I just read an essay by Stephen Mattson, “History Will Judge Today’s Christians According to These 4 Questions.” Mattson lists the four questions he decided were the important issues the Church in America is miserably failing to answer. There’s an arrogance in Mr. Mattson’s approach and an assumption that he alone knows what is the high moral ground all Believers should take because of his superior intellect. BTW, he published his essay in Huffington Post – who by their own definition call themselves, “a left-leaning American online news aggregator…” After reading Mattson’s article, I had to ask myself the question, “How did a young Christian man from Moody Bible Institute come to this?”
Some days I feel dizzy. Not from hot flashes or sugar lows, but from some of the things I hear in person and see on social media. Do you ever wonder, “What in the world is going on?!?” How am I supposed to navigate in today’s swampy waters and alligator infested bayous? It’s tough. It’s disheartening. And sometimes it seems impossible.
Recently, I was talking to a family member about our family doctor and I said, “He’s an excellent Catholic…” Someone overhead the comment and yelled at me, “What does that mean? Are you implying there are Catholics that aren’t excellent?” Uh…well…that’s what he calls himself. You know, like the description, “She’s a good Catholic girl?” His words, not mine. It felt as if the person thought he’d caught me doing something wrong and immediately needed to right that wrong.
Last week, like a crazy person, I criticized Madonna (the singer not the Virgin), for her comments about “any woman who voted for Trump is despicable.” I thought it was ironic that a woman who was nearly arrested in Toronto for simulating masturbation on stage called me “despicable.” The Madonna thing was bad, but what was worse, when I criticized her and spoke of her hypocrisy, a family member called me a “sexist.” What?!?
It seems to me, especially among Millennials, that white, middle-class, educated, raised-in-the-church individuals are looking for a cause; looking for something to fight for. They seem very prone to jumping on a bandwagon (be it BLM, refugee issues, LGBTQ community issues, and/ or pro-pot and its legalization) rather than to define and defend the traditional biblical values and beliefs of Christianity. Why is that? Is it a sign of the times? Or does it go deeper? Maybe, just maybe, it is because my generation failed to teach them what a true and reasonable Christian worldview does and how it impacts society, our culture, and our personal lives.
I joined the Christian movement in 1980. Oh my, the things I have seen in these past 40 years! I attended churches that taught we needed to make the Christian message relevant; I attended churches that believed strobe lights were good for worship; I attended churches that taught that prosperity was God’s will for His Bride around the globe; I attended churches that preached healing was always God’s will. You know, it is a miracle that the Church has survived with all these erroneous and crazy off-balanced teachings. And what one generation does in moderation, the next generation does in excess. What I mean is this: there is a whole generation of young Believers who has not been taught how to “rightly divide” the Word of God and whose home churches spent more money on entertaining them and trying to make them happy than they did in training them in developing a Christian worldview and helping them to become holy. So, you see, I think we are reaping exactly what we’ve sown.
We plowed their hearts without sowing good seed. We exposed them to the dangerous idea that they could make a difference in the world; that they were special, and called, and unique, without doing the hard work of equipping them by defining right and wrong, good and bad. They want to make a difference and they want to throw off the hypocrisy and disingenuous attitudes of leaders and parents within the Church, and so they are like small magnets attaching themselves to any metal causes that pass by. Unfortunately, they do this often without thinking, without using sound judgment, without critical analysis, and most importantly, without asking the most fundamental question of all, “What does the Bible say about this?” The result is an anemic generation of Christians trying to give the world a blood transfusion. What’s left is a generation of folks who believe they have the moral high ground and superior intellect simply because what they are supporting and believing is different from my generation’s superficial and unbalanced Christianity. To many, different equals better.
How then can I blame Mattson, and others like him, who want to make the world a better place, who desire to bring justice, equality, and faith to a fallen world, but simply have never been taught the core principles of Truth and a Christian worldview of all life and living? It is because of my generation they cannot recognize the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We didn’t live these principles out before their watching eyes and open hearts.
Sadly, for them to rhapsodize about injustices, without seeking purity of mind and heart doesn’t seem inconsistent. Why do I need to be careful about what I see in movies and on TV? I care about the poor and the marginalized. What does it matter how I spend my time? As long as I am fighting for the underdog, I’m good. After all, my personal activities aren’t really relevant as long as I believe in noble causes. How I spend my money is not important as long as I decry injustices as I see them; as long as I call out sexists, fascists, and hypocrites—it’s all good, after all #LoveWins!
Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve raised a generation of Christians that believe it is more righteous to criticize and protest against refugee vetting, against antiabortion rallies, or anything conservative or traditional than to live out faith which requires clean hands, a clean heart, and a pure mind. Inconsistent? Sure, but they learned it from us. You see, many would rather cry out against the treatment of marginalized individuals than to look biblically and honestly at the sin that holds those individuals in bondage. This is why they can throw out a verse about what Jesus would do in today’s world, but not truly understand the basic principles of protecting life and pursuing holiness. There is a micro and a macro application of Scripture to all of life – a personal application (as Christ’s commanded His followers) that isn’t a governance principle or meant for matters of State. Remember, Jesus lived under Roman rule and occupation. Shame on me. Shame on us for not training up the next generation to understand what it means to fully follow Christ and to fully understand what is genuinely Good, genuinely True, and genuinely Beautiful.
Of course there are exceptions. And I have met brilliant young people whose walks with God I would do well to emulate. But still, there is a generation of young Believers who have called us out on our phoniness and put out a clarion call to rebel, all the while not understanding the basic and fundamental precepts of God’s Word and how to apply it to life and living, as well as to matters of State. What remains is a lot of righteous verbiage without an understanding of right and wrong. Maybe that’s why so many of us are feeling like we’re living right-side up in an upside-down world. Maybe. Peace.