Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

William Edgar, writing for Reformation21:

One of the most important [issues for Christians to work through] is social justice for all people, regardless of their background, or, indeed, sexual orientation. If marriage is not, strictly speaking, a right, nor a civil right, but a creation ordinance, what of the civil rights of gay people? We ought to be just as zealous to safeguard the rights of gay people as we are to safeguard marriage for monogamous heterosexuals. Not because they are gay, but because they are people, citizens, image-bearers. So legislators need to figure out the most equitable way to ensure that every citizen be given the proper access to social benefits, retirement, inheritance rules, etc.

And, surely, there is much repenting to be done over attitudes toward gay people that are hateful and prejudiced. I went to a boarding school many years ago, where the only view of gay people was “yuck!” Yet surely there were young men there struggling with their sexual identity and in need of compassionate counseling. Furthermore, those of us who are married (heterosexually) have a good deal of homework to do in our own families. It won’t do to criticize gays as unhappy, guilty, etc., if our own marriages are flagging. And then, the church needs to think through what it means to be celibate. Certainly this legitimate calling has also been maligned by sub-Christian attitudes.
 
At the end of the day, however, we do not recommend heterosexual marriage because it works best, because children may be born, or because it is the traditional view. We recommend it because God as [sic] ordained it, and it is a good thing: “Let marriage be held in honor among all” (Heb. 13:1).
 
Read the rest of the article here.
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When Christians Become a ‘Hated Minority‘” (CNN):

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a “postmodern” era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It’s an environment in which anyone who says “this is right” and “that is wrong” is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

The One, the Three and the ManyColin Gunton offers some penetrating analysis of this “intellectual tribalism” in his book The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity:

The characteristic peril of the modern is to be found in the tendency to homogeneity, to the intellectual and social pressures by which the distinctive individuality of people and things is endangered. … [T]he death of rhetoric is the reason why much modern political dispute takes the form of aggressive confrontation rather than rational engagement: the demonstration rather than the disputatio. Given the loss of confidence in argument, the noisy and potentially violent demonstration is all that remains. … [Alasdair] MacIntyre has argued that there is in the modern world a complete breakdown of a common language in which to argue and decide moral disputes. Listen, he says, to any argument about abortion or nuclear arms, and you will find that opponents speak past each other’s shoulders because they lack a common language in which to communicate. The reason is to be found in emotivism. …

A diagnosis of American conditions similar to that of [Wayne C.] Booth’s underlies Allan Bloom’s much discussed The Closing of the American Mind. … The problem is the cult of openness:

Openness used to be the virtue that permitted us to seek the good by using reason. It now means accepting everything and denying reason’s power. The unrestrained and thoughtless pursuit of openness, without recognizing the inherent political, social or cultural problem of openness as the goal of nature, has rendered openness meaningless … Openness to closedness is what we teach. (101-103)

UPDATE: Justin Taylor has posted a related article entitled “The Gay Marriage Campaign and the Despotism of Conformity.”  Check it out—it’s worth the read.

ImageExposure to chosen media streams can give us a false perception of being permanently in the present tense, depriving us of the sober sense of time passing and creating a feeling that our options are perpetually open, when in fact time is passing us by the minute.  There is a sense in which the very fact that physical activity requires us to consciously move our bodies through space and time creates a healthy awareness of the passing of time, while the physical inactivity of virtual life allows us to inhabit a place where the rules of time seem simply not to apply.  The effect of this is that we spend time without consciously reckoning with the cost and value of what is slipping through our fingers.  Thus, wasting time seems more effortless than ever.  Cultural engagement, civic participation, voter turnout, and other markers all show signs of decreasing interest.

– Read Mercer Schuchardt, “Social Media and the Loss of Embodied Communication,” in Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, edited by Jeffry C. David & Philip G. Ryken (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 243-244.

Russel Moore on the state of the America:

As Christians, we ought to recognize that the old majoritarian understanding of church/state relations is outmoded. Our situation today is not to hold on to some form of American civil religion. Our situation today is more akin to the minority religions of America’s past: colonial Baptists, nineteenth-century Baptists, early twentieth-century Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are appealing simply for the right to exist at all, in the face of an established religion armed with popular support and, in the fullness of time, state power.

It turns out we’re circling around to where we should have been all along: with the understanding that religious liberty isn’t “toleration” and separation of church and state isn’t secularism.

Indeed, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis note that we are already living in a “post-Christendom” context, and therefore should not be surprised when we are marginalized by society:

Christendom, however, is increasingly a spent force in the West.  Some of the symbolism remains.  The British monarch is still the head of an established church, and bishops still sit in the upper chamber of the United Kingdom Parliament.  But the reality of Christendom is fading fast, overtaken by secularism and pluralism.  The Bible no longer has authority in public discourse.  The church no longer has a privileged voice.  Church leaders still get invited to state occasions, but on matters of ethics they are ignored.  When the Pope visited the United Kingdom in 2010 he was greeted with all due pomp ad ceremony as a head of state.  But when it comes to his views on abortion and homosexuality, he is ignored by politicians and ridiculed by the media.  Lyndon Bowring, the Executive Chairman of CARE, said in an interview, “The greatest challenge … is the growing secularization of society, where Christianity is being increasingly squeezed out of our national life.  The ultimate result of this tendency will be a society that is hostile to Christian truth and practice.

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 19-20

Sobering words, but a timely reminder nonetheless.  Praise God our hope does not rest in the continuation of Christendom.  Rather, we trust in our sovereign Lord, who reigns from heaven and in whose hands the hearts of kings are but streams of water (Prov. 21:1).

Be sure to read the rest of Moore’s excellent article, “Louie Giglio and the New State Church.”

The Idiotic Idolization of Youth

Posted: December 24, 2012 in culture

Lady-GagaIn today’s topsy-turvy world, youth has status.  That is why so many old-timers spend large amounts of money and time trying to hold on to, or even win back, some of its accoutrements, whether by purchasing a pair of jeans from Aeropostale, buying a male grooming kit, or even undergoing drastic plastic surgery.  Harmless as these phenomena are at one level, at another they are part of the larger cultural impulse towards disdain for the past and for old age.  We see this not just in fashion, of course, but also in the “wisdom” now invested in young people who are considered competent to opine on complex matters, not despite the fact of their relative youth and inexperience but precisely because of it.  Pop music, a function of youth culture if there ever was one, is perhaps responsible for this.  In the last few decades, we have had the pleasure of hearing all manner of people, from Hall & Oats in the eighties to Lady Gaga in the present, telling the world what to do about everything from apartheid to third world debt to gay marriage.  Apparently, the lack of “baggage” (to use the standard pejorative) is an advantage to being able to speak with authority on complex subjects.  In other professions, of course—from plumbing to brain surgery and beyond—”baggage” is generally referred to as “appropriate training,” but, such is the power of a youthful smile, a full head of hair, and a trim waistline that such does not apply to matters of morality, economics, or the meaning of life in general.

– Carl Trueman, The Creedal Imperative (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 29.

In summary, turn off Bravo and go talk to your grandma.  You’ll be better for it.

Absolutely right:

In the drive to make churches more guy-friendly, we risk confusing cultural (especially American) customs with biblical discipleship. One noted pastor has said that God gave Christianity a “masculine feel.” Another contrasted “latte-sipping Cabriolet drivers” with “real men.” Jesus and his buddies were “dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes.” Real Christian men like Jesus and Paul “are aggressive, assertive, and nonverbal.” Seriously? …

So enough with the beards (if it’s making a spiritual statement). Enough with the “federal husband” syndrome that goes beyond the legitimate spiritual leadership of the heads of households found in Scripture. Enough of the bravado that actually misunderstands—sometimes rather deeply—what real sanctification looks like in the lives of men as well as women. And why does every famous pastor today have to write a book about his marriage and family? Beyond Scripture, there is godly wisdom and Christian liberty. Biblical principles focus on what it means to live in Christ by his Word and Spirit, and even in those few passages that speak directly to men and women, there will be legitimate diversity in application.

– Michael Horton, “Muscular Christianity

A surprisingly insightful commentary from NPR on Kim Kardashian’s failed marriage:

I stress that because the Kardashian nuptials have once again triggered the cycle of indulgence and regret that marks both the public treatment of celebrity news and the day after Thanksgiving. Once again, we hear about the decline of culture, the end of intelligence, the shortening of the attention span, the flash of shiny objects, and the crass devaluing of marriage, femininity, masculinity, love, religious ceremonies and the New Jersey Nets. As if this is Kim Kardashian’s fault for managing to get her wedding turned into a preposterously expensive bacchanal held inside a glass dome with millions of noses pressed against it, mostly on the strength of her round behind.

This is a woman who is literally a famous walking derriere, and there is absolutely no need for her to spell the end of anything on earth. The thing about those who rise without talent is that they have no power but the power given freely to them…

We are fooling ourselves in thinking that the Kim Kardashians, Britney Spears, and Paris Hiltons of the world are the cause of our culture’s continuing degradation.  Celebrity culture, with all it’s depravity, is simply a symptom (or perhaps more accurately, a creation) of the sickness that resides in us all.