It has been a sad thing, watching American culture slowly unravel. Many people have called this a polarization spiral – something married couples do when things aren’t working out. She pursues him with criticism, and in response, he moves away and shuts down causing her to pursue him with further criticism. However I don’t believe this to be an apt comparison. Since around 2014 I have noticed a uniformity amongst media outlets, academics, politicians, and now large corporations regarding things like abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and so on. In recent days this has become even more extreme with the whole transgender issue.
Many churches have enjoined in this new evil – electing openly gay ministers, supporting the ‘mostly peaceful’ domestic terrorism of Black Lives Matter, and endlessly congratulating themselves and their fellow compatriots for their overwhelming compassion about terrible circumstances of which they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to alleviate.
Other churches have become less disgraceful naively hoping that all this political controversy will somehow magically subside, allowing them to get on with preaching the Bible (the non offensive passages that is – a list growing shorter and shorter as the years go by).
The third lot of churches have acted incredibly courageously by taking a stand against such insane woke agenda. They have done well to not just preach the whole Bible, but to go above and beyond by pointing out specifically why various contemporary ideologies are not in line with Biblical teaching. Preachers like John MacArthur, Voddie Baucham, Justin Peters, Phil Johnson and even Mark Driscol (perhaps unsurprisingly) have all come out in force against this deluge of insanity flooding America.
To many people, this third group is as good as it gets. After all, they teach the Bible, they speak out against sin, and they don’t buckle under the pressure. What’s wrong with all this? Well, what can happen is that a subtle form of complacency can set in. When you already know the truth, you already know the truth. But the gospel mountain has no summit. The understanding and application of the word of God is a task none of us will finish. The political mountain however does have a summit, and it remains vital that we don’t confuse the two mountains. When we do, this can lead to what can only be described as political, moralistic, tribalism. In other words: “We’re okay, because we’re not like… them.“
Unfortunately, this political, moralistic tribalism doesn’t take too kindly to people who struggle with things like sexuality and mental health who can often find themselves sidelined and unsupported – told to ‘just read the Bible and pray more’ and treated as second-class citizens. We may not be joining the pride parade, but we’re certainly not on the same level as someone married with kids. For those of us who struggle with under-age attraction, this can be incredibly difficult. There’s a high chance of being misunderstood and judged as we all know.
Thankfully there is a fourth group of churches out there. A group that are able to rise above the conflict and treat people as complex individuals, not simple political abstractions. A group that has compassion for those who struggle and invites them to share in the bountiful love of a loving savior. A group that stands firm in truth, but also stands firm in love. A group that is genuinely pleasant to be around. A group fragrant with the humility and gentleness of Christ. A group that moves beyond the Evangelical right, and sees the whole spectrum of God’s qualities. Believe it or not, such churches do exist. But you do need to go looking for them.
Recently, I’ve been listening to some of Tim Keller’s work, which I’ve found incredibly refreshing. Perhaps you will too. And maybe together, we can escape this current political paradigm and discover more of the heart of God. After all, the essence of Christianity is Christ. Not politics. But we should be careful not to fall into the same mistake: “We’re okay, because we’re not like… them.”