What The Left gets Right: there are issues with the church (part 2).

What The Left gets Right: there are issues with the church (part 2).

Parents may think they're doing their kids a favor by teaching them a wide range of theories, religions, perspectives, etc., and then letting them pick which ones they prefer/think is best/works for them. But that's a disaster if there actually is such a thing as absolute truth, which I somehow knew there was even before I found Jesus and was searching for it. I didn't find it in the church I grew up in, but that's not because they weren't preaching about Jesus (who is The Truth), necessarily. It's because I did not feel safe or wanted there at all.

And this is actually the biggest problem with the church. I wasn't a card-carrying member of either political party when I was growing up in the church: I was just a kid and then teenager just trying to find my way in the world. The Left isn't wrong: Feelings mattered then and they matter now. They don't define reality and we shouldn't want to bend reality to match our feelings. But nor do we get to easily dismiss them just because they'r inconvenient or we'd rather they (ours or others) not be there. The church is actually supposed to be literal family to those who are in Christ because the family has failed, as Tim Keller has said, to be the unconditional intimate love we all really need (and how that's the call of the church).

We still prefer biological family members over fellow believers - which is a radical statement given that, as much as The Left has tried to denigrate the family unit by framing it as this oppressive force, the cultural value/understanding at large is still to drop everything for family in need. You get weird looks if you do that for friends (though the Bible holds friendship in much higher regard than Christians realize - higher than our culture does for sure, and higher than marriage, despite the present-day church) and it's unthinkable that you would do that for strangers. But that's exactly what the church is called to be: flesh-and-blood family. Those in Christ  have the same blood now since the Cross was a transfusion, physically and supernaturally, such that believers are actual flesh-and-blood family, even more than non-believing family members. Radical. Offensive. Fairy tale-ish. Woo-woo even. But nowhere did Jesus or Scripture say that the Cross wouldn't offend. (In fact, as Keller was known for saying to Christians, "If you aren't offended by the cross, I don't think you get it.")

So The Left isn't wrong for being offended by the cross or religion or the church. But they are demanding the wrong things from it. They want "safety" (Keller talks about why safety is a problem in the first sermon linked above) and "acceptance" (which these days seems to mean compulsory celebration and giving in to every demand no matter how much it violates the conscience of someone who disagrees with them). But they largely remain loyal to the idea of dismantling the family unit. Acceptance without a mechanism of accountability (that is to say without family) is perpetual immaturity that risks broader malignancy, exactly like what we're seeing in the culture now in the narcissistic demands to have every (Left-leaning) whim and feeling affirmed and celebrated couched in the language of "inclusion" and "belonging." Healthy belonging and inclusion comes with expectation, responsibility (and no, shaming, cancelling, and violence don't count as accountability), and regard for the other, though, and that is the point of the ideal family. We are called to be responsible to each other, which flies in the face of the identity-obssessed (which is really self-obsessed) culture that excuses treating people badly, breaking commitments, and hurting others in the name of "self care" and "activism." Of course no family is perfect, but only the family of God is called to strive to be perfect, just as her heavenly father is.

I'd rather be in a family of millions of people striving to be more like Love, Truth, and Life (that is to say Jesus) with accountability, than fighting to dismantle a straw-man construction of a unrelentingly broken one with no personal consequences for my actions. This imperfect family of millions where friends lay down their lives for friends (not spouses, not children, friends John 15:13 says) is invisible in a world that devalues friendships so deeply as ours does. And that is the greatest failing of the church to date.