Jonathan Merritt barely represses a swagger as he recounts his prescient foretelling of the doomed conservative Christian resistance to sexual perversion. First, Christians resisted the idea of homosexuality altogether, and now they pathetically and predictably object to the transgender movement and are doomed to fail again. He cites the three major blunders of conservative Christians as 1. ideology over people, 2. prooftext over science, and 3. fear over facts.
Oh Lord, where to begin?
First, the bummer thing for Jonathan is that as he huffs and puffs to keep up with all the cool kids, they’re in the process of changing their minds again. I had a chance to sit down with Brett McCraken last week and talk about Christians and cultural engagement. He pointed out the emptiness of Christians trying to keep up with the trends of the world. It’s the gospel: Jesus crucified and risen that is the relevance of Christians for the world. That’s what the world wants and needs, even if they don’t know it yet. It struck me as we were talking, that the other irony of Christians doing their best pagan imitations is the fact that unbelievers have holes torn out of their souls by the ravages of sin. It is that deep ache and pain that causes their restlessness. And it is that restlessness that is constantly searching for a salve. Maybe a new haircut? Maybe another movie? Maybe a new spouse? Maybe a new gender? In other words, unbelief thrashes against isolation and meaninglessness. The fads and movements of unbelief are fundamentally driven by this.
Of course because the image of God is not obliterated, unbelievers create beautiful things sometimes, discover goodness, and accomplish great things. But frequently, all the avantgardian charades are just that: charades. Let’s rearrange the furniture on this Titanic. Let’s put lipstick on my corpse. And so when Christians chase after the world, they are aping their charades. The reason our cultural contributions are often so shoddy is because they are knockoffs of knockoffs. We are aping the apes. We imagine for some reason that they know what they’re doing. But in fact, they are lost and confused and trying to cover their confusion with laugh tracks and sound effects and plastic surgery and hormone therapy. So on the one hand, the question common to all of their questions is: What is wrong with me? And the relevant, helpful answer that Christians ought to be eager to give is that sin is what is wrong and Jesus was crucified for sin. And on the other hand sadly, the far too many Jonathan Merritts of the world rush to “help” the world by trying on their various attempts at fig leaves. We’re like the guy rushing around the house with his wife looking for the car keys while we’re holding them in our hand all along.
As just one case and point, while Jonathan shakes his head at Christians quoting Bible verses and not paying close enough attention to science and people, Marcie Bianco explains that her sexuality is completely her choice. She has no use for the “born this way” narrative. That was just a convenient rhetorical and political ploy, given the constraints of our old fashioned society. But now that the castle is breached, no need to hide behind biological (read: scientific) arguments. What a pathetically naive and patriarchal concept! Hopefully Jonathan will apologize for his insensitivity. Doesn’t he see how he’s getting in the way of the revolution? Seems his “scientific” worldview is getting in the way of understanding real people who refuse to be defined by such exacting ideologies. Jonathan Merritt is the Amy Grant of journalists. He’s jamming to DC Talk at the roller rink with all the other homeschoolers, with his shirt untucked and jeans rolled up, hoping to get noticed, hoping to get invited to the cool corner. Only, unfortunately for him, he hasn’t yet heard of Vanilla Ice.