinics, we would have a less murderous culture.
And if we really wanted to, we could examine all the lies we exchange in our stories. Such a search for truth could only result in a more honorable nation.
One of the reasons we don’t do these things is that our minds are focused on warfare against those with whom we disagree. It wouldn’t be better if we worked together to resolve the issues that we To do I agree?
This brings me to my second point:
In many cases, it is debatable whether the things that we consider to be sins are actually sins. Some of the things that we think of as sins are conditions, not choices. But in order to sin, you have to make a choice.
Take the example of alcoholism or drug addiction. The words “alcoholism” or “dependence” are not words that refer to choices. These are abstract names that refer to conditions. No condition is a sin. To sin, you have to make a choice.
We all have a condition on this planet that Christians sometimes call “sinful nature.” That is, we all have a tendency to fish. But even the sinful nature is not a sin. This is because it is a condition, not a choice. I did not choose to be born with the sinful nature. What I can to do, in special cases, is to choose not to sin.
In the same way, homosexuality is not a sin. the state homosexuality is something a person is born with. To say that homosexuality is a sin would be to say that I am a sinner because I am Italian. If I lose my temper – my ‘Italian temper’, if you will – then I have sinned. But just being Italian is not a sin. I have no conscious control over this permanent condition.
This is why Paul writes:
“In your anger, do not sin. “ (Ephesians 4:26)
But is it meaningful to say: “In your homosexuality, do not sin? It certainly is. But that doesn’t make any more sense than saying, “In your heterosexuality, don’t sin. We could also substitute “bisexuality”, “demisexuality”, “sapiosexuality”, etc. All of this would be conditions. But when is it guilty to act on any of these conditions?
Like everyone else, I have my own ideas on this. As with any debate, many people from all walks of life would disagree with me, and often between themselves. Why not unite on the points on which we agree and put aside unnecessary debates?
Some choices that are often considered a sin these days are not technically so, according to what the Bible says.
It is not a crime to smoke marijuana in Washington State. The fact of smoking it is not a sin in itself either. This is the case with any legal drug. that’s what we do after put the drug in his system which could be able to be a sinner.
Jesus explicitly states in Mark 7: 14-23 that this is not what is going in our mouths which “defile” us. We are defiled by what is to come out of our mouths. The lies that come out of our mouths are sins. Outbursts of anger towards others are a sin. Hateful comments and name calling are sins. But what you put in your body is not in itself a sin.
Some things that some Christians do today are completely sinners – yet they do not regard them as sins.
Many Christians today have this idea that if none of the Ten Commandments is broken, then it is okay to go ahead and do it. Maybe that’s what was on the minds of the people who stormed the Tri-State sporting goods store last December. There may not be a specific Commandment prohibiting it – at least not among the Ten – but it certainly violates the Golden Rule.
“In all, therefore, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7: 12a)
Would the people worshiping in this particular mega-church appreciate it if we all stormed one of their church services with face masks on? Well, maybe they would and maybe they wouldn’t. But personally I wouldn’t do such a thing, because I myself wouldn’t want to be stormed in the same way.
Putting on a mask is not a sin. Invading a business in defiance of store policies is a sin, because it does not love its neighbor. And love – what used to be called “Christian love” – is the fulfillment of the Law.
There is an alarming tendency among some Christians to believe that because they are saved, because they are forgiven, therefore, they have no obligation to obey the laws of the land.
I am a person who believes that unless the law of the land clearly violates the law of God, then we must obey that law. Yet here is a statement that I have heard come out of the mouths of Christians more in the past five years than I have in the past fifty years.
“We did not vote for this law! Therefore, we don’t need to obey it!
Let’s dissect that. I drive and come to a stop sign. Personally, I did not vote on the law that says I must stop at this stop sign. Does that mean I have the right to disobey him? Of course not.
With the question of masks, for example – and considering mask mandates as “laws” – that is to say ordinances – I would have obeyed this law as a good law-abiding citizen, which I was. agree with science or not! It is not my role to dissect the scientific principles that influence legislators. It’s my job to obey the law unless it clearly violates the universal, infallible and immutable law of God.
Now, before I am accused of being a legalist, I need to make a general point:
Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind and was resurrected so that we could all enjoy eternal life here on earth in fellowship with Him and forever with Him and all the saints in heaven.
In a wholehearted embrace of this awesome truth, what kind of people should we all seek to be? We should be the better the people we can be. (2 Peter 3: 11-18) We should love our neighbors, even our enemies, do good to those who harm us and pray for all those who mistreat us. (And then, as Jesus said, “great will be our reward in heaven.”
But to protest against those who believe differently from ours, and to impose our values, good or bad, on others, is to completely miss the point. We can discuss peripheral issues until the kingdom arrives. But in doing so, we risk missing the Kingdom when it Is it that come.
In the 1960s, the Youngbloods popularized a song called “Get Together”. There were these words:
“Come on people now! Smile at your brother! Everyone get together, try to like each other now!
This song is remembered by many people, but do they know how many of its lyrics refer to biblical passages? The spirit that was alive in the 1960s was not just one of bloody protests, drugs, and widespread sexual abandonment. There was a spirit of love at that time whose fire paralleled the fires that set fire to the buildings in Santa Barbara. And this spirit of goodwill towards one another was once called Christian Love.
“Do not owe anyone anything except to love one another; for one loving the other has fulfilled the Law. For “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and if there is another commandment, it is summed up in this Word: ” You will love your neighbor as yourself. Love does not harm its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13: 8-10)
So let’s come back to the law of love, and to the spirit that characterized the Sixties, even if in practice, the madness of the Sixties left an imprint too indelible to be erased. Let’s go back to the one Rule which is Golden – for love is the fulfillment of the law.
- The State of Christianity in Contemporary American Culture, Part 2 – December 29, 2021
- The State of Christianity in Contemporary American Culture, Part 1 – October 14, 2021
- A waste of faith – September 24, 2021
- My experience with prayer – September 2, 2021
- Did Jesus ever doubt? – July 17, 2021
- Two types of people in this world – May 27, 2021
- Finding meaning in the pandemic – May 6, 2021
- Inequalities in our perception of homelessness, part 5 – March 17, 2021
- Inequalities in our perception of homelessness, part 4 – March 10, 2021
- Inequalities in our perception of homelessness, part 3 – March 3, 2021
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