I know I’m going to get into trouble for writing this article. That’s OK. It needs to be said. While there are numerous contributing factors as to why we are at this point in time with the Supreme Court about to redefine the very nature of the family and what it might mean long-term for our nation, there are two specific items that I want to address in this article.
First, millions of Christians have avoided the “culture wars” for any number of reasons, everything from “just preach the gospel” and “there’s a separation between church and state” to “we’re supposed to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and “the Bible says ‘our citizenship is in heaven.'”
While evangelicals make up more than 30 percent of the population and homosexuals make up less than 3 percent, the 3 percent is leading in terms of culture, media, education, journalism, and law.
“Christians who have so far avoided controversial ‘culture war’ issues will likely be pulled into those battles as their religious freedom becomes threatened due to gay marriage, Dr. John Inazu, associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, warns. “Theologically conservative Christian non-profit organizations, including churches, could face losing their tax exempt status or being shut down, and Christian doctors, lawyers, counselors and other professionals could be forced out of their professions, he explained.”
There’s been a long history of Christian non-involvement. In a sermon delivered in 1965, entitled “Ministers and Marchers,” Jerry Falwell argued:
“[A]s far as the relationship of the church to the world, [it] can be expressed as simply as the three words which Paul gave to Timothy – ‘Preach the Word.’ This message is designed to go right to the heart of man and there meet his deep spiritual need. Nowhere are we commissioned to reform externals. We are not told to wage war against bootleggers, liquor stores, gamblers, murderers, prostitutes, racketeers, prejudiced persons or institutions or any other existing evil as such. Our ministry is not reformation, but transformation. The gospel does not clean up the outside but rather regenerates the inside.
“While we are told to ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,’ in the true interpretation we have very few ties on this earth. We pay our taxes, cast our votes as a responsibility of citizenship, obey the laws of the land, and other things demanded of us by the society in which we live. But at the same time, we are cognizant that our only purpose on this earth is to know Christ and to make him known. Believing the Bible as I do, I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and begin doing anything else ‑‑ including fighting Communism, or participating in civil‑rights reforms.”1
Fifteen years later, Dr. Falwell repudiated his 1965 remarks calling them “false prophecy.” In Listen, America!, he outlined a new agenda:
“I am speaking to rally together the people of this country who still believe in decency, the home, the family, morality, the free enterprise system, and all the great ideals that are the cornerstone of this nation. Against the growing tide of permissiveness and moral decay that is crushing our society, we must make a sacred commitment to God Almighty to turn this nation around immediately.”2
Not everybody agreed. There are still millions of Christians who are being taught that they should not have anything to do with this world. For them, religion and politics do not mix. “Jesus didn’t get involved in politics,” so the argument goes, “and neither should we.”
In addition to separating the Christian religion from politics, economics, education, and law, while the culture disintegrates around them, Christians are being bombarded with claims that Jesus is going to return and rescue them from a “great tribulation” in a pre-tribulational “rapture.” This end-time doctrine has been the mainstay of much of modern-day evangelicalism for quite some time.
“I believe Jesus is soon to return to take all of His followers to Heaven with Him in what is referred to as The Rapture. While this will be deliverance for His people, can you imagine the impact on our nation, let alone the world, when suddenly every single authentic Christian disappears?
“Institutions will collapse. Banks will close. The Stock Market will plunge. Planes will fall out of the sky. Cars will crash on the road. Government in America at every level will disintegrate. Families will be torn apart. In the unprecedented turmoil, our nation will be vulnerable for our enemies to seize the moment and attack us. There will be mass chaos, confusion, fear, grief, despair, anger, threats, danger… judgment.”
Franklin Graham, Anne Graham Lotz‘s brother, has been teaching a similar message.
Why bother trying to fix what inevitably is unfixable? Why rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic is an analogy that many prophecy writers use.
I am firmly convinced that end-time speculation about an always-near “rapture” has affected the way churches have NOT dealt with the present crises we are facing.
Millions of Christians have been persuaded by thousands of preachers and teachers that they would “soon” be taken to heaven in a “rapture” while the those “left behind” would suffer under the iron boot of the antichrist in a “great tribulation.”
Prophetic speculation and the promise that the end is near has a long and failed history going back centuries. In fact, there is ample evidence that every generation had someone who argued based on then current events that the end had to be near.