Target and the power of the cross
I have been struggling with how to say this for a few weeks. There was the whole North Carolina bill about transgender people in bathrooms and the accompanying Bruce Springsteen fiasco (you guys remember that?) Prince died, so the news shifted for a week or so and now we come to Target and their announcement that people are free to use whatever restroom they want in their stores.
So transgender issues are now a pretty big deal in the press.
A lot of my more liberal friends are cheering on the cultural transformation while most of my more conservative friends are grieving and calling for target boycotts. I get it.
But instead of lamenting “moral decay” or calling for change in our culture, I think this is a time to ask the church to reorient the way we think.
Christians, I know you want to use the power of your dollars to force target to reverse their policy. But here is the thing you need to get used to. Seriously, this is an important sentence. You really need to hear this….
Your dollars no longer have that much power.
Target made their announcement because they have determined that the dollars of those among the progressive agenda have more value than yours. And the truth is, they are probably making a good bet – in the short term.
Western culture is increasingly a post-christendom culture. The 24 hour news cycle is revealing that reality more and more. Most of us have chosen to react to that with fear and horror. It means the power of the church to influence culture is waning. It means we may begin to face some (probably minor) forms of persecution. It means our grandchildren will possibly elect the first gay or transgender president. I get it. It’s scary.
But here is the plus side. The church can now learn to love instead of dictate.
For years in the west, and I mean since like 320 AD, the church in the west has wielded a certain amount of influence merely because it spoke from a position of political power.
That power is
slipping away very quickly pretty much gone.
The time has come for us to both love authentically and live differently.
Your dollars do not have power. Your position does not have power. But love, transformation, and sacrifice will always have power.
Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and oh yeah – Jesus Christ all changed the world from the position of weakness, love and sacrifice.
Christians, do you remember those pharisees in the Bible? They were the people who wielded political authority. While using their authority they often neglected the hurting folks among them. There are stories you might remember from Sunday School about the woman caught in adultery. Remember who was trying to kill her?
Do you remember who was indignant that the lowly samaritan was treated with kindness and respect? It was the religious folks.
Jesus called his disciples to love, to serve, and to speak the truth.
It is time to remind the church to stop trying to assume power. Stop trying to make your arguments in the press. Stop trying to protect your own people. Instead, let’s start loving the broken and hurting people in the world.
Now, let me be very clear. I believe God designed human beings in a certain way. I truly believe with all my heart that God made man and woman – he made them in the image of God. I believe that our created sexuality is given to us not assumed by us. I believe that when we live under the authority of God we will live happier and more fulfilled lives.
But there are many in our culture who do not believe this. In fact, can we be honest? Most of our culture does not believe this.
Consider all the men who think they are women, and all the women who think they are men. Consider the men and women all around you who are using their sexuality in a way different than God intended them to use it (let me remind you that this would equally include any use of sexuality outside of the covenant relationship of marriage – let that sink in). If you have truly come to understand your bible, you will agree that God is not a mean ruler who wants to ensure chastity and unhappiness. He is actually a loving God who understands the way he built us and wants for us to live according to design. He knows that when we don’t live according to design we get broken.
Consider your own brokenness. Very, very few of us (if any) have lived by design our entire lives. Many of us are addicted to porn. Most of us have had sex with more than one person. Many of us have had our sexuality abused and broken and are unable to experience freedom because of something someone else inflicted upon us and we still suffer.
Do you need someone to give you a set of demands or do you need someone to love you in spite of your brokenness? Would it be healthier for you if someone you didn’t know applied rules to you for how you had to live your life, or would it be easier for you if someone would come and love you – right where you are (even in the wrong bathroom).
What if the church willingly laid down her power in order to love from a position of sacrifice and weakness?
What if we decided to love actual individual people over a long period of time? What if instead of merely telling people how to live we sought to help them understand that they are designed with a purpose? What if that was more important to us than making sure they used the right bathroom?
We the church are called to seek human flourishing. Humans will flourish the best when they live according to the design given them by their creator.
Within Christendom humans have flourished well. The west has been economically, socially, and spiritually healthy for so long because of Christendom. I am not denying that we have had our problems, we certainly have, but Christendom brought about a certain degree of human flourishing within its realm.
Over the next two or three generations we and our grandchildren will notice that human flourishing becomes harder and harder to attain. We will economically, socially, and spiritually drift and life will become harder in our culture.
So those of us in vocations to speak to these issues should continue to do so. I am not arguing for nihilism. Those of us who pray for our society should continue to do so. Those of us who work in areas that can create social change should absolutely continue to bring their Biblical values with them into their vocations. This is what we do.
But above all of that we must seek to bring a general feeling of love and sacrifice into our conversations with people. That does not mean we should subvert the truth about human sexuality or try not to mention it. It means that we should understand and love those who disagree with us. It means that when we speak truth to them they know that no matter what, we love them and we only want what we believe to be the very best for them.
We cannot seek to restore what is broken until we love what is broken.
May the next generation of God’s people love what is broken.