Imagine what it might be like for someone who lived in the 1800s to be transported to our present. How would such a person begin to process the world as it exists today? Electricity, automobiles, powered flight, the Internet — any one of these wonders would blow his mind.
Of course, you don’t have to go back two hundred years to find someone who would respond to modern developments with shock. Try ten or less. Recall that President Obama took office as a supporter of traditional marriage, saying he believed marriage existed only between one man and one woman. Today, while Obama still holds office, a television couple has come under fire for attending a church which preaches that same view.
Chip and Joanna Gaines have become the targets of persecution for their attendance at a church where a biblical view of homosexuality and marriage is taught. Read Tyler O’Neill’s write-up for a breakdown of the controversy and a solid take on its implications.
For this post, let us focus on how Christians ought to feel about this development. Like a traveler from an earlier time, we now find ourselves in an alien world where nothing seems to make sense. How did believing what the Bible says about marriage and the family go from a political requirement in 2008 to career-ending in 2016? What does it mean for our nation? What does it bode for believers?
From a biblical perspective, we can know one thing for sure. Chip and Joanna Gaines have been blessed. Matthew 5:10-11:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As Christians, we should rejoice and praise God that such persecution has come to America. It provides us with an opportunity to gain treasure in heaven which we would not have otherwise had.
Surely, it is disheartening to witness the descent of our culture into a Romans 1 debasement. We fear for our children’s souls, wondering how much harder it will be for them to live out the Christian faith in a culture increasingly hostile to it. We mourn for our nation, knowing from our reading of scripture that sin always brings harsh consequences. People’s lives are going to be more difficult and painful on account of the choices they are making, and that pours over the brim of their domain to affect our broader community.
Even so, praise God. Believers should be glad, not just for the opportunity to endure persecution and store up treasure in heaven, but for how such persecution will work to cleanse the church. Difficult though it may be for us to admit, we must recognize that the veneer of Christianity in our culture has long been a facade. Most people who profess faith in Christ will wilt like delicate flowers under even mild persecution. That’s not because of any failure on their part, but because they were never truly converted in the first place. If you have ever wondered whether you were truly saved, persecution will show you. How you react, whether you stand firm or renounce God, indicates to whom you belong. Therefore, again, praise God. Thank him for the blessing which persecution offers.
We should also praise the Lord for the opportunity to present the gospel with love. When we consider how the Gaineses are being treated, we should temper our response by first turning to scripture. Whenever believers were targeted in the past, they responded by affirming their faith and professing the glory of God. That’s our answer. That’s our argument, not a political treatise on religious freedom or individual rights, but the Word of God in all its authority. Therein lies the power to overcome the darkness, to cast light through shadow.
Resist the temptation to respond with anger. Pray not for such persecution to be lifted. Rather, pray for endurance. Pray that God draws his people to himself through tribulation and makes his name known. Pray for Chip and Joanna Gaines, but do so with joy.