How Should Christians Respond to Cultural Decline?

from Jul 11, 2015 Category: Articles

In the great battle that is the culture war Christians are in rapid and chaotic retreat. On issues of sexuality we are deemed backward, hateful, and hypocritical. To speak in defense of marriage is, in the minds of the world, on par at best with denying the holocaust, at worst to perpetrating it. We have not just lost our place at the table, but in the building. We are on the outside looking in.

First, accept it. I’m not suggesting surrender mind you. I am, however, suggesting that denying the obvious helps no one. Sure Fox wallops MSNBC. Of course abortion mills are shutting down. But the cultural ethos is still hostile to us, and it’s only going to get worse. I fear that too often our fear is losing privilege, that we fight our rearguard action to protect wood, hay, and stubble. The reputations we too often seek to defend are our own, rather than our Lord’s.

Second, embrace it. The church historically has made its greatest gains when it was under the most pressure. Heat removes dross and we have far more dross than we ought in the body. To be purified, to be chastened by our Lord, is the very mark of what it means to be a child of God. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 1 that it is God’s holy habit to use the weak and the despised to show forth His strength. Pounding our chests, building our strategic alliances simply encourages the One True Power to abandon us to our own devices. When we are weak, He is strong.

Third, give thanks for it. We are, of course, called to battle, to tear down strongholds, and every lofty thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. But even our losses are victories. So He tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, reminding us that we are blessed when we are persecuted for His name’s sake. His blessing is the victory. What a privilege to share in His shame. It’s how we come to share in His exaltation.

Fourth, pray for our enemies. For for them, every victory is a loss. The deeper the culture falls into sin the more misery it faces. Bruce Jenner, when he receives the Arthur Ashe award for courage from ESPN will be deeper in despair than he was when he first saw lying surgery as the solution to his ills. Those who have been given over to their own dark desires may march in the streets to demonstrate their pride, when the truth is they are consumed by shame. Pity, rather than hatred, ought to be what motivates our prophetic call to repentance.

Finally, pray for each other. The deepest danger of cultural decline isn’t the self-destruction of goats who love death but the temptations that come to the sheep. Our children are being raised in a world without the blessing of social taboo, in a culture that has lost the ability to blush. And we face the temptation to walk the wide path of destruction, protecting our standing by betraying Him. Jesus prayed for Peter. Let us pray for one another.

Jesus is on His throne, bringing His purposes to pass. And we are seated with Him in the heavenly places. We are kings and queens dressed in beggars’ clothes. May we have the eyes of faith to see it.

R.C. Sproul Jr. is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. Originally published at RCSproulJr.com.