When Evangelical Christians turn on the TV, check their Facebook, or read the news, a wagging of the head is likely becoming a more frequent response. We read about the latest antics of some pop-star and wonder how such an innocent young man with swooshy hair, a properly auto-tuned voice, the high pitched squeals of adoration from millions of 14 year old girls, and his trademark face on lunch-boxes, pillow cases, and toothbrushes could turn into such a confused individual. How could this have happened?! We hear about Washington gridlock, where one party gets up in arms because the other party wants to reduce a food stamps program by $8 billion. The accusation is that the latter party hates the poor, wants them to starve, and probably kicked a puppy earlier in the day. However, what we fail to note is that both parties are, in fact, proposing increasing the spending on food stamps from what it is currently; only, one party doesn’t want to increase quite as much as the other! What scoundrels! Our magazines, movies, music and media are full of endless stories of rape, divorce, violence, infidelity, irresponsibility, and this doesn’t only describe low-income communities; this deterioration of society is from the top down.
I majored in sociology and history in college. What modern sociology says is that we ought to study society as a specimen and not make judgements or try to change it. Sociology merely tries to understand why a certain society does what it does. So, our society as a whole has adopted an indifferent position and we are all just watching our society from the safety of our lounge chairs. We might want it differently, our personal opinion might differ from what we see those around us doing, but hey, “C’est la Vie!” So, if someone wants to self-identify themselves as a woman trapped in a man’s body who questions what gender he/she/they/it actually are, well, “by gum, we ought not to pigeonhole people into having to be either male or female; let’s roll out 50+ gender options.” We wouldn’t want people to feel gender claustrophobia, because there are only two options! The sociologist does nothing but sit back and observe; the Christian must clear his throat, open the book and inform the
culture that unless it repents, it will perish (Luke 13:3). The Word of God is right, and it makes it clear what God’s intention is for mankind. We have two glorious covenants; one showing man’s inability to be righteous, and the second offering us the righteousness of God’s own Son, Christ. I say this a lot, and it isn’t popular these days (or really ever, read Gen. 3), but God’s Word must be the standard for everything. Though I have not time to go into all that that means, suffice it to say that God’s pattern for male female, governments, families, churches, money, sex, food, and, well, everything is contained perfectly in His Word in Text and His Word in Person: Christ. Now, many Christians know that “sin” means to “miss the mark.” The mark being perfect righteousness, which God alone can be. Indeed, a rather familiar verse tells us that we “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” All have missed this mark. One needs only browse the internet for 10 minutes and in comparing our culture to God’s holy standard, we–as a culture–miss the mark. In fact, we aren’t even coming close. However, if sin is missing the mark, I would submit that the reason mankind misses the mark is not because we are aiming too high. It isn’t that we are aiming for supreme joy, delight and pleasure and our expectations are too high and so we miss the mark. Rather, as Lewis once famously said,
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
We are satisfied so easily with 2 minute pleasures, cheap cinematic escapes from reality, frenetic fashions and trends, politicians promises for hope and change, and sadly, most people are happy if their boss doesn’t yell at them and they can enjoy a microwave dinner, a PBR, and reruns of Seinfeld. Americans spend $33 billion a year on cosmetics, $34 billion on antidepressant/mood altering medications, and $96 billion on beer. We want to be happy, spend lots of time and money trying to be, and can’t figure out why we aren’t happy.
We must learn to aim higher. We are like a man lost in the desert who discovers moist dirt in an empty river bed and stuffs it in his mouth, and refuses to travel upstream, into the mountain heights where a fountain of pure water might slake his thirst. This world does have legitimate joys of food, family, friendship, sex, and recreation; however, when either as an individual or as a society, we are content with the merely the evidence of a God full of life and joy, we substitute the creation for the Creator. Creation is full of life and joy, because God Himself is; He intends us to thirst for the fountain, and every drop of moisture in the desert ought to be a signpost leading us to more fervently seek the source of Joy Himself. We must begin to aim higher. God intends supreme pleasure and delight for those that will seek Him (Ps. 16:11, Heb. 11:6). He created us for infinite pleasure; we are the ones who insist on playing in the mud puddles.