A song came on the radio about retrospection that caught my attention yesterday. It’s called “Dear Younger Me” by Mercy Me, a popular contemporary Christian band. The intriguing hook is the songwriter addresses himself with counsels of “if I knew then what I know now” and “what I would’ve changed if I had heard…” Before the song even ended I was thinking about what I would say in a letter to my wishy-washy younger self. The answer came quickly: don’t abandon orthodoxy.
An interesting thought experiment, no? During my last year of college, I started to compromise on Christian doctrine. Mostly because I didn’t know enough to defend my faith. So, if I were to offer warnings to my early twenties self in a letter, it’d go something like this:
Dear younger me,
Guilt, painful experiences, and pressures mixed with self-focus will encourage you to one day abandon orthodox Christian teachings in exchange for liberal evangelical nonsense. Beware.
The blogosphere isn’t the Bible nor the Bride of Christ. Neither of which are dispensable in this life.
Christianity is comprised of two millennia of agreed upon Church teaching on moral ethics. Before you choose to exchange said two millennia of Church teaching for the opinions of a few popular authors (some with little to no formal theological training), do in-depth reading, study primary sources, and consider the ramifications before jumping to a conclusion based on your feelings.
Revisionist sexual ethics will be your biggest temptation. That’s because you truly love your gay friends. You want the best for them. Deep down you secretly have the feeling sex was designed for marriage between one man and one woman. But you don’t want to hurt your same-sex attracted friends. Plus you’ll dread the idea of going against the crowd. You will want to be affirmed as a good, well-liked person. The truth is your silence could cause more harm.
Before you make the decision to “reconcile” same-sex relationships and Scripture consider history, social science, and the complexities of the arguments. Take seriously the arguments raised by pastor Sam Allberry in his book Is God Anti-Gay? And do yourself a favor and look up Rosaria Butterfield’s story.
Protesting unjust social and economic structures is commended and encouraged. But use caution in placing confidence in revamped Liberation Theology under a social justice veneer. A perfect utopian society is not attainable so long as humanity remains fallen.
Christians are dying in the Middle East and other corners of the world. Few of your progressive Christian friends are protesting or even taking notice. This is likely because it disrupts their Christian oppressor and Persecution complex narratives. Don’t ignore the slaughter, imprisonment, rape, and torture of your brothers and sisters abroad. Remember Micah 6:8 applies to the Persecuted Church too.
Remember that progressive church plant you were considering moving to Richmond to attend (among other silly reasons)? Yeah, it fails. Church growth hinges on conservative theology. The Washington Post published this research on “Liberal churches are dying. But conservative churches are thriving.” (Here is the peer-reviewed article on Canadian church growth and decline.)
While not perfect, Israel isn’t the colonial oppressor of victimized Palestinians it’s portrayed to be by some left-leaning Evangelical figures. Someday you’ll see with your own eyes that democracy, human rights, and religious liberty are thriving in Israel while dying nearly everywhere else in the Middle East.
On the flipside, Republican politics are not the equivalent of conservative Christian values. Later on it will be tempting to conflate the two in an effort to win elections against liberals. This action is as great a peril to your soul as it is to abandon orthodoxy. Do. Not. Do. It. Character counts no matter the side of the political aisle a candidate represents.
Do not fear the court of public opinion. Though the pressures are hard to bear, fear above all others the judgment of God Almighty.
Lastly, dear younger me, you have a lot to learn. And at 29 years old you’re still learning.
P.S. Your parents are not the simpletons you think. Appreciate they’ve experienced God’s transforming grace to a degree you don’t understand and are doing their best to disciple you well. Say “thank you.”