We occasionally hear about safe spaces. Often, this is in reference to some designated place on a college or university campus that is supposed to be a place where students can go and be free from any opposing viewpoints, where one can be free from being judged or being made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.
These safe spaces seem a little strange to me. I read about 18-year-old men during World War II who left home (and sometimes left high school early) in order to help defend America and freedom, often going into battles where many of these brave men fought and died. They were not looking for safe spaces. Today, many 18-year-old men and women seem to need a place to go so they do not have to have discussion or debate, but are free to live according to their own version of morality (or immorality) and are free to believe and do whatever is right in their own eyes, without having to hear about right and wrong.
I see many similarities, though, between these university safe spaces and many of our churches. Many pastors and members treat even good, evangelical churches as their safe spaces. They are free to criticize and condemn those outside the church. They can be sad about our sinful society and all the immorality and anti-biblical views and behaviors of those who do not attend their churches, but they never seem to want to examine themselves. They do not like the part about judgment beginning at the house of God. These church safe spaces allow us to comfortably sit around and condemn the world, but we must not discuss our own problems. We are free to show righteous indignation at those who do not agree with us who are outside our church, but we must avoid any topic that might make anyone inside the church feel uncomfortable.
If some Hollywood actresses dress immodestly, we feel right about condemning them; but mention the short skirts worn by some in our own church, and the topic is banned. Someone might be uncomfortable, and church is our safe space. Try to ask about our Christian youth at school athletic events wearing skin-tight shorts or mini-skirt uniforms, and those who ask the questions are reprimanded for daring to invade the safe space and wondering about Biblical modesty.
Inside our safe-space churches, we are free to condemn the football coach’s play-calling ability, but if one should dare to ask about whether or not it is honoring on the Lord’s Day for Christians to skip church in order to take their children to sports practice or to attend a professional baseball or football game, wondering if we have made sports an idol, and the one asking the questions is rebuked as a trouble maker for having the audacity to ask about the meaning and purpose of the Lord’s Day.
If we are sitting in our church small group circle and a teen drives by blaring rap music with profanity, we are free to condemn that teen and his or her music and even the entire generation, but should someone dare to ask what the Bible says about music, if our church music is more about honoring God or entertaining ourselves, then that person may be called upon to repent for bringing up a topic that might make some people uncomfortable.
We are free to sit in church meetings and criticize the adultery or fornication of some of our politicians, but if someone would ask why some Christians’ favorite movies are full of immorality, profanity, and taking God’s name in vain, then they are criticized for invading the safe space, for daring to ask a question that might cause us to judge ourselves.
Why is that? Should not churches and Christians welcome discussion that would cause us to go back to the Bible and see what God says? Should we not want to base our music and entertainment upon God’s word? We should be free to pursue holiness and to challenge others to be holy, too. I think that if Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, or many others of similar style showed up in our churches, they would make many of us feel uncomfortable by what they said and how they lived, and we would condemn them for invading our safe space. How dare they speak of repentance and holiness and expect us to look at ourselves and live holy lives, seeking God daily, not wanting to be like the world!
We like our safe spaces. We feel comfortable there. We are free to dress how we want and drink what we want and promote whatever we want without having our consciences bruised or our beliefs challenged. As I read the life of Jesus, though, I see that He did not seem to create many safe spaces, but often challenged those who felt comfortable in their own religious activities and lukewarm lifestyles.
How is it with you? Do you examine your own life in the light of God’s word? Do you go first to the Scriptures and then judge your personal and church activities based upon the holiness of God? It is easier to stay in our safe spaces where we are comfortable. We can hide in our safe places and play our games and eat our food. We can claim to have evangelistic events without the evangelism. We offer food without the Bread of Life. We boast of our community events without having to present the cross. We are more interested in building relationships and having the world like us than we are with pleasing God and expecting the unsaved to see their need to repent and give up the things of the world. After all, if we do not like topics that make us uncomfortable, why would we dare present the truth and challenges of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him? That might make them uncomfortable.
If we get out of our safe spaces, we might actually have to think and defend our actions and beliefs with the Word of God—and in order to do that, we might first have to read the Bible ourselves. We do not want to be holy and be challenged to give up our love of the world, so why would we dare expect to challenge the world to give up their love of the world in order to follow Jesus?
Let us leave our safe spaces and examine ourselves. Let us begin judgment at the house of God, throwing out worldliness, immodesty, immorality, and hypocrisy. May we return to the Word of God and to our holy God and be known for our similarities to the early church instead of bragging about how comfortable so many lost sinners are in our safe spaces.