Christian Values and Civil Law: Where Do We Draw the Line?
I need to address “the elephant” in the Christian world.
Seeing the state of Christians, in North America, as they suffer and succumb to the compromising offerings of this world, I’ve decided to weigh in on America’s changing social values and there challenge to our faith. We are drifting from sanctity and sanity to full appeasement with the decadence of our culture and it’s pulling Christians into its vortex. We are awash in a twisted set of values, those of the new millennium and the new world order which is rising around us. It isn’t new, but it seems more intense.
I am a child of the 50’s then 60’s. The 50’s were the perfect environment for moral cohesion from society. Those were the “leave it to beaver” years, the “father knows best years”. Most all of North American society agreed with a very staid set of conservative values, if not a downright biblical moral code – at least in public, at least in front of the kids.
It was really different then, than today. People didn’t swear as much, men had short hair. Women dressed, everyday, like they were going to church. Most people even acted like they’d just gotten out of church – at least in public.
The 60’s brought great change. Resistance to authority, rebellion, revolution was afoot. We “Leave it to Beaver” kids were teenagers now and we didn’t like our parent’s values. We weren’t sure why, they just seemed boring.
We would become the “rock and roll” generation, the “make love not war” – “flower children” with long hair, lots of hair and tie-dyed cloths – and head bands! We didn’t like government, the staid rules of adults, or the Vietnam War. We became the antiestablishment, antiwar movement of the 60’s/70’s. It was a time of unbridled drug experimentation, commitment-less “love making” and general rebellion. It was cool to be ‘kinky”. We enjoyed driving our parent’s nuts, with our non-conformist ways. We were off to Woodstock, so to speak.
Nonetheless, it was still a time of “The Rule of Law”. Therefore if I chose to sit out a war, I would have gone to jail; just as Mohammed Ali, did. If I had chosen to smoke marijuana or take LSD, that too would have landed me in trouble with the law. But today the law has changed. We have codified a new set of permitted behaviors.
In those days a pregnant teen was a hushed event. Abortion was still illegal. Then in 1973 that all changed when abortion was legalized, nationally, in the land mark decision of the Supreme Court. When I moved to Texas in 1980 I was astonished to find we had “blue laws”; no alcohol could be purchased on Sunday, at least not until church let out! Being from the “free” state of California, I thought that odd, socially, but it was the law. But, that law was repealed by Texas Governor Mark White, in 1985. Interestingly, we also had sodomy laws, back then, too. And here again, a change in law, by decision of the supreme court, in the case of Lawrence vs Texas, in 2003 made that issue legally acceptable.
So much has changed, since my birth. Most all of those laws have been changed to more tolerant ones. The problem is, as I see it, the Bible’s moral law hasn’t changed. And that leads to a certain conflict for some, confusion for others. What are we to do? Is there somewhere along this slippery downward slope, where we should pull away from a non-biblical trajectory?
You say, ‘It’s no big a deal, times are a changing, there’s nothing we can do’. I say yes we can, we should never settle for appeasement, compromise or apathy as our response. Times are changing but don’t we still have an obligation to live biblically even though legal statutes allow for behavior otherwise. Since we serve Jesus, who redeemed us? Shouldn’t we emulate His moral standard? If we don’t, I see danger coming to Christianity.
If I could borrow from history, may I be a Churchill now, rather than a Chamberlain? As you know, Neville Chamberlain served as Prime Minster of Great Britain (1937-40) during the ascendancy of Hitler and the growing threat of Nazi Germany. He choose, the pathway of appeasement, as his foreign policy in an attempt to satisfy German ambition for Hegemony.
His political counterpart, Winston Churchill, choose a different response, he aggressively warned the Brits of the coming “war”, the collision of values between a free Europe and a tyrannical, maniacal, despot in Germany.
Neville Chamberlin is recognized as the man who coined the phrase, “Appeasement Policy”. He decided to give Hitler what he wanted, the German speaking portion of Czechoslovakia (the Munich Agreement, September 1939). Churchill, on the other hand urged the Brits to prepare to stand against Hitler’s aggression, prepare for war and advocated rearmament. Interestingly, Chamberlains appeasement policies were well received back home, while Churchill was mostly ignored.
Then, one year later, in September 1939, Hitler’s army of the Third Reich invaded Poland, defeated it and annexed it into the German Reich. Britain was now officially at war, with Germany, as the result of a pact, signed by Chamberlain to protect Poland. In the final analysis, Chamberlain’s choice was wrong, appeasement didn’t prevent the destructions of war, it increased it. And Churchill was right, just a bit late convincing others.
What does this have to do with me or you? Of late, I sit and listen to believers who are conflicted with our social laws and their spiritual beliefs. They are conflicted by the life style, or new identity choices of their children. They are torn over politics and who to vote for, or the news media and what to believe. They are concerned about their futures, their retirement, their grandchild and what education will look like for them and whether they will receive a comprehensive education or forced to swallow some biased form of propaganda. The people I am hearing from have lost trust in their leaders. What are they to do?
I have good news. We are to do the same things believers have always done, just as Daniel did. We are to trust God to save us and guide us, to give us courage while we serve him with integrity. 18 Then this one with human appearance (The angel Gabriel) touched me (Daniel) again and strengthened me. 19 He said, “O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!” Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Daniel 10:18, 19.
Daniel knew Who was in control and Who he could count on. This gave him courage. He proved this often. One notable example is when he addressed an arrogant Babylonian king; his boss (Nebuchadnezzar; leader of a society living without God’s law) with these words… “Recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” Daniel 4:25
Therefore, we need not wonder what to do. I recommend these things.
- First, pray about everything, stop worrying. This will replace bad feelings with peace. (Psalm 109:-14; Philippians 4:6,7)
- Don’t stop with prayer – get to know your God better by reading about Him and His ways, more. Walk with Him, talk with Him. (Deuteronomy 6:1-15)
- From that decide what your non-negotiables will be with beliefs and behavior – yes, even if your children want to import them into your family. (Joshua 24:14, 15)
- Develop a personal, biblical world view (what’s truly right and wrong – not what you say, they say, the government says or popular culture promotes but what God says). Then build a moral wall around it – SET BOUNDARIES! Learn to say no, “not here, not on my watch”. (Nehemiah 2:17-20)
- Develop your own faith to live by; your own “convictions”. Remember it’s your faith, your convictions, so live it and don’t self-destruct. This way you can feel right about your chosen values and lifestyle, while letting God deal with others! (Romans 14:22). This fact leads to the last three points…
- Remember, some things are truly dangerous, ultimately destructive. Decide what those are and don’t try to make them “all good” with a strategy of appeasement. At some point, stand up for something instead of laying down for everything! Grow a backbone, bolstered by God’s truth, as Daniel did… “the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel… But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.” Daniel 1:7-9
- Tell yourself what Daniel told the king, because he knew from experience and the illumination of the scripture that it was true; God is worthy of our worship, fear, faith, obedience and repentance from sin… “recognize that it is Heaven that rules. 27 Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:26, 27
- Take personal responsibility for your faith, you can’t get enough information if you rely on a Sunday sermon alone. You can’t get proper feedback if you aren’t in a discipleship relationship with other men. You can’t fight this battle alone, but you do need to take personal responsibility to prepare for the battles of faith versus culture that are here and others that are coming. Consider and apply these words from Jude, brother of Jesus… “17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Therefore men, let’s pray for each other. (James 5:16). Times are not only changing, they are ever more challenging.
Finally, let me thank you for helping us reach men, as we seek to stem the tide of cultural danger by building noble men on the Rock of Christ. Please continue to seek other men with the gospel and invite them to your Master’s Men team. Please continue to participate in your Master’s Men team. Remember, Men do better together, when in the company of other good men, than they do alone (Proverbs 27:17).
God bless you all.
Jim Cote, Founder of the Master’s Men.