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The New Social Landscape and the Church

newkids.jpgThis is a rather shocking piece to read if you are a traditional church member. It is time, however, that we take a brutally honest look at the status quo. If we don’t deal with the problems in the church today, we will see much of it disintegrate before our very eyes. Change is rapidly transitioning from evolutionary to revolutionary. The speed of technology advances at an exponential rate. A similar rate may now be seen in social structures as well. This includes the look of the church in our present world.

The scriptures speak clearly about family relationships among church members. Monogamous, heterosexual family units with their biologically conceived children all living in an orderly, safe domestic environment seems to be the norm for New Testament Christians. Today’s society, however, doesn’t look much like that model. The old “Ozzie and Harriet” or “Father Knows Best” ideal was abandoned by our grandparents. Their children, our parents, grew up in a world that not only rejected the traditional home, but held it up to ridicule. Now, this generation almost literally believes that anything goes. Whatever people choose to do is deemed proper, as long as it is consensual and nobody gets physically, emotionally or psychologically hurt. Now, even the concept of abuse is undergoing change. Pedophilia, statutory rape, and other acts that used to be defined as abusive now find growing tolerance or even support in the culture.

As one might anticipate, the church world has begun to reflect these societal trends to an unprecedented degree. Activities that are strongly prohibited in the Bible occur on a regular basis and much of the activity is defended as fine. The spit wad and rubber band era has given way to pornography and condoms. The following list may serve as a starter for the new look:

  • Men who abuse their wives and children.
  • Prominent church members going through divorce.
  • Mothers leaving their families for a life of irresponsibility.
  • Gay people who come out of the closet and still want to be in church.
  • Transgendered people in the church.
  • Separated persons wanting to include boyfriends and girlfriends in activities.
  • Exposure of children to illicit arrangements between parents and others.
  • Transvestites who want to use opposite sex facilities.
  • Divorced persons who continue to belong to the same church.
  • Couples who have swapped partners in the church.
  • Affairs between church members.
  • Growing unease with scriptural teaching about sexual matters.
  • Discomfort with reading scriptural text that forbids sexual sins.
  • Pressure to accept sexual orientation as defined by secular society.
  • Child custody battles between divorced people in the church.
  • Grandparents battling over custody or visitation rights with children in the church.
  • Gross sexual sins between people in the church.
  • Illegitimate children in the church.
  • Child abusers in the church.
  • Sex offenders in the church.
  • Young people heavy into fornication.
  • Engaged persons becoming sexually active and/or living together.

What spiritual wisdom do we need in order to deal with these developments? Have we crossed the line to the point that the righteous lifestyle may be gone forever? Where do we draw the line between loving the sinner but hating the sin, especially when the sinner has no desire nor intention of giving up his or her sin?

My fear is that we will fail to hold the scriptural line against sinful behavior and will subsequently lose our moral ground. What behavior do we forbid and what do we excuse? Should we tolerate more and more in the name of love and affirmation? Will we suffer so much intimidation from the world around us that we will shut up? When faced with sin, will we just look the other way in hopes that we don’t get hauled off to jail?

The church stands at a crisis point. While we were sleeping, the enemy has come in to sow tares. I freely admit that I do not have any answers other than to say we need a revival—desperately, thoroughly and worldwide. The revival we need today must do more than bring new people into the church. It must also bring a wave of sanctification and personal holiness into the church as well. If not, we will be the Christian version of the political reality now faced by the Republican Party. They speak of RINOs. It’s an acronym for “Republicans in Name Only.” We will be Christians in name only. Nothing by the way we act, look or believe will define us as Christians. Our labels may be the only vestiges we have left to remind us who we are—or used to be. I find it hard to believe that this is the kind of church Christ intended to create, or that he will return for in the near future.

This short piece is embarrassingly scant. It is little more than a heads-up. So much more needs to be written about these developments. As I gradually get over my shock and see my way clear, I will continue to add my voice and pen to the mix. Unfortunately, I find myself too often as a reporter on the sidelines rather than an influencer in the middle of the crazy current. Either we fight the trends and hold the banner high or we will sink beneath the waves of history.

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Reader Comments (1)

"Monogamous, heterosexual family units with their biologically conceived children all living in an orderly, safe domestic environment seems to be the norm for New Testament Christians."

Acts 2:44 hints of a slightly different structure, but even if the practice of NT Christians is what you say, it was not what Jesus called for. Jesus explicitly rejected biological identification as the basis for family in favor of identification on a more fundamental (spiritual) level.

(1) Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus specifically a rejects biological definition of "mother", "sister", and "brethren" in favor of one that is spiritually-based.

(2) Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus declares that marriage is not for everyone, and indeed, that the choice not to marry is natural for those born that way (!).

"Transgendered people in the church."

That's a tough one, but Paul does say that in Christ there is "neither male or female", and except for the practical purposes of marriage and child-bearing, it doesn't seem to have any relevance under the new covenant.

"Whatever people choose to do is deemed proper, as long as it is consensual and nobody gets physically, emotionally or psychologically hurt."

You've hit on something there. That's actually not an objectionable standard, except that it presumes we are actually aware of all the consequences of our actions. I've observed through my own errors that often, there was "something wrong", something that perhaps seemed peripheral to the attitude or practice in question, but present in a situation in which I was making an actual decision, that had I heeded the "warning sign" of even the "peripheral" concern, I would have avoided the greater error that I could not see or did not want to acknowledge out of stubbornness or self-will (iniquity).

When in doubt about something that is a matter of personal privilege, lay it down. If it is truly beneficial to us, God may give it back to us. However, in many cases, the doubt we feel about something is likely an indication that even if it isn't universally wrong, it may be in fact, a personal stumbling block.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Garcia

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