Taking Advantage of a Secular Religious Creed
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably seen the above signs posted in neighbors’ yards. In some neighborhoods they are pert’neer ubiquitous. A friend on Facebook recently posted a picture of the sign in his parents' yard, and said "you really can't argue with any of this." Well...yes. Yes you can argue with it. Almost all of it. Because all of it is pure sloganeering, and slogans have a way of being either empty, confusing, or true in a vague sense but false in the ideas that underpin them. A moment’s thought will tell you that it amounts to a secular religious creed. No, that is not a contradiction in terms, for an ideology doesn’t need to have a God in it to be religious. Secular ideologies can be religious--all that is needed is a sacred order--something to be revered, “on the throne” as of ultimate importance--something profane, dogma, and a blasphemy code. This sign, as an expression of left wing progressive bona fides, pretty much fits the bill. These are all slogans, empty progressive pablum. Some express a grain of truth, but that grain is largely lost in the morass. Many solemnly nod and applaud when they hear these slogans, but really slow down and think for a sec: what do they mean, really? All that aside, these signs are a great opportunity for engagement with your neighbor! By asking Greg Koukl style “Columbo” questions, you can use the sign to have productive conversations with others. No need to make a speech or argument...just ask some artfully created and placed questions. If you want to make your neighbor think, that’s a good way to go about it. They might have their dukes up if you start preaching at them with claims and arguments, but as Koukl notes in the linked video, questions have a way of disarming the other person and keeping you in the driver’s seat. No need to cluck at your neighbor disapprovingly or put up your own sign as a way to “own the libs.” Engaging in friendly conversation is more productive. This is a great opportunity for you to engage your kids as well and disciple/form their minds and habits. This is an awesome teachable moment to help them develop critical thinking skills so they can see weaknesses behind propaganda. Brett McKracken nails it: "For Christians, then, the “In this house . . .” yard sign should be not a symbol of political provocation, but theological and evangelistic invitation. If we can get beyond the political name-calling and fear that often engulf these issues, what a conversation starter this sign can be!..his sign—and its religion-infused sentiments—are practically begging for Christians to engage in loving, curious conversation." So in the next few blog posts, I’ll lay out some questions you can ask to start conversations. I’ll go slogan by slogan, first laying out questions for your neighbor, then for your kids. Feel free to tweak and add, taking advantage. Word to the wise: pick your battles. If you choose to engage in a conversation with someone where you challenge one or more of these slogans, it is probably best to pick a lane and stick to it. Choose a question or two to focus on, rather than firing off a bunch steam roller style. Do that, and they'll roll their eyes and write you off. Generally, with every slogan, you probably want to start with the basic "what do you mean by ____?" question. Hawking the slogans feels oh so good, but there's not a lot of actual content--they are incredibly vague, so a good starting point would be getting them to pump the brakes a bit to aim for more clarity. That being said, let’s dive right in to the specifics. I’m going to start at the bottom, with: “KINDNESS IS EVERYTHING.”
*Is it really “everything”? *Would you be kind to. say, those Trump supporters who stormed the capitol? (not that they should. The point is to show that it is an empty slogan). *Shouldn’t you balance kindness with other virtues, like justice? Does kindness sometimes entail telling someone something that they might find offensive, because it’s true? *To be kind, must you always accept everything the other person wants/desires/identifies with? *So the sign is a way to signal that your home is inclusive and that all are welcoming. Would you welcome a conservative evangelical Christian in the same way you would welcome the others pinpointed on your sign?
“LOVE IS LOVE” *Where do you draw the line? Certainly somewhere, right? Throuples? Quartets? Polygamous arrangements? Are these on the same par with, say, a life long, exclusive, monogamous heterosexual married couple (especially when it comes to raising children)? If not, then some love is not love. If yes, then: what? That is “anti-science,” for the sociological data shows different outcomes for kids with those relationships. You can believe ‘love is love’ if you want, but then you can’t claim both that ‘love is love’ and ‘science is real,’ because that runs against the conclusions of social scientists. *If the person doesn’t draw the line with any of those above mentioned, press further. *If they really come out and say what its really about (lgbt relationships): then why not just say that? Why put up this vague slogan? *How do you define “love”?
For your kids, you can also ask:
*The neighbors are trying to say that all expressions of sexual/romantic love/relationships are just as good as the relationship between a married man/woman. What does the Bible say about this? Are all kinds of love *really* equal? What about ____? Love is love?
*In the end, who gets to say? Us, or God? Why?