Christianity is being maneuvered into a double-bind. That, at least, is clear from the latest storm-in-a-teacup over Scripture classes in NSW public schools.
The problem, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, is that the Anglican religious education curriculum includes texts which promote sexual abstinence outside of marriage, state that homosexuality is misplaced sexual desire and that men and women are inherently different and complementary.
Oh, the shock! Oh, the horror! Anglican Scripture classes in Sydney are actually teaching what the Anglican church in Sydney teaches!
(Someone, fetch me my smelling salts!)
The article goes on,
The Greens education spokesperson, John Kaye, called for greater scrutiny of material being used in scripture classes in public schools, saying parents need to know what their children are being taught.
“If parents knew that scripture was much more than quaint stories about men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals, enrolments would plummet,” he said. “This is dangerous stuff. Abstinence messaging and homophobia have real consequences for vulnerable young people.”
This is where we start to see the real thinking behind the “toleration” of Christianity in the secular mindset. And this is where it starts to get really interesting.
“Secularism attacks Christianity by putting it in a double-bind.
In order for Christianity to be acceptable to the secular Powers That Be like John Kaye, it must be stripped of any distinctive significance or demand. The trappings of “Christianity” remain but it’s heart is quashed.
The vision of Christian chastity is not acceptable to “modern religion”. In our secular world, “modern religion” is allowed, even encouraged — but it is de-fanged and de-clawed of all it’s beauty and strength. The gospel of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, who died for the sins of the world and rose again in victory is domesticated to a quaint story about “being a nice person” and “getting along with others”.
This is what the secular world wants from its Christians: “quaint stories about men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals”. According to John Kaye and many others, this is what parents from Scripture education in public schools.
Anything more than this — any distinctive claims of Christianity to truth or morality — are unacceptable. All that’s left is the husk.
Thus, the only acceptable form of Christianity is the one that is inherently redundant.
After all, if Scripture classes aren’t anything more than antiquated costumes, pleasant stories and general gadding about, then why bother? To riff off Flannery O’Connor, if Christianity is just “quaint stories” for children, then to hell with it.
This is the double-bind Secularism presents to Christianity: either be redundant or repulsive, disposable or detestable, toothless or heartless.
Well, no thank you.
Nope, nope and nope.
As Christians, we must resist this strategic secularist “re-framing”. Their “vision” of Christianity offers no room for the gospel to be preached or the teachings of the Church to be proclaimed.
Yet, in every circumstance, the Church should proclaim its teachings, on chastity as well as everything else, with the fearlessness and love of the Holy Spirit. Scripture classes should teach what the Scriptures actually teach. (Radical idea, I know.)
That is what our world desperately needs and it is what we are all thirsting for: the words of Christ which give life to the full and a peace which the world cannot give.
The irony, of course, is that it’s all this “gadding about” nonsense which has enrolments plummeting in Scripture classes in the first place. And I can’t blame anyone — if that’s all Christianity is, why bother?
But teach the truth?
The real truth of Jesus Christ?
Well, then you will see a renewal that would scare the bejeesus out of the likes of John Kaye.
The text criticised in the article, Teen Sex by the Book by Patricia Weerakoon has been banned from use in NSW public schools as of 6th May 2015. Two other books by prominent Sydney Anglicans have also been banned: Your Sneaking Suspicions by John Dickson and You: An Introduction by Michael Jensen. According to the report from the Bible Society of Australia, “no further explanation as to how the books were in conflict with the department’s policy was given in the directive.”
Nice job, NSW Department of Education, banning Christian books in Christian Scripture classes.