Monday, November 15, 2004

Beyond Legislation to Inspiration

You know, I read somewhere about how laws and legislation are put into affect once society (or an organization or whatever) has lost its ability to inspire. Perhaps it was Erwin's Unstoppable Force? Perhaps.

Saturday evening, Holly and I went out with some friends of ours who live in Nashville. They were in town planning their wedding, so we snagged a couple hours with them at a cool seafood place on the pier in San Clemente. Vibey place and good food.

Tres and I got into some good conversations about legislating morality and all the typical stuff around that: how divorce rates are way higher in southern conservative regions of the US where it is kind of 'socially legislated' than in west-coast or northeast liberal areas. Also talked about the abortion post I had here weeks ago about how most areas in the world that 'outlaw' abortion have higher abortion rates and their practices are way more dangerous; whereas places in the world where abortion is legal (and state-funded), the rates are considerably lower... and it's way safer.

Anywho, the conversation rounded the corner to 'if not laws and legislation, what do we do, Ryan?'

And I was stumped on some levels (mostly governmental). How do we encourage healthy living? How do we inspire good living? How in my own church community am I doing this? (That is another post for another time, once I have actually been working on for a while.)

Well, first it would be a systemic approach as opposed to a 'single-issue' approach. (This is part of my dilemma with the whole Iraq-US-terrorist fiasco.) You see, the problems aren't just divorce and abortion and figuring out how to legislate (whether governmentally or socially).

We began to unpack why so many areas that are southern-conservative (primarily churchpeople, mind you) have the highest divorce rates in the US. We talked about how most of the areas, if you are found out to be having 'pre-marital sex' or even thinking about it, then it is high time to get married to that person... or even more if you are pregnant with his child. So there is this sense of all will be fine as long as they get married. What BS! Or people's advice to me whence in Biola-land, 'if you feel like you just can't wait till you get married, then get married now!'. This is a running sentiment in the conservative Christian circles.

Okay, it's not about throwing all inspiration out the window and saying whoever, whenever, whatever I don't think. But I think that it is high time to start talking more health-fully about our sexuality and how it is natural and yada, yada, yada. (You like me dodging the conversation?) I hope that in the next decades to come, we will see a healthier form of sexuality emerge. You have polar opposites in this nation: the conservative 'don't even think about it until you get married' vs. the MTV 'get all you can' mentalities. (I had to throw MTV in there because they're always the bad guys right?)

How 'bout something more inspiring? Something more self-less, but also something more fulfilled? How about remembering that marriage is between two people (usually... except in the Bible) and God, not the state.

Okay, so back to inspiration vs. legislation. The quote is something like when a society ceases to inspire, it will legislate. Anyone else heard this? And any other thoughts on the matter? And this gets into a whole 'nother range of conversation about God's mission for healing the world: when we cease to inspire others with lives of wholeness, recognized brokenness, and hopefullness, we legislate by saying, 'unless x, y, and z, a person cannot know God really.' Right? Brian has some cool things to say abuot this in an interview.


jda said...

you are totally right, and this is totally what we do in the church - instead of inspiring them to the mission of God, the beautiful description you give - we call them to a legalistic way of living so that they "get to heaven"! and we wonder why people are disenchanted with christianity. there is absolutely nothing to be enchanted with. we should be calling people to live a higher calling in healing and helping this world now, instead of 'saving their souls from hell'. i mean, how self-serving is that???

and you are right, we need to totally talk more about sexuality and how that is redeemed and a good thing. i mean, we are all sexual beings and created that way - why do we look down on that so hard in the church and not even talk about it. i wonder what re-imagining sexuality thoughts will begin to look like??
thanks to ben for helping stir up these thoughts as well.

Jeffrey said...

Great thoughts Ryan.
I believe that as a society, we have failed if we must start putting these laws in place. Not doing something because it's against the law is not the same as not doing it because you don't feel the need. I am the biggest anti-abortion person EVER, and I have decent reasons, but I don't want people not having abortions cause the law says so, I want them to not have abortions because they realize what is wrong with it.

Christians are very much responsible for the moral decay in the world. Not because we have failed to put laws in effect, but because we have failed to show the world truth, love, respect, and Jesus. Why should we expect the world to be held morally responsible? Wow, I'm A.D.D. I jumped around alot. Anyway, yeah, good post.

in_the_military said...

I've heard this before and maybe it's true.

Quoting your blog:
"We began to unpack why so many areas that are southern-conservative (primarily churchpeople, mind you) have the highest divorce rates in the US."

Have you got any proof? Maybe a statistic from an athoritative source?

Another question:
Quoting you:
"How about remembering that marriage is between two people (usually... except in the Bible) and God, not the state."

What do you mean by the word "usally"? Are you advocating beastiality? or marrying a car?