OF COURSE, it has not made the mainstream media, but there was enormous news yesterday:
Rev Louie Giglio had been tapped to give the benediction at the president’s swearing in ceremony but announced he was withdrawing on Thursday after a growing wave of criticism from gay rights groups.
During a 1990s sermon entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality”, Rev Giglio called on Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community”.
That the president disagrees with Giglio’s stance is not surprising – he has said so, everyone knows it. That he would censor someone with that opinion, in a setting where the opinion really will not come up, is stunning. Note that again, the opinion is not being censored – the person with the opinion is. I’m not a big fan of censorship at all, but couldn’t a simple directive of “Let’s not discuss the whole gay thing in the benediction,” have covered it? The culture war has been stepped up a notch. Yes, Christians of many stripes have complained about the prevalent presence of homosexuality in media, but complaining is one thing – this sort of exclusion is another altogether.
It is a critical time. K-Lo recently conducted an interview on marriage with M. Bradford Wilcox. Said Wilcox:
Almost 60 percent of Americans have a high-school degree but not a college degree. We call this group “Middle Americans,” which includes those with some college or an associate’s degree, and it is this group that is driving the key trends in marriage today.
…we’re at a tipping point with Middle America, insofar as Middle Americans are on the verge of losing their connection to marriage. But they haven’t gotten there yet. If the nation takes the right cultural and policy steps, we can renew marriage in Middle America.
In other words, the cancer is spreading, and as it becomes more pervasive it is shutting down the systems that are designed to fight it.
There is a lethargy amongst conservatives and especially religious conservatives. I cannot help but sense that we are giving ground at a rapid pace in large part because all we want is peace. We fought hard into last November, and we lost, but the war is not over and if we sit around too long and lick our wounds we are in serious trouble. This move with regards to the inauguration is harbinger. If the president is this determined to pursue the homosexual agenda, I am not entirely certain Christianity will survive the next four years in a recognizable form.
Now I want to be quite plain here. Homosexuals are no better or worse people than the rest of us. Theologically we are all sinners. And as such we are called upon to renounce and fight against our sin, as well as be loving and accepting of other sinners. But love and acceptance do not mean failing to call sin – sin. Love and acceptance to not mean abandoning the ideal. I would argue that upholding the ideal is in fact the most loving thing we can do.
And yet, I am hearing ever increasing cries inside Christianity to drop our opposition to the homosexual agenda. The marriage debate is not about homosexuality, it is about what marriage is, what is is not, and what it means to society and culture. Christianity is intended to shape society and culture, not bend to it. I read this morning in my devotional:
…we sense that the church plays an essential role in God’s work in the cosmos.
I am not calling for theocracy here, but it is clear there is a place for the church to act – and in our current inaction, we are losing. We lost and that has consequences, but the consequences of giving up the fight are too enormous to contemplate. It is time to re-engage. What are we to do?
Some worry about branding. But note they want to become more “accepting.” First of all, faith is much more than a brand, and if we reduce it to branding we lose. Secondly, I think if you ask the homosexuals I know personally, accepting is not the issue. I accept people just fine, and their personal behavior, even if wrong, is tolerated – but when accepting means changing social mores and changing standards that have stood for millennium, then we have an issue.
Some note that religion is making a comeback on campus. Maybe, but note it is more about identity than conviction and more about diversity than behavior. I just take this as evidence that we are losing.
Some are noting, as we did on Tuesday, that lack of organization and infighting are severe impediments to Evangelical action:
And particularly as evangelicals, we ought to worry a little about whether our weak ecclesiastical ties and the rise of even more sub-ecclesiastical associations will stunt our discourse by diminishing our sense of the need for unity, a sense which is primarily shaped by our experience of the local church.
But the thing most of note is this from Eric Metaxis:
This is why conservative Christians need to be wary of engaging in cultural efforts just to push a message. As Wainer reminds us, “Jon Stewart knows comedy in his bones; he happens to be liberal . . . but he mainly wants to make people laugh. When conservatives start telling stories to express their ideology, they have missed the motive that will sustain them through the years of … setbacks common to anyone in the entertainment industry.” And audiences will know the difference—and stay away.
Christians produced great art and culture for centuries, and we can do it again. But there are no shortcuts. The church needs to teach its members a strong and consistent Christian worldview, and then support and encourage those with artistic gifts to pursue their calling.
Let me be more blunt. Our engagement with culture tends to be to try and rebrand stuff that is already popular. Hummels sell, so we make knock-offs of little German kids in lederhosen holding up scripture cards. Give me a break. Part of this comes; however, because we do not have a good idea of what a worldview is – because we have tried to reduce Christianity to theology, to merely a set of intellectual precepts. A true worldview has an intellectual basis, but it invades our very being on all levels. It is more than ideas, it is who we are at the deepest possible levels.
In this fashion it becomes easy to be “accepting” while maintaining mores and standards, because our intellectual certainty is matched with a character that demonstrates the love of God.
But before this becomes a full fledged sermon, let me conclude where I started. It is time to get busy. Otherwise we will not be permitted to sit here and talk about this stuff.