(The third part in a series considering the streamlining effects of modernity on Christianity)
Let me make sure and say this first: I do not judge or condemn anyone who has suffered through divorce. Far from it. I have been so close to it myself, that I completely empathise with those who have actually been divorced. All I am hoping to do now is to connect the dots. Divorce has been around almost as long as marriage has been around, so it's nothing new. The fact that the divorce rate among Christians has increased and recently plateaued is telling. As with all things in the popular culture, the Christian culture lags behind by several years. The dots that I've tried to connect are the divorce rate and the human detachment in the Christian community that accompanied modernism.
The superficiality that is the outcome of streamlining Christianity has had several negative consequences:
1. When we reduced Christianity to the formula of "Four Spiritual Laws," it became inevitable that some followed those laws and experienced little relief from the pressing lives that they led. This combined with the "name it and claim it" and "prosperity" messages causes these same poor souls to feel judged, condemned or condescended to by the rest of the Christian community.
2. When we narrowly define what Christianity is, we force a fragmentation of the Body into groups (that we politely call "denominations") and become a house divided, to the Enemy's great delight.
3. We focus on the mechanics of our relationship to God, which we refer to as "theology," instead of the actual spirit to Spirit relationship.
4. We focus on the mechanics of studying Scripture, which we refer to as "exegesis," instead of garnering and benefiting by the spirit of what The Word is trying to convey to us.
5. When we focus on our own interpretation of the temptingly dangled material promises held out by "conversion" to Christianity, we may fail to acknowledge that lives given to Christ may continue (or begin) to be messy, chaotic, unorganized and impoverished.
6. When we overlay expectations of what the "ideal" Christian looks and sounds like, we set up a standard that is impossible to achieve and assure the perception of failure when we compare ourselves and/or others to it.
I have personally experienced ("perpetrated" might be a better word) this streamlined version of Christianity on myself, on my wife and sons, and on God. I've suffered the consequences of it too. There are certain aspects of all of it that could be seen as positive, to be sure. But, in the grand scheme of things, my own personal modern movement left me spiritually barren, detached, robotic, judgemental, and quite frustrated.
I do not believe that I am alone in this. As I said, my wife and I see many "Christian" husbands who are mired in their own detached, cold modernity, and their marriages are suffering for it.
There are answers and Scripture does hold them, but they are, and always have been, matters of the heart. Matters of the heart are never clear-cut, iron-clad, or black and white. They are relational, spiritual, emotional, feeling matters that most men need "help" with.
That's why God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
Frankly, it was only when my "help" began to confront my offensive behavior that I began to see the light...It was then that I began to believe that certain Scriptures might actually apply to me:
"...while seeing they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear but not understand..."
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven...Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart from me...'"
"Truly, truly, I say to you unless a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God...If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?"
Until next time, Kim