Friday, August 22, 2008

When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best...

I'm sure we've all heard the news about Hallmark coming out (no pun intended) with a new line of same-sex "marriage" cards. It's been big news this week, and the usual reactions from the cultural evangelical community have surfaced. The "boycott Hallmark" cries coming from the remains of the moral majority and the Focus on the Family crowd and the like. I'm not going to comment on that whole reaction, because I think it misses the entire point.

But what I do want to talk about is touched on by Al Mohler in his latest blog post regarding this whole thing. The fact that in and of itself, a greeting card manufacturer does not define or drive the cultural norms. But rather, it reflects the culture. The products that firms like Hallmark produce are based on consumer demand, plain and simple. So that means that the kinds of cards and related products they produce and sell are a very good mirror as to what kinds of events that we as a culture deem worthy of celebrating, of announcing and sharing with others. When Hallmark or other greetings companies begin to sell homosexual marriage cards, or divorce cards (as they've been doing for some time now), or live-in partner cards and the like, they aren't really influencing the cultural norms, but merely reflecting the acceptance of these "alternative lifestyle events" by the culture at large. And more than acceptance, but celebration. As Mohler points out, in and of itself, the decision of a large company like Hallmark to sell same-sex marriage cards is not a major precipice in the decline of western culture. But it does indicate a tipping point in what the culture sees as acceptable. It's an indicator of the normalization in most people's minds of these lifestyles as acceptable, and even celebratory.

And this is why I think reacting against Hallmark themselves with calls for boycotting and the like miss the point completely. Even if Hallmark was convinced that there was a vocal minority of people opposed to their publishing of these cards and decided to withdraw them from the market, how does that change the perceptions of the culture? Not so much. The acceptance of homosexuality and even same-sex "marriage" is still there.

And this is why the only answer to redeeming the culture, what people accept and celebrate as normal and even good in the moral realm, is the Gospel of Christ. Cultural norms are a reflection of the views of the cultural majority. And we as followers of Christ should not be surprised when a Christless majority values those things that are in complete opposition to the righteousness of God. How can they do otherwise? How do we as Christians influence the culture? Not by boycotting companies like Hallmark, although we should certainly take opportunity to speak out about the cultural decline when these events occur. No, we influence the culture most by influencing individuals that make up that culture, one person at a time, with the transforming power of Christ's Gospel. After all, it was God the Father who cared enough to send the Very Best, in the person of His Son. Not to redeem a culture, but to redeem a people for His own possession.

No comments: