As 23 and 37 have been talked and squawked, I have heard little serious discussion of the profound transformation in the context for our church’s mission.
Libertinism has become cool, not just alluring but even aspirational. There is an aroma of liberty not just license in it. Most thoughtfully, there are even some cool countercultural discussions about the costs and discernments of acceptable transgressive behavior. What sort of parental mental greenhousing makes penetrative sex (we must distinguish) wise and ambitious at 15-- even though, of course, prudence and various matters of health and emotional intelligence?
Parents do differ. Situations do differ. Young people must be treated maturely. And, douche bags [reappropriated power statement] need to be cock-blocked because manipulated assent is not consent, so we also need to transgress the assumptions that typical teen sex is normal. We need to make normal teen sex typical, and that means-- sometimes not figuratively, but always transgressively-- punching toxic masculinity in the face. And, we'll need to teach people-- no, not just teenagers-- about toys.
I know this got tawdry fast, but that's the point: transgressive is normal, but still pushing on norms. Most of the sins we recognize from God’s law are either unimagined in our society (sabbath breaking?) or have been made into matters of laudable transgression. There are times to lie, cheat and steal; and we know those are wrong, but it’s badass and has good results sometimes, which makes them transgressive and admirable.
Homosexuality is no longer a transgressive act. It is not a bold rebellion for character formation. Listen to the nostalgia of gay folks over 50 for when coming out really meant something, a real change of your place in society. Pride parades just aren't the same anymore when corporations sponsor floats and the police consider more how to accommodate than how to secure the event. Homosexuality is now righteous in our mission context. You can’t have a cool countercultural discussion about the costs and discernments of homosexuality as transgressive-- only as brave and vindicated. No one is in trouble for homosexuality, although it is still very likely a target of trauma. It is gathering up all the social and discourse connections of virtue.
This is the basic social value of the identity template. The creation of a minority status signals the equation of homosexuality with our cherished liberty. Homosexuality is no longer tolerated. It is no longer accepted. It is normal and standardized. In terms of the moral patterns of our mission field, it stands as a comprehensive reset. At the very least it is a reset that has been carried out through the entire institutional strata. It is industry standard. It is an educational norm. It is banal except for the bad actors it flushes out. However this was accomplished, that's what was needed to convert the USA to the metric system.
"Don't call him that, son. That's a terrible thing to call someone. Mom, it's just saying he is lame. And he is lame." AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power:"Yes, the Cosmo Girl CAN get AIDS!" "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement."
And then America evolved.
When has so large a change occurred in our society?
How did the church react?
Benjamin T. Inman serves as a Teaching Elder at
Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Fuquay-Varina, NC.