Full Disclosure: Our Generational Need to Know Everything and How That Relates to the Christian Apology Trend
“He wanted to know everything.” My daughter exclaimed with girlish delight. “Who I have dated, what we did.” she gushed. “I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even held someone’s hand!” she confessed with more embarrassment than pride. “It was so weird talking about those things.” At fourteen she has no idea how normal it is. Every couple has that conversation at some point, few of us ever wonder why. Unpacking each other’s baggage is the only way we can move into each others lives.
I read once that you know what a person believes by what they do. For example, if a person exercises every day, they most likely believe that physical fitness is valuable, if not essential to a long and happy life. That said, our world now believes that the more we know, the better; full disclosure. If you want to know about someone’s personal life, you can check Facebook. Their professional life? Get Linked-In. Want to see their back yard? Google Earth. If you saw their house and now you’re curious how much they paid for their cushy condo with a view? Spokeo their name, you can find that out too. Now you can find out just about anything you want to know about another person, except for the color of their underwear. White, always guess white.
Trying to find out everything we can about a person before we commit to a relationship is normal. Trying to find out everything we can about all things before we commit, is new. The more we have to sacrifice, the greater the personal risk, increasing the stakes and the motivation to know anything and everything that might change our minds before there’s no going back. Technological advances have enabled us to scan objects with our phones (in the store!) and verify who else is selling it and where we can get a better price. There is an app for everything from finding the cheapest gas; to matching an outfit in the store to thousands of others with the same pattern, shape, and color in stores elsewhere! No more second guessing, store hopping, and friendly conversing to get the bottom line. We have the world at our fingertips. We expect information to come quickly, easily, and user friendly. And now people are approaching religion this way too.
During a typical weekday dinner my youngest asked, “Mommy, when my friend was taking papers out of the basket (at school) I asked her, ‘why?’, and she said, ‘It’s none of your beeswax!’ What is my beeswax?” My husband and I smiled knowingly, explaining that her friend simply meant that Hannah should mind her own business. Her innocence prevailed as she pondered aloud, “What is my business?” Until then, it never occurred to me that minding one’s own business may be a thing of the past, like pay-phones and VCR’s. We have made it our business to know everyone else’s business for quite some time, and this ‘full disclosure’ trend is growing faster than a pair of basketball shorts in the NBA.
Most trends are gone before you can say “gauchos,’ but every once in a while a new idea comes along that is so instrumental, it becomes a part of the fabric of our lives. Relevant magazine recently published an article criticizing one such trend growing among Christians today. Christians apologize for the way they (and their religious predecessors) have hurt people by being less than perfect, to say the least. The author goes on to say that we can blame the likes of Donald Miller who wrote, “Blue Like Jazz,” showing the rest of the world that confessing your sins can be popular. In Donald’s case, apologizing for all of his ‘baptocracy’ was popular enough to secure his place on the New York Best Selling List in 2003. Christians have been beating their accuser’s to the punch ever since, attempting to bridge the gap between themselves and those who are fed up with religious rhetoric or just church people in general. Is this new version of Christian ‘Apologetics’ trendy? Maybe, but not all trends are bad. Some are even necessary. (Ever heard of ‘going green?’) And as far as this one is concerned, I hope it is here to stay.
In a world where full disclosure has become the status quo, we expect nothing less from the religious forum. The glory days are long gone. Folks are tired of hearing that coming to Jesus will make everything better, and that those who have are better than everyone else because of it. We want to know everything from the start; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just tell it like it is and let the men and women listening decide. Following Jesus is hard. Your life doesn’t get easier, quite the contrary. And for goodness sake, you don’t get better. Maybe you become a better version of yourself, but stop thinking that you are better than everyone else. When your pride gets the best of you, be the first one to admit your mistakes. Apologize and move on.
The confession of sins dates back to the beginning of time. Christians have been apologizing to each other and God since the fall of man. But Christians confessing to the world (essentially apologizing to those they’ve hurt outside of the church) is a new trend that has bridged the gap between pagan and believer for the first time in a long time. Dialogue has opened up between the atheist and Christian that otherwise wouldn’t have happened- due to the humble honesty that takes place when one person says to another, “I’m sorry. I hurt you. Can you forgive me?” These apologies, trendy or not, are leading people to salvation.