–May of 1996
Don’t Move the Fences (Part One)
Researchers tell us that groups of small children play with greater freedom and security when playing in an area with a well-defined perimeter like a fence. If you remove the fence, the children become uneasy and fearful; and they cluster together in a central area as if danger were near.
Parents know that the most well-adjusted teenagers are those who live in well-structured homes with well-defined guidelines and limits on behavior. History has proven as well that any unit of people—whether as small as a city or as large as a country—live with less stress and greater happiness when the laws and values that affect and control their behavior are clearly articulated and promptly enforced.
Looking around at the world scene, there is a real sense of apprehension—a genuine uneasiness, a pronounced fear, and a bewildering confusion which have all increased steadily as we have systematically rejected and cast aside values, morals and convictions long held by civilized people.
Unfortunately, the church has not been exempt from this menacing uneasiness. Church leaders have betrayed their trust by casting aside as burdensome baggage the long-held convictions and traditions that have guided and aided God’s people for centuries. They have suggested that they are only the useless fodder of the biblically illiterate. They have tossed them aside without ever really examining why they were there to start with. G.K. Chesterton said it pointedly, clearly, and almost prophetically: “Whenever you remove a fence, it is imperative that you find out why it was put there in the first place.” Fences are being removed, and nobody is really asking the question why they were there to start with. In our mad haste to accommodate uncontroverted worldlings seeking a self-centered hedonism rather than a Christ-centered holiness, we are casting off what the church has held dear for hundreds of years. This so-called attempt to show our openness has instead only advertised to the world our decadence and has left the faithful feeling betrayed, confused and empty.
If confusion and betrayal were the only consequences of our present dilemma, we would still have sufficient reason to raise our voice. However, they are only the firstfruits of our folly. The more serious consequence is the destruction of some of the very foundational beliefs that keep the church anchored in God and obedient to Scripture. Any time behavioral patterns change, theological positions (belief about God) must be altered to accommodate those changes.
In my next article I will share what I fear to be the most significant threats to the very foundations of the Church in this present world.