“Coming out” as a Christian

In her memoir Dancing Through It, ballerina Jenifer Ringer tells about her Christian faith.  I was struck by this line from Washington Post reviewer Rebecca Ritzel:  “Coming out in a dance memoir as an evangelical Christian is nearly as rare as coming out as gay in the NFL.”

Back in 2012, we posted about the apotheosis of homosexuality and the demonization of Christians, asking whether Christians might someday become “the new gays.”  That is, whether being a Christian might be seen as socially shameful as homosexuality once was, that Christians would become “closeted,” keeping their faith secret from the public, except for those brave enough to “come out.”

Now we have a major media outlet using that kind of language for Christians.  Some will say, “That’s justice!  Now you Christians will know how it feels.”  Maybe so.  I can imagine the comments:  “They should not be allowed to get married!”  Certainly there is still stigma against homosexuality among the masses, if not in the media and elite circles.  I am not saying that Christians are treated worse than gays, which is obviously not true (nor am I saying those are  mutually exclusive categories), and I don’t want Christians to develop a persecution complex.  I am just wondering if we Christians are ready for the possibility of there someday being a severe  social stigma against our faith.  Overt persecution from the government is the stuff of usual martyrdom fantasies, and many of us can imagine ourselves being imprisoned or executed for our faith.  But I suspect it would be even harder to experience other people’s severe dislike and repulsion, both from individuals whom we want to like us and from society as a whole.   We should ask ourselves the question, is our faith strong enough to bear social ostracism?  That may be more likely in the future than overt legal persecution.

Some social circles, of course, are more disdainful of Christianity than others (the art world, as here?  academia?  what others?), and this is already an issue for many Christians.  Have any of you had experience with this?  Not wanting your friends, colleagues, and social acquaintances to know you are a Christian?  Is that a fault, or just prudence?  I suppose the early Christians didn’t wear crosses and fishes in public, but retreated to the Catacombs, though when it came time for a confession of faith, they did so at the risk of their lives.

If Christianity becomes more and more socially unacceptable, what changes will Christians have to make?  What lines will need to be drawn?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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