The need for awareness and preparation for the rapid change in our culture has been a common refrain on this blog. Just today there was an article in the New York Times advocating for gender reassignment surgery in teens as young as 13. First of all, that’s insane. Second of all, this issue has moved more quickly than any other in recent memory if not human history. In less than a decade, transgenderism has moved from the fringes of society to mainstream affirmation and support. The speed is disorienting.
It’s not hard to see why this has happened. Once a society removes God from its ethical equations, there are no logical reasons to say no to anything. If there is nothing transcendent in our world to tell us what is good and evil, then we have lost the ability to say anything is good and evil. Once that first domino fell - and hit a critical mass of unbelief - the rest of the dominoes will fall with increasing speed.
So what is the church to do in this situation? There are several schools of thought and they exist on a pretty clear continuum. First, you have many on the left who have simply acquiesced to the changes and instead of denying God’s existence, they have made him Affirmer in Chief, who simply says yes to each of society’s whims. Moving rightward, you have a group of churches who may not overtly affirm these moves but decides that publicly rejecting them isn’t worth the blowback and so silently goes along in the name of keeping the main thing the main thing.
Further rightward are those who reject the movement of culture overtly but believe that the answer is simply evangelism and discipleship of individual members of the flock. They may still have concerns about the direction of the culture but believe those meta-fights are not the job of the church. Lastly, and I know I’m skipping over your and many other positions along the way, are those churches that are trying to build Christian cities, states, and countries through the levers of power that the Constitution has bestowed upon its citizens. They believe that evangelism and discipleship are not enough on their own and must also be buttressed with a proactive civic and marketplace infiltration strategy.
If you are reading this blog, you likely fall somewhere in my last three categories. Very few liberals appreciate my sarcasm. Regardless of where you fall on this continuum, the key to the future is going to be clarity. We have to equip our people to think well about and defend our position on these contentious issues in a way that is clear, convicted, and compelling.
Our people are being sold an alternative story about who they are and how that gets defined and it is a story that is becoming pervasive. Everywhere they turn, in the media, entertainment, corporate environments, and social media, they are being told a story that is antithetical to the gospel. We literally cannot compete with the repetition, social pressure, or financial investment that these storytellers are armed with.
So we have to do the hard work of deep discipleship with our people so that they are clear that our convictions don’t just come from an old-school vision of sex. We need to begin with clear anthropology. What are people and why do we believe that? How does the concept of the imago Dei shape our vision for gender, race, sexuality, healthcare, abortion, and so much more?
We have to connect the dots for people from the Bible to Theology to Ethics and Practice. The Christian worldview is the most logical and coherent worldview on offer but we have to demonstrate that! And we have to do it over and over and over and over and over, not because our people are stupid (they might be) but because the counter story is so pervasive and the pressure it puts on our people so constant.
The future of our churches must be clear. We have to be who the Bible says we are to be, we should be upfront about it, and teach the logic of it so that our people are equipped to navigate the world with grace and truth.