Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Falling from Christian Orthodoxy: The Need for a Serious Anthropology

Here is an important article from Rod Dreher: Post-Graduation Fall From Christian Orthodoxy

He interacts with the thoughts of a campus minister.  Here is a section:
He said that in his experience, most of the students he works with graduate holding orthodox Christian beliefs on sexuality, but quickly capitulate. I asked him why. He replied:
You could probably guess it all:
  • visceral aversion to being thought a bigot;
  • not wanting to sacrifice professional success;
  • not wanting to be hated by elite institutions;
  • not knowing how to hope the best for a neighbor/friend without shifting moral norms (not understanding how to differentiate a pastoral mode from a legislative one);
  • being sick of the church;
  • deriving very little joy and peace from worship;
  • a complete lack of appreciation for traditional civic and family structures;
  • a failure to see the end game of identity-politics liberalism (to reduce all mediating institutions to naught, leaving us as a plain of individuals linked to the mother state where super-powered minority identities bring life to all as they self-achieve)
Dreher goes on to comment on this list.  Here are his thoughts on some of the items:
First, I believe that the first three items in his list cannot be overemphasized. Most Christianity in this country is deeply middle class and conformist. People who are really engaged with theology, on either the traditionalist or progressive side, are very few. Most people just go along to get along. Perhaps it has always been this way. When the broader culture was conservative on sexual morality, so were the people in the pews (at least publicly). When it shifted, so did the views of the people in the pews. Now that same-sex marriage is totally bourgeois, we will see most churches accept it, because it’s the easiest thing to do. A big reason same-sex marriage was accepted so quickly, and so thoroughly, is because many people realized they were only against it out of uninformed prejudice.
I recall a professor at a conservative Evangelical college telling me that the students at his institution are all products of youth ministry culture, which is entirely relational. When they graduate and get outside the Christian college bubble, he said, and they find their views challenged in a serious way, they often collapse. “They are terrified of being seen as mean,” he said.
Anyway, if a Christian young person is going to stand firm on Biblical truth on these issues, he is going to have to be deeply grounded and formed in the faith, and have a sure sense of himself. Otherwise, the ordinary pressure of social conformity is going to overwhelm them.
In the comments section, there is an insightful perspective offered by "David":
I'm just a professor at a public community college, but (from the Christian students I meet) I say this again and again - churches, you have to teach people a serious Christian anthropology before they get to college. The world is going to come at them from a thousand directions with a different anthropology, and they need to have immediately ready in their minds what they believe about men, women, marriage, and sexuality, and why what the world believes is wrong. (And I really do mean "ready in their minds" - considered and rehearsed answers they can say at least to themselves when a professor or peer launches an attack on their beliefs.) Or they will fold (or just keep very, very quiet) - in my experience the desire to "not be seen as mean" is a pretty big factor. Well Christianity isn't mean, in fact it is best for everyone - but could the people you're sending to college actually articulate why?
A good place to start this education in "a serious Christian anthropology" is to read Nancy Pearcey's book Love Thy Body!