The “personal responsibility” Gospel is an American creation that turned Jesus’ Gospel on its head.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
Whether it is finances, relationships, sexual activities, health, or legal issues, we each have standards that we need to live up to. However, many churches today have placed the sole burden of responsibility on the individual. This is not the message that Jesus taught 2000 years ago, and it is not the message that the church should be speaking from the pulpit today.
In an era where Unions have been broken, the 1% are taking home up to 90% of all the profits, CEOs make 500 times what the average worker makes, individuals and families are under more financial pressure than ever before. Corruption in corporate boardrooms is rampant, and corporations are shipping jobs overseas simply to shave a few dollars off the cost of a product. And yet, many Pastors and Leaders press the idea that it is the individual’s responsibility to find a good job in the today’s market, and that their failure to do so represents a personal failure on the level of personal sin. While at the same time, pressing these same individuals to continue to tithe, and give offerings. Finally, these churches rarely speak out against the injustices of employment practices that make virtual slaves of workers, while depriving them of a fair share of corporate profits.
Jesus chastised the Jews for exploiting their workers and the poor. Malachi spoke specifically about how the rich had exploited their workers, and state that God was judging them for it. Zacheus the Tax Collector repented of his thievery of the poor, and Jesus accepted him with gladness. Nowhere do we hear Jesus lecturing about the importance of giving your employer a fair day’s work, as is heard from so many pulpits today.
More than at any other time in American History, since the days of slavery and sharecropping, the church needs to stand up for Social Justice. Something that many small to medium sized inner city churches have been doing for years. However, the whole church needs to stand up as one voice on this issue. Then, politicians sensitive to the needs of workers can be put into office, rather than the pro-business cut-throat conservatives that most southern churches in particular, endorse today.
Sex and Relationships
In an age where it is virtually impossible to shield children of 5 years from sexual imagery on cable, in magazine ads, music videos, and in many cases, street signs, we continue to lecture people from the pulpit on their sexual sins, and their broken and failed relationships. The church is currently full of adults and children who are part of, or come from broken families. Families where divorce, adultery, incest, and even molestation where an everyday fact of life. Compassion and education, as opposed to constant lecturing, should be the order of the day. And that, for both men and women.
The church needs to stand up to the Media “war machine” that bombards all of society constantly with sexual perversity, unfaithfulness, wanton lust, rape, and murder. We cannot expect our young people, with young and immature desires and minds, to stand up to this constant onslaught.
Years ago, the churches did band together for a time, and boycotted certain productions deemed to be particularly offensive. However, divisions within the church, together with a fear of alienating their members (who are often drawn away by their own lusts), the church backed off, and left their members to fend on their own.
A new Civil Rights movement is needed. African American artists in particular need to called to an account. Artists should not be able to get super wealthy by poisoning their own communities with sexual and moral filth.