That thought has repeatedly run through my mind as certain social barriers are collapsing in our nation. Though individual freedom has always been a foundational value of our society, freedom un-tethered from responsibility seems to be the new norm.
In fact we are undergoing a period of rapid un-tethering. We are un-tethering ourselves from history, proclaiming certain kinds of behaviors good that have for thousands of years been considered immoral or maladaptive. We are un-tethering ourselves from biology, locating our identity entirely in our minds without reference to our bodies. It doesn’t matter whether my body appears to be male or female. Thanks to medical technology and psychological trends I can become whatever sex I want to be.
Where will all this un-tethering lead? One likely result is that our sense of community will continue to unravel. It will be harder to create healthy families, churches, and work environments. People will hide what they think out of fear of being labeled and rejected. Civil discourse will continue to decline and healthy community will be become rare. But without healthy communities, human beings cannot flourish.
In the midst of rapid cultural decline, which many are hailing as cultural advance, how should Christians respond?
The first temptation is to condemn those who disagree with us. The second is to go into hiding, hoping that things will blow over if we just keep our heads down and stay quiet. The third is to circle the wagons and try to isolate ourselves from the increasing toxicity of our culture.
But what if there’s a better way–a way to engage the culture lovingly without suppressing or disguising our beliefs? To do so, we have to remember the second great commandment, which is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Disagreements never give us the right to treat others in unloving ways.
We also have to realize that love and agreement are not the same thing. People who are psychologically healthy should be able to disagree without rejecting each other. Even if we are labeled and belittled by those who dislike us, we should not retaliate in kind.
If I am right and our world is getting crazier by the minute, we need to remember that the early church thrived in the Roman Empire in the midst a culture that was far crazier than ours. Though the gospel has important cultural implications, our primary call is to evangelize people not cultures. The culture will change to the extent that more and more people embrace the gospel and live in its power.
The only way to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in this crazy world, is to ask God to give us the faith and the courage to continually display his crazy love no matter how hard it might become in the months and years ahead.