Adventures in Missing the Point

Last night PRI’s Fair Game had a story about a Christian group in San Diego, The Resistance, who are very upset about the new Starbucks logo (actually, it might not be much of a “group,” and the leader is upset about a great many things). The logo is a revival of an old logo that depicts– gasp– a mermaid’s breasts. Mark Dice, the leader of The Resistance, helpfully explains that “the company might as well call themselves Slutbucks.”

Leaving aside the high likelihood of me using the word Slutbucks several times over the next few days, I think this is a great, although dramatic, example of where Christians totally miss the point in our engaging the culture around us. Seriously, how much of a threat to the fabric of civilization is a topless mermaid on a coffee cup? Now, I’m a man, and I’m raising a son, and given the choice between R-rated mermaid and PG-rated mermaid, I’m going PG. But we have much bigger fish to fry, so to speak.

Although it’s a lot more serious, we can even draw an analogy here with things like gay marriage. I’m against it, of course, for many reasons ranging from the theological to the Constitutional. But as Abraham Piper pointed out this morning, we have much worse things going on– in the church and out of it. We miss the point when we pick behavioral things like this, especially silly ones, to major on instead of the gospel.

A good question to ask in the “culture wars” is this: what if we (using that loosely) won? What if mermaids kept themselves covered, and people either didn’t fornicate or kept it to themselves, and all the TV shows were clean, and everybody parted their hair and was nice? Would we be satisfied?

I hope not. I hope we’re looking for something bigger than proper behavior in the public square. I hope we’re looking for the gospel to change people’s hearts, and then we can address behavior issues. I hope we can get beyond reducing the gospel to a three-point political strategy. I hope we can stand firmly where we need to, articulate God’s truth in a loving way, and make it really clear that our goal isn’t decently attired mermaids. It’s bigger than that: it’s the knowledge of God in Christ, something only he can bring, and something that brings true holiness, not just outward morality.

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Comments

  1. things like gay marriage. I’m against it, of course, for many reasons ranging from the theological to the Constitutional

    Why “of course”? Why is it a given for you? What are your reasons?

  2. had a conversation recently with another person about a third party who we were both concerned for and wanted to see come back to God. However, in the middle of our conversation, another person who cares just as much about this person, walked up and in all sincerity said “We need to get her hair back the way it was a year ago… it makes her look wild!” Hmmm…. relationship with God? – hair-style? Outward looks just aren’t the heart as much as we try to make them sometimes!

  3. Richard Wade says:

    Jake, who are you talking to over here? Are you actually interested in communicating with real people or do you just like hearing yourself agree with yourself? Yesterday you entered into a discussion over at http://www.friendlyatheist.com where people respectfully asked you to clarify the vague and so far un-cited “reasons” for your opposition to same-sex marriage. Since you last commented over 20 hours ago, eight people have written 3,626 words directly to you, eager to hear what you have to say. Here on your blog you talk a lot about reaching out to people. People are reaching out to you, but you have disappeared. You have an audience. If you want to represent your faith well, I think you should face their respectful challenges and give yourself an opportunity to grow rather than just look for opportunities to get others to grow the way you think they should.

  4. Richard Wade says:

    Jake, so you won’t decide I’m a troll, I promise this is the last time I’ll comment on your blog. As always, my remarks are coming from respect, sincerity and earnestness.

    Another 24 hours has passed and you have not replied to either hoverfrog’s questions here, my questions here or those of the eight people at Friendly Atheist who would very much like to understand your rationale for opposing same-sex marriage. So I can only conclude that you have decided to avoid the whole thing.

    You allude in this thread that you have decided that this issue is not important enough to distract yourself any more. It may be unimportant to you, but it is of great importance to millions of people who, just like you, want to be happy, financially secure and to enjoy the full benefits of their citizenship. It’s easy to dismiss something as unimportant when you’re not the one receiving the abuse. But you are supporting the abuse, so I don’t see how in good conscience as a Christian you can just walk away, giving the transparent excuse that you have to focus on the gospel.

    You are going to Prague to spread the gospel. This is the same
    gospel that you use to justify supporting the oppression of homosexuals and the same gospel that you are now using to dodge the issue as “not important enough” when people who feel deeply about this challenge you to clarify and justify your position.

    The Czechs are not a bunch of starving, third world bumpkins who will listen to anything you say as long as you bring food. No, they’re well educated, sophisticated and tough. They have been dominated and oppressed a dozen different ways for centuries and they’re sick of it. They know how to fight back. They’re going to confront you with the same issues and ask the same questions we have asked you, but assuming you’re going to do this work face-to-face instead of online, you won’t be able to conveniently disappear when their questions make you uncomfortable. If you respond to them with the same silence you have used here, they will get up, walk out, never come back and tell all their friends that you are at worst a fraud or at best a waste of time.

    If you can’t defend your position with a handful of American atheists on a blog where we really try to be respectful, then the Czech atheists are going to eat you for breakfast.

    Jake, I suggest that conversing honestly, frankly and fearlessly with us should be part of your training, and that rethinking your negative attitude toward a large group of people who have done you no harm would be a better reflection of the spirit of the gospel rather than the exact words of the gospel.

    Thank you for your time. I hope your family, your work and your life go well. I’ll not bother you again.

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