The role of faith in American culture is changing. Swiftly and strongly. A recent Pew poll revealed that in 2007, 78.4% of Americans identified themselves as Christian. For 2015, that number dropped to 70.6%, or about 1% each year. Court rulings have powered gay marriage being viewed positively by a majority of Americans, mostly in just the last five years.
Then a Facebook friend shared an article by Dawn Stefanowicz. You can read the article here: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14899/, two salient quotes give the essence: “I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the US Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. The consequences have played out in Canada for ten years now, and they are truly Orwellian in nature and scope…Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered ‘homophobic’ (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government.”
In a Facebook discussion, a friend from high school days stated that I, a minister who provides Christian weddings, should be required to marry gay couples who ask for my services.
Where are we heading? I’m not a prophet, but we have a few clues. I suggest we avoid the two extremes: that we ignore these changes, pretend they’re not happening, and yearn for “the good old days.” Those days are past. The other extreme is to fearfully hunker down with like-minded folk and stay away from this society.
Let me share a hopeful note. Historically, Christianity has done better when standing against the dominant culture, rather than being it. From the beginning, following Jesus has been counter cultural. We’re getting there again.
But that often comes with a cost, like mentioned in the Stefanowicz article. We recorded the new miniseries “AD: The Bible Continues,” and we’re viewing how the persecution of Christians grew. We’re not at that level, but it is increasing. However, let’s not shrink back, but engage the culture with grace, strength, and truth. Even when we pay a price.
Remember, following Jesus means to follow him. To take up our cross. To give our lives. To serve God and his kingdom. May we value pleasing God more than we value pleasing the culture and having an easy life. I love the words of Peter in Acts 5:29: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Pretty counter cultural, to me.
Kick Starting the Application
How do you balance living in a secular society as a follower of Jesus? What problems have you experienced? What successes? Do you have any limits on following Jesus? How did you come up with them? Are you satisfied with them? For you, what are the hardest parts of living in our culture? What can you best to present faith to our culture as Jesus would?