Should Evangelicals Embrace the “Benedict Option”?

Should Evangelicals Embrace the “Benedict Option”? July 7, 2015

Rod Dreher has been blogging about the need for traditional Christians to embrace the “Benedict Option” of retreat from and engagement with post-Christian society. In a recent post, he commented that

It is retreat in the sense that it requires a) an honest and sober recognition of the condition of our post-Christian culture, and the relationship of the church to it; b) a realistic understanding of how radically Christianity opposes the mainstream post-Christian culture; c) a clear grasp of how radically Christians have to live, in community, to “push back against the world as hard as it pushes against you” (Flannery O’Connor), and d) implementing these new, and renewed, ways of living, in part to build resilience for the trials to come, and to guard against assimilation.

It is about engagement in that the church has a mission to serve the world, through evangelism and works of charity. The church can only fulfill its mission if it knows who, and what, it is. The early Benedictines lived in community, behind monastery walls, so they could pray as they were called to pray. But they also served the people outside the monastery walls. The former had everything to do with how effectively they did the latter.

Some evangelicals have balked at Dreher’s concept because they see it as surrender in the great moral and religious conflicts of the day, including the nature of marriage and religious liberty. Others have warned that radical secularists and gay activists won’t let Christians have a Benedict Option: “you will be assimilated” is the secularists’ motto.

I sympathize with these concerns. Still, I am convinced by Dreher’s analysis – and really, I don’t think there’s any other option for traditional Christians but the Benedict path. Christian homes, schools, and churches have always been counter-cultural outposts. De jure and de facto forms of Christian establishments have sometimes blurred that counter-cultural reality, usually to the detriment of Christian integrity. But we Christians are now placed in a deeply oppositional position vis a vis elite American political, business, and entertainment culture. Taking the Benedict Option, in most cases, just equates to Christian discipleship in our cultural moment. None of this precludes seeking cultural and political influence, it just admits our real social location and places little hope in politics to reform the surrounding culture.

Consider the culture of the home, the “mediating institution” over which we have the most control. Although secular elites still often mimic the nuclear family model of a married mother and father, the culture they steward mocks the normativity of that traditional unit. Increasingly, we see broken families – divorced or never-married parents, fathers absent from their children, and mothers put in hopeless situations as sole breadwinners and sole parents. Much of a child’s waking hours are given over to daycare or government schools, and when they are not there, children are plugged into endless hours of unmonitored online entertainment.

Aimé Pez (1808-1849), “Familienidylle,” 1839, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

How different, then, are the traditional Christian practices of family life? (None of the following are exclusively for Christians, nor do all professing Christians practice them.) Marriage between a man and a woman, marital vows before sex, viewing children as a blessing from God, and a responsibility to raise those children in the fear of the Lord. Limits on “screen time” which allow for more reading, more outside play, and more sleep. Family dinners and prayer, church attendance, reading in the Bible and other edifying, educational books.

These and countless other small counter-cultural aspects of Christian family life today may not strike us as “retreat,” but they are conscious decisions not to assimilate to the patterns of mainstream culture. We may even find it hard to maintain these standards in the context of church, where many of the parents of our kids’ friends are not choosing the counter-cultural path. Nevertheless, for “paleo” evangelicals the Benedict Option is unquestionably the route we’ll need to take in the coming days. It is the way of fidelity for Christians, as the world around us sloughs off what remains of our quasi-Christian culture.

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  • ortcutt

    “Benedict Option” seems like a misnomer because Benedictines only made this possible for a group of very closed communities within a religious tradition with no need to raise children . “Hasidic Option” seems like a better description because Hasidic Jews actually do this today, not as monastics within a religion, but as entire religion. Hasidic Jews recognize how radically orthodox Judaism differs from the prevailing culture, and they realize how radically they have to live to prevent assimilation.

    At the same time, Hasidic Judaism shows just how hard this is . Hasidic Jews live in closed communities, walking distance from the shul, with separate schools, strong strictures against intermarriage, and strict controls on what people read and watch. Even so, it requires constant vigilance and social policing to maintain such a thing. (Consider the huge rallies held in Citi Field about the dangers of the internet.) Is it realistic to think that Evangelicals will be willing or able to adopt the restrictions necessary to live according to the Hasidic Option?

  • kierkegaard71

    Here’s an idea: Have the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (and similar Christian outfits) close its Washington, DC, office. Russell Moore can still address issues, just not from DC. This would be a grand shift from the thinking that we (Christians) must be there (DC) to have influence with Leviathan.

  • georgeyancey

    I think there is a lot to offer in the Benedict option. It does have the image of Christians retreating to a monastery, which is not a direction to take. However the recognition that we are countercultural and that the culture belong to the secularist and those who hate us would be healthier than pretending that if we just elect the right person as our next president then all will be fine. While we will take it on the chin for being countercultural, we also have the opening to be true critics of this culture and to display an attractive community to those who tire of the anomic individualism that is pushed on everyone. I do think we have to stay somewhat involved in politics so that we can protect ourselves but should not expect to soon change this culture. For that reason I believe I can be persuaded to support some version of a benedict option.

  • Don Bryant

    I think that the Benedict Option breaks our social contract that as citizens who benefit from the contract must, reasonably and morally, uphold. By virtue of being Christians we are not released from the demands that nature itself reveals as true. For democracy to be what it actually is the citizenry must participate and seek human flourishing through debate. To withhold this from a democracy is to cut off its lifeblood. The reality is that Christians are not taught this is honorable and necessary. They (we) see the choice as religious demands on the culture or withdrawal and making religious demands only upon the church. This is a false choice. We must enter the great debates of our culture on a level playing field where the light of nature and reason set the boundaries. The vitality and attractiveness of Christian communities is always there to be seen and observed by the watching world. This is a power. And yet it does not exhaust what we are and what we are to do in a democratic form of government. We do not live in a tyranny that seeks only submission. In such a case the Benedict Option is an option, I would think. But not in a democracy.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “Although secular elites still often mimic the nuclear family model of a
    married mother and father, the culture they steward mocks the
    normativity of that traditional unit. Increasingly, we see broken
    families – divorced or never-married parents, fathers absent from their
    children, and mothers put in hopeless situations as sole breadwinners
    and sole parents”

    Actually, “secular elites” have far stronger marriage rates and intact families than your typical Bible belt household in deep red territory.

  • Allison

    Mr. Bryant,

    What if we are not a democracy, but a republic? Perhaps the false choice we ought to caution ourselves against is the idea that seeking and living according God’s truth and wisdom removes the opportunities to reach out to the lost in ways that don’t undermine what is good and perpetuate what is not.

  • MJ1966

    Yes, but it is a tragedy of the age that they do not preach what they practice. Family, education, marriage remain key building blocks of financial and personal success. Finishing school, getting married before kids and staying in household with your kids huge predictor of success regardless of income or race etc. Elites do these things but refuse to endorse them or the policies and beliefs that make them more likely. Also an echo of past belief and practices that may well die over another generation for most elites, just as it has for other social groups (e.g. white rates of illegitimacy now higher than those of blacks that alarmed Moynihan in 1965 in his report on black families).

  • Allison


    Thanks so much for writing your thoughts on this. It’s so true that “Christian homes, schools, and churches have always been counter-cultural outposts.” God’s people were told to rely upon Him and His provision in the Old Testament as well (i.e.: 2 Kings 18:21). Throughout the ages, His character remains the same.

    Unfortunately, ours does too. We still think we know better than Him and can do things our own way and get the same result.

    It’s more obvious today than in recent history that this is wrong. But most of us have been so far removed from living wisely that we have a difficult time even imagining what life would be like if this changed. Suddenly it feels like we’re thrown in no man’s land, sacrificing what we know and love, and we don’t like it.

    That’s what always happens before we repent.

    Afterwards, we love what He loves and hate what He hates. We trust that our Maker knows us and meets our every need. And, we value Wisdom enough to invest (Prov. 23:23) and yield to the one who informs the world in which we live (1 Cor. 1:30).

    The solution and His original design are one and the same. This is why I believe that while the “The Benedict Option” is good, the “The Biblical Option” is best. It puts the focus back onto the One to Whom it belongs: God.

    Thanks again for your thoughts, Thomas. As always, they’re tremendously helpful.

    Psalm 90:17,

  • Jason Lantzer

    I am wondering if the Benedict Option as is being discussed here is merely a new name for what some have argued some evangelicals and fundamentalists did during the 1920s and 1930s, as the debates over evolution, higher criticism etc led to a modernist take over of the denominational hierarchies of Protestant denominations.

  • Robin Warchol

    I think the “Benedict Option” is a misunderstand concept. St. Benedict and the western monastic movement which he his the founder of was more of a take off of the earlier monastic movement founded in Egypt under St. Anthony. It wasn’t so much of a retreat from society because it was so bad and corrupt but an answer to a call that some feel for their lives to live in communities as celibates dedicated to prayer and work. While the Roman empire desolved into chaos, it was monasteries that offered beacons of stability in education and work. Since evangelicalism does not have the ideas of celibate monastic living and calls, this sort of “retreat” really won’t work as you have observed for family life. Now your idea that Christians should adopt an Orthodox Jewish Hasidim life type style had been done with groups like the Amish, Hutterites and the Quiverfull movement. Again we can see that isolated type communities within Christianity likewise have issues. All one has to do is look at the number of pathos authors that have come out of the quiver full movement and attest to the problems they have had in faith and living. The Amish are more of an oddity of society, they certainly don’t influence it. The other issues of Christian families trying to adopt a set of rules to live by is that the set of rule morphs into legalism and the rules to live by which include dress, food, roles etc can’t be supported by scripture. The rules of the group overtake the ambiguity of scripture and then supersede it. Are groups like the Amish known for the Bible or known for their rules of life which is basically a cut off of all things modern from the 1800’s? Yes, you are correct, monastic life is not for families, but religious groups that are mentioned above are not the answer either.

  • stefanstackhouse

    Our Lord’s Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom is ours, so we are not to be of this world, either. The kingdoms of the world will be made the Kingdom of our Lord (or perhaps more accurately, they will be smashed and supplanted). However, the post-millennial vision of our remaking the kingdoms of the world into the Kingdom of our Lord by our own effort has to be judged to have been an abject failure, with only a few die-hards still believing in it. It will happen, but it will be mainly the Lord’s doing by His own hand, in His own way and in His own time. It is time to abandon any remaining notion that we can remake our nation into what we think it should be.

    On the other hand, while we are not of the world, we are nonetheless IN the world. God has put us here for a purpose – to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth, to preach the gospel and make disciples of every nation, to be salt and light. We need to be about the tasks that have been set before us, rather than looking for others of our own devising to undertake. We need to persevere in the work we have been given to do, and stop worrying about the outcome. We already know what the ultimate outcome will be – it is certain and not at all in doubt. Let the whole world turn its back on God in utter unfaithfulness; we should persevere in faithfulness, no matter what.

  • stefanstackhouse

    The monastic movement wasn’t so much a retreat from society as it was a retreat from the church. As the church fell completely under the Constantinian captivity, it increasingly not only let more and more “goats” into the sheep herd, it came to be run mostly by and for the goats. The monastic movement was an effort to retreat from that and to try and preserve or restore something of the ethos of the church during the early days.

  • LexCro

    The Benedict Option (or the “Hasidic Option”, as one commenter calls the non-monastic version of this) should be one tool in the American church’s toolkit. That said, we can and should allow for pluralism in the way that the church engages culture. Why? Because the people of God–from the Old Testament to the New Testament–have never had just one way of responding to culture, even when the culture was demonstrably pagan. Just compare the radical immersion of Joseph and Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with the fight-the-power stance of Moses and John the Baptist. And the Scriptures give us other examples of uncompromising, godly people engaging the cultures they find themselves in.

    We find this diversity of responses to culture because cultures change their posture towards God over time. The Babylon of Daniel’s time starts off radically hostile to Yahweh and then shifts to full-blown Yahweh worship (due to Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion) only to have the Medo-Persians become hardened to Yahweh again. And there are other steps in between those two poles. Because a given culture’s (not to mention its sub-cultures!) openness to God changes, it makes sense that the people of God can allow for varying responses while remaining faithful to our Lord in belief and practice.

    Here’s an entry from a sadly now-defunct blog from Dan Bouchelle. The title is “Why Christians Should Not All Respond to Government Alike.” This article has deeply informed where I’m coming from. Enjoy!

  • Robin Warchol

    your ideas are not support by actual historical facts. Constantine moved from Rome to modern Istambul. Basic orthodox Christian doctrine such as trinity, Nicene creed, nature of Christ, cannon of scripture were all things defined and approved afterwards. Your view of history do not support the facts. If according to your thinking here, all these basic orthodox Christian definitions would be corruptions. You can’t have it both ways. Likewise, St. Anthony of Egypt went out into the desert in 271 AD, that was before Constantine and is attributed to starting the monastic movement in eastern and western Christianity.

  • Thomas Kidd

    Well said, Don – I don’t think our concepts of Christian political engagement differ very much. My concern is that some Christians (not you) have tended to imply that political engagement is a primary strategy for advancing the Kingdom.

  • Thomas Kidd
  • georgeyancey

    In addition to this analysis one always has to be careful making individuals attributions with state-level or even county level data. When you look at individual level data the argument that Christians, especially those who attend church weekly, act like non-Christians quickly falls apart.

  • Andrew Dowling

    They skewed the data by pretending education and income aren’t affected by “red state” policies. Other problems:

    i) Their criteria is too narrow. Marriage rates in and of themselves don’t really say much.
    ii) Lumping geographically and culturally disparate areas into “red and blue” is sloppy methodology. Mississippii and Nebraska may both be “red” states but we are talking about two very distinct sub-populations of people. Not to mention that the preponderance of low population, mostly rural Western red states (many of which are more purple state-wide than deep red like the southeast now is) will also skew the figures.

  • georgeyancey

    That is exactly the problem with your original assertion about blue states. If you want individual level outcomes you should not use state level data. If you have individual that properly operationalizes Christians with high religiosity indicating family dissolution then I would be interested to see it.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Re-read my comment; it wasn’t about red and blue states. It was about how “secular elites” (understood as upper middle to upper class east and west coasters and the term used by Mr. Kidd) have more intact families and lower divorce rates than middle class folk in the geographic area that spreads from Oklahoma over to the Carolinas known as “the Bible belt;” which is a factual assertion.

  • Dr_Doctorstein

    If Mr. Kidd reads his own statement carefully enough — “Although secular elites still often mimic the nuclear family model of a married mother and father, the culture they steward mocks the normativity of that traditional unit” — I think even he might see that it’s really just a chauvinistic insult. He’s really just saying that, no matter how good secular families might seem, they are nonetheless bad families, for no other reason than not being Christian.

  • georgeyancey

    If you are making the argument that the secular elites have more intact families than religious individual then that is an argument on individual characteristics. Every study I have seen that looks at highly religious Christians (Usually measured by church attendance) with individual level data shows that Christian religiosity is correlated with marital stability. If you know of a study that says otherwise I would like to know about it.

  • Dr_Doctorstein

    Yes, well said — especially, I think, this: “it does not exhaust what we are and what we are to do in a democratic form of government.” In a democratic republic such as ours, is it too much to say that, while Christians have religious obligations by virtue of being Christians, they also have secular obligations by virtue of being citizens? Political engagement is called for even if it does nothing at all to “advance the Kingdom.” Those who have benefited from democracy are obligated to maintain and strengthen that democracy, even if doing so entails some uncomfortable choices in the short run.

  • Justin Vest

    If you read your own statement carefully enough, you will see that what you have done is come to an evangelical blog and discovered that it is written by an evangelical who, gasp! thinks that his worldview may be the correct one, and even helpful in ways to those who adhere to it.

  • Dr_Doctorstein

    Well, sure, it’s an evangelical blog. But not all evangelicals, even those who think their worldview is *the* correct one, think that secular families are inferior families merely by virtue of being secular.

  • Justin Vest

    I think that was a major stretch in the first place. How is it an insult (a chauvinistic insult!) to point out that rich and influential tend to have traditional family units while, as he rightly says, the cultural progressives they identify with “mock the normativity of that unit”? I see no insult there.

  • Dr_Doctorstein

    Maybe what set me off was the notion that the “secular elites” merely “MIMIC the nuclear family model of a married mother and father.”

    Mimic? Really?

    Are secular families not real families, but imitation-families? Did Mr. Kidd mean that secular families are “families,” in scare quotes, the way imitation leather is “leather”? Are secular mothers not real mothers, or secular fathers not real fathers? Are their marriages not real marriages?

    What possible rationale is there for using the word “mimic” in this context, other than to deprecate the authenticity or genuineness of secular families?

    Really, though, I’m ready to dismiss it all as simply some inartful writing.

  • Justin Vest

    Yeah, I guess you could say “mimic” was inartful. You either have a certain family structure, or you do not.

  • Alex Strohschein

    I’ve been thinking the same thing! I haven’t seen much ink spilled on the parallels between the two.

    Also, have we lost faith in the “Christ transforming culture” paradigm? It seems to me a lot of Reformed thinkers especially have advocated for it but the Benedict Option seems more and more in line with Christ against culture.

  • Actually divorces are most common among evangelicals. This myth that non-religious people have more broken families is just that, a myth, and you can check it with statistics. The real “broken family” problem is in black inner cities, and that has been known since the 60s. And guess who was the biggest force pushing back against that… Clue: not a politician that evangelicals are allowed to like.

    Well, I see a very similar comment below, perhaps even better expressed. But I had exactly the same reaction, independently, FWIW.

  • Jennifer P

    Reduce the Benedict option to a simple form: 1) Make Christ the Lord of your own life and follow him. 2) Lead those around you to follow Christ (your spouse and your children). 3) Help sustain and build your local church. 4) Live in the word but do not be of the world.

  • Susan Roso

    As it states in the Bible marriage is between a man and a woman, and no other option is out there according to Christ!

  • Joshua Jeffery

    Christians should indeed embrace the “Benedict option,” and not just because we are currently losing the culture wars. There is all this talk of Christians being “counter-cultural,” but in reality, the only way that evangelicals are counter-cultural has to do with sex. The way Christians use and earn money, for example, is anything but counter-cultural. Rapid Christian support of conservative free-market capitalism is not only not counter-cultural, it is not Christ-like. Likewise, Christian support of the military-industrial complex and the many wars and international interventions that the United States has been involved with (mostly to protect American business and economic interests) is also not Christ-like. Embracing the “Benedict option” should include not only counter-cultural sexuality, but counter-cultural money handling and counter-cultural uses of power. We have plenty of examples of how this can and should be done in our history, from early to late. Jacques Ellul provided a guide on how this should be done, as did David Lipscomb of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    All in all, the church must start being the church, and stop trying to run the empire. As the bible tells us, all nations will pass away. Christians in America have spent far too long trying to prop up yet another immoral empire, exercising power and coercion over those who don’t share our values. Let us be the City on the Hill that people are attracted to join because of how we live differently, instead of attempting to force others to do it the way we think is right. We will find that we have smaller Christian communities, but stronger ones….

  • candide

    This Dreher fellow, a self appointed saviour of traditional religion, has gone from Protestantism to Catholicism to eastern Orthodoxy searching I think for some institutional form of Christianity that will take him seriously. He takes himself very seriously indeed. I find him, myself, to be a pompous bore.

  • Paul D.

    How exactly does Christianity “radically differ” from mainstream society? It is difficult to come up with a moral or ethical category in which Christians do better than society at large, and many in which they do worse. Divorce, teenage pregnancy, crime, support for war, support for torture, you name the statistic…

  • Paul D.

    Here in atheist Japan, only 2.8% of children are raised in single-parent households. In the US, a majority Christian country, that stat is around 50%. Among the African-American community, which is over 80% Christian, about 75% of children are raised in single-parent households.

  • CB Forbess

    In my own family, which is evangelical(Baptist)/fundamentalist(Church of Christ) mix, there is about a 10 percent known rate of homosexual descendents. Even though we are (I’m gay) included in family gatherings, there is still an element of polite “shunning.” Since the Benedictine ideal includes retreating from gay activists, how does this work when it’s the families themselves which produce us?

  • nursecathy123cat

    And that leads me to the question I’ve been pondering since reading the first article on the Benedict option. What would it look like? Like that area in NYC were Orthodox Jews live–no boundaries but you know they are there? Like an Amish community with more technology? Gated communities with church-run schools? I don’t think we are supposed to withdraw from the world to the point we live in ‘compounds.’

  • McJakome

    This was a very interesting idea. I would call it the “Amish Option,” though. The liberal society does not, and has not, gone after the Amish [and a few similar groups] because they differ from TEA Party Evangelicals in a very important way, they do not engage in aggression against society, nor do they try to force their ways on others, nor do they try to insert their beliefs and practices into the law in order to force compliance by others.

    If you are worried about others attacking you, it might be a good idea to consider not attacking others. “Why do you worry about the speck in your neighbor’s eye, when there is a log in your own?” If you gave up the Roman and Old Testament ways and acted as Jesus taught, you might just be surprised at how the hostility of others toward you would dissipate.

  • McJakome

    Have you actually read what Jesus said? That is not what I find when I do.

  • Robin Warchol

    liberal society hasn’t “gone” after groups like the Amish because they are a non entity, of little impact and isolated. Is that the real idea here? The Amish are not so known for their “faith” as much as known for their 19th century way of life which most people smile at, say “that’s real nice” and move on while buying their products and food. It has nothing to do with their pacifism at all. The so called “benedict option” is a misunderstanding of what monastic life and calling is about. Yes, monestaries ended up being beacons of work and education as the Roman empire dissolved away but the idea that if we only isolated ourselves in our own little corner and as the culture crumbles, people will come to us is fantasy and pie in the sky thinking. There is a difference between a crumbling empire structure and a culture that has turned immoral with Christians active in it. If non-Christians are not coming to faith now in a society that is mostly intake, what makes you think that people are going to come if it crumbles and we all go with it together?

  • Donny

    Here’s a thought: go read the book of Daniel. Or study Shadrack, Meeshack & Abednego… 😉

  • Donny

    I think his confusion was the shift they sought from previously being considered (& seeking!) martyrdom (“red-martyrs”) to now seeking martyrdom throthrough ascetic practices (“white martyrs”).
    That, historically, was the primaryy shift at first…

  • Donny

    You do realize this *is a Christian post & author – which means, Jesus is Lord or you’re in sin.
    Sounds extremely harsh, but if you’re not a Christian, we don’t expect you to understand…
    It is offensive! #Grace#Grace!

  • Donny

    No its not “inartful”. Marriage is a sacrament of the Lord with Christ as head of the marriage bed. Remember Ephesians 4: “but I am referring to Christ & the Church.”
    The Gospel is offensive at every turnturn. Secularism can only MIMIC a Sacrament of God!
    Don’t drink the kool-aid!

  • Donny

    “Game recognizes game” huhhuh, candide…
    If you wanna critique, make sure don’t recapitulate the very character you’re attacking. It’s self-refuting.

    ps: just listen to all the Donald Trump bashers. Are they any better…? Character? Sad!!

  • kierkegaard71

    Daniel worked for the welfare of the society in which God placed him- he did not have a choice in the matter of where he lived. The underlying notion behind my comment was that we, as a people, have gotten far away from the original notion of the role the federal government should play in our lives. When we protest abortion, we go to the Supreme Court. The result? They don’t listen to us, and it only makes these centralizing institutions more inflated in their sense of self-importance. More advances have been made on the pro-life issue at the state level, than at the federal level. Let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion that being present in DC makes a whole lot of difference to the elites who are there.

  • Donny

    So God has not “placed us in this society” and yet, we *do have a choice. This may be nit picking, but, to me, it’s grossly naive (or just confusing).
    I for one, belive in our liberal democracy – wherever it comes fromfrom. We need Christian witnesses wherever God calls us, & places us. And we, like Daniel, have a choice!

  • georgeyancey

    That is a great question. I would like to see a lot more discussion from Christian intellectuals about what such a community would look like. Issues such as how much do we withdraw and how much we engage society, what institutions in a Christian community do we need to keep Christian and how do we foster close relationship in the Christian community should be tangled. So I am following conversation on this, adding to the conversation when I have something to say, and hopefully real answers will emerge out of an ongoing conversation.

  • buddyglass23

    In my experience, concern over “screen time” and lack of outside play is not unique to Christians.

  • Laura

    Jennifer (replying to a 9-day-old comment here) you have it in a nutshell.

    I don’t think the Bible leads us to pick cultural practices we don’t like and have meltdowns over them. I don’t think it leads us to think we can bring about heaven here on earth. What you’re describing is what we’ve always known we had to do, if we were not kidding ourselves. To live in a culture that gives lip-service to Christianity, but still is comprised of people with hard hearts (think about the civil rights struggle for instance, and why it had to be a struggle) really isn’t better.

  • Silverdire

    Your comment Laura makes me think of our condition as in the metaphor of the feet of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Even though we would take on the “Benedict option” we would end up with the same result, trying to separate the iron from the clay which is in retrospect, evidently going backwards. That is not the Jesus’ way. He was right in the midst of it in society, liaising with the secular and religious world. The difference by His attitude and mode of actions was that He influenced both sides revealing and indirectly convicting them of their errors. The influence begins in the heart not from a pretence of good living even though be from good intentions. Instead of trying to separate… to somewhat show a kind of “hypocritical righteousness”, it is preferable to humbly acknowledge our condition and by the Grace and Power of our Saviour in the Holy Spirit, overcome the flesh and produce forth the fruits corresponding, influencing behaviours and attitude to society. That is the true way of Christianity, rather than exhausting in thinking of hypocritical schemes of minor spiritual therefore social effectiveness. This is a high calling but is the Christ Himself only acceptable heavenly way for today.