Among the many complaints secular thinkers express about Christians, there is a common thread: Christians refuse to try to fit in. Secular thinking involves a great deal of consensus, and consensus requires that at some point, people who began the process differing in one or several points from the majority must sacrifice their differences to the common good. The theory and practice of building consensus sound more loving than that, but that is the bottom line that makes consensus work.
Christians cannot sacrifice their differences when the difference is founded on a principle of Christian teaching. For example:
- God’s most precious gift is life. Abortion is death by order of the woman carrying an unborn baby in her womb. Christians know that God creates life, and that God has not given any human being the right to kill another human being whose existence is deemed inconvenient. Secular thinkers believe Christians should stop complaining and just “fit in” and agree that abortion is the best way to deal with a family planning failure.
- God’s most precious gift is life. Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is God’s gift of power and blessing to create new life, and the power of this relationship and its gifts is contained and controlled in marriage the way exploding rocket fuel is contained and controlled in rocket nozzles. If the explosion were uncontained, it would be destructive. Because it is contained, rockets can go to the moon, Mars, or beyond the solar system. Sexual energy contained within the relationship of marriage is a powerful force for good and passes its power on to succeeding generations. Secular thinkers believe Christians are being hateful and offensive when they reject the momentum created by activism to change the definitions of marriage and family and simply refuse to “fit in.”
- Human marriage, the union of a man and a woman, is the model God has provided for us to understand the relationship of God with his people. The most poignant example of that teaching is the story of Hosea who obediently married a prostitute and loved her despite her flagrant infidelity, just as God loves his people despite their scorn for his teachings and rebellion against his authority. Secular thinkers believe Christians become Christians entirely due to the “carrot” of heaven in the afterlife. Christians know that our relationship with the eternal and infinite God begins right now, and his gift of life eternal is ours right now. Secular thinkers want Christians to stop quoting that “silly book,” the Bible. Christians stand firm in their commitment to God’s revealed truth and refuse to change it or abandon it in order to “fit in.”
God’s people have always faced the resistance of those who reject God and the temptation to go along to get along. This sort of problem goes back to the earliest human beings. Think how people scoffed at Noah building his ark in obedience to God. The three Hebrews in ancient Babylon risked being burned in a hot furnace, because they simply would not sell out their relationship with God. The pressure of the US federal government on people to finance behavior that God calls sin is no different than the requirement of King Nebuchadnezzar to worship the great golden idol. It is exactly the same problem: do what the government says or suffer the consequences. It is the same problem the disciples encountered in Jerusalem when the Sanhedrin commanded them to shut up about Jesus; they answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” The entire marriage controversy now being discussed in the Supreme Court and throughout American culture often includes language that says in many different words, “You Christians are either silly or else you are completely hate-filled. Otherwise, you would get on the right side of history and shut up.”
Christians do not decide what is right or wrong based on what history is saying. The notion that there is a “right side” and a “wrong side” of history grows out a secular belief that human beings are evolving into wiser and better beings than they used to be. The Bible shows clearly that such an idea is a lie, because the Bible shows that people have not changed for the better since the most ancient of times. In fact, nobody needs a Bible to know that truth. The evidence is clear in documents accepted academically as recorded history. The evidence is clear in all the texts revered by other religions, too. History is not a force that shapes human individuals and human society for the better. History is simply a record that shows that human beings and cultures have only changed technologically. The moral and ethical questions of today are identical to those of past generations.
Christians do not choose between right and wrong by taking a poll of the culture to determine what everybody else thinks. Christians take instruction from their guide for faith and life – the Bible, the revelation of God. That guide does not change as history unfolds, because God does not change. God is the First and the Last, the unchanging God of all points in history. Christians take comfort in Christ’s birth, death and resurrection as evidence of God’s love and plan to redeem all people, yet they know that God never forces himself on anyone. History is littered with examples of people who have broken themselves on God’s unchanging laws, because they rejected God’s unchanging love. Christians know that God’s laws for human conduct are no different in that respect from God’s laws for the physical world. Someone who rejects the validity of God’s law of gravity and steps off a five-story building will fall five stories, no matter how many people agreed with him in his rejection of the law of gravity. Someone who rejects the validity of God’s law of honor for parents and family and proceeds with some noxious alternative idea will suffer the degradation of life that is the natural consequence of unnatural definitions of marriage and family, no matter how many people agreed with him in his rejection of God’s law of honor for parents and family. Sadly, people who rebel against God’s laws, whether physics or family, often take other people with them into the suffering, misery and destruction that are the natural consequences of their choices.
There can be cultural consequence when Christians refuse to fit in, and there can even be legal consequences when Christians refuse to fit in, but around the world, Christians stand firm in their commitments to God and suffer the consequences. Saeed Abedini suffers the consequence of refusing to fit in with Iran’s demand that no Muslim convert away from Islam, because Saeed Abedini believes that his life of faith in Christ in both time and eternity is more important than any amount of pain or punishment in the realm of time and space. Asia Bibi is condemned to death in Pakistan for her faith in Christ, but she counts her life with Christ as priceless and by comparison counts her life in time and space as nothing to strive for. Just as the three Hebrews refused the order to worship the golden statue, these contemporary prisoners for Christ say, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods.” Saeed Abedini and Asia Bibi refuse to participate in the behavior required by their governments, choosing Christ instead. Christians in the USA will continue to refuse the behavior required by US culture and US government, choosing Christ instead. Compared with Christ, the value of cultural or government approval is as rubbish. Christians will not accept rubbish as the reward for being willing to “fit in.”