Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jian or Jesus



         This past summer, my wife, MariAnne, and I were walking along a street in Oxford England. As we passed one of the many Oxford colleges, we had to make our way around a large group of international students who were lined up along a long stone wall which stretched to the end of the block. The most clearly noticeable feature of this group was that they were all (and when I say "all", I mean "all") absorbed with their smart phones. No one was talking, laughing, or listening to one another. They may have been chatting with each other by means of texting. Who knows? However, it seemed clear that they were using the break between classes to catch up on whatever was happening online.

            It is pretty clear today that it takes no effort to fill the gaps of time in our lives with information. That information may be as shallow and mundane as Facebook posts about the weather, what people ate for breakfast, or the rantings of those "friends" who are continually morally outraged about everything and anything. From Youtube to the Bleacher Report, we are being continually fed a minute by minute stream of information and amusements.

            In the midst of all the media that captures our attention and takes up our spare time, there are always the "stars". There are many people who use the media well. They work for good causes. They ask the right questions. They seem sincere, smart, effective, helpful,  and engaging. In Canada, one of those stars has been Jian Ghomeshi of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations number one program "Q". Jian was fired this past week in the midst of allegations of sexual assault. This has caused a firestorm of debate. He has filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the CBC for fifty-five million dollars (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/10/28/jian_ghomeshi_cbc_releases_memo_citing_claim_of_impropriety.html).

             I haven't any clue about Jian's legal guilt or innocence. That will be settled in due time and with due process.  Something else, however, has caught my attention. While Jian argues that his sadomasochistic adventures have been private and consensual, I have seen some believers give a loud "amen" to his right to separate his professional and private life. It also seems to me, by virtue of the strong expressions of support and loyalty given at this time, that for many Christians, godlessness is inconsequential in their selection of the voices that they choose both to listen to and then to subsequently defend. I understand that we are not to leave the world. I am no radical separatist. However, neither are we to be indifferent towards or advocates for godlessness. Listen to the Bible's clear instructions in Ephesians 5:3-12:



            "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolator), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not become partners with them; for, at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is even shameful to speak of the things that they do in secret."



            This passage doesn't teach that Christians think that they are better. It teaches that by God's mercy, we have been rescued from the very same darkness and brought into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not to become partners with them in the defense or promotion of the very things that threaten to undo them ultimately and eternally. The priority of Christians is to be preoccupied with what pleases the Lord and to purify ourselves from the "unfruitful works of darkness." We are, by our lives, to expose what is shameful. It is no less shameful because it is done "in secret". In fact, we need to pray for God to forgive our sins, to purify our hearts, and to make our secret lives open to the daylight of God's scrutiny. As Christians, we ought to humbly give thanks to God that He is a gracious forgiver of all sins and that God's ways are right and good and pure (Read Psalm 19 again!). We ought to prayerfully recommit ourselves to sexual purity for as this case reminds us, the harm done in the name of personal privacy is too deep and too wide in our culture regardless of race, religion, gender, or social status. There is no room for a holier-than-thou attitude. There is a need to point to a better way. Jesus Christ is that way.

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