Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sinful Cynicism

My newest and most recent struggle with sin has centered around cynicism. All cynics are critics, but not all critics are cynics. I looked at the definition of cynicism online and here is what I read: "An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others." This definition proved to be a mirror that reflected all that is ugly from my actions and behaviors from the past couple of weeks. I have been most cynical of the Church and conservatives--things that I profess to belong to.

A few verses in James have also pointed to what I was doing. "With [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening?"

Also, as I read in Ephesians I am commanded that "No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear." My comments have been negative and haven't built anyone up.

There is, however, reason to be negative. Negativity doesn't signify cyncisim. The prophets were most certainly negative. Jeremiah, for his preaching, was put into a muddy cistern becuase he didn't preach the positive things the people wanted to hear [see reference]. Sometimes the Lord has something negative to say to his people. In Revelation, Jesus has something negative to say to 6 out of the 7 churches in Asia Minor in addition to his positive comments.

The main problem with cynicism is its attack on individual motives and its refusal to find a solution. Here, instead of being cynical, I'd like to point out some of the areas that we as Christians need to work on for the glory of God. Hypocrisy is evidenced in most Christians' lives, to some degree. And I myself am part of the problem. I've compiled this list of problems we as Christians have to overcome... together. I won't leave myself out of this one either.

The Sanctity of Marriage -- This is one of the big themes in conservative religion and politics. The main front of this battle revolves around the movement to allow homosexual couples to marry. Unfortunately, we as Christians have spent so much time fighting the 2% of the American population and ignored the other 98%. If homosexuals were granted the right to marry, it is highly unlikely that they would stray from the current trends in American society: multiple partners from high school to young adult life, live-in boyfriends/girlfriends, marriage in the late 20s to mid-30s, and finally, divorce in the 40s to 50s.

Conservatives recognize that the fight for homosexual marriage is about gaining national acceptance and tolerance of the homosexual lifestyle. Marriage is a small part of that overall plan. Why do we put so much attention on the homosexual lifestyle? One, it doesn't glorify God, and two, it is easier to put pressure on this group than to make adultery and fornication (pre-marital sex) a big political issue.

At one point in time, homosexuality was a forbidden topic. No one discussed it openly. Now it has become a major discussion point in the workplace, college campuses, coffee houses, and even the church (well, some churches). But we fail to address the major issues of adultery and fornication. We condemn it from the pulpit and gossip about it in the fellowship halls, but we let fornication slide because we don't inquire into others' "private lives" except to fuel our gossip. When the inevitable occurs and someone gets pregnant, we again ignore the heart issue so long as she chooses not to abort. Divorce is so rampant today is is disgusting. Much of it has to do with how easy it is to get one. But we also ignore the underlying issues of infidelity, spousal and child abuse, and all the other issues that lead to divorce. Indeed the only thing that has changed since the "Leave it to Beaver" fifties is not the morality, but the convenience of sinful habits and our openness. The "boys will be boys" attitude existed, and indeed, infidelity is probably the one area that has remained somewhat in the closet, as far as openness is concerned, but that doesn't negate the fact that it is happening.

Data from over 20 years of surveys have shown that 75% of non-married 20 year olds have had premarital sex, and that number rises every year to the point that an estimated 95% of people have had sex before they got married. Even if these statistics are overstated, it is safe to say that a majority of people in America have sexual relationships that dishonor our Father.It is for this reason that I say we have lost the fight for the sanctity of marriage--we believe that 2% of the population will ruin what a larger percentage (12% of men and 7% of women in any given year) who commit adultery and who fornicate (who do go to church) haven't been able to ruin. My point: the sanctity of marriage has been eroded and will stay in that state so long as we ignore the other issues of fornication and infidelity.

I'd love to write more, but I will have to end it here. Cynical attitudes and behaviors don't help the situation. But neither does ignoring the decaying morality and spirituality within our own churches in favor of one political endeavor. Let us not forget that there are more issues at stake than homosexual marriage and abortion. America is a lot worse, morally and spiritually, than we conservatives would like to admit. Instead of preaching that America is a Christian and moral nation, let's call it what it is--a secular nation. Instead of trying to Christianize a nation, we need to disciple a Church and reach the lost.

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