The Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision has brought Christian cultural engagement back into the limelight in a big way. There has been the predicted wide range of responses in light of the announcement. But as public policy grows more dismissive of religious faith, and a growing number of groups show outright hostility, here’s some thoughts to consider as the culture continues to shift:
First – I think it’s time to stop apologizing for the past and move forward. There’s no question that some prominent (and some not so prominent) Christian leaders said and did unfortunate things in the past when it came to engaging the culture. Nearly every magazine article, blog post, or news story by a Christian ends up acknowledging past mistakes and some even wallow in it. OK, we get it. Most of those past leaders were well intentioned, a few were totally off-base, and some were outright boneheads. But name an organization without their share of screw-ups. Republicans, Democrats, atheists, reporters, PTA members, whatever. Everybody has a “crazy uncle Bob” in their family, but that doesn’t undermine the credibility or authority of our principles. So let’s move past apologizing for poorly executed strategies of yesterday, and focus more on what matters now.
Second – A comprehensive Christian response to the culture includes every issue. We hear a lot about the next generation being concerned about more than just abortion and sexual orientation. That’s great, but so what? Don’t abortion and sexual orientation still matter? They won’t go away just by diverting your energy into other subjects. I’m thrilled that we’re also fighting sex trafficking, poverty, and other important issues. But shifting our priorities doesn’t distract us from the fact that it all matters, and we still need to engage on those issues as well.
Third – What’s really at stake here? Whenever I read these articles or online posts, they spend most of the time talking about how gracious and humble we should be in our approach (with which I completely agree.) But they never get around to the big question: “What happens if the hostility grows?” Civility is important, but if my house is on fire, I don’t care if the firemen are nice – just get me out.
Finally – Is there a place where we finally draw a line in the sand? Sure, let’s be humble and gracious. Absolutely, let’s engage in a spirit of love and respect. But is there a point were we say enough is enough? At some point, the early church decided further cultural accommodation wasn’t possible. They felt so strongly about it, they were willing to be thrown in with lions, tortured, or crucified. German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer drew the line in Germany during World War II and paid for it with his life. Christians around the world today suffer because of their principles. Obviously, the Church in America hasn’t faced that challenge. But if history is any teacher, we will one day be forced to ask the question, where is that point? At what place do we decide that Biblical principles can no longer be compromised?
Martin Luther fearfully, but courageously told the leaders of his day:
“Here I stand. I can do no other.” I certainly haven’t given up on changing this culture, and this isn’t time to be hysterical, but as I continue to engage on these issues, there’s a question that keeps nagging inside me:
Should our society continue to grow less accommodating to religious freedom and free speech, at what point should we stop all the “conversation” and – with love, respect, and humility – simply say no?
What do you think?