Sunday, November 22, 2009

Culture wars:
Fear and Comfort

[Point seven Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."

7. It makes idols of comfort and safety and propriety and power. The culture war is largely driven by fear. We’re afraid our public schools will ruin our children, we’re afraid gay people will ruin our families. We’re afraid a Democrat will ruin our country, we’re afraid liberals will ruin our neighborhoods. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect our family, and safety of course is not a bad thing. But neither is it a biblical virtue. Ditto comfort.
This point of Jared's is a bit harsh - so I will narrow my commentary a bit. I say it is harsh because, as a comment at the original post pointed out:
I’m not sure I understand the bit on fear and so forth. Setting oneself against the world, in the world, is not the same thing as reacting fearfully to public schools, gays, liberals or whoever.
I have argued consistantly against the usefulness of the term "homophobia" to describe folks who are opposed to homosexuality on scriptural and/or theological grounds -- it is not fear that drives their opinion. Attributing folks opposition to abortion as the "fear of women controlling their lives" and opposition to gay marriage as "fear of gays" are the classic "talking points" I see on the political left. Wrong, and common.

Perception is everything (except right) so it is worthwhile to point out that whatever the true motivation of the culture warriors - fear seems to stick rather well to their arguments. Also, some folks arguments are so lacking in rational explanation (it may exist - but I do not hear it) that it appears to be based in reactionary fear even if it isn't. One example is that gay marriage threatens God's institution of marriage -- the "how" of that has never been made to me at least.

If the arguments are based on real fear - then this (not doubt) is the exact opposite of faith. People fear because they do not trust that God is in charge and will make all things work for the Good.

And, there is no basis in scripture to believe that God is concerned for the safety or comfort of followers of Christ - indeed exactly the opposite. We are promised adversity in His name, and told that that adversity is there to give us character and not contribute to our safety or comfort.

I believe the Gospel teaches the adversity of society, and its continual (and increasing) separation from God's intent for our social relationships as a major opportunity to bring folks fearful about the future into the presence of God to experience the peace that faith in Him can bring. That doesn't happen if the follower of Christ is as fearful and concerned for their own comfort as the non-believer.

* * * * *
Jared Wilson:
I choose the gospel. Come hell or highwater, come a liberal administration in Washington for the rest of my life or actual suffering. My treasure is not Christianity, but Christ. My hope is not a Christian nation but a Christ-saturated universe. I trust not in princes but in the King of Kings. I choose war on hell and death through the liberating power of Jesus in the glorious gospel of the grace of God.

For the glory of God.

it is incumbant upon Christians to work for right order and justice in the society in which we live. However, our duties to the Body of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Kingdom of God trump our requirements as Christian citizens of a nation state.

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly