Well, with a title like that. . . . . .you might guess this will be a little long. . . . .
I spoke this weekend (check out "current sermon series" if you'd like to listen) about community and addressed the generational and social divides that are a part of our context in suburban Colorado.
I had no idea that we would hit a big generational snag with the Starbucks issue the very next day, but it gives me a chance to expand on those thoughts a bit here.
(as a disclaimer. . I think this Starbucks cup issue is largely a non-issue perpetrated by those who want to shame Christians, and by Christians who want to shame their brothers and sisters because they are tired of "culture war" issues. Essentially, I don't think this Starbucks thing, is a thing; from either side. I think we like to get angry about stuff, and I think we like to shame traditional points of view, wether or not they exist on a certain issue)
As Christians in America we find ourselves in a culture that does not follow the Judeo-Christian worldview. It is helpful to state, though, that this is a CHANGE, and even 15 years ago our current culture would seem scandalous to the most progressive, secular person at that time. I think it's helpful to remember the change because some of our younger friends would do well to reflect on how they feel when circumstances change that they are used to. They should remember those kinds of feelings are what older folks are going through right now. That's what we do as Christians. . .we consider and identify with those are hurting or confused and empathize with them, not throw stones. Here is a paragraph from John Piper that helps us:
"Baby Boomers (like me) who grew up with an assumed overlap between Christian morality and cultural expectations, and Millennials, who desperately want to be hip and cool, must both joyfully embrace the calling to be weirdos. It is not our culture. And we are not cool."
That paragraph needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Certainly the older generations (and those who were raised in more traditional communities or families) need to embrace the fact that there isn't as much overlap in American culture and Christian belief and practice. That is a painful change, but the ship has sailed. We need to practice our faith in the marketplace without EXPECTATION that the culture will return good manners, provide affirmation, or agree with us.
At the same time (and this is what has irked me about the current debates) the younger generation, the Millenials, and those who grew up in progressive communities and families, need to deeply embrace that Christianity will not be cool in our culture unless we compromise our faith. We can be winsome (perhaps avoiding complaints about coffee cups, yes) of course and smart. But, this is not a popularity contest, and we aren't winning. We are not called to shame our older fathers and mothers in the faith when they speak against our current culture's tendencies. "They make us look uncool" yes, they do at times. . . you are uncool. Own it.
There is an intolerance here of traditional world views. We see it in larger issues like the gay marriage debate and in the fatigue on pro-life issues. We also see it in minor things like the "War on Christmas" issue. It is true that much of the modern celebration of Christmas comes from non-biblical sources. It is true that large parts of this holiday were given to us by the culture, . . so when the culture takes it away, we shouldn't feel a crisis over that. But, remember. . . this is a change. It doesn't feel good to traditional folks who liked the way things were. The so-called never ending "advances" of progress and technology have not always improved our world. Our new social acceptance of all lifestyle choices is NOT helping our kids. It's not always good for us. The younger folks among us need to remember that.
Recently two Texas preschool workers were fired for refusing to call a girl, a boy. At our universities, The Atlantic puts it well: "one respects students by validating their subjective feelings". These are foundational shifts in our culture.
Now, should we go to "war" over these issues? No. . .
(As much as I've fought internally over the pro-life issue, i don't think I should take up arms against my government or wrongdoers, in this case. Even in the fact of abject evil, it's not the right response at this time).
But, I hope that Christians will stop overreacting against other Christians and let the church be a place for dissenting views. Let's let the church be a place where we can put our arm around someone who is discouraged because their office won't let them hang up a Christmas banner. Let's let the church be a place where we can encourage all Starbucks customers to not play the victim. Let's let the church be a place where we honor the wisdom of the older generation and hear them when they talk about slippery slopes.
There are two Americas (probably more) but there's ONE church. Let's respect each other, search the scriptures together, and love each other. . . . especially those who disagree with us, politically. The church should be a safe place for that.