The Good Ole Days
Conservative Evangelicalism is in serious trouble. I’m not usually one to post this kind of thing…but I think it has become necessary. One of the main reasons this has become to needed is because of the constant comments from evangelicals regarding the “good ole days.” Christians reference how much better American culture was; prayer was in schools, homosexuality was still considered immoral, most everyone went to church on Sunday morning, churches were faithful and diligent in the ministry, all was right with the world. In my short time on earth, this has been just some of what I have heard from conservative evangelicalism. Why do I see this as an issue? Good question, it certainly isn’t because I am a proponent of homosexuality, or because I wouldn’t like more people in church on Sunday, or that I wouldn’t prayer in schools, I in fact would like all of those things, but the reality of it is the “good ole days” are a myth. A figment of our active imagination and short memories looking for reprieve from thoughtful interaction with the world around us because, well it means we have to change, and change can be really hard. To me there are 4 reasons for this; racism, sexism, drug use, and dishonesty.
When people say these sorts of things my mind immediately comes to this. American history is uniquely tainted by issues like slavery and legislative oppression of ethnic groups. For being a place for people to escape persecution and discrimination, we sure have gotten good at doing it ourselves. In the “good ole days” whites held an entire race captive for forced labor as well as forced prostitution. After reluctantly releasing them we enacted laws to keep them where we wanted them. We barred them from certain establishments, set up systematic ways to oppress their opinions and influence. So, the next time you feel the urge, take care, because you are essentially wishing bondage and oppression on millions of your darker skinned brothers and sisters in Christ.
This is the second thing that comes to mind. Woman was dependent on men for their care, and could generally only acquire professions in certain fields while not in others. Until the early 1900’s women couldn’t even vote to make their voices heard for goodness sakes. Women were paid menial wages and demeaned and sexualized constantly (yes it was a problem then too). Women were cast aside in divorce with nowhere to go and no one to provide for them (since most had never had a career in their life). Wishing for the good ole days is to throw women to the wolves, some of which are our sisters in Christ.
Yes, this is NOT a modern problem. Drug use in the 1800’s was so prevalent that there were even ads for drugs like cocaine and opiates. No prescription was needed because there were no government regulations, so people could acquire the drug easily and use to their heart’s content. During prohibition thousands of people were murdered in cold blood so that alcohol could continue to flood the streets.
Today we live in a world where people are not ashamed of their sin, in some cases they gloat in it. Throughout American history this was not the case. It wasn’t uncommon to see a man at the corner taking advantage of the local prostitute’s services and then sitting in the pew next to him at church Many sat in churches on Sunday, and very few lived their lives as such. Information polls taken recently seem to show the dwindling numbers of Christians within our country. The reality of it is, this isn’t even remotely true. It isn’t that people are disowning Christianity, it is because people were never committed to Christ to begin with. A term that is used often is “practical atheist.” Yes, this person might go to church, be involved in multiple ministries but then live a completely secret life that only he knows about. So in their head they may acknowledge that God exists, but in their heart they do what is evil over and over again without a care in the world. In the good ole days, this was more prevalent, which made telling who really needed Jesus even more difficult. Today, this is generally not a hard thing to do. It is easy to walk the streets and see hurting, broken people looking for answers for their hurts, many times all in the wrong places.
Christians are a people uniquely set to look forward instead of backwards. We are a people who have been entrusted with the promise of redemption, justice, and rejuvenation. That is what all of our futures are, instead of looking back, look forward to what we have in store for us. Stop thinking in such small USA centered brains that you fail to see that you have brothers and sisters from all over the world. People who count on our unique ability to adapt and love people. Jesus gave us two very simple commands. Love God with all your heart, strength, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. This leaves quite a lot for us to do in order to love people in unique and innovative ways while at the same time staying grounded in the one steady thing that God has given us, his word. We must understand that if we want Evangelicalism in this country to continue that we must learn what it means to look forward and not back. To see what God has in store instead of what old thing has passed away for something new (even if it is admittedly awful, thank you SCOTUS). Our modern problems of sin, and cultural upheaval are human problems and those are Christ’s specialty. Let us not doubt him or his promises and wish for how things used to be. Let us look to how things will be and love people where they are so that they can be there with us. Peace and blessings and as always thank you for reading
With Love In Christ
Justin (AKA The Nerdy Theologian)