A recent conversation forced me to confront reality. I am no longer as young as I once was. While my hair may not be graying at the pace of some of my peers, I am an expert in pointing out exactly which strands have “flipped” to their next color. While my graying is obvious, the graying of our youth goes almost unnoticed.
What kind of graying am I talking about? Beyond my hair, my answer may also show my age. Many who grew up when I did grew up with cleaner lines between “black” and “white”. While young, many of my peers may have blurred the lines when making social decisions, but they knew deep down on which side most issues fell. The generations of today are less able to draw those same lines. If given a specific question, many of those asked may come up with an answer like, “While I have no opinion, I can’t blame someone for answering either way.” Or, they may even say, “It is true for me, but that does not make it true for you.”
How did we get here? When we were a society where the church has a stronger presence, these types of debates were laughable. While not everyone in my generation is as black and white as I am, we still agree that many issues are not eligible to be gray. You need to make a commitment to where you want to be. To use an extreme example, most people have a firm opinion on abortion. Being gray on abortion is being intellectually lazy. Abortion is a life ended or the removal of an inconvenience. In my mind, I can’t find the gray here.
The problem is the gray. Specifically, I am referring to the gray in the matters of the church. As a Christian, the Bible is a tool to help us in our Christian walk. The Bible has black and white answers for many of life’s issues. While some answers may be less clear than others, the Bible casts its vote. And, if the Bible doesn’t voice an opinion, I feel comfortable calling those area gray. For individuals, these unanswered questions may be very black and white. Yet, the Bible has left them as gray. My concern is how even topics the Bible has made black and white become gray in the minds of our youth.
If a person states, “I want to love God.”, nothing sounds wrong with that statement. If a person puts on his “God’s Love” hat and his personal interpretation of the Bible allows him to shift a “black” item into the gray, how should we view this? Are we allowed to define personal truths rather than global truths? Does a person with a set of redefined truths make a better witness for Christ, or are they sowing confusion in those they witness to? If I felt comfortable saying, “Let God sort them out.”, I would not bother to write any of this. If truths can differ, what is truth? And, if the Bible is not the source of truth for you, then do we still worship the same God who provided the inspiration for the Bible? The subtle distinction is important to me. If we cannot agree that God’s grace as established in Christ’s resurrection is foundational to our Christian faith, then at what point can our spiritual paths ever cross again?
Prior to a person becoming a Christian, I place no spiritual expectations on them. The Bible does not provide them a guidebook for their lives. Yet, after they realize their sin and inability to save themselves, the Bible should become a guide as they seek to be more Christ-like. It might be at this point my friend wearing the “God’s Love” hat and I will differ. The person wearing the hat and I are in full agreement in how to treat those who are unsaved–you model Christ. After they are saved, what truths are the new Christians held to? If the Bible is a series of recommendations, then how can you be held to a recommendation? But, if the Bible provides truths that we must all seek to reach—knowing full well we are imperfect and not able to achieve them as Christ could–then are the youth with the hat and I on the same path?
I would like to tell my young friend, “Good luck with what you choose to put in the gray. I am not smart enough to promote something from black to gray if the Bible states a position. That sounds like you are taking liberties with God’s truth.”
This blog post will have to serve as a warning to my young friend. I don’t claim to be right, but interpreting the Bible differently than most of its readers is far above my pay grade. As your life continues and your life experiences accumulate, I hope you will also want to “wash the gray out of your life.”