Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ethical Maze and the Post Evangelical

The thing I enjoyed the most about being a hard-core Evangelical was that life was simple—pure black or white. Ethical problems were all textbook—or maybe I should say cookbook—and we were all on the same page. But now, in the way I view the world, life can be a bit sloppy at times. So, I will propose a current ethical situation and see what others think. My mind has mulled over this for the past few days.

I alluded to a high school play a few posts ago. I went just to support the kids as none of my own children were in it. Our high school kids preformed brilliantly. Honestly, I was a bit surprised by many of the adult themes of the play (The Wedding Singer) especially one dance number that was very provocative (a girl on a bed wearing very little, some kind of short nighty that looked like panties). The other things that some Christian would find offensive was God's name used in vain a couple of times, a very brief dance scene where several heterosexual couples in a restaurant took turns dropping onto one knee and proposing to one another . . . then two men (waiters) do the same (it was mostly for a humor effect). Lastly, one of the main male characters, who was quite effeminate, in the end confessed to liking boys.

I also mentioned in the previous post that some friends from our church got up and marched out after that early scene where one male waiter proposes to another. Honesty, I wasn’t surprised or offended by that scene in the slightest. The provocative dance scene came at the very end. I was a little perplexed by it and was surprised that the school would include that scene. They did have a sign at the door warning that the play was “R rated.” But at the same time I wasn’t offended nor ever considered walking out. However, if it had been my daughter doing that dance I would have been traumatized. But the lasting memory in my mind from the play was how talented the kids were. They had to memorize a huge amount of dialog, songs and dance numbers. I clapped at the end with great sincerity and enthusiasm.

So here is the issue. A pastor friend was one of the ones that walked out after that brief gay-proposal scene. He is now very upset at the school. He as met with all parties involved including the principal, music director (who is a member of a different evangelical church) and the director (mom volunteer). He went to the play only because his daughter was in the orchestra pit. His daughter is caught in the middle a bit.

His view is that we as Christians should oppose immortality in our society at every chance. I think he may have been in a march against same-sex marriage laws and pro-life marches.

He is also disappointed that no one is standing with him. The other evangelical pastors in town did not go to the play so they don’t feel that they are in the position to say anything. My wife and I are one of the few people who went, except for the pastor’s wife who when three time.

A long time ago, at the height of my evangelicalism and when I was in a Navigator training center, we did not go to movies unless they were G rated. Our leader thought that was tolerable, however, he didn’t believe that we should go to any movie. Even if we went to a Disney flick, then we would be supporting the theater (which did show R rated movies) and we would be supporting the Disney Corp, which hired gays (I know, we were a sad bunch) and even have a Gay day at Disneyworld. But now I can really enjoy an R-rated movie . . . if it is a good movie to start with. Life is R and even X rated at times. The Bible is certainly R rated.

But this brings me back to the local high school situation. My broader question is when do we oppose the society in which we live? In my current thinking, the culture wars are over and the Evangelicals lost. I also doubt the benefit in trying to impose Christian morality on the non-Christian. Moral non-Christians might live better (because they live closer to the way they were designed to live) but it doesn’t’ change the big equation.

So imagine that a group of concerned Christians did cause a ruckus at the high school, what would be the benefit? The pastor, I imagine, thinks that the school would be far less prone to put on a play with such adult themes. If the audience were not exposed to the visuals and story that they would be less prone to sin. Regarding the students themselves, by being involved with a play with couple of homosexual hints and a sexually provocative dance number, does that make them more prone to sin? Certainly no one is going to suddenly become gay because of being in a play that portrayed gays. Maybe, just maybe students would be slightly more prone to be involved in sexually activity by being part of the play or even watching it. It is the thing of making extra-marital sex more and more normal.

But there are negative effects to the protest as well. Will some students be more alienated to the Church? I can imagine that if you were a student who worked you butt off and did a wonderful performance, then to only hear from the Church that they were offended, it would be hurtful. They really deserve that greatest of praise for their talent.

So, what is the proper Christian response to such a play?


Hippimama said...

Engagement and real dialog, with full appreciation for the God-given talents these kids displayed. What you just said, in other words. Let the play be a catalyst for making connections with children who are made in God's image and who need Him, rather than an opportunity to stake our your ground.

Trevor Morgan said...

when do we oppose the society in which we live?

When it is injust, not when it is immoral. Our calling is to protect the orphan, the widow, the powerless, not the easily offended.

MJ said...

Why do Christians so often enter these battles over morality? They see themselves as being salt, preserving a dying world.

Also, if we are to be instruments of redemption in the world, how do we this properly? What's the guidelines or boundaries?