Post-Christian America is nearly upon us, so what are you doing to prepare your kids to live in an overtly anti-Christian culture? I don’t mean an America where Christians are thrown into internment camps and tortured for our faith—though Jesus warned us to be prepared for persecution, so I’m certainly not ruling anything out. I’m talking about an America where Christians are a marginalized minority. Where we can’t speak the truth openly and freely and where we may have to choose between our faith and our jobs.
Raising children in this new kind of America is going to have to be different than the way most of us were raised. We grew up believing there wasn’t anything we couldn’t do. The sky was the limit, we were told! You can be anything you want to be when you grow up! But in case you haven’t noticed (and I’m sorry to break this to you if you haven’t), all that’s changed in the last few years. Oh, most of the changes have been subtle, to be sure, though some have been screaming-in-your face changes like the insistence that we all deny science and recognize an ever-growing number of genders. But to date, only a few people have lost their jobs or their businesses as a result of conflicts between their faith and the strict new American moral code, so it’s easy to feel like “it can’t happen to me” — or to my kids.
But Rod Dreher, a columnist at The American Conservative, warns in The Benedict Option (an excellent book that has been unfairly maligned) that American Christians now have targets on their backs.
The temptation to sell out the faith for the sake of self-protection is by no means an abstract threat. We may not (yet) be at the point where Christians are forbidden to buy and sell in general without state approval, but we are on the brink of entire areas of commercial and professional life being off-limits to believers whose consciences will not allow them to burn incense to the gods of our age.
While Christians may not be persecuted for their faith per se, they are already being targeted when they stand for what their faith entails, especially in matters of sexuality. As the LGBT agenda advances, broad interpretations of anitdiscrimination laws are going to push traditional Christians increasingly out of the marketplace, and the corporate world will become hostile toward Christian bigots, considering them a danger to the working environment.
A biblical view of sexuality (among other things) is increasingly viewed by the culture the same way racism is viewed. It is considered regressive, something to be shunned and exorcized from all corners of society. Dreher goes on to describe individuals in a variety of professions who say they are facing increased pressure in the workplace to declare themselves “allies” of their LGBTQ co-workers.
“It will be impossible in most places to get licenses to work without affirming sexual diversity,” Dreher writes. He cites as an example the American Bar Association’s decision in 2016 to add an “anti-harassment” rule to its Model Code of Conduct that could make the Christian view of homosexuality subject to sanctions.
Nearly a decade ago I was writing about homeschoolers who were being denied jobs in daycare centers because they didn’t have government-approved diplomas. I suggested at the time that the government could—and probably would—use certifications or licensure at some point to impose all kinds of Orwellian regulations on Americans. I imagined they could be used to coerce correct thought or elicit compliance with government-approved politically correct views or behavior. What we saw then, before the progressives really got their (likely irreversible) hooks into our culture, was just the tip of the iceberg. We’re just now beginning to fully grasp how insidious this particular type of government coercion can be.
Dreher predicts that “public school teachers, college professors, doctors, and lawyers will all face tremendous pressure to capitulate to this ideology as a condition of employment,” he explains. “So will psychologists, social workers, and all in the helping professions; and of course, florists, photographers, bakers, and all businesses that are subject to public accommodation laws.”
Are you beginning to understand the scope of the problem, Mom and Dad? So, getting back to my original question: What are you doing to prepare your children for this onslaught?
Obviously, the first step is to make sure you are teaching your faith to your children diligently, as the scripture commands. This is not a job to pawn off on the Sunday School teacher or your pastor, though they can be wonderful partners in a child’s spiritual formation. Your children’s spiritual development is on you. Find a good church that teaches the Bible without apology and take your kids there every time the doors are open (obviously, go with them).
Second, you need to seriously consider your educational choices. I’ll save that discussion for another day except to recommend Sarah Hoyt’s excellent recent articles on education here, here, and here as a primer. Understand that if your children are spending most of their productive hours being educated in politically correct government schools surrounded by children who don’t share your faith—kids who are looking at porn on their smartphones all day long—don’t be surprised if they choose to follow the crowd onto the wide path that leads to destruction.
Next — and here’s where people are going to scream at me — I said things are changing and that we’re going to have to adjust the way we are raising our kids if we want to remain faithful to our beliefs in post-Christian America. If certain professions and business opportunities are going to be closed to biblically faithful professing Christians—and all indicators point in that direction—how should we then live (as the late Francis Schaeffer would say)? Should Christian parents advise their kids to avoid going into professions that require licensing or that are likely to demand compliance with progressive values? Perhaps it’s time to consider that radical step. As crazy and counterintuitive as it seems, we are at the point where we must begin having such conversations and entertaining questions that seemed unthinkable a few years ago. Is it worth sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a medical degree only to discover upon graduation that you’re unemployable because you refuse to call a 6-year-old boy a girl? Is it worth starting up a wedding photography business when you know you’re going to be forced to photograph weddings that violate your conscience? Is it worth going for a degree in counseling only to realize (too late) that you’re not eligible for certification because you won’t vow to uphold a list of progressive diktats? Is it worth pursuing an academic career when you know you’ll almost certainly be denied tenure? We can’t afford not to consider these potential outcomes because they’re becoming increasingly likely.
In this brave new America, Christian parents who discuss career planning with their kids are not only going to have to ask “what jobs are you well suited for” and “what would you enjoy doing?” but also “can you do this job without compromising your beliefs?” Rather than pursue what could be dead-end careers, Dreher suggests considering other options such as entrepreneurship and rediscovering the trades. “Better to be a plumber with a clean conscience than a corporate lawyer with a compromised one,” he writes. He also says that Christians should be prepared to “be poorer and more marginalized.”
“A young Christian who dreams of being a lawyer or doctor might have to abandon that hope and enter a career in which she makes far less money than a lawyer or doctor would. An aspiring Christian academic might have to be happy with the smaller salary and lower prestige of teaching at a classical Christian high school. A Christian family might be forced to sell or close a business rather than submit to state dictates,” he concludes.
To be sure, this flies in the face of nearly everything we’ve been taught to believe about our rights as Americans. But even though we technically have the right to exercise our religion freely, the new social contract dictates that biblical Christianity cannot be practiced unless it’s diluted and toned down so as not to offend the non-believing culture. This is the world—the America—we live in now. There aren’t enough allies in government (on either side) who care enough about our religious liberty to protect us from the God-deniers who want to squash our kids like bugs. Which means we’d better get busy preparing them for what lies ahead.
American Christians have been blessed to live in relative peace and freedom for nearly all of America’s 240 years, but we’ve been something of an anomaly in Christendom. Even though it’s likely the truce with the culture is about to end, we can still look forward to the future with confidence because nothing that happens is beyond the reach of God’s sovereignty. If trials and persecution come to American Christians, He’s promised to give us the strength to endure.