A good friend of mine recently sent me a link to a hilarious YouTube video entitled “Shoot Christians Say.” If you grew up in the Bible Belt, spent a week at youth camp every summer, attended every Christian conference imaginable, and are currently plugged into a thriving church with multiple services each Sunday, then this video will make you laugh and cry. If this doesn’t describe you, I’d encourage you to watch it anyway. You’ll get a good glimpse of current church subculture in a little under three minutes time. (You’ll find the video at the end of this post.)
I’ll admit that it is remarkable the “shoot” that Christians say. And while I can laugh at much of it from inside the Christian culture and admit that I too sometimes say the darndest things, there are other words that escape many a Christians’ lips these days that cause me to shudder and cry. And no, I’m not talking about insider Christian terminology, nor am I addressing bad language, bad jokes, or even bad grammer. I’m talking about bad theology; the kind that makes you want to grab a bar of soap and start cleaning your mouth out.
I recently heard of a small group that consisted of about four couples that met regularly for Bible study and fellowship. The group was comprised of couples from the same stage of life, in their 40’s-50’s and with grown kids. At one of their meetings, one of the couples announced some shocking news to the rest of the group; they were not actually married but just living together. This was a big admission, especially in a conservative group of believers from a prominent church in the Bible Belt. There could be some major backlash from letting this out. But after a small explanation from the couple, some awkward moments of darting eyes, and a quick second to gather a response, one of the men in the group dared a reply. “That’s great,” he braved. “It’s obvious that you deeply love one another, care for one another, and have a great relationship. I think God honors your relationship and so do we.”
This is where the rub comes. This response saddens me. I do think it’s correct that the couple was loved and accepted in the group regardless of their marital status, but I find the quick, disarming response that “God honors your relationship” to be misleading and false. God does not, can not, honor something that is contrary to His design and intent.
Now I believe this is just a common example of the things we are hearing from Christians today. It’s not necessarily the exact words that matter in this case but rather the bad ideas behind that words that are upsetting. There are implications spread throughout the conversation of social and cultural pressures that trump basic Biblical knowledge. At the same time the pendulum swings the other way as well. Instead of answers given that soften a Christian position, there are often thoughts verbalized that attempt to stand on a more solid Biblical foundation but that are skewed to the point of being demeaning, pompous, and in similar theological error. Examples abound when we speak of politics, abortion, gay-marriage, and other social topics that are tending to divide many Christians into either a camp that compromises Biblical truth for social harmony or a camp with higher and higher walls to keep the heathen out. My friends, this should not be so.
This is perhaps one of the things that I am most interested in understanding and communicating: how I can keep and proclaim solid, Biblical truth while also keeping open communication and relationships with those who may disagree with my beliefs? Also, how can we live this out in the fellowship of believers as well as in the lives of those outside the church? Anyway, much more on this I need to hash out. So more to come. But first, let’s listen to the “Shoot Christians Say.”