Friday, May 02, 2008

Justice for the Children

On Wednesday afternoon I sat down with Craig Steiner, our Student Ministries Pastor, as well as a couple of ladies from the community who are acutely aware of what parents—Christian and non—are up against in the public school system. While I’ve had a general awareness of some of the issues, I had not realized the extent of the difficulty facing those families who embrace a basically Judeo-Christian moral ethic. I graduated high school in ’93. Frankly, I never felt particularly challenged by an anti-Christian worldview. (About the closest it came was having to watch “The Freshman” in fourth year English. I survived.) But things have changed quite a bit since then, even in the school I graduated from—not only in terms of exposure to graphic content, but also in agenda.

One of the issues raised in the meeting was the persistent advocacy of a pro-homosexual orientation within the school system. Increasingly, homosexuality is portrayed as normative; viewpoints that take issue with this are characterized as bigoted. This is not a new reality. Yet the lengths to which some schools are willing to go in order to drive home this nail are astounding.

Take Deerfield High School, for example—a public school in the Chicago suburbs. DHS was recently immersed in a controversy regarding one of the books on its required reading list for AP English. The title in question—Angles in America—is a play that explores the issues of homosexuality, God, morality, etc. I don’t have much more to say about it than to link to a document which contains lines from the play. Be forewarned: the document contains explicit and graphic sexual content. If you struggle with same sex-desire, my pastoral advice is to refrain from viewing the document. To view the document, click here.

As you might imagine, parents complained and a letter was sent to the principal. The principal's response? “Angles in America is an honored piece of American theater and literature, having received numerous awards and accolades… etc., etc. If you wish to file a formal challenge to the inclusion of the book, please refer to the document accompanying….etc., etc.” A formal challenge was filed, but ultimately the school board won and the book stayed on the reading list.

Here's a few other quick bullet points regarding the homosexual agenda (some related to public education, others not):
An elementary school out east annually hosts a “Gay and Lesbian Pride Day” to help their students understand and affirm the gay lifestyle. This is not simply “gay awareness;” by the teachers’ own admission, this is an explicit and open attempt to indoctrinate children in a pro-gay agenda.

A doctor works with parents who want to change the sex of their young children, some as young as seven.

An Anglican Bishop was ordered by a court to undergo "equal opportunities training" and pay a fine of £47,345.00, the equivalent of $92,106.00 Cn., for refusing to hire an active homosexual for a position of trust with young people.

A Canadian pastor was found guilty of hate speech for sending a letter to the editor in which he protested the homosexual agenda in the schools.
So what does all of this mean for the church? Should we get out our picket signs and put on our angry eyebrows? What is the Christian response to this sort of thing? As Christians of a democracy we find ourselves in a unique place of tension. I’ve written about that before, so I won’t take the time to restate it except to say that we must constantly find the balance between our civic and ecclesial responsibilities. The two are connected, yet remain distinct. It is un-Christian of us to approach this issue sans love; the homosexual community is an object of God’s redemptive affection. I’d rather the church be known for her love, than for her anger.

Yet just as it is un-Christian of us to turn a blind eye toward poverty, racism and the AIDS crisis, it is also un-Christian of us to turn a blind eye to the homosexual agenda. Homosexuality is a fundamentally destructive lifestyle. We do a great injustice to our country’s children—whether Christian or not—when we tacitly endorse through our silence the homosexual agenda in the public schools. When we adopt a “live and let live” mentality toward homosexuality, we are not acting in love toward homosexuals or toward the children being influenced by their agenda. A heartfelt love for justice, and the well-being of homosexuals themselves should be the driving concern in our social and political engagement.

The way in which our church will get involved in this issue is unclear at this point. I don't enjoy conflict, and quite frankly, don't readily get excited about engaging in social issues. Yet both Craig and I came away with a strong sense that our church needs to be proactive here. We'll see where God leads.

One other thought… our country is raising a generation of children that are implicitly—at times explicitly—learning to view the Christian perspective regarding homosexuality as bigoted and oppressive. It is quite likely that we in the States will follow Europe, Great Britain, and Canada in their illegalization of anti-gay speech. The implications for preaching are obvious. It’s hard to guess how long this process will take. Twenty-five years? Less? Bible colleges will loose their accreditation. Churches will loose their tax-exempt status. And pastors committed to teaching God’s truth will be fined/arrested. This is very likely the world of our future. The church needs to begin to think now about how it will navigate those waters. Are we preparing our children well enough for such stormy seas? Are we preparing ourselves well enough?

3 comments:

Bradley said...

Your thoughts here are sobering.

RevK said...

There was a celebrity woman who pitched Florida orange juice way back when I was a kid who spoke out against this movement and she was tarnished for life (Anita Bryant), so this has been a very long time coming! What concerns me most is simply reading some of our Biblical texts in public and having the "hate speech police" lock us up! This is a very serious matter. Os Guinness was interviewed and asked about using the media to improve our apologetics. He suggested, after speaking with a producer from MTV, that we had better play up how “positive” the Christian worldview is rather than going completely “negative” on everyone. For example, did the abortion debate require showing horifically graphic images and the screaming of "baby killer!" in front of clinics? Why not marshal all our forces to show the beauty of life and mother/childhood? Is this the most effective means for countering culture? If so, where are all the positive images of Christian marriage and family? It certainly seems apparent that our culture uses the media to promote an agenda. It’s the reason why I can’t watch TV any longer (and it's probably the reason why the culture won't go to church anymore!) Both of our “speech” is of a different order! God bless you!

RevK said...

Found this too, for what it's worth...

"I know you're busy in your ministry, but you need to be aware of these stories. Check out their website at www.whywewhisper.com and you can read dozens of stories posted by average Americans who have suffered in some way for their traditional Christian views."