Thursday, March 27, 2014
Breaking News May Break Your Heart: Tales from the Front Lines in the Culture Wars
This week has been an explosion in news items for those who care about the Christian faith and the culture. The most important religious freedom case in at least a generation (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby) was argued before the Supreme Court early in the week. Then the evangelical relief organization World Vision announced that they would be revising their employee policy to allow hiring of same sex couples who had a Christian cleric officiate a wedding ceremony. (Yesterday, World Vision reversed that decision.) Finally, a story broke in the UK about how British hospitals were using the remains of aborted and miscarried babies to generate heat for those same hospitals. And that was just through Wednesday.
As someone engaged in apologetics ministry, the clash between worldviews is part of my calling. I hope to communicate a reasoned Christian viewpoint on ethical and cultural issues that have theological implications to an unbelieving world. Most people today assume morality is a relative concept and religion is simply a private belief that shouldn't affect one's public interests.
As you may expect, the news has given me a busy week. But it gave me something else, too. It gave me a very heavy heart, which was a bit unexpected. I feel weary, weary not only in the added engagements but also weary that a moral framework that would have been so clearly understood just a few decades ago are now lost in the fog of this modern age. It scares me that people cannot connect the revulsion they experience when reading about using fetuses as fuel to the marginalization of an unborn child in the rhetoric of pro-abortionists. It scares me because I know that the marginalization of natural marriage will lead to further dangers down the road. Frankly, our slide towards Gomorrah is simply breaking my heart.
But maybe that's the thing. In my morning devotions, I always pray that God would change my heart to be more like the heart of Jesus. I think this is a fairly common prayer among Christians. What I didn't expect is such a change would cause pain. When looking over Jerusalem before His triumphal entry, Jesus wept over the city that would soon turn against Him. He didn't cry for His suffering and He didn't rejoice in the judgment that it would face in the coming years. It didn't cause Him to be angry; it caused Him to grieve. An unexpected consequence of having one's heart be conformed to Christ is to not only feel more love, but to feel more pain. When sin grieves us, we have a more proper understanding of what sin truly is.
I had a prominent apologist friend who was once being slammed by various critics for what he had written. I have been in that position, too. Especially online, there are critics who can get nasty and personal. They may even verbally attack your family, which happened to me in one instance. My friend, clearly anguished, asked "Why can't God give me a thicker skin to do work like this?" But I don't think God wants to do that. A thick-skinned apologist would be a dangerous thing, using arguments as clubs. I think God wants us to be tender-hearted to both the travesty of an evaporating moral standard and to those who would criticize us for taking a moral stand. Like Jeremiah, we should warn with fervency, but all the while with tears in our eyes. Only then can the Gospel be shown to be what it truly is: the power of Christ to accomplish salvation in the hardened hearts of the unsaved. Jesus wept, then moved forward. Let us do so, too.