A Benediction for Post-Christian America
Last time, I suggested that we must face the facts that we are now in a new era: the post-Christian America that Francis Schaeffer, Chuck Colson and many others predicted would come.
I was referring then to Hobby Lobby facing millions of dollars in fines for refusing to obey the HHS mandate. If any further proof is needed, the recent broo-ha-ha over who's praying at the presidential inauguration is exactly that.
A rock-solid evangelical pastor who has mobilized thousands of young people to campaign against human trafficking was invited by the White House to give the benediction at the inauguration. But within hours, a small handful of homosexual activists hit the roof, because the same pastor, years prior, had the gall to say in a sermon that homosexual activity was sinful.
Thoroughly tarred with the "hater," "bigot," and "anti-gay" labels, this pioneer for human rights, Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church, respectfully stepped aside.
Whether Pastor Giglio did so proactively or was responding to heated pressure from the White House isn't exactly clear.
One thing's for sure, Giglio's now oft-quoted sermon on homosexuality was prophetic. He warned that the gay movement would do anything necessary to make sure the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle.
And today, in the media, in popular culture, in politics, it has that full standing. And its acceptance was lightning quick. Remember, just four years ago another evangelical pastor, Rick Warren-who has made his position on homosexual behavior also quite clear-prayed at Barack Obama's first inauguration.
So today, we find ourselves in a situation where, as Al Mohler wrote, historical, biblical Christianity is clearly "out of bounds."
The question is, what now? There's no doubt, as my friend Gabe Lyons blogged, that Giglio was the victim of bullying by homosexual activists. He called on the President to remind them that freedom of conscience-I would say freedom of religion-is the first right of every American.
Over at the CNN belief blog, Matt Anderson suggested that conservative Christians should embrace a certain dispassion when it comes to politics. His specifics seemed a bit muddled to me, but he rightly said that when we suffer injustice, we ought not display panic-driven anger as if our future depends on political acceptance.
Owen Strachan's response, which I'm fully on board with, was that being truly "gospel-centered" includes "grief and protest against sin and injustice."
Strachan writes that the Bible does not commend "a kind of imperturbably equanimity in light of suffering, persecution, and the usurpation of our rights . . . The biblical leaders [like Paul in Acts] defended themselves vigorously, knowing like Moses did that God himself was behind their call for justice."
Pastor Giglio stepped aside to avoid any further controversy. He wrote to his church, "My greatest desire is that we not be distracted from the things we are focused on…seeing people in our city come to know Jesus, and speaking up for the last and least of these throughout the world."
And there's no doubt he'll do just that. But part of me wishes he had not stepped away from the inaugural benediction.
Despite controversy or recriminations, Christians must stay in the arena, engaged in public life. Our posture in the midst of these divisive issues is important, but so is our presence.
It's distracting, some say. The real task is to preach the Gospel. That's missing a very important point, one that Owen Strachan states clearly: Christian teaching is not a barrier to the Christian gospel. The God who designed sexual wholeness is the same who designed redemption for all who find themselves broken, sexually or otherwise.