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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Auto insurance statisticians tell us that the most common place for an accident to occur is near one’s home. We’re so accustomed to the route that we don’t pay much attention.

I think that’s the same for our culture, too. We’re so saturated with messages from our culture that we can stop noticing them.

Recently I was flying across the country for a speakers’ reunion for those of us who speak at marriage conferences in Canada. We left our small town of Belleville, Ontario, and headed to Toronto, with its impatience, hostility, and even anger. The ticket clerks grumbled. The passengers were grumpy. The security guards never smiled. And even after going through security things didn’t get better. Everywhere I looked were magazines depicting women in various states of undress. Novels with rather lewd titles screamed from the windows. People talking to themselves on their Bluetooth cell phone devices seemed to be yelling at their imaginary friends. The talking heads on the CNN television screens which seemed to pop up every twenty feet, announced anther shooting.

The magazines in Belleville aren’t much better. We have grumpy clerks, too, and business people striving to make even more money. But when it’s home, you don’t always notice. When I stepped outside of my comfort zone, I saw up close how ugly much of our culture is, as it presses in on us everyday.

Do you ever feel that weight? I know I did. My husband and I were flying out to Vancouver for the annual retreat for Family Life Canada, a group that has as its aim reaching Canada through the felt needs of the family. We work to keep families together, and to help people see that true change comes from Christ.

And as I walked through that airport, I just felt that it was hopeless. Where in our culture do we teach that sexuality is sacred within marriage? Where do we teach that marriage isn't about happiness, it's about holiness?

We don't.

And I began to be convicted, because so much of what I write is for the Christian market. We need to start speaking truth to the secular world, too.

I do have a syndicated column that I write in many community newspapers every week, and there I try to bring up family issues with regularity (though I often get lambasted in the letters to the editor). But most of my teaching is in the Christian world.

On the one hand, Christians need good teaching. We need to keep our marriages together so that we can be lights to others. We need to raise confident, godly children so the can continue the task of being light in the world. But it can't stop there.

We need to start taking our message further. I'm not sure what that would look like, but we need to start spreading out.

I've been doing a lot of work online lately, with social media and with podcasting, and I hope to branch out of Christian circles there. But the whole experience challenged me as to where our focus should lie.

What about you? What are you doing to redeem the culture? Let's not stay in our bubble. Let's move out. I'm just not sure how to do that.

Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of four books, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother. She blogs at http://tolovehonorandvacuum.blogspot.com.

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