Given its obvious biases, I don’t usually turn to Rolling Stone for objective reporting on cultural issues. But that fact makes my point today.
The magazine is currently carrying the headline: “This Evangelical Billionaire Family Wants to Convert You on Super Bowl Sunday.” The article profiles the Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby, and their support for “He Gets Us,” a media campaign to share the good news of God’s love.
As expected, the profile puts the family’s positions on birth control, transgender bathrooms, and other moral issues in the worst possible light. But the very fact that Rolling Stone is telling the story of the campaign and its planned ads for Sunday’s Super Bowl advances the campaign’s mission.
The article quotes David Green’s statement in a podcast interview:
What we’re known as, as Christians, we’re known as haters. We’re beginning to be known as haters—we hate this group, we hate that group. But we’re not. We are people that have the very, very best love story ever written, and we need to tell that love story. So, our idea is, let’s tell the story. As a Christian, you should love everybody. Jesus loved everybody.
Now, through God’s mysterious providence, even Rolling Stone is telling that “love story” to its readers.
The New York Times on the danger of transitioning
Stories change the world.
In a lost culture experiencing a burgeoning crisis of meaning, stories of hope like the He Gets Us campaign resonate powerfully.
Conversely, due to the intrinsic power of stories, false narratives can do much harm.
For example, many have been telling children struggling with gender dysphoria the story that they need to “transition” their bodies to align with their preferred gender. No questions or exceptions are permitted. If parents or others disagree, they are castigated as “transphobic” and discriminatory.
Now the New York Times is reporting that, despite this pervasive story, eight in ten cases of gender dysphoria resolve themselves by puberty. In addition, 30 percent of people on gender-transitioning hormone therapy discontinue its use within four years, even though its effects, including infertility, are often irreversible.
Nonetheless, the article notes that advocates for “transitioning” are often so rigid and doctrinaire that they refuse to admit the drawbacks to so-called “gender-affirming care.”
The danger of “sensate” truth
In his book Social and Cultural Dynamics, the famed Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin distinguished between “ideational” and “sensate” cultures.
He explained that for the latter, “reality is that which can be perceived by the organs of sense.” People with this mentality “try to adapt themselves to those conditions which appear to the sense organs,” believing the world to be whatever they perceive it to be.
By contrast, “ideational” people “do not try to adapt themselves to what now seems superficial, illusory, unreal. They strive to adapt themselves to the true reality which is beyond appearances.”
In the mid-1950s, Sorokin was one of the few scholars to foresee the harmful trends of the sexual revolution that burst into social consciousness in the 1960s. America has clearly shifted from an ideational culture centered in objective truth and biblical morality to a sensate culture driven by subjective opinions and personal pleasure.
Have the trends Sorokin foresaw come to pass?
- Declining birth rates and a diminished parental commitment to the welfare of children
- Vastly increased erotic content in movies, plays, novels, magazines, television shows, radio programs, song lyrics, and commercial advertising
- Increased divorce, promiscuity, premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, spousal abandonment, and out-of-wedlock births
- A growing increase in juvenile delinquency, psychological depression, and mental breakdowns
In short, how is our “sensate,” post-truth culture working for us?
God’s “chosen delivery system”
The good news is that the Christian story resonates deeply with human beings. Its promise to forgive our mistakes and alleviate our guilt, to give us a new start and an abiding hope, to make our lives abundant and eternally significant, speaks to the “God-shaped emptiness” in us all.
When we experience this transformation personally, our story magnifies the story (cf. John 8:31–32). Then, when we tell our story with compassion and candor, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), the Spirit speaks to the souls of those we influence.
As missiologist and Oxford University visiting scholar Ed Stetzer notes:
“God has made relationships his chosen delivery system for the gospel of hope.”
David Green explained why He Gets Us advertises during the Super Bowl, the most expensive TV event of the year: “We really feel that we need, as a group of Christians, to tell 350 million people that he cares about you and he gets you.”
How will you join them today?
Thursday news to know
- US strike in Baghdad kills Iranian-backed military commander
- Rescuers search for 5 Marines after missing military helicopter found in Southern California
- Blinken says a Hamas–Israel deal is still possible even though the sides remain far apart
- Mexico overtakes China as leading source of goods imported by US
- On this day in 1943: Americans secure Guadalcanal
Quote for the day
“The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to humanity’s deepest needs” —Pope Francis