One of my favorite movies is the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Leboswski. There’s a scene in it when Walter (John Goodman) loses his temper about an infraction during a bowling tournament, pulls a pistol out and screams, “HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?!?! AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO GIVES A $#@! ABOUT THE RULES?!?!” and proceeds to force his opponent to mark the score down as zero for that frame at gunpoint.
Has the whole world gone crazy?
Maybe you’re incredulous that any rational person could support __________ for president even though he/she believes in__________ (fill in the blank with whatever you find most objectionable and dangerous about that candidate).
Maybe you’re scratching your head about the debate about who gets to use which bathroom and how that became the burning issue of our times.
Or any number of other things that pop up in our culture that make you understandably think we’re living in bizarro-land – it’s easy to feel like Walter – Has the whole world gone crazy?
But it’s Walter’s reaction that becomes the bigger problem – so how can we as followers of Jesus find a better solution than (metaphorically or literally) pointing a gun at our opponent to get our way? What’s the Third Way?
First thing is to remember what the Bible has to say about this sort of thing. A few examples:
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” – Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 affirming that we for sure need to interact with the unbelieving world.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account… You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden… Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
That’s Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) saying, “Expect to be mistreated if you’re on my side.” But the way we encourage people to give glory to God is by being salt and light and doing good works – not by waving our guns like ol’ Walter.
See, salt melts ice. Salt cuts through harsh flavors in food – not so you can taste the salt, but so you can taste all the goodness therein.
Lastly – “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” That’s Jesus to his disciples the night he was arrested. (John 16:33)
Another way to say that is a line often attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
So – fear not – Jesus wins in the end. And the way we point folks to that is by being salt and light and doing good works.
Like what? Well, let’s take the trans-bathroom issue:
No matter what sort of goofy laws our elected representatives do or do not pass, no one is saying you can’t report a creepy person to the police – by all means, “If you see something, say something,” as they say.
And don’t be surprised when people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1) and don’t be afraid to speak your mind on God’s design for men and women – but do it with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) – “gracious and seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6) while acknowledging that gender identity and sexuality issues are far more complicated than many Christians want to think about and we owe it to people to try to understand their struggles.
The Apostle Paul calls us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), not espouse fear-based slander. While it can be tempting to try to win people to our side of an argument using fear, 1 John 4:18 says that “perfect love drives out fear.” So let’s consider how we can listen to and love our neighbors who are struggling with these kinds of issues, even if we can’t understand them.
But at the end of the day, if your concern is primarily the safety of women and girls let me leave you with this. A far, far greater threat to young women is:
There is a well-established, undeniable link between porn and the exploitation and abuse of women. All over the world women are coerced and held captive all to satisfy the demand for pornography. And studies show that Christians are pretty much just as frequent consumers of online porn as folks in the non-Christian world.
So you want to protect vulnerable women? Start by “tearing out your eye” (Matthew 18:9) or helping someone else to. Go to Fight The New Drug for more info. And let’s all work together on the world being a little less crazy.