There was some great stuff in the KC Star Faith section today. (Which I cannot actually find at the KC Star website, by the way.)
First, I want to share the text of an advertisement run by First Family Church in Overland Park. They have invited a woman named Shelley Lubben to speak at an upcoming worship service. Mrs. Lubben is a former porn star who has become a Christian and is now sharing her testimony here and there. The ad says, “The 5 truths about pornography … Shelly Luben, having starred in twenty adult movies, was a rising porn star who knows the ugly side of pornography.”
I encourage you to read that quote again before proceeding. Notice anything … odd? Doesn’t reference to the “ugly side” of porn imply the existence of a “non-ugly side?” It is almost as if the church is saying, “Hey, porn is fine and dandy, but you should know - there is an ugly side, too.” This phrase is usually reserved for things that most people think are good, and so the illumination of the “ugly side” helps people see the rest of the story. Pornography is just ugly. There are no “non-ugly” sides of pornography.
(This is not an observation about what Mrs. Lubben is doing, it is an observation about the choice of words of the church’s advertisers.)
Second thing from the Star today was an article about Rev. Gregory Boyd of Woodland Hills Church in the suburbs of St. Paul. The congregation there went from 5,000 people down to 4,000 people when he preached a series of sermons that said, essentially, that the church should not espouse a conservative Republican political agenda. He doesn’t have an American flag in the sanctuary, he doesn’t let people distribute so-called “voter guides” that in reality endorse specific candidates, he doesn’t think we ought to claim the United States is a Christian nation, and so forth. His book is called The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church.
What a great case study to consider. Here is a pastor who took a stand for something he had discerned to be right, and it directly resulted in a 20% decrease in his church’s membership. One thousand people walked out when Rev. Boyd said the church should keep its nose out of politics. That’s enough for a-whole-nother church! Can we say that this pastor’s ministry is bearing fruit? Or perhaps the metaphor of “pruning” would be for appropriate here?
Second question: Rev. Boyd holds some pretty conservative opinions, according to the article. Why is it big news when a person holding conservative opinions takes a stand like this, but people holding liberal opinions have been saying exactly this for years and years, and it doesn’t make a ripple? I know that I am generalizing and may be accused of using labels unfairly, especially by Larry B. or Tim Sisk. :) But I’m sticking with the question, anyway. Is this case study in the news simply because it is another example of the backlash to the polarization of America, or is something else going on?
Third question: Is the church being compromised by American nationalism, or is it the other way around (in a sense)? The article today is clearly stating the former; that the Christian message is at risk. But is anyone concerned that the system of government established to be democratic and free from the influence of the church may be at risk, here, too? Boyd hints at it in the article, saying, “America wasn’t founded as a theocracy. America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies.” Shouldn’t the church and the state each be free from the influence of the other?
Lots of questions, and I know that readers will take them in the spirit they are offered – honest questions intended to evoke conversation. This story kind of provides a nice case study to consider some of the questions, and I hope that everyone will feel free to respond respectfully and honestly.