A church must change it's teachings in order to become culturally relevant. We only need to listen to Jesus' teachings, but even then, He no longer speaks to people today. We don't need to listen to what Jesus said, He was never married. Oh, we also don't need to listen to Paul, as he was never married. These are just a few of the comments that I've had said to me over the past few months, most of them from church leaders and people in positions of influence and power.
Can anybody else see them? The cracks that have existed within the church, have suddenly become very visible. Hurtful words have been exchanged. Christians pouring out venomous comments on social media platforms to other Christians. Twitter has felt a very toxic place to be on over the past couple of months. One of the saddest comments I read was from a non-Christian who said whilst he wasn’t a Christian, those who chose to be should just do what the Bible tells us. What kind of example is the church setting to those who have not yet found Jesus? My heart breaks for the church.
I was brought up in a very traditional evangelical church. Some of what I have been taught, I’ve had to deconstruct and go back to what God says in His word. I was taught that God was this big being in the sky that was full of judgement towards the earth, and that God would only love us if we did nothing wrong and went to church once a week. What I’ve come to learn over the years is that God loves me despite what I do. In fact, one of the biggest lies that the enemy uses is that going to church on a Sunday makes us Christians, when in fact, it’s a personal relationship with Jesus that makes all the difference.
Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs that God has given us, but also one of the most rewarding. As a solo parent, I have also been tasked as the spiritual head of the home. Not quite biblical but I believe that bringing up my children to know who God is, is a very important part of my job. Sometimes when we haven’t quite worked out complex theological concepts for ourselves, those awkward questions from our children can prove very hard to give a definite answer.
The Bible gives lots of instructions on how to parent well, many of which are familiar to us. However, the verse that I go to time and time again when presented with those questions that I’ve not quite worked out is Matthew 18:3. Jesus talks about having a child-like faith. This doesn’t mean a childish faith, but one that hasn’t been tainted by the disappointments of the world. One that understands that God loves me, no matter what I do. I can never disappoint Him. That doesn’t mean that I can knowingly sin, but it does mean that when I step out of God’s will, I can honestly come to Him and ask for forgiveness.
The Bible is full of stories of God’s people who sin, who fall, who get up and who chase passionately after God’s heart. It’s when we look at these stories that we understand what loving God and hearing His voice means. One thing for sure is the world is full of sin. We live in a fallen world. Many of God’s people have fallen away from knowing Him personally and instead live a self-centred life. When we place ourselves in the centre, we lose sight of God. I teach my children how to become less self and more hearing what God is saying to them and the world around them.
I have noticed over the years that the school curriculum has become more and more self-centred and overtly secular, and any faith element is being squeezed out. Many parents are concerned about primary school children being taught about gender identity and sex education, topics that many of us would say children at the age of 8 are not emotionally mature enough for. We are at risk of calling every child to question their birth gender and risking a generation of people who change their gender because their impressionable young minds were told that the feelings that they had of wanting to run fast with the boys, climb trees or play with dolls, meant that they were born into the wrong body. One thing I know from reading the Bible is that God doesn’t ever make mistakes.
Recently, the school that my children go to, spent a whole week celebrating LGBTQI+. It wasn’t just opted in activities, but every lesson HAD to include some content relating to the theme, even Maths! This made me deeply uncomfortable. I did express my concerns to the Deputy Head at having views that were so opposite to our family’s faith, imposed on my children. We spoke as a family about withdrawing them from education for the week and I talked to the school about doing this. However, the children were all midway through exams and withdrawing them would have been detrimental to their education.
I felt like I had caused irreparable damage to our relationship with the school by voicing my concerns, when the church is slowly moving towards a cultural response to what Christians would call sin.
It can be so hard to stand in what you believe is true to God’s word when the world is slinging harmful and toxic words at you. It can be so easy to sit on the fence and not say anything. To listen to both sides of the argument and agree, just so you aren’t vilified for your beliefs. However, my child-like faith goes back to the knowledge that God loves us all, no matter what we do. We are not called to judge others but to love God and love our neighbours.
The honest conversation with the school opened doors and has given me an opportunity to talk with the school about how they can be more inclusive to all faiths.
For those of us who are sitting on the fence unsure of which way to stand, I urge you to develop your child-like faith. Go back to God’s word and read what it says. Ask Him how you can apply it to your own life. Put God first in your life and love those around you, whether you can see their sin or not. My job is not to point fingers but to point to the One who loves beyond measure.