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[229] Intimidation

Why is the church scared?  Why does it back away and equivocate in the face of secular-progressive attack?

Over the decades, faith and culture are sometimes aligned, sometimes at odds.  Despite all the sins of our nation—from slavery to the exploitation of the poor—for about 200 years the US mainstream culture was loosely aligned with the church through public acceptance of Judeo-Christian values.  In that context, many Christian churches saw themselves charged with being a transformative influence on the mainstream culture, repeatedly calling it back to God.

I don’t see that much anymore.  I see the church trying to avoid polarizing issues of values and lifestyle–and when addressing them–doing so in ways that will minimize push back and disapproval from the larger culture.  Over and over when the secular culture and the church are in a stare-down it is the church that blinks.  It is the church that changes, because it is intimidated.  Instead of cultural transformation (or at least attempts at it) I see intimidation shivering through the church, resulting in backpedaling and compromise on critical matters in hopes of avoiding public ridicule.

So much for the cost of discipleship.

Let me clarify something here.  Prayer, discussion, and study on incendiary issues like those of gender roles, sexual orientation, and abortion have their place.  It was through just such activities that Christians became enlightened with respect to the evils of slavery and segregation.  The Civil Rights Movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., emerged from an examination of the Second Great Commandment.  In short, Christians were spiritually enlightened and through that enlightenment many were changed.

I don’t see that now.  I see the church changing through intimidation, and then trying to reduce the dissonance of these shifts by issuing carefully worded reports and rationales, as if the changes were the result a enlightened Christian worldview rather than fear of mockery, dismissal, and rejection—even discrimination.

We live in enormously complex times, in a world drowning in information and intellectual diversity.  Christians need to be vigilant, open to putting everything on the table for prayer, discussion, and study.  Any change of position on a major issue, however, needs to emerge from these spiritual exercises rather than cowardly attempts to appease an increasingly hostile culture.

Eleven of the twelve apostles who founded the church were martyred, and the twelfth died in exile.  They cared only for divine approval; not at all for human acceptance.   That legacy of courage is not very visible now. DC

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