Put them together from night and day
Washed by the sun, dried by the rain
To be my Father in the fatherless days
One of the blogs on my reading list, since LJ has become my RSS feed on demand in the last year or so, belongs to my friend Jadon. Some of you may have seen his comments to my posts on occasion. He posts rather interesting theological blog discussions and instances of hypocrisy and current issues in the Evangelical church. Though I can't say I'm a *cough* religious follower of the blogosphere's Christian inhabitants, I often find some interesting things in Jadon's pickings.
Two days ago I made a comment to someone's blog post Jadon had highlighted regarding some somewhat interesting Evangelical Christian controversy, with what I found to be an entirely relevant comment. Yesterday the blog owner edited my postscript of that comment and someone's reply to that out, citing "excessive frankness." Today I wish to discuss neither him nor his post, or even what I said that was censored, but his choice of words. This is a jumping off point to discuss an issue I see in the church today that pains and angers me.
Before I begin, shall we define these things? Frankness is "the quality of being honest and straightforward in attitude and speech." And now, excessive: "Exceeding a reasonable limit."
To preface what I'm going to be saying about this, please allow me to be clear. This post is not in any way about that blogger. I support his decision - it's his blog, and if he feels what I said in that postscript was inappropriate to the discussion he desired from his post, I won't argue, especially since what I said was in response mostly to comments others had made. In fact, even if he found it inappropriate in general, that's his business and I respect what he decided. Admittedly, all of what I said was very frank, candid, and taboo the rest of it he did post, to his credit - many might not have accepted that either. All of that said, the post I am now writing is not against an individual, or even meant in any way to be combative, or require a response. It's something that I feel relates to a lot of the things I've said and places I've been spiritually this year regarding God's people - this blogger just happened to put it into words for me.
Some of you may remember my speech to the Inter Varsity banquet, my posts regarding a frustrating day at Urbana and my belief in healing, and if you haven't read these and don't want to, realize that it may clarify the background of what brings me to this post.
I read that phrase he wrote and smiled. What an interesting, intellectual choice of words. What utter disgust assaults me as I realize exactly what it means. According to the dictionary it means I exceeded a reasonable limit of honesty. To be told that I am frank is a wonderful affirmation of the obvious in some ways, and to be accused of exceeding frankness is something of a complement, considering what I am talking about here.
Nevertheless, I felt the same feelings about these words (though not their issuer in this case) at a reverse-sexist comment that Al Gore made, and I tried to come to terms with that statement by converting my chagrin to biting sarcasm. It's not an ideal methodology, and in this case I am uninterested in lambasting the world of political correctness. This time, it's political silence and needless helplessness I am frustrated by.
I've made it no secret on a number of posts in this LiveJournal that one of my issues with the church is their attiude of silence as regards sexuality. More for women than men perhaps, though I have to argue that information I have looked up that is directed towards guys entering or dealing with puberty and manhood are, using a self-plagarized phrase from my speech that applies here, "ineffectually narrow." If what the church has to say to men regarding sexuality is narrow, what it has to say to women on the same topic is nonexistent. This is not merely an opinion, but a researched one. I have searched on the internet and in Christian bookstores and I am wholly unsatisfied.
Silence. We'll start with one of my big pet peeves, because silence is what I hear the church saying about teens and twenty-somethings dealing with personal sexuality before marriage. Sure, there's the odd comment about male masturbation. Can I just say I hate that word for its baggage and sonic properties? It sounds disgusting, both because of the word itself and the connotations. But other than that, and the occasional book about dealing with porn addiction, the church doesn't deal with the root of the issues, and often offers advice that doesn't acknowledge the power of God, or discuss the fact that since Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, he must have also been tempted sexually.
I am sick to the point of anger with hundreds of things that people think should stay behind closed doors, or within family. Come on, how many of us have a family structure that can handle questions like this? Broken people beget more broken people and the only entity that should be dealing with it is the church - the people in it who are gifted to help are often feeling just as excluded... Talk show hosts - a few in particular and if you don't know which ones I'm talking about you clearly don't have PeasantVision - are not supposed to be the source of advice in all matters moral and family. Neither are Christian leaders whose gifts lie in evangelistic technicality. I have been blessed to not fall into anything physical in terms of sexual sin, but I find it to be a continual struggle. I'd hate to know what I'd have been like if I hadn't had a personal relationship with God.
But even though it might sound like it, I'm not just talking about sex. I'm talking about the tempations to cheat in business, the emotional side of marriages and the oft failing, but sometimes beneficial world of marriage counseling. I'm talking about teenage angst and the fact that it is often surrounded with too much sympathy and not enough, "Snap out of it!" I'm talking about the way the church treats unwed and single mothers, sometimes even single fathers. And that's just a tiny, tiny sample of the big picture, the big problem. What happened to carrying each other's burdens? So few will bother. They die under their own load, because no one is sharing theirs, either. Most of us don't even know the meaning of it. And how simple is it to ask, "How are you doing spiritually?" to someone you care about? Sometimes you can start the most meaningful conversations this way.
Should there be a limit placed on honesty? Isn't there enough dishonesty and hypocrisy in this world? Should there be an arbitrary limit placed on straightforwardness? Crooked talk and behavior are everywhere. Is there a reasonable limit to honesty? Or are all limits to honesty and straightforwardness a lie of omission?
You know, you'd think Christian people would find it refreshing to find unadulterated truth. And some do. As in the case of my speech, there was a lot of responses. Some said they wouldn't have the courage to speak out like that because of their fear of man. What did we need the full armor of God for if we're not supposed to be the literal cutting edge of cultural discussion and critique? There are ongoing, incredibly destructive issues out there that are being talked around, intellectual Christian garbage that excludes God's power. The sword of the spirit is meant to cut open things that keep darkness around people. There's a lot of areas in the church that are like that.
Perhaps we should take a lesson from Sparta? If even 300 of us united in one place, we could be ledendary. And unlike the 300, we would multiply, because people everywhere are looking for honesty and straightforwardness. Everyone tires of the social game, even if they thrive on it.
There is a // post in my future on this topic, I am sure.