Dr. Nathan T. Morton
The Madman in the Street
Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Society wants to talk about God, but only on its own terms. It desires a god who conforms to cultural norms and does not call them from the ruins of a wasted life. A god that does not challenge or contradict; a god that does not transform; a god that accepts them where we are only to leave them—unsaved, unmoved, unconvinced, and unchanged.
On one hand are the cries for hope and peace, but on the other those same voices cry, “this is who I am,” “who are you to tell me how to live,” “why do you hate me?” In the exact same way an opioid addict longs for a healthy life while refusing to stop abusing, the unsaved want hope and peace without discarding the very things which rob them of it.
For 2000 years, Christianity has dwelled in those spaces of morality, ethics, and decency, but no longer. The church has now joined the broken defending their self destructive behavior echoing their protest, “this is who they are,” “it’s unchristian to tell people how to live,” “why do evangelicals hate?”
As I am writing, the United Methodist Church is brokering a deal to “buy out” those they refer to as traditionalist Methodist. This "buy out" will then allow those that remain to remove all language around human sexuality from their book of discipline. Presently the discipline says the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. (FYI. The creation of a new “Global Methodist Church“ denomination was announced earlier this week.)
Last year was a brutal year for Biblical and evangelical conservatives. It was reported by some religious news agencies that all those who voted for President Trump were worshipping Trump—which is nothing more than an intentional lie told to sway opinion. Some in our own denomination had the audacity to accuse Christian Americans who love their country, as being guilty of jingoism. I will resist the urge to respond in kind.
Instead, I am going to assume the best possible, not the worst. I believe this decision by the United Methodist Church to normalize the behaviors of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is coming from a place of compassion, although severely misguided. It comes from weak theology that worships a creaturely god, rather than the Creator.
To say on one hand “we are Christian” and then take a moral position opposite to what is clearly defined in scripture is incongruous and even worse destructive. As Christians we don’t “earnestly contend for the faith” in order to be more right; we do so because sin and all its behaviors destroy.
And yet I read Christian writers promoting the LGBTQ agenda trying to make the case, “Jesus never said homosexuality was a sin.” I will remind you that Jesus also never said incest, spousal abuse, or genocide (to name a few) was sin. And yet, those same writers will rightfully use the whole of the bible (as do we because the whole canon of scripture is true) to condemn racism, these sins I've listed, and more. Why don’t they apply the same hermeneutic to human sexuality? Answer: Because sex is the new god, and this god must not be angered.
This was the world for which Friedrich Nietzsche longed--a moment in history when historic religious beliefs would be discarded in favor of existential terror. He realized the rejection of moral absolutes was, in essence a rejection of God. In his Beyond Good and Evil he realizes that societal chaos will be the consequence. And yet, this was exactly what he wanted—not compromise or middle ground—but the overthrow of all biblical morality. In fact, Nietzsche referred to liberals and atheists as weak because they refused to recognize and admit the implications of their overthrow of biblical morality.
I agree with Nietzsche’s assessment as it relates to 21st century Christian pastors, churches, and denominations who, with their misguided compassion endorse, promote, defend, and protect a godless morality. Either they do not understand the implications and consequences of their decisions, or they simply do not care.
I would like to remind them. Nietzsche illustrated the consequence of discarding biblical morality. Here is an abbreviated quote from his work, The Gay Science.
Have you heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the marketplace, and cried incessantly: ‘I seek God! I seek God!’ As many of those who did not believe in god were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? … Thus, they yelled and laughed. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. ‘Whither is God?’ he cried: ‘I will tell you. We have killed him – you and me. All of us are his murderers…. Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of gravediggers who are burying God? … God is dead, and we have killed him…What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?’
The death of God was a dramatic metaphor that Nietzsche used to describe a cultural shift away from biblical morality. And, although Nietzsche did not place himself within the Christian faith, he was insightful enough to realize the effects of discarding historic and Christian moral norms.
Is this foolishness or violent rebellion against God? I fear it is the latter. Will we see the day when mainline denominations cheer the punishment of churches and pastors who dare to preach and teach biblical morality? I'm afraid we will. [FYI. As I was finishing this blog a Baptist News agency posted an article entitled, “Repressing my sexual orientation cost me my health.”] WOW!
If we, who claim allegiance to Jesus Christ, discard, disparage, disdain, and disregard biblical morality, then we have no one to curse but ourselves when God’s mercy ends and His judgment begins. Awake! Awake! Awake!