Our strange world seems daily stranger. For decades the call for tolerance has been preached by “progressives.” We must be tolerant of folks who are different from us. Fine—we should. The sexes are to be treated equally. Good, although that used to be simpler back in the ancient history of three decades ago when we were so silly to think there were only two sexes and they were determined biologically, not psychologically. We should be tolerant of other religions. Okay—no problem. And on and on it went.
The call for tolerance, however, did not stop with concerns that people historically have expressed. The call for tolerance took a bold step. We must become tolerant of what has been historically regarded as vice. We must be tolerant and even supportive of women who choose to end the lives of their unborn children. We must be tolerant of people who choose to have promiscuous sex, and now we must be tolerant of and even give tacit approval to those of the same sex who choose to be married.
We have come to the place where those who lead the call for tolerance have themselves been revealed as intolerant, and little reveals the intolerance of the “tolerant” more than what happens to those who take a stand for traditional morality.
We know the stories of targeted Christian bakers and florists who declined to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations. In every instance there were other bakers and florists upon whom the same-sex persons could have called. To do so, however, would have solved the problem without a confrontation, and it seems that confrontation is what the same-sex activists desire. They do not want tolerance. They want submission.
Some states have enacted legislation that essentially mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, but states which have waited till now to do so are being attacked by same-sex and transgender activists, as well as other “progressives” all too eager to heap scorn upon anything that resembles traditional morality. We live in strange times, indeed. As Albert Mohler has pointed out, “Demands for erotic liberty — the unrestrained right to full individual sexual expression, fulfillment, and legitimacy — now routinely trumps religious liberty.”
So how do we live in America today? It is helpful to remember that those who take following Christ seriously, have almost always lived in a strange place in history. Biblical Christianity is almost always out of step with its surrounding culture.
Be that as it may, disciples of Christ throughout history have faced persecution fed by hate and intolerance. From the withering persecution of dominant Islamists to unrelenting attacks by secularist activists, there are few places in this world where biblical Christianity is at peace. Christians have enjoyed a respite from wide-scale persecution in America because the settling of the country and the founding of the United States was grounded in a Judeo-Christian understanding of law and morality. Obviously, that is no longer the case. Indeed, many churches themselves in this country have jettisoned such understandings and mirror contemporary culture.
It is time that Christians in America comprehend the reality of Paul’s warning in 2 Timothy 3:12–13: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Christians in America are being targeted for persecution.
Of course, 2 Timothy 3:12 also indicates how to escape persecution in America: simply surrender to the demands of secularists. Don’t allow godliness permeate your life. Many professing Christians go this route. Some claim to follow Christ while voting for politicians who favor abortion “rights” or same-sex marriage. Others simply lie low to avoid notice.
The apostle Peter knew something about persecution. May we heed his counsel: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. . . . Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:12, 16).