No Shield Big Enough


We can't always shelter, can we?Though we serve a big God, no shield is large enough to keep out the world.

Tuesday literally burst with life. We had a day that epitomized gorgeous here (mid-70s, dry, slight breeze, and sunny with cotton candy clouds), so I bagged work. My son and I went geocaching instead. We hunted caches down by the Ohio River in Kentucky, the shoreline scenery adding to the picturesque day.

But before we got to our destination, I had to deal with the radio.

I don’t listen to kid-friendly radio. In other words, my listenership of Christian radio borders on the non-existent. I stopped listening when they refused to play a single one of the artists I listen to on a regular basis. You know, artists who talk about Jesus, sin, and repentance.

Instead, I tend to listen to classical music, which is primarily on Public Radio. Same for my news. And as I flipped to the news station, it just so happened to be discussing gay marriage as we drifted down the highway on that stunning June afternoon.

Where’s the force field when you need it?

My son was largely oblivious because he doesn’t know that gay means anything other than happy. You know, the way I understood it as a kid, too. Sadly, it just doesn’t mean that alone anymore.

My parents didn’t talk to me about “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.” When I was in college in the early 1980s, a few men tried to hit on me. Clueless, I just thought they were overtly friendly in an odd sort of way. I didn’t know that there were men out there having sex with other men. I was in my mid-20s before I finally understood what homosexuality was. Even then, it made no sense to me. How was such a thing even possible?

My son won’t get that same shielding. None of our children will.

So I had to talk about homosexuality with my son. In the end, his reaction was much the same as mine: “I wish we could get the word gay back, Dad. It’s a good word.”

I wish we could get a lot of things back.

When I was a kid, things were different:

  • You could leave your house unlocked.
  • Adults were trustworthy, not potential molesters.
  • People looked out for each other and their neighborhoods.
  • The rules everyone knew actually worked and most people weren’t fighting to change them.
  • A boy might take a gun to school and the principal would admire it, not declare a lockdown.
  • Civic pride meant something.
  • You got the sense that people lived for some aspiration or belief greater than themselves.
  • People didn’t go out of their way to avoid someone in need or in trouble.
  • Social groups that hold our society together saw increases in membership, not precipitous declines.
  • A collective trust existed that each of us knew we were a part of a great nation, the best that had ever been.

All those good things (and more) seem to have vanished. Our children will never personally experience how it was for us to grow up in that environment. Instead, they’ll have to deal with the fallout of the jihad we declared on our own values.

In geocaching, you search for little treasure containers scattered all over the planet. I think that in many ways, our society has gone searching for similar containers, each a box with Pandora’s name carved on the front. And when we find one, we fail to ask whether it should be opened. Instead, we forge ahead, unable to contain our glee over what we might find inside.

There’s nothing I would like more than for “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name” to shut the heck up already. I’d love for us to close a few of those Pandora’s boxes and know that what Pandora could not repair, we could. But I know better.

The second law of thermodynamics applies beyond the laws of physics, doesn’t it?

24 thoughts on “No Shield Big Enough

  1. I agree it is a sad state of affairs. It’s not just gay marriage. If you have simply walked down the high street you have enough lewd images to fill you with a lifetime of lust. It makes life as a Christian very difficult.

    I do think we must be cautious about making an idol out of the “good old days”, as I’m sure you agree. At our church we have a youth leader who harps on about how much better the world was in his days. There are three major errors in that:

    1) It wasn’t all that better: You read Christian Literature from any era and they will always lament how bad their culture is. The world has always been sick. It may be more open about it now but it wasn’t much better if at all thirty years ago. That’s because of sin and nothing else.

    2) Our problem is not society, it’s sin: We go on too much about a lack of family values. Family values aren’t saving anyone. Christ is the only way to salvation. A better society is not our battle. Let’s get people saved then change the way they live.

    3) We’re in this society: If I said to you “Look all we need to do is get back to the 18th Century society and then it’s all plain sailing to awakening” you’d think I was nuts. But it’s exactly the same harking back to forty years ago. Let’s save people in this culture. Yes it’s completely rubbish but that shouldn’t surprise any Christian!

    So basically what I’m saying is, I agree with you it’s a rubbish place to grow up children. I’d just also like to emphasise, as I’m sure you would too, that the good old days doesn’t save anyone.

    • Tim,

      I disagree that family values aren’t saving anyone. They are. Maybe not born-again salvation, but definitely salvation from paths that lead to heartbreak in this life. The good old days may not have led directly to heaven, but they certainly didn’t all lead to hell, either!

      • Dan,

        I agree, a society with better family values is better for people. It is certainly worthwhile for Christians to demonstrate the Gospel through promoting family values, sorry if that wasn’t clear.

        My point wasn’t that the good old days led all people to hell. But equally they certainly did send some people to hell.

        The influence of the law on Judea didn’t send everyone to hell. But it sent some people to hell. Satan twisted scripture and formed a group of legalists who eventually killed the Messiah.

        In the same way, a world with better ethics sent many people to hell. Some were happy with this world and never worried about the next. Some thought their works were good enough before the Father. These things sent them to hell.

        Not to say nowadays is great. It isn’t. It sends people to hell too. The only way out is our glorious Saviour.

        It can work the other way too: no doubt many seeing God’s plans matching up with their society’s strengths were brought to consider Christ more seriously. Yet also maybe our doctrines of sin will resonate with those who see the world’s sickness now.

        It’s swings and roundabouts. Society whether good or bad can be used for good or bad. The substance is in Christ.

        Anyway, brother, all the best with raising your son in a way that will make him shun the world. And how great is it to think that one day all the filth that disgusts us on this earth will one day pass away and only good will remain.

        Sorry for the essay and apologies if I sounded antagonistic or was confusing in anyway. Thank you once more for your post.


        • Tim,

          The American civic religion certainly lacks saving grace.

          And no, you didn’t sound antagonistic. That seldom happens on this blog, and when it does, I think I’m man enough to take it. 😉

  2. When I marry, I do not want the officiating minister to turn my wedding into a referendum against homosexuality and divorce. No “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” No grandstanding: “Marriage is between one man and one woman for life.” The institution of marriage preexisted both sins. I’d like my wedding to be a little like that…by not reflecting on what marriage is not.

  3. Thank you for this post. I feel the same way often. As parents, the hubby and I took deliberate steps to keep our kids’ lives simple, but there is a fine line between simplicity and naivete, so we had a lot of talks with our kids like the one you described here. That’s what we try to do with our grandsons, too. Keep things simple, give them time, and pray. Especially pray.

    • Becky,

      I was criticized elsewhere by other Christians for sitting down with my four-year-old son (at the time) and working with him to unpack the messages of ads he might see on TV or in magazines. I don’t care. The wolves are at the door. We either deal with them or let them consume us.

  4. Jake


    This is such an interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up. I’ve so much to say and so little time, so my comments will have to wait. :-{

  5. Hi Dan. You lament that

    “People didn’t go out of their way to avoid someone in need or in trouble” – don’t you think you might be doing just that by disdaining lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people? Is this missional living, expressing the love of Jesus to all? You don’t have to agree with the gay lifestyle – you can be welcoming but not affirming. But the tone of righteous indignation I hear in this post…I don’t find it very welcoming.

    Most LGBT people first awaken to their orientation in childhood. Suppose your son didn’t respond the way he did, but was secretly struggling with this orientation himself. Would you be a safe dad to share his feelings with?

    I’m sorry, but after knowing so many LGBT Christians, I can’t stay silent anymore when I hear this kind of rage. Longing for guns, nationalism, and silent homosexuals just doesn’t sound like the costly grace of Jesus Christ.

    • Mike,

      Homosexuality is a sin. The Bible plays it no other way. The answer is repentance. No amount of semantics can change that.

      I worked in a ministry to homosexuals. I’ve been on the streets praying for teenage male prostitutes. I’ve watched the rich, old men who have lost their looks trolling for boys on the strip.

      If pedophiles were arguing for younger and younger ages for consensual sex—and getting those concessions—would you be upset? I would hope so. In that same way, do you not understand the predatory agenda of the homosexual lifestyle that is purposefully confusing young men and women and directing them into that lifestyle? That’s the shouting that never stops. And it’s intentional, part of the plan. And that’s what I’m objecting to. You should be objecting to it also. (If you had children, I think your view would be different.)

      My father killed himself through alcohol. That was a sin, too. But I could still love him. When I worked for that ministry to the homosexual community, I cared deeply for every man caught up in the lie that is homosexuality. I still care because I know those men and women have been lied to. They are under a powerful delusion. And that’s awful. We should all rage against that, especially against those who continue to further the lie.

      I will not deceive anyone by snuggling up to the lie and pretending it doesn’t exist. If a fire broke out in a movie theater and you saw your friends heading for an exit that was blocked or only led to more flames, while you saw the clear exit, would you not beg them to go your way? And if you knew that some people in that theater were purposefully trying to get your friends to push deeper into the flames so they’d have no way out, would you not counter that error any way possible?

    • Mike,

      One last comment.

      The so-called “missional” mindset on homosexuality is a troubling one because, in many cases, it never gets to the core of what it means to be truly missional—calling people to repentance. Just because homosexuality is a tough sin to overcome doesn’t mean we give up and make peace with it. Yet that is what too many young Christians have done today, especially those who practice their faith under a missional banner. But Christ cannot concede to Belial. Just as He called the rich young ruler to put down the materialism that enslaved him, so He is calling the homosexual to abandon homosexuality to follow Him.

      This may not be the easy answer, but it is the only answer.

  6. Jake

    >> I’m sorry, but after knowing so many LGBT Christians, I can’t stay silent anymore when I hear this kind of rage. Longing for guns, nationalism, and silent homosexuals just doesn’t sound like the costly grace of Jesus Christ.

    I think the Bible is clear that one cannot be a professing LGBT and a professing Christian at the same time. They are antithetical terms. 1Co 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Obviously, Paul is not picking on homosexuals here. He is simply stating that the unrighteous will not enter the Kingdom. I have heard some people say of Paul, “he is a chauvinist, “he has a Law-mindset, etc. What they don’t realize is that Paul told us just about everything we know about grace. Jesus talked very little about the subject. In addition, Jesus didn’t die for our sins, i.e., to make them less sinful. He died to deliver people from their sins, i.e., from the penalty and power of them.

    I do not care for the insinuation that Bible-believing Christians are all about political issues. Certainly some conservative Christians have bought into the lie that political clout equates to spirituality †“ but not all. I am against homosexuality because it is a sin. I am against legitimizing this sin, just like I am against legitimizing drunkenness, extortion, lying or any other sin.

    As far as do Christians have an obligation to stand against homosexuality: Certainly some and perhaps many so-called Christians have acted in unloving and unkind ways toward homosexuals and this is unfortunate. But I’d like to give you an illustration that demonstrates that the most loving thing to do is to point out that homosexuality is a sin.

    Suppose I were at a friend’s house. Let’s call him Bob. As Bob and I were standing around his kitchen, he prepares a pitcher of kool-aid. As he is doing so, he reaches into a cupboard and pulls out a bottle of potassium cyanide and dumps a bunch into the pitcher of kool-aid. Bob pours himself a glass and starts to raise it to his lips.

    At this point I have a decision to make. While I haven’t done a chemical assay on the contents of the bottle to confirm that it is potassium cyanide, as a chemist (BS, 1989) everything I know about it and the warning label on the bottle tells me that Bob will die if he drinks that cup of kool-aid. I care about Bob and yet I respect that he is a grown man and is able to make informed choices. So do I run over, grab his arm, and yell, “Stop! You don’t realize what you are doing? Or do I let him do this thing that I believe with all heart will kill him? Which is the more loving response? What is my moral obligation?

    Now, let’s suppose he takes four tumblers and pours some of the kool-aid into each of them He puts the tumblers on a tray and is intending to take them out to some neighborhood kids playing in his backyard. What is the loving response? What is my moral obligation?
    So it is with homosexuality. I believe with all my heart that homosexuality is a sin and will cause eternal death. I suppose I could rationalize my response by telling myself that these are grown-ups and what they do in the comfort of there own bedrooms is their business. However, I cannot stand by and watch our society drink the kool-aid. If I truly believe the Bible, then I have a moral obligation to tell people what the Bible says about homosexuality.

  7. I, too, grew up in a tiny community where we never locked the doors. As children, we were free to roam the village, because everyone knew everyone else. All mothers watched out for all kids, so we were just as apt to get yelled at by the neighbor as by our own mother. The whole town came to the pond in our backyard to swim, and went to the farm down the street for sleigh-riding. We all went to the same church, and supported the local volunteer fire department.

    We were a community with shared values, which lasted through my child-rearing days, but would be a hard thing to find today. I sympathize, Dan, and would not want to have to raise children now.

    • That’s a great question, Michael! I used to think that every generation had its “vival,” but I wonder what happened during my parents’ generation. It seemed not to have happened, at least not in the U. S.

  8. MYJ

    I don’t want to start a fight or such, but I was not happy with your post here.

    Yes, homosexuality is a sin, and we should find ways to save people from the lifestyle. But you know what? I’d rather deal with that issue today than have to live in the “good old days” where Asians, African-Americans, Hispanics, the disabled/etc were not considered equal in the US. Now we at least have some opportunities.

    It’s – always – white Christians who think the past was better, here in the good ol’ US. (Hint, hint, it wasn’t.)

    • MYJ,

      The good is worth keeping. The bad is worth throwing away. We have to discern the difference.

      While we have gotten rid of many bad things (as you noted), we have also discarded many good. That concerns me. Tossing the good means despising the blessings of God. And as in any vacuum, something will rush in to fill the void left behind by the discarded good. More often than not, what rushes in is a lesser thing not worthy of the good that was lost. We end up losing something valuable and having it replaced by the cheap.

      • MYJ

        I think we have differing perspectives here. I’m not a parent like you, but at the same time, I’m a triple minority (yes, really), so I get impatient whenever white people, particularly fellow Christians, look back at the past because it simply wasn’t all that.

        But yes, we should be more discerning. That much, we do agree on.

  9. MYJ, I think you’re comparing apples and oranges. It is not a sin, and never has been, to be Asian, African-American, Hispanic, or disabled/etc. It IS a sin, and always has been, to be a professing homosexual.

    I think Dan was simply sharing the difficulty and frustration of raising Christian children in a non-Christian culture. I’m sure it’s not easy in Tibet or Burma, either. That’s why Jesus called it persecution.

    • MYJ

      I don’t think you understood my point.

      Believe me, I sympathize with Dan’s desire to shield his child – every parent should have that laudable goal. And again, I agree with Dan that we should confront the homosexuality issue.

      However, I do disagree with his comments re: the past.

      Such as this: “I wish we could get a lot of things back” and “All those good things (and more) seem to have vanished.”

      I don’t feel regretful that we “lost” these things that he cited because in my opinion, the past wasn’t that rose-colored. I hope that’s clear.

  10. Jay

    What bigots you and most of your readers are. Your idea of God is that of a stingy, small-minded creation made in YOUR image who is obsessed with sexual coupling. How sad for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *