Written by T.M. Suffield |
Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Lots of people have a sense that some things in our culture aren’t right, but they aren’t sure about how to best think about them….Their own Pastor, who knows their life, talking to them about this is more helpful than any voice they find online….Please consider talking about cultural issues more in your own church.
We live in difficult days. My nation has fallen headlong into a sort of Protestant Paganism and is embracing all of sorts of beliefs and practices that are against the way of God.
This isn’t suddenly true, it has been growing steadily for some time, and it could all turn in any direction very suddenly. What is I think is universally accepted is that if you’re a Christian and you believe what the Bible says about personhood, marriage, sex and sexuality, gender, partiality, money—or honestly that the world is shot through with the glory of God—then saying those beliefs in a public forum is likely to earn you derision at best.
As a result, most people don’t speak up. That’s not a problem, as long as you aren’t being put into a compromising position in your workplace by not doing so. We do need to be careful of that, and Pastors need to speak more carefully and frequently about those decisions, I suspect, as congregants face them more than pastors do.
Most people not speaking up because of the potential backlash or consequences in their employment is reasonable. It does mean that we need the Pastors who are paid by their churches—and so granted a measure of freedom to speak as they will—to clearly speak to difficult and contentious issues.
Except, in British Evangelicalism at least, that tends to be not what happens. There are, of course, many wonderful exceptions who should be lauded. They tend to be in smaller churches all over the place, as the pressures to not do so increase with profile (though again, there are wonderful exceptions).
I think there are two primary reasons that (some) full-time Pastors don’t speak clearly on cultural issues here in the UK.
The first is that it doesn’t seem very British. It all seems terribly American (which, American readers, would not usually be seen as a positive thing in the UK). We have a cultural tendency to not speak to difficult or contentious issues. If they have a political angle, then British churches tend to veer away from that as well. As a result of this, often the only voices that can be heard are strident or crazy. This would tend to drive us the other way: people will interpret you as standing with the crazy person, or think you sound like the strident one, even if you are trying to be careful and reasonable in the way you communicate. It seems like causing a lot of bother we’d all rather avoid.