Evangelical A: Let's argue about sex and gender. Evangelical B: OK. Where do we start? The uprooting of the home caused by industrialism and the ways that changed our understanding of marriage and family? The broad adoption of contraception following the advent of the Pill? Or maybe the ways in which our society has no account for care as a commonly shared concern and the burdens this places on families and women especially? Or maybe about how workism causes everyone to regard themselves as independent careerists, thereby making it harder for husbands and wives to actually give themselves to each other and to a shared project of building a family and household? Evangelical A: (blinks) Evangelical B: OK. What did you have in mind? Evangelical A: I dunno. How about women's ordination? Or we can yell at the band of heavily bearded conservative men who look strikingly like artisanal chocolate makers from Brooklyn who make creepy comments about yoga pants? Evangelical B: That... sounds kinda terrible? And mostly pointless? Evangelical A: So? What's your plan? Evangelical B: Can't we do better? I mean, the ordination question is a big deal. But if that's all we talk about, we're going to miss a ton. Besides, the questions lots of our neighbors are thinking about are much more mundane and day-to-day than that. The Christian tradition has immense resources dating back to the church fathers to help us think in creative ways about sexuality and gender that would be enormously helpful to people struggling with these issues. Evangelical A: I mean, OK. But, like, you can't tell people to stop using contraception. Then they'd all have bigger families. Evangelical B: And... that's a bad thing? Evangelical A: Well, yeah! Because kids are expensive and take time and you can't pursue your career and there's no help for young families as they raise their kids anyway because we're all too busy. Evangelical B: That all sounds like stuff that churches should be helping with? Evangelical A: Look, you can't expect churches to assist each other in these ways. People have their own lives to live and maybe they can provide a meal or something after a baby is born, but expecting anything beyond that is just unrealistic. You can't expect Christians to prioritize each other ahead of their careers and American lifestyle aspirations. Evangelical B: ... Oh. Uh, ok then. I guess we'll talk more later.
(six months later)
Evangelical A: Hey, how are you doing? We haven't talked in awhile. Roman Catholic B: I'm doing great! I converted to Catholicism! There's so much here! Have you ever heard of "Humanae Vitae"? Evangelical A: Ummm. I don't think that will go the way you think it will. Roman Catholic B: OK. What's your solution then? Evangelical A: I have no idea!
Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).