It is easy thinking of things that the culture wants the church to change. Just think of anything dealing with pelvic practice and the 6th commandment. But let’s think about the inverse. Is there anything that the church is doing now that if you thought about changing it or stopping it you would hear the howls and shrieks of culture?
I’d put forward some very specific things. Now these might depend on your current pastor or congregation. Some have always been more rigorous. But I want to turn our gaze toward funerals, baptisms, and the sacrament. I don’t think I’m far off in saying that if the person requesting is now or ever has had someone related to them who was a member funerals and baptisms happen almost without thought. The culture wants us to do this. It wants the church to pronounce rites of burial over the man who last darkened the door a score of years ago. Because if he’s ok, than I can go on living the way I want to without giving my life a moments thought. Likewise with baptisms. “Let’s get the baby done”. “Let’s make sure grandma is okay so she stops hassling us.” The culture again wants these easily available. And operating from a position of weakness the church has gone along with that. No pastor wants to tell Grandma that sorry I can’t baptize grandson/daughter because the kids are evidently not going to raise the child in the faith. Especially since the only time we see them in church is every other Christmas Eve. No pastor really wants to tell the widow I’m sorry but we are not able to perform christian burial because there is scant evidence of a Christian life. The cry would go out far and wide that the church was being heartlessly judgmental. Within the church some of the same thoughts would be heard along side the wringing of hands about losing a chance to share the gospel.
But it would be exactly those things where the church could push back. Yes, some members would probably leave in a huff. But the purpose of the church is witness to the truth. The church could make these changes not under persecution because they are against the wind so to speak. And what is true love? Is true love telling Grandma and all those at the funeral just by doing the baptism or the burial that everything is alright? Or would true love be issuing the warning that things are not ok, that souls are in eternal peril?
The culture thinks it has a right to the sacraments. Saying back to it that proper reception of the sacraments requires preparation and a well formed conscience would be a scandal. But it might be the right scandal. And Jesus said he would be a stumbling block, a scandal. What is the right way to be a scandal in this culture?