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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Ericast 323 - Well... Maybe Not

I had a great plan for a series in August... and then September... and then October. Want to know about a series you're not going to hear? Here's your show.

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This episode isn't lighthearted. Here's a key takeaway for you: If you're in a community, organization, business, family, or political fellowship that you value and appreciate... and someone has an objection to it... you should listen to that objection.  You don't need to agree with it.  But if you dismiss it out of hand, you do that at your own peril.

If you know anything about me, and if you don't then you're about to learn, you'll realize that in college I came to identify as "Christian" and that my particular denomination or "flavor" was "Evangelical". In the past couple years, I've realized more and more that there are some things that are extremely broken in the "Evangelical church".

  • I've got friends who say, "Yeah, obviously, that's why I'm not a Christian!"
  • I've got friends who say, "Yeah, it's really sad, and I do what I can to make the church a better representation of what Jesus told us to do."
  • And I've got friends who have now chosen to leave my life and make themselves former friends who say, "Nuh-huh! No, there aren't problems! That's just what Satan wants you to believe. We are SO persecuted!"

That's what I was going to talk about.  But, I'm not going to -- at least not in the four-part series I had in mind -- because it's just too depressing a place to put myself into.

But I am, on occasion, going to use this podcast to do a little bit of "awareness raising".  Because I've got friends somewhere between that second and third category who are truly, sincerely, oblivious to the harm that's happening inside their churches.  Because I'm not in their church, I can see it. They can't. Jesus is known for a phrase that has always sounded odd to me "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Like, who doesn't have ears? Well, I guess we all have ears... but I've found that not everybody hears with them.

I'll close with an example. And I have to give a trigger warning to my listeners with a heart for the LGBT community, that this clip is painful and hurtful to them. But that's not why I'm sharing it, because that's no surprise - if you know anything about "evangelical theology" you know that "tolerance" is a stretch, let alone love and affirmation. (And I know that there are some who, with a few extra words to make it flowery, would say that intolerance is actually loving, and we're not going to go there right now.)

Instead, I want you to listen very, very carefully to this clip from a youth ministry program. Remember it's not a random, off-the-cuff conversation -- these are prepared remarks which were then edited and produced and distributed. This is intentional doctrine, recorded in 2021 and shared with teenagers as part of a program answering the question "Is it a sin to be gay?" Trust me, this is an accurate representation of what you'll hear talking to the average person in this church. Put yourself in the shoes of a typical teenager as they list off examples of the "sins" that people struggle with.

And hence the title of the podcast episode that I'm not going to do: "Is Depression Sinful."  If you weren't listening carefully, replay the last few seconds.  We've established that in this worldview, it's a sin to be attracted to someone of the same sex. Now, it's not a sin to be "attracted" to someone of the opposite sex because that's God's design, but if it's "lustful" attraction, that's sinful. And deceit is a sin. But what's tucked in the middle of that list.  Depression.

If forced to confront it, you can say, "No, Eric, they don't mean that depression is sinful, just that it's a challenge that teenagers face?"  And if you truly, sincerely insist on believing that, there's nothing I can do to change your mind. All I can tell you is... No.  That's not what they're teaching. They're teaching that "depression" is a sin -- maybe it's self-indulgence, maybe it's for attention, maybe it's because you've been deceived by the world, but the solution is to "get right with God."

I have a problem with that.  In fact, teaching that depression is a sin might bump up against that other sin of "deceit" that they mentioned.

I don't have any power to change the hearts and minds of people who believe things like this. But I do have a chance at pointing it out to people who deny it happens in their church.  Trust me, it happens. And when it does, and you hear someone like me point it out, and you see the response that people like me get in return... maybe say, "hey, should we listen to what he has to say?"