The Cultural Pot Has Reached a Slow SimmerApril 4, 2018
We’ve all heard about the proverbial frog in the kettle: Put the frog in a kettle of pond temperature water and he’ll stay right there, even to the boiling point, if you turn up the heat slowly enough. While the real-life frog will in fact jump out, the principle applies to the ever-increasing secularization of American culture. A generation ago the frog would have not even understood the headlines of our day. And if the following headlines had appeared in just my grandmother’s generation, Christians would not have been the only people pointing to the erosion of legitimate values:
Mother admits a long sexual and sibling relationship with her baby’s father, cops say. Confused about what that means? Other news outlets stated it more plainly: Florida woman arrested on incest charge after birthing brother’s baby. And while incest remains illegal, the sexual revolutionaries advocating LGBTQQIIAA+ have paved the way for polygamy, polyamory, and yes, incest.
Medically assisted death allows couple married almost 73 years to die together. The story in brief: A healthy, albeit elderly, husband and wife took their own lives in a double suicide celebrated in advance by their children, a member of the Anglican clergy, and two medical doctors who helped make it happen.
And then look at this headline which seeks to describe how a family headed by two married women and their adopted children perished in what some are describing as a multiple-murder/suicide perpetrated by whichever one of the two parents drove them off a California cliff. Hart children may have been abused before deadly California crash, authorities say.
We could turn here to myriad headlines about child sex-trafficking, mass shootings at schools, or the debate about how aborted babies should rightly be disposed of in America. In Ohio, abortion providers have been contracting with private waste companies who have been mixing fetal remains with ordinary garbage and shipping it across state lines to landfills in Kentucky.
And with that, yes, it’s fair to describe this cultural moment as beyond the boiling point and now on a steady simmer.
It’s tempting to want to jump out of the pot, but where would that land you? Outside the culture and either in the fire or outside the culture in terms of your ability to be of further influence. The second option is to plead with the secularists to turn down the heat. Don’t think that will work? Well, what if we took what we know about a simmering pot and see what other option we might discover.
As I ladled soup into bowls you could see the steam rising. Those of us who know how to ease a little from the edge and work our way carefully into the bowl do not get burned. But Matthew likes to put his spoon right in the middle and go deep. He knows, by experience, that this will burn his mouth. So, what does he do? He pours in some cold water from his cup.
What might happen if we flooded the simmering pot of our ever more secularized culture with the living water of life? How do we do that? By going to the source and becoming His conduit.
In John 4:1-14 we read the story of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman with a complicated sexual and marital past. As I note in my book Speak the Truth, “The woman at the well in John 4 is just one illustration of how we can follow Jesus’ lead into conversations with people who are living in ways we don’t approve, from parts of town we don’t like, and where the result is redemption not damnation. Isn’t that what we really want? (That’s a gut check question. When you see a prostitute or a gang-banger or a refugee or an immigrant or a homeless person or a mentally-ill person who is a disheveled mess, what do you really want in your heart of hearts? Jesus wants redemption.)”
If you recognize that the pot of culture is at a slow simmer then you are the one in a position to offer a cup of cool water. As a Christian you know what others around you do not. You know Jesus – you know He not only has the words of eternal life but that He has produced within you a well of living water that gushes up to eternal life!
Like opening the deeps in the days of Noah, God can flood this culture from the depths of those He has deployed right here and right now. You and I can be a wellspring of Good News declaring hope and life and redemption even to a culture of death.