This week we will take a look at the cultural influence, or lack of, in today’s secular world. One of the difficulties facing Christian leaders these days is the desire for them and their churches to be popular and accepted rather than Biblically obedient. It takes inner strength and deep conviction to be an effective leader. Pandering to public tastes and preferences is a quick road to disaster, since a public without Biblical worldview is susceptible to the latest and greatest arguments. As a case in point, when adults were asked to identify the greatest failures and negative contributions of the Christian Church to American society in the recent past, the public has no lack of ideas to share. Among the most common criticisms are that the churches have become too political, have opposed same-sex marriage, have been intolerant and bigoted, believe that Jesus is the only means to forgiveness and eternal salvation, and have opposed abortion. [Barna Group, “OmniPoll 2-10”, a national survey of 1,000 adults eighteen or older, August 2010]. The response of the organized Church has largely been one of silence or apology. While this has not always been the case, in a fair number of cases the greatest offense has been the unwillingness of Christian leaders to provide a Biblically appropriate response. An increasingly secularized culture has been challenging the Church for several decades…and, emboldened by victory after victory in the public square, that culture is increasingly defiant and disrespectful toward the fundamental principles that built this nation. Consider the turnabout that has occurred in the past quarter century in this cultural war.
Our public, taxpayer-funded schools, where education was based upon and friendly toward the Christian faith and its Scriptures, now disallow prayer, Bible reading, religious gatherings, and moral teaching. Millions of our school children are medicated in order to control them, taught they evolved from apes, told that all faiths are equal…except Christianity, which is portrayed as an inferior, undesirable faith, and trained to believe that there are no absolute moral truths. A substantial portion of school budgets are now funded through gambling proceeds.
Our Christian homes, which were once considered the heart of Christian teaching and accountability, are now restricted by increasingly intrusive laws that preclude parents from disciplining or from defending the rights of their children, sometimes going so far as to separate children and families that do not meet government approval. Marriage has been redefined and overtaken by the state, millions of children have been legally murdered in the womb, and divorce has been legally minimized.
The government has reduced religious freedoms, substituted federal policies and programs for parental guidance and responsibility, and replaced God as the defender and provider for the American people. Moral challenges have been labeled “hate speech”, and “intolerance” is backed by onerous government sanctions and penalties. The threat of the IRS hovers over churches that dare to speak, the executive branch uses “executive orders” that skirt the need for legislative approval and accountability, and the unelected judicial branch unilaterally makes laws that are similarly unalterable by the people or any elected official. This may be starting to change.
The entertainment industry produces a flood of immoral content programming that seduces our children, inflames the lust of our adults, and dulls the minds of the population. Celebrities are held up as virtuous and worthy of worship while Jesus is questioned and devalued. The Biblical worldview is mocked while alternative worldviews based on individual feelings and distortions of Biblical truth are elevated. New technologies are adopted that overwhelm people’s minds and hearts with garbage while censorship, licensing, and fines are used to minimize public exposure to Biblical truths.
During all this attack on cultural values, where have the churches been? Some have taken up the gauntlet and made a stand in our society, but many have cowered in the background, hiding out in their elaborate buildings hoping that all this will go away. Many Christians want to take up this battle but lack the organizational leadership to get them started. The secular world has gotten this leadership and with the actions of the few have changed our society and nation from the original intent of our founders. Our churches have the opportunity to provide this leadership just as those in the Bible who took up the cause of God. Sitting back and waiting for something to happen was not in the message the Bible gave us. Christians want to be of service to their fellow man but they also want to ‘do battle’ with the forces that are trying to destroy their fellow man. They need to have a purpose beyond themselves. While many churches have committees that help the poor, the homeless, the unchurched, and the church-ed congregation, they almost totally ignore the government that is more and more trying to control our lives. Might a committee that monitors the government and keeps the congregation informed as to what is going on not be of benefit to our society? The church is the people and the government is representative of the people. Shouldn’t they be afforded the opportunity to be made aware of the information they need to manage their government? Are too many churches fearful of ‘offending’ some of the congregation? Jesus had no such fear.
Next week we will take a look at where we can, as Christians, find leadership in a world under siege by the secular forces of evil.
– Bob Munsey