:While doing a quick “pop on and off” on Facebook the other day, this Matt Walsh repost from a friend caught my eye. I mulled it over for twenty-four hours then decided I would repost it, too. Blogging has been more difficult since my recent uptake in school-related chauffeuring duties, but I felt strongly enough about Walsh’s sentiments to hammer out the longest Facebook post I’ve done in many a moon. When I got done writing, I realized I had essentially written a blog post with very little effort. Duh. It’s amazing how passion about a subject can make composition a breeze. With that, and a bit of extra editing, here it is:
Along with “sexual atheism” among the supposedly faithful, I truly believe “liberal” Christianity, which has removed all expectations of both physical and spiritual change in those who come to church, is a blight on Christ’s teachings to “Come, Follow Me.” Christ had no difficulty calling sin sin, but I’m amazed that such a large crowd of religious folks these days can’t seem to spit that word out without choking! Without the the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which clearly delineates good from evil, or at least good from bad or incorrect, if you prefer, everything is subjective, open to interpretation; and I don’t believe Christ left that much of His teachings open ended.
Christ did, however, invite all to leave their lifestyles and seek Him. Never once did he say, “Keep doing what you’re doing; just follow those of my teachings that is easiest for you.” Yet that is exactly what far too many ministers, priests, preachers, and the like are telling their congregants, and it matters not a whit whether they say it explicitly or implicitly. “Come as you are, stay as you are; don’t change a bit,” that is the message that is received. And it is a perversion of Christ’s life-altering message and the meaning of His eternal sacrifice on the cross.
One of the arguments frequently heard against “traditional” Christian morality, morality that eschews homosexual or other aberrant behaviors, “shacking-up,” pre-marital-sex, children being regularly conceived and born out of wed-lock, and extramarital affairs, is that it shames and condemns individuals, or rather those claiming to practice this morality shame and condemn; and Christ didn’t do those things- that is completely true. He didn’t, and we definitely shouldn’t. People are weak; mistakes are made; even deliberate actions are taken because humans are quite adept at selecting the wrong path to happiness from time to time. Gratefully, we can repent of our errors; grace and love need to be extended to those who stray. Nevertheless, despite to fact that disciples of Christ during the time of his mortal ministry were expected to get their mess together, or, if you prefer, “Go and sin no more,” we modern day followers, according to so-called “liberal Christians,” are expected to welcome everyone in while they live in, flaunt, and frolic about in their sinful behaviors—and even jump for joy as scriptures are cut and pasted (or just cut) to allow for such lifestyles. Seriously, folks?! The Jesus who said, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” and “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me,” is suddenly into moral relativism? I think not.
Christ did say if you want to be my disciple DO as I say. He wasn’t loud or hateful about it (many of us do need to work on our delivery); He never would have put a Scarlet Letter on a woman’s dress or stoned her lover, but He always asked those following Him to seek after better things, to, in fact, BECOME better; choose better, BE better; and bring others up, too. Don’t, however, stay exactly where you are. Why is this so hard for the “enlightened” people of today to understand?
Liberal Catholics in San Francisco want their archbishop removed and replaced with one who holds “their” values (regardless of whether they may be Christ’s values), liberal Mormons want a more “diverse” look to their leaders and demand women get the priesthood (because that matters a whole lot to Christ), and apparently, even agitators in the Churches of Christ want women in the pulpit. A broad swath of liberal “general population” Christians appear to want any part of scripture (the hard parts) with which they disagree to be stricken from the record or ignored (the Nazis rewrote Lutheranism to their purposes, too). Goodness, there is even a group of “pro-choice” religious leaders out there blessing abortion clinics! Isaiah 29:13 comes to mind here, which reads something like this: “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Christ was definitely all about Love, and reaching out, pulling people in, loving them through thick and thin, tolerating (which is very, very different from accepting). We all need to love more and love better. BUT in addition to Love, Christ was also about Change, and broken hearts and contrite spirits; he was about us overcoming our human weaknesses and frailties to rise to a higher plain. Thank heaven for Grace and the Lord’s forgiveness for those of us who fall short (on a daily, or sometimes hourly, basis). Included in that expectation of change was living a sexuality based upon and confined within His laws, God’s laws, not men’s (and women’s) rewriting of those laws to something easier or more palatable for “21st Century morality,” a morality which cares more about shrinking one’s carbon footprint, recycling, LGBT rights, and animal welfare than treating our own bodies as temples. You remember what he did to those who were defiling the temple, right? Man, woman, married– period- that is sexuality His way (or to use the common vernacular, “No huggy, no kissy, til I get a wedding ring”).
In the Book of Mormon there is a section we LDS refer to as “Lehi’s Dream.” In this dream or vision, the prophet Lehi sees a beautiful tree heavy with the delicious fruit of eternal life to which he hopes his family will gravitate and partake, but the path to it is filled with a variety obstacles. One of the difficulties for those seeking the tree is a “great and spacious building” without foundation. It floats, as it were, above the ground and is filled with people in worldly finery who mock and jeer at those seeking the tree; their taunts are meant to shame the faithful and shake them from their true course. Many do fall away from the path, some before they even get started. Others make it further along but step off the path and get lost in mists of darkness; still others make it to the tree, but then step away when they start heeding the idiocy of the onlookers from across the way.
I think more and more of this tale these days. It is clear that millions of my fellow Christian (and other religiously oriented) brothers and sisters are seeking for a gospel that lets them be comfortable in whatever life or lifestyle they see fit to live. And they are doing so at the expense of those Christians striving to live lives of holiness in this increasingly wicked culture, a culture that doesn’t bat an eye at calling evil good and good evil! By all appearances, these hip, mainstream, 21st century Christians (though there were plenty of the same ilk in the 20th century, too!) believe that and as long as they go built a Habitat home once a year, feed a homeless dog from time to time, and support liberal ideas of social “justice,” it doesn’t matter that they throw out 80% of Christ’s inconvenient teachings, teachings that require them to work on themselves, not just point fingers at others and say, “Jesus wouldn’t do that!” Yeah, that beam in the eye story works both ways, folks.
Modern social righteousness often differs from the righteousness of the Bible. Someone has said: “A wrong deed is right if the majority of people declare it not to be wrong.” By this principle we can see our standards shifting from year to year according to the popular vote! Divorce was once frowned upon by society, and laws against fornication and adultery were strictly enforced. But now divorce is accepted by society, and fornication is glorified in our literature and films. –Billy Graham
We are all guilty of looking at another’s sin, but ignoring our own, even liberals who feel they are more loving, more kind, and more tolerant (of some things and some people, maybe). Oddly, the very people who are first to scream, er, um, quote Christ’s “Judge not that ye be not judged,” can be just as, if not more, ugly, hateful, and intolerant of those with whom they disagree as they claim we uptight old Victorians are. How they can not fall to the ground in a stupor from all of the cognitive dissonance is beyond me! Nevertheless, in Revelations we are reminded that as many as God loves, he also chastens and rebukes. “Be zealous,” John said, “and repent.” That goes for us all, each and every one. We all sin, we just sin differently. Still, the difference lies in being able to accept that there are behaviors and deeds, thoughts and actions, that are, in fact, sinful, and own up it! One can’t possibly repent and change if one feels he has nothing to change.
What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven — a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all. — C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Make no mistake, my friends, being a Christian is HARD work, as it should be. We are pulled in many directions by the hyper-religious, the hypo-religious, scriptural interpretations, T.V., social media, newspapers, magazines, movies, and governments. The World in general mocks the precious and the sacred with increasing intensity, enticing people away from God, away from Christ, but being the salt that has lost its savor helps no one! We Christians, we all fail, stumble, trip, fall into traps, act as stumbling blocks for others, mess up, screw up, crash and burn—daily! We can’t keep our mouths shut or our feet out of them, or our fingers off the keyboard. We’re proud, carnal, rude, crude, weak, and horrid- and we know better! Granted, some of our weaknesses, sins or transgressions can be (or seem) terribly hard to overcome. Some problems are definitely tougher than others. True enough, we’re human!
But we’re also wonderful, beautiful, strong, humble, capable, peaceable, loving, kind, spiritual and thoughtful. Indeed, “[We] can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth [us].” We are not objects to be acted upon, but agents capable of choosing to act in one way or another- despite our “human nature.” Long ago, all churches taught that our natural man was something to be overcome. Yet now, more and more church leaders are joining their voices with those of the World in saying, “If you were ‘born that way’ or your way works best for you, run with it! God expects nothing of you.” ALL of us are born with things to overcome. Some of those issues are internal, others are external, but they can be conquered, or at least dealt or struggled with, if we so choose to do so. Lest we forget, the great Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh with which he lived his entire life. Are we better than Paul? Should our walk as Christians be easier than his?
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce”
Despite the difficulty, living the Gospel of Christ is a joy and a blessing for those up to the task- or even up to simply trying their best. We are asked to bring our cares to His feet, to bring our failings and frailties to His throne, all that He may make our burdens light, not so He can say, “Nice to see you. Now, go, go, and keep on transgressing my law. Obviously, you know what ‘works best for you‘.” Nope, Jesus’ Hope and Change is a plan that actually works, one that really fundamentally transforms. But it can do none of that as long as we hold on to the world’s morality, not if we turn the meat of His gospel into pablum for babies, not if we only do what “feels good,” labeling sexual purity before marriage, traditional, God-sanctioned marriage, and marital fidelity (among a whole host of other issues) as old-fashioned or quaint.
Honestly, I doubt dying on the cross felt very good to Christ, not to mention the beating He took before being nailed to it; and I’ve no doubt that bleeding-from-every-pore thing was a bit more than simply uncomfortable, but despite the agony, fear, loneliness, and utter humiliation, He did both anyway, willingly; and He did it all for us. He did it that we might find strength to overcome the world and its teachings; He did it to make it possible for us to conquer our natural man (or woman) by accessing His strength. He did it because we are spiritual creatures created for more than just this earthly realm, to BE more than “just” human. Indeed, according to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” And if we are to be with our Savior again, after we shuffle off this mortal coil, our vision of us must be as high as His, not as low as the world’s.