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Not Like the Gentiles: Christian Families Are Different

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My son noticed that the new Shazam movie was available, but he also knew to ask, “Are we allowed to see it? Is there…anything in it that’s…not OK?”

He’s heard me say many times that there are shows, movies, and whole channels we will not watch as a family because they teach stupid, blasphemous, or harmful things, especially to children.

In our family, the biggest issue that keeps coming up is how corporations are trying very hard to push sexual perversion on children (not to mention the rest of us). It’s often subtle—the way a single character speaks or acts. A suggestion of something more than a friendship between two characters. Maybe even the briefest kiss. The goal is to keep exposing children to those notions so they get used to them and begin thinking of them as normal.

Did you know the world has a theology?

It’s a false gospel and a false eschatology of expressive individualism. Men and women are seen as masters of their own identity, not limited by God or nature, able to rewrite even the laws of their bodies to achieve their version of self-actualization, primarily through the centrality of sex. The only sin is to hinder that process and the only blasphemy to speak out against it.

That’s an absolute “No” for us.

I don’t give detailed reasons to my kids for forbidding a show (it being too shameful to name most of the practices, Eph 5:12). Generally speaking, I tell them that our family is different. We follow Jesus. I don’t think of us living in a Christian culture (even in Texas). We have our own culture.

This morning I came across a story that makes the same point.

“One of our former parishes was next door to the synagogue,” Will Willimon writes. “One day over coffee, the rabbi remarked, “It’s tough to be a Jew in Greenville. We are forever telling our children, ‘That’s fine for everyone else, but it’s not fine for you. You are special. You are different. You are a Jew. You have a different story. A different set of values.”

I know what that rabbi means.

In university, I lived in an ethnic neighborhood called Mile End. It had a strong Jewish community that was clearly an alternative society. They wore different clothes, ate different foods (Oh, I miss the bagels!), spoke a different language, went to different schools, and shopped at different stores. Those Jewish families knew they were different from everyone else. Their uniqueness was reinforced daily.

Serious Christian families are finding themselves in the same position. Here’s what Willimon told the rabbi:

“Rabbi, you are probably not going to believe this,” I said, “but I heard very much that same statement made in a young couples’ church school class right here in Bible-belt Greenville the other day… ‘Such behavior is fine for everyone else, but not fine for you. You are special. You are different. You have a different story. You have a different set of values. You are a Christian” (Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, p. 18).

That’s just good Biblical advice. Christians are different—or we’re supposed to be. We’re in the world (for now!) but not part of it. Instead, we belong to Jesus (1 Cor 3:23). He is our King, who saved us by grace and called us to serve at His pleasure, according to His plans.

The world is going in one direction, while the Body of Christ is going in His direction. We have a different story because Christ is our past, present, and our future. That distinct identity should result in a different manner of life. As Paul told the Ephesians:

Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts (Ephesians 4:17).

Christians shouldn’t walk the same way that the Gentiles do. And as I tell my kids, we don’t watch TV like them.

Send your questions or comments to Shawn.


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