by Rod D. Martin
July 16, 2015

Florida Baptist Witness

Following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision redefining marriage, I’ve heard several people say in complete seriousness “it’s okay, because the rapture’s coming anyway.”

Pathetic. That is not faithfulness. It’s just fatalism.

Christ will certainly return. But when? There were Christians who believed the rapture would deliver them from Nero, from the barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome, from the Muslim conquest of half of Christendom, from the Mongols, from the Black Death, from the frenzied atheistic convulsions of the French and Russian Revolutions and even the gates of Auschwitz.

Had you lived then, each would have seemed like the coming of the end. And yet here we are.

Young men often long for battle or martyrdom. They will get neither. If religious liberty is lost in America, no glory will be found in the persecution. No one will be asked to die for their faith. They will just find their tax statuses revoked, as their government self-righteously proclaims its refusal to “subsidize hate.” No one will close Christian colleges or schools: they’ll just force them to teach the new morality or be bankrupted by the loss of Pell grants and other programs without which they cannot make budget. Businesses will come to heel or face boycott and ruin.

Many will knuckle under to the chants of “hater” and “extremist.” This isn’t what they had in mind when they sang “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.”

The week’s other controversy is instructive. Charleston murderer Dylann Roof’s evil inspired President Obama to call for the Confederate flag to be removed from state capitols: it “belongs in a museum,” he said. Giant subject change aside, this was a reasonable suggestion received reasonably well.

Within days, however, reason had disappeared. Walmart and Amazon banned the flag even from the covers of textbooks about the Civil War (while continuing to sell Nazi memorabilia and Che Guevara t-shirts). Obama himself began removing it from the very museums and battlefield parks in which he’d just said it “belonged.”

The left bans whatever it hates, and requires whatever it likes. Can you think of anything else it might deem “offensive”?

In Time magazine, Rod Dreher calls post-Obergefell Christians to retreat – seriously – to “modern Benedictine monasteries.” How 100 million people are supposed to do this he does not say. “Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now,” he intones without explanation.

But for Barack Obama’s election, Obergefell would have been impossible. 80% of the Republican justices voted correctly, 100% of the Democrats did not. Two of them were Obama nominees. But for their votes, the 32 of 32 states in which Republicans passed marriage amendments (the other 18 states are run by Democrats) would still be protecting marriage, and your religious liberties. Dreher’s position flagrantly ignores reality.

We live in a system based on persuasion, with a Great Commission that requires persuasion, in which we think “persuading” is somehow dirty or unnecessary. And we wonder why we fail.

Christians aren’t “exiles” (in Dreher’s word) because engagement has failed them, but because they have failed at engagement. Christians have been half-hearted both in engaging the culture and in reaching the lost. As a result, the lost have succeeded in overcoming the culture.

The rapture won’t save us from this. False dichotomies between cultural engagement and evangelism won’t either. We should just be honest: Christians have been lazy and lukewarm about everything, for a very, very long time.

Perhaps we should reconsider our ways before we’re spewed out.

This article was originally published as part of my Beyond the Church Door series in the Florida Baptist Witness.