by Nathan A. Cherry, 07/06/2012
There’s a lot of talk about “young evangelicals” and how they want to see political speech in churches end because they are more liberal and hold different views on marriage blah blah blah. It’s starting to get under my skin to be honest because people would lump me in with these “young evangelicals” by virtue of my age. Yet I would be sorely misplaced in this group.
Not only do I hold the conservative – though I prefer to call it biblical – position that marriage is between one man and one woman because that is how God defined it. But, I am one who is calling for greater discussion on socio-political issues in the church. I want to see a return to the time when men like our Founding Father’s discussed social issues from a biblical perspective openly and boldly. I want to see a return to the time when men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the charge on social issues from a biblical perspective. Dr. King had conviction in his soul that translated to bold action and preaching all stemming from his biblical position on the issues.
And yet people like Rachel Held Evans continues to trumpet some liberal neo-Christian position that says “young evangelicals” support gay rights and marriage redefinition so we should stop talking about “political issues” in the church or we will lose these misguided youth.
The problems with her argument are numerous. First, these issues are not merely political; they are moral issues with biblical absolutes that demand proper treatment from a biblical perspective. Just because society has hijacked an issue doesn’t remove it from the realm of Scripture and merit silence from our pastor’s and faith leaders. The moral imperative that exists in the marriage issue is absolute as God has not – that I am aware of – changed his definition of marriage. For this reason any discussion of marriage must begin with God because He is the author and Creator of marriage. So it’s not simply a political issue, it’s a biblical moral issue with implications for spiritual life.
Secondly, this idea that “young evangelicals” or even young people in general overwhelmingly support homosexual rights and marriage redefinition is ridiculous at best; dishonest at worst. If so many young people supported marriage redefinition Prop 8 in California would have failed easily. And don’t forget that marriage was concretely defined in North Carolina by an overwhelming majority; including “young evangelicals.” (I would encourage Ms. Evans to read my article on the NC marriage vote so she can see the statistics that show the ballot initiative would have passed even if no one over 45 years old had voted; proving just how supportive of traditional marriage younger generations are.)
The last problem with Ms. Evans’ position is that she assumes that any issue “young evangelicals” find offensive, problematic, or otherwise should be discarded from the docket of preaching. This leaves behind a spiritually deficient, weak laity without proper training to defend a biblical position. The fact is, truth hurts. Jesus said things that ticked people off and made them stop following Him, but I don’t see any apologies. I don’t see Him worrying about losing people. What else do we stop teaching about: divorce, drunkenness, obesity, virginity, co-habitation? Scripture clearly teaches on all of these and yet I am sure they will make people uncomfortable.
Contrary to what Ms. Evans says, I don’t believe that “the majority of young Christians really, really, really want to stop with the political emphasis.” Rather I believe that a majority of young Christians want to stop the hateful, vitriolic screaming matches over these issues. I believe young Christians desperately want to discuss the issues and gain insight and guidance from spiritual advisors and wise pastors. They just don’t want to be part of a yelling match in order to do it.
Young Christians want to be part of an open, honest dialogue on these issues where civil discourse is encouraged and questions are not met with snarky comments. This is far different than what exists in much of the current discourse where people routinely keep their political positions secret so they can “avoid confrontation.” Frankly, if we can’t discuss matters of religion and politics civilly then something is wrong.
I see a generation of young Christians that desires to learn what the Bible says, to take a stand, but they first want to be taught by people that actually know what they are talking about and not just repeating Sunday School talking points. This requires intentional study on the issues by pastors and other church leaders. This requires conversations started in small groups and Bible studies. And young Christians are excited and open to this as long as the discussion is kept respectful.
For goodness sakes, if Michelle Obama is telling people that there is “no place better” than church to talk about politics, then surely we can agree with her on that point! The Bible is full of social and political advice and counsel; we would be foolish to ignore those parts of Scripture because someone might get offended.
I seem to recall reading that the Gospel is offensive and foolish to many (1 Cor. 1:18ff, Matt. 24) but I don’t plan to stop preaching that either.
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About Nathan Cherry
Nathan Cherry is the chief editor and blogger for the Engage Family Minute blog, the official blog of the FPCWV. He serves also as the Regional Development Coordinator as a liaison to the pastor's of West Virginia. He is a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious freedom conservative. He is also a husband, father, pastor, author, musician, and follower of Jesus Christ.