The last week has been instrumental in telling us the place historical, biblical, orthodox Christian thought holds in today’s culture. It’s been vogue for some time now for these positions to be ridiculed and questioned. However, today’s initial reaction now seems to be outright shock and outrage.
Consider the furor surrounding Karen Pence and the position of where she’ll be teaching art a couple of days a week, Immanuel Christian School in northern Virginia. In particular, columnists and news outlets were appalled at this part of the school’s parental agreement:
“I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school.”
One CNN writer called such language “disgusting.” A CBS headline reads “Karen Pence takes teaching job at school that bans LGBTQ students and faculty.” The Washington Post published two pieces condemning Pence’s teaching position.
The call has continued for Pence to step away. And while the collective questioning on whether Christian schools should be even allowed to exist hasn’t materialized (yet), one has grown for Pence to step away because taxpayers’ money pays for her husband’s salary.
Going with that thought, think of how many public school teachers are members of a church holding the same view on sexuality as Karen Pence and Immanuel Christian School. How many coaches, counselors, administrators, and volunteers does that make “unfit” to teach?
On another note, the March for Life drew estimates of 200,000-300,000 to Washington, D.C. last Friday. This gathering to promote the sanctity of human life had a lot of people but very little news coverage, unless you count the rush to judgement on the interaction between a group of high school boys from Kentucky and a Native American drummer.
Christians are going to find themselves in such situations more often. The world’s answer basically amounts to “leave your faith at church.” In other words, don’t let what you believe have an effect on others. It’s fine within those four walls under the steeple, but we don’t want it.
This may feel like a new dilemma, but we have to remind ourselves it isn’t. Before Christianity even had that name it was under attack (from the one who would be its greatest missionary, no less). That hasn’t changed through the centuries.
The first way we fight such hostility is through prayer. That’s where it begins. But it’s also important to stay informed. My habit is to read or watch various news sources (yes, even the left-leaning ones) to get a more-encompassing picture of what’s happening. But people are fallible and so can be their reporting. That’s why all of it needs to be lined up with the authority of Scripture.
All of this makes me think about 1 Peter 2:1-17. Take a moment to read it. The passage speaks about living in a culture that finds your values unacceptable. It talks about those who reject the capstone, Christ, and how we’re to be honorable in our opposition. In the ESV translation of verse 17 that word – honor – is repeated. “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
We’re to be aware of the culture’s opposition to the Gospel, but careful about reacting to it. Love drives us, not fear. When someone asks why you believe what you believe, be prepared to give an answer. Also be prepared for them to not like it.
That’s the challenge for today’s evangelical. It can be tough fitting in, but that’s not what we’re called to do. We’re to stand out; be light. It’s something the world will find outrageous, and shocking.