Tag: sex

Trump, LifeWay, and Eugene Peterson—Conservative Evangelicalism Personified

Life has a way of putting things right in front of us—if we’re willing to see them.

Though much has been said in attempt to cast light on the true essence and nature of conservative Evangelicalism, perhaps nothing in all the universe speaks more clearly than when it all gets personified so poignantly in human flesh. Look no further, search no longer—Trump, LifeWay Christian Stores, and Eugene Peterson are conservative Evangelical Christianity in living color. They serve as both a window into the true desires and ethos of right-wing Christianity, and a mirror giving an honest reflection, if only its adherents should dare to look within.

Debate all you want about President Donald Trump, at the end of the day, he bares a strong resemblance not unlike that of many a conservative Evangelical pastor, leading with a male-driven patriarchal sexism and a vision of personal power, imperialism, and greed—all spiritually justified of course, and often at the expense of the “least of these.” As a former Evangelical pastor myself, I know it all too well. It begins with good intention and the best of aspirations, but quickly the tractor-beams of the Evangelical Death Star can’t be overtaken. Slowly, but surely, the erosion overcomes.

There’s no denying, much of conservative pastoral leadership has adopted some of the most cruel, immoral, anti-Jesus, and evil behaviors and attitudes on the planet. Brutally lording over people, insisting on ones own way, demanding allegiance, fear-mongering, childishness, blatant double standards, and putting character and truth aside as long as you’re willing to be a player in the Evangelical game. Keeping it all predominantly white, male, Evangelically conservative, privileged, and culturally dominant are some of its greatest unwritten leadership priorities. Inside handshakes, closed-door meetings, all conspiring on how to quickly demonize, marginalize, and even give exit to nearly any barrier or perceived enemy. Virtually nothing is off the table when it comes to defending and taking territory in the name of conservative Evangelicalism. Bullying, shaming, emotional abuse, spiritual exploitation, and political adultery—no matter how overt or subtle, is all spiritual justified by a militant, vengeful, intolerant, gun-carrying, homophobic, hell-addicted, sexist, racist, and imperialistic distortion of Jesus.

No wonder why so many couldn’t help themselves but to elect him as President, for chances are, he most closely resembles their local conservative Evangelical pastoral leadership. Nearly everything you see in our President Donald Trump is hauntingly intrinsic to much of conservative Evangelicalism—especially its leadership. Want to know what it feels like to be under the mantle of many a conservative Evangelical Church? Ask yourself this simple question, how does it feel to be under the leadership of President Donald Trump?

Feel a bit uncomfortable or believe it’s unfair for me to make this kind of comparison? May I ask you a simple question—then why did you elect him President? If he makes you embarrassed or is lessor in character, maturity, and vision in comparison to your pastor, why do you still vehemently support him? Besides, by your own faith understanding and declaration, wasn’t he sent by God—appointed by the Father, as are all leaders? Not just to merely be your pastor, but to be the President of the only nation you declare is under God—how much more important and requiring is that?

LifeWay Christian Stores is a revealing display and manifestation of the state of many a conservative Evangelical church. With it’s consumer-driven franchising of Jesus and their unique conservative brand, it centers itself around preserving its future, protecting conformity, and paying the bills—sounds a lot like “church” of most any flavor.

One is most certainly welcome to come and buy all you can, they’ll gladly take your cash—no questions asked. They might even let you sweep the floor or take out the trash—if you’ll put on one of their logo-embroidered t-shirts, of course. Yet, try to become a valued contributing part of their community, and you’ll find an endless supply of tests, hoops, and checkpoints you’ll have to pass. For, at the end of the day, Jesus is big business, and there’s a lot of right-wing conservatives to please and lost people with money to spend.

Giving Christians and the spiritually vulnerable more and more to do, consume, become, believe, fear, and achieve is an evil religious concoction not many can resist. In fact, they’ll lay down a lot of dough to keep up with the latest Christian trends and make doubly sure, they’re being faithful enough and becoming successful for Jesus. LifeWay, and many a conservative Evangelical church, have mastered both creating the addiction and seductively pimping the drug that feeds it. In fact, put a worship service in your local LifeWay Christian store, and you’ll hardly know the difference.

Yet, perhaps most telling of all, is how they shoot their wounded and send those they deem to be wayward to the curb. Just ask Jennifer Hatmaker, to be sure. For nothing resembles many a conservative Evangelical church more than big business, demanded conformity, self-preservation, consumerism, and the eating of their own.

Enter Eugene Peterson, a gentle, humble, wise, and good Christian man who has greatly contributed to the evangelical Christian community through his famed leadership, writing, and teaching. As is characteristic of most every member of your typical conservative Evangelical Church, his intentions have always been noble and His pursuit of truth and the growing of His relationship with Jesus undeniably genuine.

Yet, when recently, his spirituality grew to a place it colored outside conservative Christian lines by affirming gay marriage, he experienced the full wrath and weight of the monster that is conservative Evangelicalism. Quickly, he became the fear-driven church member that is imprisoned by the shackles of conservative ideology. Like countless others, his free-thinking theological transition of belief was met with punishment, shaming, excommunication, and threats. No matter his reasoning, biblical revelation. or honesty with it all, he was nailed to the cross and fearfully enticed to surrender and come down—or else.

In fact, LifeWay Christian Stores pledged to remove his books—go figure. Websites were swiftly created to denounce and demonize him—surprise, surprise. The biggest question many conservatives asked wasn’t, “What can we learn?,” “Is he onto something?,” or “How can we find a positive way to agree to disagree?” No, it was, “Can we still read his stuff and be seen as genuine Christians?” God help us all—that this is the kind of atrocious people we have become.

Sadly, instead of standing strong and going the full distance of resistance, Eugene Peterson, like many others, buckled under the pressure in compliance with Evangelical conformity and tradition. In fact, he threw in the towel and retracted it all—a suspiciously sudden change from his recent gay-affirming position. In the end, it seems he must have concluded, the cost is too costly to pay. In Eugene Peterson, we need not look any further, this is the hell, this is what it looks like to be a conservative Evangelical Christian and a prisoner of its machine—with seemingly no way out.

As hard as it may be to hear, it’s even harder to say.

Everything you need to know about the truth of much of conservative Evangelical leadership, church-life, and membership can be tragically found in this sad trifecta—Trump, LifeWay, and Eugene Peterson.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Open Letter to Caitlyn Jenner

An open letter to Caitlyn Jenner:

It is with deep humbleness I write. You don’t know me, and I know very little of you. I am not a perfect person. I don’t even completely understand what goes on in my own heart and mind, let alone in another human being. Only God could begin to know that. My reaching out to you is from a place of even ground.

I am sure you realize that the changes you have made are not easy for everyone to understand nor embrace. I am sure it will come to no surprise for me to tell you that many in the Christian culture have serious concerns about your choices. And from what I see, the same is true for many other segments of our society.

We live in a world of “opinion entitlement” where people think they are not only entitled to have an opinion on everything, but everyone else is entitled to have to hear that opinion too. As I would suspect you have done, I have read many “opinions” about you and the path you have chosen. Some are soaked in compassion, others in condemnation. Some are in between.

I don’t fault those who agree nor those who disagree with the path you have taken. I honestly don’t know of a place from which I can judge you, nor can I find the holding for a firm grasp on the conclusion that you are completely and indisputably in error in every way. Yet, I cannot also find sure foundation that some or all of what you are doing is not terribly wrong, misguided, or disturbing.

But honestly, none of what I think matters.

What I do know is that God loves you as is, and His Grace is upon you. He loves you unconditionally without conditions.

This love is not based on your performance in life, it’s based on His on the cross. Not on your character, but His.

I also know there are Jesus lovers who also love you without condition and stand with you, over and above what they might personally believe to be right or wrong or somewhere in between. This is the way of Jesus, even if it’s not always the way of people and/or Christians.

My prayer is that you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in all truth. He is the only One qualified for that task. Whatever needs attention, direction, correction, or affirmation…He will show you.

I am sure you are and have been hearing from so many voices. Only one should be given the loudest setting… the Holy Spirit. Everyone has their take on the Bible and other spiritual issues. Turn them down, read it for yourself and ask God to speak personally to you.

His affections are for you. His Grace is upon you. His heart has nothing but love for you, for He is love.

Blessing to you and yours. -Chris Kratzer

How to Have Hot Sexy Sex

One of the vogue things to do in contemporary church world is to give some kind of shock-and-awe type message series dealing with SEX, complete with a highway billboard sign and public relations plan to deal with the controversial nature of the series, usually aimed at drawing a crowd and grabbing attention to a church’s ministry.

Isn’t that what attracted your eye to this article?  Ruh, roh Scooby!

I get the whole desire to “reach people” and be “edgy” and “draw a crowd.” But more and more, I think people are becoming wise to cheesy, spiritual church gimmicks.  Did I just use the words “cheese” and “sex” in the same article? Yikes, my bad!

Obviously, the issue of sex is important to God, and God has a lot to say about it. To be sure, segments of our culture have taken God’s gift of sex and trashed it.  The Church needs to share the Gospel and its relevance to every area of our life, including sex and sexuality.

Yet, at the same time, I wonder if we are selling ourselves short and appearing a bit desperate to our culture when we play the “SEX” card to fill seats, even if we have a side-kick intention to seriously apply God’s counsel to an important issue.

Yes, I am sure for some who have traveled down this road, that their primary intentions were good and well planned, and had every heart and desire to see people reached and lives changed for Christ. Furthermore, I am sure their event or message series may have even been effective and life changing for some. Obviously, no matter what you do, someone will find fault with it. Everybody who knows me, knows I love to push the envelope just as much (if not more) as the next guy.

Finding fault is not the intention here, rethinking our “best practices” perhaps is. Not because we have gone drastically wrong, but because maybe there is room to do better. My humble opinion. This, from a guy who has been known to push things a bit beyond the creativity and controversial limits of what probably would have been more effective, and learned the hard way because out it.

Maybe what is best is to make sure to be “gimmicky-free” in our ministry planning and marketing.  You can be humorous, edgy, and highly attractional without being gimmicky, it just takes a bit more effort, carefulness, and creativity. Who defines when you cross the line? Not me, for sure. But I think common sense and listening to gutt checks can go a long way to discerning well. So often, when we get creative and cavalier, we minimize the voices of common sense that don’t want to crush our ideas, but just craft them a bit for the most potential effectiveness, short-term and long-term.

O.k, that’s it, end of sermon. Oh wait…

So, that you are disappointed… here is how to have HOT SEXY SEX!

1) Get married first

2) Lovingly serve your spouse with respect and humbleness (all the time)

3) Stay loyal and true to your spouse

4) Discover and meet their top emotional needs (highly recommend “His Needs, Her Needs” book)

5) Be open, honest, and show up emotionally

6) Communicate well

7) Take care of your body and appearance

8) Find a Christian counselor to help deal with any deeper issues

9) Do 1-8 consistently and the HOT SEXY SEX will take care of itself.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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