An old gospel song begins, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.” Perhaps now more than at any time in the history of the United States, Christians can see truth in this sentiment.
The growing disdain that society shows for biblical Christian beliefs and values shouldn’t surprise us, but it is sometimes overwhelming to observe the pace at which western society has rejected and marginalized traditional ideas. The United States from its founding was profoundly influenced by Christian values, but in the last couple of decades that history has been denounced, marginalized, and swept away in academia, media, entertainment, and government. Christians and Biblical ideas are now widely rejected and even hated. Scripture warns us that believers will face such opposition. In John 3:19-20, Jesus told His disciples, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” Later, in John 15:18-21, Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”
Absolutes. The concepts of objective authority and objective truth have been rejected, while personal autonomy and subjectivism rules the day. Truth is seen as one’s own truth, what one might personally define as truth. This is held only in a form, for certain ideas are held to be true because, in effect, the social elite say they are true. Ideas are repeated as truth over and over until they are accepted as true. Anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is one example of this. Media has come to simply assume and state it as fact. Anyone questioning it in any way is ridiculed and rejected. Science supposedly proves it, and it must be accepted and not questioned, contrary evidence is never given credence, and anyone who doubts is dismissed.
Sexual expression and morality are central in this postmodern rejection of objective truth. The freedom to fornicate is today’s most prized and cherished freedom. At a recent Senate hearing to confirm a Supreme Court justice, the nominee was castigated by a Senator for using the term “sexual preference” rather than “sexual orientation.” The assertion is that we must not question one’s rejection of traditional heterosexuality, it must be accepted that the individual has every right to be identified however they feel oriented and practice accordingly; we must not think of it as merely a choice. At a recent televised event, Democrat candidate former Vice President Joe Biden offered his support for children to undergo gender transition. Responding to a question from a mother of a supposed transgender child, Biden said, “The idea that an eight year-old child or a ten year-old child decides, ‘you know I decided, I want to be transgender, that’s what I think I’d like to be, it’d make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination.” This was a stunning statement. Eight-year-old children often cannot make good decisions about picking their nose. The idea that a child should be guided on a path to receive harmful hormones and later be physically mutilated is akin to offering a child on a pagan altar.
The ideas of Karl Marx are becoming widely accepted to the Left. Marx as an atheist and a materialist rejected morality as irrelevant and contended that power is everything. Postmoderns seem to agree, at least that morality is irrelevant and the quest for a socialist order is everything. “My object is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism,” Marx wrote. “Keep people from their history and they are easily controlled.” Forget history, and of course ultimately forget God.
Secularism simply has no place for Christianity, at least in a biblical form. Some within broad Christianity have imagined that Christianity can somehow be made acceptable to the postmoderns. This is an error and a deception. We will either need to embrace most aspects of their philosophy, which is completely antithetical to biblical teaching, or we will face their ridicule and anger. It is becoming more obvious by the day that churches and believers who hold to Christ and His gospel are simply unacceptable in today’s environment. This growing hostility takes many forms.
Churches and Christian institutions have been tax-exempt throughout American history. It may be a matter of time before this is threatened. In a piece published in “The Denver Post” on July 12, 2020, columnist Bruce DeBoskey wrote,
“In 2019, 29% of all U.S. giving, $128.17 billion, went to religious institutions. Those donations were tax-deductible, resulting in billions of dollars of lost federal and state tax revenue. Unlike nearly all other nonprofits, however, religious nonprofits are not required to file annual tax returns revealing how the donations were spent. Those expenditures may include leaders’ salaries, benefits and other perks, property holdings, investments, sources of revenue and other facets of the nonprofit’s operation and management. Although most of us believe that the majority of the 300,000 religious institutions in the U.S. follow the law and are doing good work in, and provide value to, their communities, there is no way to factually evaluate that claim.”
“Moreover, in most cases, religious institutions are exempt from paying property taxes, depriving local governments of badly needed income to provide essential services such as public education, law enforcement, fire protection, etc. Studies estimate that American churches own approximately $300 billion-$500 billion in untaxed property. New York City alone loses nearly $627 million in annual property tax revenue because of exempted churches in the city. The triple whammy of deductions for contributions, exemption from paying taxes, and no reporting requirements, leaves us all in the dark about why these organizations deserve such favorable tax treatment.”
When a church simply teaches the scripture authoritatively, there is obvious conflict with new social ideas regarding subjects like sexuality, marriage, and gender roles. Insistence that marriage is solely to be between one man and one woman, and all sexual expression is to be confined to marriage is widely rejected in thought and in practice. The Bible teaches male leadership in the church and in the home, hardly a popular idea today, and a biblical church must hold to that in practice and teach it. The wrath of those who reject the teaching of scripture will inevitably lead to demands to end any favored status for such churches or institutions.
Internet censorship most obviously seen in the political sphere is sure to come against Christians and biblical ideas. Breitbart recently noted that
“Wikipedia users are no longer allowed to include “user boxes” on their profile page that express opposition to gay marriage following a discussion where predominantly left-wing editors argued such a stance was “discriminatory” and against site policy. Most user boxes pre-dated a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage and were used by hundreds of editors. This included one expressing a personal view favoring traditional marriage, but advocating for states to decide.”
Beyond the internet, Christian broadcasters are likely to come under pressure. The airwaves simply cannot be used to promulgate speech that offends.
Christians and Christian ministries are now often attacked with labels of hate and intolerance. One far-left organization, the Southern Poverty Legal Center, claims to “monitor hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and expose their activities to the public, the media and law enforcement.” Some of these “hate groups” are well-known for their hateful rhetoric and actions, but others are Christian or nonprofit groups. The conservative group Liberty Counsel has reported that many Christian or nonprofit groups have been categorized as “hate groups” by SPLC, given this label because each takes a biblical position on marriage. Simply holding to biblical and historically Christian views, taken from the Bible, is enough to be called a “hate group.” These groups don’t call for members to express hatred or commit violent acts; they simply hold to a set of beliefs that Christians, and most others in the Western world, have held to for centuries. The Sunday service at a Bible-preaching church is essentially, to the far Left, a hate group rally, and the sermon “hate speech.”
The Gospel. In 1 Peter 4:1-5 we read,
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
Ultimately, the real issue at the root of the conflict today is the Gospel. Unbelievers do not want their sin exposed by the message of Christ and his Word. They prefer to live in a society where their conduct is praised and accepted, rather than accept the truth that they are sinners in need of a Savior and creatures in rebellion against their Creator who need to turn from sin and turn to Him by grace and faith. The Gospel is at the center of the church, the central theme of the Bible, the very center of Christian teaching. The Gospel is Christianity; it is the message that the church has been commissioned to proclaim. The message of the gospel is the good news of God for everyone who believes, but it starts with the bad news that we are all sinners and deserve the wrath of God, and that is a message people do not want to hear. Throughout Scripture, God is shown to be a God of love and mercy, and many postmoderns are happy to accept this concept. But He is likewise a God of holiness and justice, and people are less inclined to accept this. He loves people, but he also calls all to repent of their sin. Allowing people to remain lost in sin without warning them of the judgment to come is a disservice to them and an affront to God.
American believers are deeply patriotic. We love our country, love our history, and are deeply appreciative of our prosperity and of our liberty, even as Christians face growing intolerance and hate from the culture. We are becoming aliens and outcasts from society in our own beloved earthly country. The last line of the first verse of that old gospel song reminds us, “And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
1 Peter 3:14-17 – “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
John 14:2 – “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
A place prepared as our home. Our eternal home.