The day will soon be upon me when their vision will be transformed. Girls will no longer be mystifying, unexplainable… weirdos. They will soon become equally mystifying and unexplainable… yet irresistibly appealing. Such is the way of the world, I suppose.
Achhh! The world! Culture and the flesh… partnering up again to infect the innocent. My boys’ upcoming hormonal hurricane is just another stroke in the case against this world and all of its carnality and rottenness. Wouldn’t it just be EASIER if my boys thought girls had cooties… right up until they say “I Do”?
There is a growing movement in the Christian community… a sub-culture within the sub-culture. It is family focused, protectionist, and isolationist. And it tends to view the world around us as if it has cooties. Only these cooties have real spiritual power, and once they take root in a believer, they spread like a cancer. Sucking the spiritual life out of a person with small temptations that lead to moderate indiscretions and overlooked compromises, which easily turn into large scale sin problems, which will eventually grow into full blown apostasy. Beware the power of this cultural leaven, which is sure to tarnish the whole loaf. Beware the corruption of culture. The world has cooties, and these bad boys are Ebola to the soul.
So, for protection of the family, Christians don a HAZMAT suit of their own construction, finding support in the Bible for keeping the culture at arm’s length.
What does this cultural HAZMAT suit look like? Kids are home schooled. Kids are often not allowed to attend a church Sunday School or Youth Group because of the influence of the unregenerate hooligans who attend. Besides, the spiritual instruction of the children is a PARENT’S responsibility, anyway… not to be left in the hands of another believer who may or may not share the same scriptural convictions. In fact, many families are actually deciding against participation in an organized congregation with traditional pastoral leadership, opting instead for home church, led by dad… or maybe shared leadership with a few other like-minded families. TV, movies, music, etc. are closely monitored for signs of cultural cootie-ness. And life centers on and revolves around the godly home – the family. Children are “trained up in the way they should go,” and a healthy concern for cultural contamination is modeled and reinforced.
Here’s an honest moment for you… that sounds AWESOME. We actually DO home-school our kids (for a number of reasons), and I LOVE my family. So I would love to hunker down with them and make my boys and my bride our primary platform for Christian fellowship. I hate the effect of sin on our culture, and it breaks my heart to see my boys’ innocence lost as we have to help them understand murder, lust, greed, perversion… My kids light my world – and so does Amy. If I could pull it off somehow, I recognize the draw of the HAZMAT suit. I wish… often… that I could more adequately shield my family from the cooties of the world.
Can you understand, from a Christian point of view, why this isolationism has appeal and is gaining steam? Doesn’t it make sense in this perverse culture not to “conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2) and to “go out from their midst and be separate from them?” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
In other words… to be OUT OF the world, and NOT OF it.
BUT... (and this is a BIG “but…”)
Honest question: is the culture our enemy?
Should we circle the wagons and don the HAZMAT suit and protect our kids from a case of the cancerous culture cooties at the cost of cultural engagement?
I can’t answer that question for you. I have good friends who have gone the isolationist way. I know families – good families – who love the Lord and are doing their best to honor him by reflecting a DIFFERENT way of life – a separate and distinct, transformed life with their family. BUT…
I have some significant concern as I see this trend growing – gaining strength – a movement away from not only culture, but even from organized church fellowship in many cases. I see intentional disengagement from the world we live in, with all of its hurt and need. And lost people. Dying people. Damned people.
With humility, I submit we take our cue from Jesus Himself on this issue. He did not come to condemn the world (John 3:17) – and his harshest words were not for the culture around him. Christ came as a transformer of culture. He came as a Redeemer – literally to “buy back” from the tyranny of slavery the souls of dying men and women in His culture and in ours. Jesus didn’t endorse or participate in a separatist lifestyle. Instead he used positive illustrations from culture as parables. He participated in His culture, engaging it, and shining a light into its dark corners. In His last hour of freedom before being captured and taken to his death, Jesus prayed in John 17 for ALL believers… both then and now. And what was that prayer?
“Not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”
Like I said before, it is not my place to choose for you how to live out your faith. But I submit this for consideration… CULTURE is not our enemy. Sin is. Satan is. I see culture as a theater in which God’s glory can be displayed – to both the redeemed and the resistant. Instead of being OUT OF and NOT OF the world, maybe we are called to be IN, but NOT OF… Maybe in order to be salt and light, we need to rub shoulders with the needy people in dark places. If not us, who will go? Culture is a minefield. It is dangerous, without question.
I submit that we need to embrace the danger inherent in engaging our culture, for the sake of the Gospel. And instead of relying on the safety of a subculture to protect us or our children, let’s echo and trust Jesus’ prayer on our behalf. No more HAZMAT suit. No more cooties. Our family will be a redemptive force in the lives of those we rub shoulders with on purpose.
“the world’s got cooties! get it off! get it off!” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.