Sunday, April 26, 2015

The failure of teaching. . .

The approaching victory of same sex marriage and the bullying of its antagonists is seemingly unstoppable yet this alone will have zero impact upon the doctrine of the Church or the orthodox understanding of Scripture's clear and unmistakable voice on the matter.  That said, what is sure to happen is that churches will lose some people who are convinced that despite what Scripture and tradition says, an accommodation must be made to allow for diversity of thinking on these matters within the churches.  Some will resign their membership, some will move to other gay friendly churches, and others will simply stop coming to church.  In the end many will blame the onslaught of culture, the influence of the media, and the perversion of the sexual thinking of the day.  In small ways, this may be correct  but there is one area in which we have failed our own people.

For most of my own life, the church assumed the culture was friendly to the values of the kingdom.  We did not need to teach about the immorality of sexual promiscuity as long as culture frowned upon it (at least the overt expression of sexual license) and so we did not need to frame out why this was evil.  We did not need to teach about the lifelong nature of the marriage commitment and why it was essential to the teaching of marriage as long as divorce was seen as bad in the culture.  When this changed and states began to pass divorce friendly laws, we still failed to explain why this was wrong; we contented ourselves with saying that good Christian people did not do this and left it at that.  We did not need to teach about the value of children as long as our people were having many children and the government was encouraging large families (the need for labor and the hopeful prospect of defeating communism with bodies if not ideology).  So we did not teach about children as gift and blessing, we did not address the idea of birth control which the soldiers learned from the US Army when they came home from war with condoms in their pockets.  We merely assumed our people knew why it wrong if we said it was wrong.  We did not need to teach that homosexual behavior was contrary to God's will as long as it was confined to back alleys and dismissed as effeminate behavior by men "light in their loafers."  It was a subject simply not addressed so when culture began to question why it was not okay, we responded less by reasoned, Scriptural argument than by saying "it is just wrong." 

If the American culture is headed this way, it may be something we have little influence over and can do little about but if the people in the Church are following their lead, it is due mainly to a lack of catechesis.  We were so busy teaching people justification by the gracious act of God in Christ without any human work or merit that we stopped there and failed to actively teach what the shape of Christian life looked like.  Worse, we ridiculed those who did spend their time there as if eternity were the only real focus of orthodox Christian teaching.  Our people read authors not our own and developed a spirituality that was more than influenced by those who in a crass way believed that your best life was now and God's job was to make it happen.  Our people borrowed from so-called pastors who preached good sex, successful business, happy marriages, free thinking children, and the gospel of personal satisfaction with its god of personal preference.  Now we are reaping the fruits of poor catechesis.  Our people cannot explain why sex is good only within marriage, why marriage is only for man and woman, why homosexual behavior is contrary to God's creative intention, why children should be welcomed and not prevented, why abortion is murder, why the suffering elderly should not be put out of their misery, why the goal of faith is not to reduce suffering in my life, and why this life is not the primary focus of my faith...  They do not know because they have not been taught -- teaching requires more than saying something is wrong.

Let's face it.  If secular America follows the dead end of Europe, it is because there is no reasoned alternative to confront the tyranny of moment.  But if Christian people follow this lead, it is because they have not heard the clear clarion call of truth, not been catechized and nurtured in this truth, and not been taught why wrong is wrong.  Some of that blame, perhaps much of it, goes right back upon the churches, pastors, and leaders of the orthodox Christian churches who for too long assumed culture was friendly to the faith and to our values and could be counted upon to partner with us in keeping up the appearances of Biblical morality absent the teaching voice of church and classroom.


John Joseph Flanagan said...

Yes, I agree. It is very sad and troubling to see how far down this nation has gone, and most of us can see that the few conservatives on the Supreme Court will be unable stop gay marriage from becoming the law of the land, but as a pro-life advocate for decades, I felt that abortion for convenience has been the crime of the American century....with millions of unborn children murdered in the womb for the singular offense of being unwanted and disposable like yesterday's trash. I feel almost numb, as a Christian, but realize that even as we once revered our country, our patriotism has been traumatized by what we see our country has become, and if anything, it should be a reason to know for certain we are pilgrims and strangers even here, and our home is with God, Therefore, as His children, we are to live out our days with a pilgrim state of mind, and hold securely to our faith and Our Lord, and let the carnal world follow its own course. We have one road to follow, and it is narrow, pot holed, and lonely, but it is far better than the paved highway which leads to hell.

Janis Williams said...

So true John. I am afraid the American Church (the parts that are orthhodox) must look backward to Rome. I don't mean the RC church, but back to the first centuries of Chrisitanity before Constantine. We may not be thrown to literal lions in America, but regular castigation, legal actions (unfounded, but due to changing legislation), and monetary consequences surely look to be on their way. Are we ready to be treated as second-class citizens? Possibly as if slaves? May God grant the measure of faith needed to stand!

Timothy Buelow said...

Very good point. Thanks for the well-thought out reminder for us who catechize and preach.

Anonymous said...

"Let's face it. If secular America follows the dead end of Europe, it is because there is no reasoned alternative to confront the tyranny of moment."

Reasoned alternatives are plenty, but no dissent is allowed.

Don't like gay marriage?

You will be harassed severely and your life and liberty threatened. And the harassment is cheered by our federal government, schools and media.

There is no tolerance of dissent.

Liberal is a misnomer. Those folks are not liberal in the least. You get in line and comply or you are punished.

Kids today know very well the punishment they will be subjected to if they do not profess what they are told to profess. Period.

So, how do prepare your kids for that?

Because that is the real situation.

Kids are not being lured by secular culture. They are being threatened and intimidated by it.