Angry Christians and Cultural Outrage Fatigue

I’m not very good at moral outrage and I always feel a little guilty that I’m not.

Take, for instance, the new Gap commercial that’s out now to encourage people to spend money for the holidays. It features an engaging rainbow assortment of young people dressed in Gap clothing dancing to aerobic choreography and chanting a rap designed to be all inclusive.

It starts off: “2-4-6-8 ‘Tis the time to liberate. Go Christmas, Go Hanukah, Go Kwanzaa, Go Solstice.” And later in the rap they chant “You 86 the rules and you do what just feels right, Happy do whatever you wannakuh and to all a cheery night.”

I watch that commercial and I suspect that I’m supposed to angry about it. It’s certainly annoying. I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m betting other Christians are expressing anger over it. Maybe I’m experiencing cultural outrage fatigue but I just can’t go ballistic about a Gap holiday commercial and here’s why.

First of all, it would thrill me if people who don’t follow Jesus would stop pretending they celebrate His birth. It’s perfectly fine with me if the whole world wants to take a day off to exchange gifts, gather with family and have a “let’s feel good about us” fest but it’s wrong to say they’re doing any of it in honor of Jesus. If all the big businesses out there stopped using Jesus’ name in their hyped up pleas for increased commercialism, I’d be happy, not outraged. It makes it easier for the church to be the church if those who aren’t the church stop pretending to play along.

Second of all, I see more scriptural exhortations to be humble, gentle and meek than I do to be “continually up in arms and offended.” James 1: 19-20 says this : “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

Anger takes a lot of energy and I’m running the race set before me. I’ve seen runners train. They work at every aspect of their running to conserve energy in order to focus on the finish line. Every step, every breath, every thought is focused on the goal. One glance over the shoulder can cost a runner the win. Anger takes energy that I need for prayer, for outreach, for ministry, for loving others.

Third, the world stands condemned already. For me to add my angry accusations and indignation feels like standing up in a court of law where a man has just been sentenced to death and shouting out that he also has an unpaid parking ticket. If Jesus had walked around in a continual state of moral outrage at the sin He found in the sinners He met, I doubt He would have been invited to so many gatherings. He did get angry but you’ll generally see He reserved His outrage for the religious leaders and those who claimed to be righteous not for those who were lost and knew it.

I don’t feel at all superior to people who do express outrage. I learn from their arguments and they often challenge me to stand stronger in my faith. I’ve heard people who came to Christ because someone loved them gently there and some who made the decision because they were challenged and exhorted there. God uses each of us according to His plan, His gifts, His Spirit, His grace. I think we can learn from and complement each other. Avoiding outrage does not stop me from being a vocal believer who stands up for the truth.

So, the Gap commercial DOES send a message to me. It reminds me to act. This ad is truly a sign of the times. I do believe we are moving closer and closer to the moment of Christ’s return. “You 86 the rules and you do what just feels right. Happy do whatever you wannakuh” sounds a lot like the way things were in the days of Noah just before the flood.

So this catchy ad, designed to inspire me to spend money, inspires me instead to spend my life on Christ – every moment, every second, every opportunity, every breath to redeem the time because it’s growing short.

I wonder if other Christians wrestle with this dilemma. How about you? Can you see the signs that our culture is dropping the façade of false faith and know that that means the curtain is lifting on the final act? Does this inspire you to outrage, to fear, to action or to your knees? Tell me what you think. I’m wrong a lot.  I grow from dialog so, let’s talk.


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6 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Heather says:

    I personally see a difference between being outraged in the business sector verses in the political sector. Businesses are private entities, and have the right to whatever views they want to have. In the political arena, however, the government is supposed to belong to all of us. When the government starts breaking it’s own rules (The Constitution), I believe that it is alright for Christians to be outraged and call the government to account for its actions. In this way, I believe that we are standing up for the weak and oppressed in the country, and working for the continuation of a good government, even if its not a “Christian” one.

  2. That’s a great point, Heather! Especially where we live in a democracy with the freedom and responsibility to voice our opinions. Great distinction.

  3. Mike says:

    Lori, your blogs are always well thought-out and thought-provoking. Thank you, again, for this one.

    Great line: “For me to add my angry accusations and indignation feels like standing up in a court of law where a man has just been sentenced to death and shouting out that he also has an unpaid parking ticket.” 🙂

  4. Thank you, Mike. It means a lot to hear what you think! Thanks for reading.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s a great ad!

    Here’s my main reason:
    “So this catchy ad, designed to inspire me to spend money, inspires me instead to spend my life on Christ – every moment, every second, every opportunity, every breath to redeem the time because it’s growing short.”

    It may not have been their intention to bring you closer to the lord, but as they say, the Lord moves in mysterious ways. However, time may not actually be growing short. (it hasn’t so far)

    Also, I think in our culture we put too much emphasis on perceived infractions. “These people offended my because they’re not Christian enough.” is something we’ve all heard. Personally, I’m happy you’re not adding to all the complaining.

    People need to worry only about their own life rather than point out the flaws of others. This blog is a nice example of how to do that. A discussion is one thing, railing against offenses is something else. As you said, Jebus was invited to a lot of gatherings, and you can bet that just about… everything he saw was something he could exclaim outrage at. But he didn’t.

    Live the lifestyle you believe in rather than force other to live the lifestyle you believe in.

  6. Thanks for visiting, Anonymous! Thank you for the encouragement!