Christians used to do some pretty crazy stuff. But in the past few years I’ve noticed the tables turning — secularists are now doing the nutty things religious zealots used to do.
Christians used to shame people over seemingly trivial behaviors. We condemned dancing, movies, card playing, and even board games with dice. I know believers who went so far as to shun products such as Red Devil painting supplies because of the name and logo. Christians condemned these things not because they were sinful in-and-of themselves, but because they were small steps toward a global moral catastrophe.
Today, it’s secularists who shame people over their trivial behaviors. You chose plastic over paper? You’re eating non-organic? What do you mean you drive an SUV? Secularists condemn these behaviors not because they are harmful in-and-of themselves, but because they are seen as small steps toward a global ecological catastrophe.
Christians were once fond of predicting the end of the world – with absolute certainty. Wikipedia has an extensive list of some of history’s most famous apocalyptic predictions. Each time, Jesus has failed to return as scheduled (Just as he said in Mark 13:32). Fortunately, in recent years, Christianity’s obsession with the end times has been on the decline.
Today, it’s secularists who predict the end of the world with absolute certainty. If we don’t turn from our environmental sins, global warming will consume the earth in a fiery apocalypse. Just as the priests of old laid out their scrolls, today’s prophets of doom point to their computer models and tell us with absolute certainty that our planet is toast unless we turn aside from our pleasures (i.e. driving, affordable electricity, economical foods) and live an austere life of sacrifice.
Going way back in time, our religious forebears believed they were made holy by what they ate. A kosher diet was synonymous with righteousness. Food had to be approved and “blessed” by an authority figure (such as a rabbi).
Today, we are returning to this ancient notion. Organic, non-GMO, locally sourced and sustainably produced foods are seen as morally superior to the cheap stuff regular people eat. I recently visited the modern temple of holy eating – Whole Foods. I saw aisle after aisle of “blessed” comestibles, with their superior pedigrees proudly displayed on each label. What started as a desire to eat more healthfully is morphing into a new religion – a way of feeling better about oneself (and morally superior to others).
Christians used to be obsessed with controlling people’s sex lives. But now secularists are getting in the act. The California Assembly recently passed a bill regulating sex on campus. The so-called “Yes-means-yes” law criminalizes many common forms of sexual activity among young adults. The bill passed with strong support from feminists and liberal Democrats.
Christians used to try control not only peoples’ actions, but also their private thoughts. Entertaining certain thoughts and attitudes made you a bad person – even if you did not act on those thoughts.
Today, it’s secularists who do this. Donald Sterling lost control of his NBA franchise and was barred from basketball for thinking racist thoughts (and letting them slip to a confidante). Sterling has never done anything to harm a person of another race, nor has he stated racist attitudes publicly. But by virtue of his private thoughts, the NBA excommunicated Sterling.
(Interestingly, no one has condemned Sterling for his adultery. These days it’s not what you do; it’s what you think that gets you in trouble.)
Finally, Christians of the 1970s were famous for protesting, censoring and boycotting things we disagreed with. I can remember boycotts of Disney, Safeway and Marriott (for being Mormon-owned!). And who can forget the infamous record burnings of the ‘70s, where many a Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath LP met its demise?
Today’s censors are the secularists – particularly on campus. Colleges around the nation have seen their commencement speakers withdraw in the face of student protests. Students at Oxford University shut down a debate on abortion because it featured two men, one of whom thought the procedure was wrong. Bowodin College in Maine is locking out its tiny Christian Fellowship for refusing to accept non-Christians as leaders. And here’s a Web site listing of hundreds of products and governments you should be boycotting for their environmental and political sins.
Today’s Christians seem pretty mild by comparison. Sure, we think abhorrent things like “sex belongs in marriage” and “not everyone goes to heaven.” But when it comes to actually restricting people’s freedoms, it’s the secularists who take to the barricades.
So here’s a little advice for secularists – all this boycotting, censoring and controlling people will not make you holy. It makes you a religionist. You’re trying to achieve righteousness by your own good works – and pressuring others to follow your credo. Sorry to say this – but you are shoving your beliefs down other people’s throats.
Men don’t like being bullied. As the culture becomes less open-minded, the church seems downright reasonable by comparison. This gives Christians an opportunity to reach more men. Here’s some advice:
- Church should be a safe place for men to discuss anything – ANYTHING – without being shut down.
- Preaching is great – but what men really need is more opportunities for dialogue in church.
- Men will accept correction and guidance if they feel they’ve been heard.
- If your church participates in boycotts – please stop. It doesn’t work. Instead, focus on serving. It’s the old saying: we want to be known for what we’re for rather than what we’re against.
Secularists are closing their minds and restricting people’s freedoms. By default, Christians are becoming the open minded ones – by loving those who don’t abide by our principles.
David Murrow is the author of the bestselling book, Why Men Hate Going to Church. David’s books have sold more than 175,000 copies in 12 languages. He speaks to groups around the world about Christianity’s persistent gender gap. He lives in Alaska with his wife of 30 years, professional silk artist Gina Murrow. Learn more about David at his Web site, www.churchformen.com, or join the conversation on his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/churchformen. Don’t forget to share this page by clicking on the links below, or scroll down and leave a comment (right below those annoying ads that pay for this blog).