The sooner conservative Christians recognize how they are viewed by most of American culture the sooner we will be able to effectively work and fight within that culture. Many Christians want people to like them. We want to be seen as upstanding citizens and good moral people. We believe we are a respectable lot that deserves to be tolerated. We want to be thought of as a little different, but not too different. We want people to like our children. We want to fit in.
But the reality is far different from this utopia we imagine in our heads. If you hold to a few basic tenets of Christian ethics, such as sex is for one man and one woman within marriage, homosexual practice, unless repented of and turned from, will send you to Hell, wives are to submit to their husbands, children are a blessing from the Lord, and Jesus is Lord of all, including the bedroom and the White House, you are a freak, an outcast. Imagine going around wearing a sign, “Transgenders, unless they repent, will burn.” Now I know we would not say it like that. We would qualify it in various ways. But the world will not usually hear our qualifications. The world hears, “You hate us and want us to burn in Hell. You are a threat to our happiness, you intolerant bastard.”
At first I considered comparing us to the Amish, an odd group whom others look at with apathetic curiosity. “Oh look, there is one of those funny carriages.” But conservative Christians are not looked at like this. We are not viewed as odd, but harmless. We are a threat. Our views are not just old and outdated. Our views undermine the freedom of the individual to pursue their own happiness. No we are not like the Amish. Not all will see us this way of course, but many will, especially those among the elite, such as the movie industry, music, journalists, the media, and universities.
We are citizens of another kingdom. We are soldiers fighting the principalities and powers that rule this world. We are hear to declare freedom to captives. We are loyal to Christ and His Word above all else. We believe that right and wrong is determined by Scripture, not by what we feel in hearts. All of this sounds innocent. But the details tell a different story. We do not operate with the same values as the world around us. We have different basic principles and different goals. Our lives, even if we live them quietly, tell the world they are wrong. While we know we are for the world, the world increasingly views us as a grave threat. The world views us as dangerous freaks. The sooner we understand this the better. How then shall we live?
First, don’t fear. There is nothing of lasting consequence that the world can do to us. It can take our money, jobs, reputation, and life, but it cannot take Jesus. And if we have Jesus we have everything.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
Second, guard your heart against the love of the world and the desire to be loved by the world. I am convinced that in the coming years most Christians will not leave the faith because of theological problems or because of being hurt by someone in the church. They will leave because they love their reputation more than they love Jesus. They will turn their backs on Christ rather than be made of fun of and laughed at by the world.
Third, we shouldn’t whine about how the world treats us. Christians are terrible at developing a martyr complex. We walk around grumbling and complaining about what was said about us on that blog or in that newspaper. Friends reject us for our views and we pout. It looks bad. Christ said rejoice when we are persecuted for our faith. Don’t walk around feeling sorry for yourself when the world hates you.
Finally, our worship and our homes should be overflowing with joy. We are children of the King. Our inheritance is sure. When we are reviled by the world that means we are being counted with the prophets and men like Paul. In contrast to the world, where joy is slowly eroding, let us rejoice and be glad.
Each generation of Christians must fight the battle the Lord gives them in that age. We don’t get to pick and choose. Part of the good fight in our age is the willingness to be thought of weird, out of step, odd, outdated, freaks, and threats in order to follow after Christ.