Friday, August 30, 2013

++Justin Welby and Polling Data

Fr. Dale Matson

“The vast majority of people under 35 think that the Christian attitude to gay people is ‘wicked’ and ‘incomprehensible’, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.” “We have to be real about that, I haven’t got the answer and I‘m not going to jump one way or the other until my mind is clear about this," he said.“I’m not going to get into the trenches on it.” ‘“

As ++Welby formulates an ‘evolved’ response to contemporary sexual issues (and I suspect he will) based on polling data rather than Scripture, society is in fact changing; for the worse. Miley Cyrus performed on the VMA awards recently in flesh colored underwear. Her twerking and provocative sexual gestures were only entertaining if one believes that obscene and outrageous behavior is a form of mainline entertainment. This kind of public display would have been blacked out on TV screens only 20 years ago. The moral line was moved a little further out. Does this behavior appeal to contemporary culture? The YouTube video version is already approaching 1.5 million hits.
Contemporary humans are doing what is right in their own mind. Civil conduct is in free fall. Polls are the new standard of what is acceptable. Morals have become what is customary. Unfortunately, what is customary is what is acceptable based on who is polled, who is asking the questions and how the questions are asked.

People no longer have a sense of shame about inappropriate sexual conduct. Anthony Wiener stepped down as a New York Congressman because of a sexting scandal only to run for mayor of New York City. Where was the repentance and signs of redemption? Somehow electing someone like Wiener probably appeals to lots of self-serving folks who want to lower the moral behavioral bar for themselves.

There is a story that in the 1960’s the engine blocks at the Pontiac Assembly Plant were having trouble meeting the minimum standards. The cylinder bore gauge failed too many engine blocks. The blocks had to be scraped. The solution was to stop using the gauge. Japan began producing higher quality cars and the rest is history. Whether the story is true or not, the point is that when standards are removed, problems arise.

As ++Welby offers up his social commentary, he is caught up in the fallacy of modern context and metrics. Polling is not robust research and subject to validity and reliability problems. Research is a search for truth not a way of validating a feeling or covering guilt. The gauge used by Anglicans for centuries is the primacy of Scripture, Tradition and Reason informed by God. For Anglicans human behavior is criterion referenced conduct, not norm referenced conduct. Evaluation of human conduct in a contemporary context is not even norm referenced in a longitudinal sense (over the last 2,000 years of recorded history.) Jesus the Christ is not just the living Word of God. He is the incarnation of all human standards of conduct. Why did ++ Welby not once mention the name of Christ. As a leader of His church it would seem appropriate.

If Anglicans need to repent and we all do need to repent, we should begin with the failure to love others. Loving others means telling the Truth. It means preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came to save sinners, of which I am one. In all of this, where is the sense for a need to repent and confess our sins? We are not OK. We were born broken and need the transforming love of Jesus Christ to change our hearts and minds. He does love, and accept us “As is” but loves us enough not to allow us to remain as is. A person without Christ is on a mission of self-destruction. Only through Him do we seek life and promote life in others.

Archbishop Welby, you may be leading Canterbury Anglicanism but things are changing in Anglicanism too.    

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