not-ashamed

‘Cool-Shaming’ and Church Schism

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“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

Two must-read articles published last week point to the radical cultural transformation that bedevils Christians, a dwindling number of whom remain blissfully ignorant while others are confused,  anxious, or scared. Theologian and president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr. Al Mohler asserts  that this shift will eventually demand from every Christian an unequivocal response:

[E]very congregation in this nation will be forced to declare itself openly on this issue. That moment of decision and public declaration will come to every Christian believer, individually. There will be no place to hide, and no place safe from eventual interrogation. The question will be asked, an invitation will be extended, a matter of policy must be decided, and there will be no refuge.”

The cultural shift being effected by proponents of deviant, anti-biblical sexuality and radical subjectivism is going to divide every congregation and every denomination. Among individual Christians, it will separate wheat from the chaff.

Dr. Mohler was writing in response to a Southern Baptist church in California that has decided to abandon Scripture in order to affirm homoerotic activity and same-sex relationships, which has led justifiably to schism within the congregation. As desirable and important as peace and unity are within the body of Christ, they must never trump truth on issues as fundamental as sexuality and marriage.

Author and professor N.D. Wilson writing in Christianity Today exposes the human frailty that will shape how countless Christians will respond to what he calls the “cool-shaming” that is already poisoning the hearts, minds, and actions of those who purport to be followers of Christ:

Cows like to turn their backs to the wind. At least, all the cows I know do….

People aren’t too different. We align ourselves safely into herds, comforted by the hot breath of others breaking on the backs of our necks and ears. Then we huff and we puff and we blow at the fools turned in the wrong direction.

Is there anything more compelling to us than the heavy synchronized breathing of a mob, especially when combined with cocked eyebrows of disdain and curled lips of disgust? This is the zeitgeist, inside the church and out, and it will judge you until you conform and commune. This is cool-shaming, and it will make you squirm and itch to turn your back to the wind, to stand with all the other cows.

[T]he single greatest factor in our decision-making is simple compliance. We turn with the crowd because we want the awkwardness to stop. We want them all to stop looking at us like that. We want to feel the wind of opinion at our backs.

How did otherwise intelligent people go along with the Third Reich, the invasion of Poland, the extermination of Jews? We may assume they were evil, brainwashed, or a bit of both, and in part we’re right. But when was the last time you hedged on an opinion because of the hot breathing of those around you? When did you last choose your words based more on the politics of a situation than on truth?

It’s no wonder that one of the first tasks of any prophet was to make himself shameful. John the Baptist wore camel hair and ate insects. Isaiah had to walk around naked for years. Ezekiel had to cook his food over dung. Elijah ate only food carried by ravens—nasty carrion birds. The first thing God told Hosea to do was to marry a whore.

Prophets must be fearless, immune to the pressures of kings and crowds, aligned only with the breath of God.

We are in need of prophets now. Christians are scattered, but the world’s wind is heavy and unified.

Truth and ultimate glory may be in the hands of our Maker, but the keys of earthly shame are in the hands of the mob. Prophets must be immune to floggings on Facebook and Twitter. They must be fearless before friends and tenure committees and stadiums filled with the priests of Baal. The cool-shaming can have no sting. The world is busy applying pressure on “social issues,” and Christians are busy caving left and right, trying to accept fresh cultural dogma simply so that they might be accepted.

Many of us would rather be in compliance with the crowd of now than successfully image the loves and hates of our Father. But his breath rolls the North Sea and props up mountains. His words ripen fields of grain and infants still hidden in wombs’ warmth. May we run parallel to his breeze alone.

All of our positions—especially in controversy—should flow from honest exegesis, not from the mood at the local coffee shop. And we could all benefit from some shame. When the hot pressure comes, we need to be immune. If God wants it, we should be ready to wear camel hair while cooking locusts and raven scraps over a dung fire in the lions’ den after our marriage to a whore.

Shame is easy to find. All we have to do is stop hiding. We already have seriously uncool friends. Moses. Paul. Christ himself. Enjoy them. Like them. In public. Offend the zeitgeist. Become immune.

When we turn, we must turn for Truth, never for the mob—not when it’s running to the revival tents, and not when it’s running to the guillotines.

All of our positions—especially in controversy—should flow from honest exegesis, not from the mood at the local coffee shop.

Those Christians who don’t see the monumental changes that this (to use a term that sears the ears of the uber-cool) wicked homosexuality-affirming movement is bringing to America are either foolish or asleep at the wheel. Cultural subversives who believe there are no transcendent, objective truths in regard to “gender” and sexuality (other than consent) have brought about a cultural cataclysm which demands side-taking. As with “gender,” there can be no exception to or obliteration of the “binary.”

Brothers and Sisters, you are either for Scripture or agin’ it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

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