Last week in this space I wrote about the euphemism, sentimentalism, and sanctimony that govern so much evangelical discourse. I have received many responses, for which I want to offer a collective "Thank you" from the bottom of my heart. Unfortunately, I have not heard directly from readers who thought I was writing rubbish, though I have had second- and third-hand reports. But in the responses I did receive, via email and in person, many questions were raised that deserve ongoing discussion. Here is a start.Over watermelon on the patio here at the CTI offices, Marshall Shelley (a CTI VP currently presiding over Leadership journal, among other things) asked if I believed that we should maintain a clear distinction between public discourse and private discourse, so that we might disallow, in public, forms of expression that would be perfectly acceptable in private. (And here "disallow" means disallow on moral grounds within a like-minded community; legal matters are not the subject of this discussion.)I said yes, certainly. What came to my mind was a tangle of images from Berkeley in the summer of 1967, where at any moment one might encounter the collapse of the public-private distinction: even, now and then, the unsavory sight of a young man and woman copulating on the lawn. In the cults and communes that flowered in those days, the rejection of the public-private distinction was a first principle—hence the creepy totalitarian "freedom" we know from so many survivors' tales.But granting that this distinction is crucially important, Christians may yet differ greatly in where they draw the line in this or that particular case. Two times earlier this year—first at Calvin College's Festival of Faith & Writing, and then more ...1
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