Thursday, 19 May 2016
Going to Hell in a Hand Basket
I read Christian writers every day, looking for challenge, inspiration or just a broader view of "the church" and a life of faith than what I am exposed to in my own church.
Today I read this commentary on the death of the church:
At the same time, we are seeing the results of a society that is attempting to shut God out. Every day, in Britain, at least 312 couples are divorced. Somebody calls the Samaritans every five seconds. The pornographic industry in the UK is worth over £1 billion annually. There are 30,000 Christian clergy of all types, and more than 80,000 registered witches and fortune tellers.
I'm not at all sure I can agree with this hand wringing. Divorce is certainly a painful and costly business but does a high divorce rate reflect a fracturing of our society or does it reflect an honesty we didn't see in the past? After the messy and painful part, could divorce be making room for more love in people's lives, rather than less?
Calls to The Samaritans could also be seen as a good thing, surely? The commitment of volunteers, the increased awareness of mental illness and the trust displayed by those who reach out for help are all positive signs. Mental health issues seem to be becoming more prevalent but are they? or do we talk about it more? Twenty, thirty or forty years ago were there less people suffering loneliness, anxiety and depression or were they just suffering in silence, self medicating, chugging valium and putting on a brave face? or maybe they had a brief period of illness and got locked up in an inappropriate psych facility for decades?
Porn is a scourge, it demeans everyone who is involved in it but again, does it reflect a society devoid of goodness and love? or a reality which has always been with us?
I have seen society change in my lifetime, we have a long way to go but there has been progress made in the areas of equality for women and the disabled, LGBT rights and race equality. Forced adoption has lost traction, alienating single mothers and divorcees is less common, we institutionalise people less than we have in the past and there is growing acknowledgement of some sins of the past (slavery and the Stolen Generations come to mind.)
I am tired of the thought that God is ignored, society is declining, the death of the church is imminent and we are all on the way to hell in a hand basket.
The function of the church is (or should be) to love. I want the church to stop the wailing and gnashing of teeth, stop the grief over a changing world and celebrate what Love has achieved. Christianity is not meant to be easy or comfortable so maybe we should see empty pews as a sign that God believes in us, that He is stretching us to become bigger and more whole. Can we consider that he is asking us to Love more and better, challenging His people to create change in the future?