Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Real Counterculture

I want to follow up on this post with a few more thoughts. Not on Don Sterling per se, but on the way in which our culture treats people like him—people guilty of serious cultural sins.

First, consider the culture at large. Our morality as a culture is so whimsical, yet we are willing to metaphorically crucify people when they offend that morality. I can name several examples in the past six months alone. The main culprits of late are verbal offenders of our culture's obsession with sexual liberation and what I like to call "haters"—people who don't get along with the tolerance police. The most serious offenders of this squishy morality are cast out of the public square and the marketplace. Their ideas and opinions have no place among us, so they become ideological pariahs on their way out.

In other words, we live in a culture with a deeply imbedded "scapegoat" narrative. In order to appease our conscience as a nation, we place our sins upon the backs of the designated scapegoats—homophobes, racists, and evolution-denying crazies. Then we send them packing from the public square feeling much better about ourselves in the process. It's so cathartic, but there is no forgiveness there. And as long as we heap judgment on the appointed class, we never have to examine our own hearts—dark as they are. No introspection, no condemnation, and no forgiveness. We don't need true forgiveness when we have a scapegoat.

But here's where the gospel is countercultural. The culture at large is not willing to forgive offenses against its whimsical morality; Christ is ready and willing to forgive offenses against his perfect, pure, and consistent law. The culture at large avoids self-examination and condemnation by placing its guilt on others who are "more deserving" of it; the gospel confronts each of us with the darkness of our own hearts, but places the guilt of that darkness on the one who didn't deserve it but can actually remove it. The culture at large will not abide the haters; in the gospel, Christ redeems his own haters and makes them his sons and daughters, not his enemies.

The prevailing culture isn't forgiving of people who commit serious cultural sins. I think it's because we are trying to avoid the actual guilt of our own sins. The good news, however, is this: though our sins are many, Christ offers us forgiveness through his death. And when he rose from the dead, those sins were no more. The culture at large, no matter how many people we banish, can never accomplish something like that. That's why the gospel is truly countercultural.




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