“If we hand our sons and daughters a faith exposed as misogynistic, racist, unconcerned about creation and the poor, they aren’t wrong to leave it.” -Jonathan Martin
Dear (Spiritual) Parents,
This letter is for you. Yes, for all you God-fearing pastors, mentors and 1990’s youth leaders. And for all you Bible-believing moms and dads who taught us about the value of hard-work and going to church well-dressed.
I’ll start with gratitude, because your journey is part of the foundation on which we stand.
And yet where we stand looks so different to what you built. The tide is drastically changing, and somehow we need to understand each other (because we need each other to heal).
So it's with humility that I’ll write for us, in the hope that this will help you understand why we think, vote, tweet, dress, differently than you.
And note that we are fully aware that we could be wrong about all of this.
But maybe we’re not.
You see, we are not afraid of words like socialism, homosexuals or Hollywood. We are cool with tattoos, doing a bit of yoga, drinking a bit of wine and hanging out with muslims and/or communists and/or people who would be “left behind.”
More than that, we believe in the message of the cross more than we believe in having a cross in every corner. We believe in God’s love for all humanity more than we believe in only Israel and America as God’s elect. We believe kindness and compassion are more powerful than fear and judgment. And we won’t vote conservative just because they say they are anti-abortion.
To be properly pro-life for us means EVERY life.
The man on death row.
Both the mother and the little one.
So we will preach more pro-humanity than anti-abortion. We will sing more pro-love than anti-sin. We will deny patriarchy, deny racism in all its forms, and deny any kind of hate to those who our different to us.
This is NOT rebellion against you.
You were good at getting us into the Bible, that we started to read it for ourselves and started paying attention to Jesus.
And we’re convinced that Jesus is what God has to say.
This is what we actually want to be conservative about… conserve (and preserve) the words and style of Christ himself.
His gospel of peace.
His good news for the poor.
His healing of the broken-hearted.
Because of that, we care more about the Kingdom of God than about Western Christianity. We care more about being in mission than getting a mortgage. And we care more about the future of our planet than whatever is good for the stock market.
Yes, there might be a measure of pride and assumptions in what I write. And I know these generalizations sound unfair, they obviously don’t represent every spiritual parent everywhere, but please keep reading.
Because we’re intentional about spending time with people from other cultures / religions / races, we’re intentional about standing with them too. The old systems that keep our friends in bondage are not cool with us anymore. So we march and protest and share #hashtags that might rub you the wrong way.
And FYI, we're done with abusive pastors and chauvinistic leadership.
Now, in order to keep growing what you planted, we must try a different way of farming. To continue building what you started, we need to demolish the idols of old.
We’re aware that there are elements of pain and bitterness that drive this conversation, but we know that all things work together for good! So we’re trusting God that the pain from the past will become healing for the future (and awakening from the ungodly system that initiated the pain and bitterness).
* Also, if we stop going to church, that does not mean that we are going to hell. We might just need a break from what we're used to so we can create what we hope for.
Yes, we know that there is a lot of good in the body of Christ, but we’re dreaming of the actual good old days. The days of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John… and the possibility of the books of Acts all over again.
The whole turn the other cheek and love your enemies bit has really captivated our hearts! And it’s affected how we look at war and Islam and North Korea.
In a way… we know that you’re the same.
It’s just that the out-working of it looks different.
And that hurts sometimes, because there’s an obvious disconnect in social media and dinner tables between our generations.
So we’ll end with an honest request: Please don’t quit on us!
We need your mothering and fathering. We want your challenge and invitation. Because we know that your experiences are valid. Yes, we see things differently, but without your empowering we might end up repeating the same mistakes and patterns you want us to prevent.
Forgive us for our presumptions and misunderstanding. May the prayer of Jesus in John 17 guide us today.
I hope we can make it work.
“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” – Malachi 4:6
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