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One of the things I find fascinating, and at times frustrating, is trying to convey to young adults just how much societal and cultural things have changed. I mean from the time I was their age, and especially since I was in my 20s or when I was a kid.

This may not sound like much, or it may sound like just another old codger grumping about getting older, and maybe it is. But I don’t think so.

For example, I remember the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, which in some ways is similar to race discussions now but in other ways not at all. Yes, there is more to be done, but No, it is not true that no progress has been made. And if you read speeches given by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, you’ll hear him calling for human rights for people of all colors and creeds. You’ll hear him dream about a “color-blind” society. This is decidedly not what we are hearing today. Now it’s about “identity politics.” It’s about advancing one group’s rights, or power, versus another. It’s not about respecting and realizing the ideals of the American experiment, as King called us to do, but about rejecting those ideals. Race politics in the 2000s is qualitatively different from race politics in the 60s and 70s.

The abortion issue looms large. Since Roe vs Wade (1973), more than 58 million abortions have taken place in the United States. Now it seems there are fewer political leaders on either side of the aisle who are willing to stand as pro-life, and even more importantly, actually work to change this situation. We’ve had “pro-life Presidents” like Reagan or GW Bush, but we still have abortions. More and more of the next generations simply consider abortion a civil right, so things are not likely to change soon.

Moral issues were front and center in the 60s: “Make love not war,” do what feels good, the whole spectrum of loosening and changing sexual mores, except one key difference. The sexual discussion in those days assumed the existence and historic attractions of man and woman, not the 71 hybrid versions of gender identity some now say exist.

In addition, LGBTQ has become a social force demanding recognition for any and all manner of self-proclaimed sexual proclivities, which in turn are presented regularly on television programs, i.e. sit-coms must have a gay character and entire shows are built around LGBTQ characters.  It’s really incredible how quickly LGBTQ points of view have been embraced by the general culture and by political leaders, like for example former President Barack Obama who began his term opposed to same-sex marriage and by the end was its best-known advocate

“Trans” quickly became the next frontier after same-sex marriage was accepted, particularly through the high-profile transition of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce, a gold medal decathlete in the 1976 Olympics, and later the increasingly emasculated father of the Kardashian clan, had worldwide fame, so his inexplicable and sad transformation got global coverage and thus reinforced the idea anyone who wants to be trans should be saluted for doing so. And the rest of the population must make accommodations from public restrooms to youth camps. Corporations made a pell-mell rush to present themselves as “with it,” proclaiming their support, or not-supporting athletic tournaments or even entire states like North Carolina where laws existed that seemed to discriminate against trans people using public facilities. In any event, there’s an ongoing movement to try to normalize LGBT and now every manifestation represented by Q, and for a sports fan like me, seeing a hero athlete like Bruce, who was young when I was young, follow the path he has taken is a sad experience indeed.

Don’t get me wrong.  I support human rights and civil liberties. I do not embrace or endorse discrimination against any American citizen, including those with different gender or sex orientation than I understand, nor for that matter undocumented immigrants. I do not want any American citizen to be prohibited from working or living in given communities, etc. But I do not believe every inclination, sexual included, of any individual must ipso facto be embraced and normalized. Some things people want to do are objectively wrong and injurious and should not be legalized.

For example, I do not believe in “cultural relativism.” While I do not in any way believe immigrants or refugees should be discriminated against or in some other way socially harmed because of their faith or culture, at the same time, I recognize that among both Muslim and Christian subgroups in some cultures, actions like FGM or honor killings or forcibly arranged marriages are practiced. I reject these actions, regardless of the religion or culture involved, because these actions are, on a human rights level, immoral and threatening to the individuals involved and to society. They are quite simply, wrong, and I believe society must be able to say so, thus preventing these behaviors. But today, there are many who argue otherwise, saying whatever one’s culture prescribes is, in essence, OK, and the public has no say. This is very different from the American social logic generally applied when I was younger.

I could list other examples of societal or cultural change but perhaps this is enough. And I do not mean to imply that all change has been bad or wrong. I appreciate the progress American culture has made in recognizing how women are treated and in giving them access. I am glad for the progress made in the ways American culture views physically or mentally disabled individuals.

But I am also concerned about what seems to be a cultural decline based upon sporadic and now systematic rejection of American ideals, the ones drawn from centuries of Western Civilization and ones that proved their time-tested worth, like respect for human life and all human beings, respect for truth—even the idea of truth, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech—the right to be heard, not silenced, and the right to access to the public square. If these values continue to be rejected, the changes we are experiencing in American culture will not be beneficial to the generations that come after us.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

I am 65 and experiencing things I never thought possible when I was 25, and I’m not talking about technological wonders.

When I was 25,

-No one searched my bag when I went into a church service. Now, in many churches this is a routine security check.

-Culture knew the difference between male and female, sort of a no-brainer. But not anymore. Facebook offers something like 56 gender options and some are arguing there’s more than 70. I’m sometimes confused, but not about this.

-No one policed the infants and children’s areas for fear someone would come to harm or take a child.  I know this is now necessary and am glad for the people who protect children, but I’m saddened by this obvious change in our culture.

-Churches didn’t have special windows in children’s areas not only so people could walk by and enjoy them but to increase the number of “eyes-on” as an accountability to all adults working with or entering among children, thus to protect the children from various kinds of abuse.

-Criminal and financial background checks were not performed for every personnel hire, even within religious nonprofits, because today, there’s too much risk, too much legal exposure for hiring a person who has serious issues.

-No one thought much about it to see a young man walk down a country road with a rifle.

-Most people thought patriotism was a good thing, even hippies leftover from the 60s.

-On trips short and long our children romped freely on a quilt we placed in the back end, back seat down, of our hatchback Chevy Vega (I loved that car), not in car seats made for astronauts.  Now I am not against progress in keeping children safe, of course, but I am forever amazed at how involved and how expensive our kids’ kids’ stuff has now become.

-Politically correct meant we could answer questions about politics and government accurately.

-Gay meant happy. 

Strange changes, not all of which are progress.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

A Christian's hope is not a "vain wish" regarding something about which you can do nothing, as for example, "I hope my team wins next Friday."

People place their hope in many things: themselves, their “inner strength,” people—who always fail and falter, talent—drive—wealth—education—beauty—success, false gods. But none of these things can ultimately provide hope in the face of hopelessness.

However, a Christian's hope is based not upon earthly and temporal and limited things, not upon what might be, but upon what has been, the already accomplished fact of Christ's sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus Christ conquered sin and death and in this demonstrated the victory of HOPE over hopeless then, now, and forever.

So, when you choose hope based upon the omnipotent Sovereign God, you are not irrational, emotional, or even mystical.  You are rational, reasoning and reasonable because you are opting for fact over fiction.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017     

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

I’m pleased to announce two of my books are now available in ebook format on Amazon Kindle.

My first ebook, Living For God In Changing Times, was previously published in print as Christian Liberty: Living For God In A Changing Culture, (Baker Books, 2003). (The title link will take you to this ebook’s Amazon.com page, where the ebook is available for $.99)

This eBook suggests Christian liberty is the least understood and least practiced doctrine in the Bible. So the book explains how to enjoy living with the "In the World/Not of the World" Tension. It also examines both micro and macro issues relating to the so-called "Culture Wars" and offers Christian perspectives on postmodern culture.

Social change is happening at a faster and faster pace. It's both exciting and unsettling. Some change is "good" and some not, but how do you tell the difference? Jesus said, live "In the World" but "Not of the World." But believers have often responded to this command by developing a list of "Dos" and "Don'ts," resulting in legalism, "Holier than thou" attitudes, and withdrawal from cultural influence.

This book demonstrates that the Christian life is not about "Holy Lists" of "Dos and Don'ts" but about developing a biblical worldview and applying your faith to an understanding of the times and the world in which we live. This book teaches you how to live proactively and productively in a rapidly changing postmodern culture—how to enjoy living for God in changing times.

Social change, culture, and how people live their faith have been interesting to me since college days. This book is a bit of a personal manifesto. If you want to know how I think and what makes me tick, this book tells the story.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

We live in rapidly changing times. More scientists, more technology, more information, more capacity to communicate and travel, more of nearly everything exists today than once existed, and more is being added as I write. Nothing stands still.

Meanwhile, Christians are supposed to live “in the world” while being “not of the world” even as they go “into the world” (John 17). We’re here in 2011 for a purpose. We’re supposed to be God’s ambassadors of reconciliation.

But how do we do this if we don’t understand the principles and values God gave us in his Word, and how do we do this if we don’t understand the times in which we live?

In the Old Testament, we read the story of King David's effort to unite the kingdom of Israel. To help King David win the battles ahead of him, God sends to David a long list of "mighty men of valor." These men were seasoned soldiers who knew battle tactics and weaponry and who were men of great courage.

But right in the middle of this long list of mighty soldiers, God sends the men of Issachar, and the only thing on their resume is that they were men "who understood the times, to know what Israel ought to do." While they could fight, their main contribution was to give King David sound advice.

Their value to David was that they not only understood what was happening but why it was happening and whether or not it was a good thing.

Now, this is what we need today. We need Christian "men and women of Issachar" who understand their times. This means that Christians must understand the Bible, God's Word, as well as learn about the ideas that influence our nation.

If you're a Christian, you should be able to relate God's unchanging biblical principles to these rapidly changing times. You and I should be able to apply the principles and values of a biblical worldview in our lives, in our cultures, and in our times. We should be able to “give the reason for the hope that you have” with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

What does a Christian worldview have to offer the environmental movement? What really does a biblical understanding of life and Christian faith suggest we should do in the Middle East? What is a truly Christian view of stem cell research? Is Christianity relevant to public morality? Are Christian values regarding family, sexuality, and personal morality still valid and meaningful in 2011? When should, if ever, a Christian go to war? Is there really a Christian view on capital punishment? How can Christian values be fairly represented in education, entertainment, law, medicine, politics?

My point is this. The Christian life must be lived-out in the world. That's what James meant when he said, "Faith without works is dead." We should live our faith in a relevant way.

How many Christians do you know who have faith but don't do anything with it? And how many Christians do you know who know a little about the Bible but have never learned how to connect Bible truths to the everyday world?

Let's read, learn, and "study to show ourselves approved." Let's become a man or woman of Issachar who understands the times. Let's change the world.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

“Interracial marriage” has almost reached the status of little-used term in the cultural lexicon. This is not to say that racial distance no longer exists because of course it does. It is to say that fewer people become as agitated as was once common when an interracial couple walks through the public square.

When I was a young adult this term, and the cultural implications behind it, still loomed large, including amongst the Christian community. Interracial dating and marriage was something people with any sense of propriety simply didn’t do, or at least that was the dominant view among whites. But in the past forty years American attitudes toward race have changed.

According to one recent study, black-white marriages are increasing, though they still trail the rate of other mixed-race marriages. In 2008, 10.7% of blacks married whites compared to with 3% in 1980. This may not seem like much, but given the social history of this country this is a huge change.

When I was in high school, our school and community didn’t have many non-whites. But I remember discussions about interracial dating and the overwhelmingly negative response the topic elicited.

Coming of age at Cedarville College, 1970-1974, I remember not simply discussions but for the first time knowing personally both black and white individuals involved in what was then called “mixed dating.” In fact, mixed dating and the potential for interracial marriage became a major issue because two couples, each individual a popular student, became regular ‘items” on campus and, we eventually learned, some college supporters didn’t like it.

This was about the same time that Bob Jones University in South Carolina garnered national publicity for denying admission of blacks based on what the school claimed was a biblical mandate forbidding interracial dating and marriage. Because of this, the IRS revoked the school’s tax exemption in January 19, 1976, retroactive to December 1, 1970. The ensuing legal battled ended in the United States Supreme Court with a judgment against the school in Bob Jones vs the United States (1983). In 2000, Bob Jones University finally stated publicly that it was wrong about interracial dating and marriage and began admitting black students.

So, my alma mater faced a converging stream of race-related issues: a) for apparently the first time in the school’s history, two prominent interracial couples were dating on campus; b) certain off-campus supporters allegedly expressed dismay; and c) Bob Jones University was attracting national attention for taking a stand against interracial dating and marriage, thus arguing its refusal to admit blacks was protected by freedom of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment. Needless to say, as a social and political science student I was thoroughly immersed in this on campus discussion.

Eventually, then-President Dr. James T. Jeremiah spoke publicly to the issue. In brief and from my memory, he said: race is a creation and gift of God; there is nothing in Scripture suggesting, much less mandating, interracial dating or marriage be considered morally suspect or condemned; those who choose to date and especially those who choose to marry interracially should carefully evaluate social attitudes because, wrong or right, they cannot be controlled and the couple must know how it will respond; and Christians should relate to each human being, regardless of race or ethnicity, as people made in the image of God.

All these years later, and having served as a college president myself for nearly 17 years, I still value this memory of a Christian leader who stood for right, good, truth, righteousness, however you want to say it. Dr. Jeremiah spoke truth to culture that day, protected the school and the couples in the spotlight, and used his bully pulpit wisely and well.

Interracial marriage, because of social context, is still in 2011 fraught with challenges, which for some couples may prove insurmountable. But to paraphrase Dr. Jeremiah, there is nothing in the Bible that says interracial marriage is a sin. What matters is who each person in the relationship is spiritually before God and each other.

As I said, American culture’s attitude toward race has change a lot in the past forty years. I’d add that much of that change has been good.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.