Posted on Nov 8, 2012 by Tom Gilson
The world is changing on us. Tuesday night after the election results were made known, I tweeted this short word…
History teaches: Bad times are bad. Wrong decisions matter. Still God’s kingdom has survived and thrived in worse times; always will.
… and I went to bed. Wednesday morning I woke up very early, with a lot on my mind.
We have re-elected a President who supports abortion and same-sex “marriage,” whose health care program mandates violates religious freedom by requiring nearly all employers identifiable as “secular” to supply contraceptives (an affront to Catholic religious freedom) and chemical abortifacients (violence to all who believe in life at conception) at company cost to their employees. Same-sex “marriage” was approved by two states’ voters for the first time.
For years I have steadfastly resisted any trend to describe American Christianity under persecution, but I am changing my mind.
America has been polarizing, especially over economics, sexuality, and family. The effect has been a gradual increase in openly expressed hostility toward Christian believers’ values and rights in the public square. I think it’s likely future historians will look at Tuesday’s vote as a symbolic marker of a turning point. Antipathy toward Christianity will accelerate from this point forward.
It’s only a prediction, and predictions are hazardous. I would be happy to be proved wrong. But if hedonism has become established (I use that word advisedly) as America’s official religion, as Jennifer Roback Morse thinks, it will severely limit other religions’ freedoms. Her analysis is right in line with mine. The so-called “culture wars” revolve almost entirely around sex and sexuality: abortion, marriage rights, the hookup culture, sex in the media ranging from raunchy sitcoms to horrendous pornography. There are in fact only two, maybe three domestic political issues in America: sex, stuff (economics), and survival (health of people, health of the planet).
Feel free to call that an exaggeration, but not without recognizing how much those topics dominate the rest. Of these three, Christians are decidedly on the wrong side of the sex controversies, as far as much of society is concerned. Stubbornly on the wrong side, I would add, for not only do we hold a contrary position, we think it’s right. Which is our other sin in the eyes of America: we think there exists truth to which all persons will be held accountable.
For these two sins we are becoming less and less popular.
I have much more to say in analysis, which I’ll be posting over the next days and weeks. What I want to say now is that God is well in charge (see here, for example). If coming events wake up the church, so much the better. Christians in Siberia are actually praying for us to come under the purifying fire of persecution. (I’ve heard that rumored in the past, but I’ve recently come by it on strong authority.) They believe it would be good for us—and they should know.
Our greatest weakness is our sleepiness. We’ve been comfortable. Although we’re a long, long way from the kind of persecution some of our brothers and sisters are experiencing elsewhere around the world, we’re also far more vulnerable to being caught unprepared.
So what do we do? I’ll have a lot more to say about this, too. Here’s a preview of what I’ll have to say about being prepared for persecution:
1. We must go deep in Christ. He himself is our guide and our sustainer.
2. We must know clearly what we believe, and why.
3. We must train ourselves to be able to explain those beliefs and reasons, for we will be challenged on them.
4. We must demonstrate God’s goodness through self-sacrificial love.
5. We must act in unity, to the greatest extent possible consistent with our principles.
6. We must see God as greater than whatever may come our way.
By the way, what if I’m wrong about increasing persecution? Those six points of preparation would be a good idea regardless. I’m praying through a possible change of direction in my writing and blogging, toward making this a much more intentional equipping effort. I’ve made no decisions yet, but you may hear more about it shortly.