Reflecting back on the previous post, there are other situations where these issues of societal complicity show themselves. One that comes to mind is the relationship between evangelicals and homosexuals. It is far too easy for Christians to distance themselves from homosexuals and make homosexuality the standard illustration of obvious sin. This self-righteous posture betrays an overwhelming ignorance of the more subtle sins within—such as slander and judgmentalism—as well of the societal complicity in the sin of homosexuality itself.
Generations of evangelicals have cavorted to and strongly perpetuated patriarchalism and its inherent gender sterteotypes, and have therefore unwittingly encouraged their more "masculine" daughters and "effeminate" sons into an identity crisis. Not all have done this, of course, and even those that have have done so with varying degrees of intentionality and grace. Nonetheless, this has been the societal environment of which we've been a part and it (among other things) has caused the gender-confused seek identity and community from other sources.
That some find relative peace and compassion by embracing the identity given them by the homosexual community should not surprise us. The sad irony, however, is that often enough this only causes evangelical parents to turn more adamantly away from them. Too often I think this "righteous indignation" plays as a comforting mask for one's own unarticulated and unrealized guilt--- and manifests itself, at worst, as a deep-seeded homophobia (which is different, in my view, from just thinking homosexuality a sin).
Having had a hand in creating a homosexual, these evangelicals turn on their own sons and daughters to avoid facing up to their own culpability in a societal evil.
This is just another example of the mess in which all are intertwined. This is why separating the world into in/out categories of sinners & saints is just way too simplistic. Acknowledging this does not negate or reduce the moral culpability of those who manifest sins in their most outward and perhaps egregious forms, but it does force us all to face up to the corporate reality of our fallenness as a human race. I'd like to see us face up to these complicities a little bit more. I think it might actually cause us to be more aware of and open to the depths of God's redemptive grace.
Perhaps such honesty with the human condition would help evangelicals to maintain a real, rather than an abstract, "love for the lost"—rather than having to conjure it up every "Missions Sunday" with manipulative slide shows and sappy worship songs. Instead, perhaps it would be borne out of a genuine conviction and empathy for our fellow sinners.
Perhaps we need a slap in the face so we can no longer miss the depth of grace. Perhaps this is what it means to be come honestly and humbly together before the throne of the reconciling God by the mercy of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps what it means to be a Christian is to grasp a vision of a shared humanity—not one which concedes itself to evil but one which confesses hope and humanity in Christ.
Perhaps confession is more than a negative renouncing but also a positive pronouncing and accepting—even a gracious quickening! Perhaps this is what it means to be filled with the Spirit, to become ambassadors of reconciliation, and to be the first taste of the new creation in Christ.
Perhaps we should be the salt of the earth rather than holding out in self-righteous seclusion for the rapture. Such a vision of Christianity might be dangerous and costly—but it is veraciously daring and compelling.