This article is part of a three-part series introducing the idea that our era is post-Christian, how it manifests itself, and why we need to respond.
Painting a Painful Portrait
I like to ask people that I know to be faithful Christians the following question:
“What would you do if you suddenly realized that Christianity was no longer important, relevant, or impactful in our culture?”
Would it sadden you? Scare you? Move you to action? Move you to defeat?
What would you do if you realized that Christianity was completely irrelevant to our culture? That everything Christians hold dear, our cultures holds the opposite. That Christianity has lost the war for public acceptance? That Christianity, in large, does not move or affect the people of our era?
We at Post Christian Era believe this to be the case.
In this series, I want to paint a painful portrait; one of a culture that is completely anti-Christian. We don’t mean to start any alarms; the alarms have been going off in our minds and in our communities for years. We simply want to make sure we no longer ignore them.
A Culture Void of the Christian Faith
Many authors have spent a vast amount of energy chronicling the decline of the Christian Faith in Western culture (see Francis Schaffer’s How Then Should We Live, and Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option). For now, we turn to the present condition to see just how thoroughly our culture has abandoned the Christian worldview.
In short, our culture has two leading beliefs that guide its practices, and both are antithetical to the Christian worldview and are present in many aspects of American culture.
Secularism is the worldview that removes God from most or every aspect of human life. Even if He is real, He does not matter. The things which formerly could only be understood through their relation to God (science, law, marriage, art, etc.) are now completely disconnected.
Since our culture has no other unifying worldview, the individual becomes the highest authority. Individualism assigns the highest value to the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. The result is that the individual can believe and live any way that they please, whether it is coherent or not.
The Proof is in the Pudding
When we look into the major areas of our culture, we see that its practices are led by its commitment to Secularism and Individualism. What is perhaps even more telling is the reaction to those that disagree with the culture’s views (that means you, fellow brother/sister in Christ). If you disagree with the secular/individual cultural standard, you are a narrow-minded, antiquated, bigot.
For example, science was formerly led by those who affirmed a world ordered by its creator. However, it is clear from the unilateral acceptance of views like Evolution, that God as a foundation for science is no longer acceptable. The Ben Stein-hosted documentary Expelled chronicled leading scientist who were punished for their belief in Creationism and against Evolution. Although the incidences in that documentary may be few, I don’t see a wide acceptance of Intelligent Design in public schools. Do you?
Perhaps that is old (although continuing) news. More recently, scientific communities (medical/psychological) have come to accept the idea that individuals can decide their gender. More than that, research suggests that there is even a recent increase in gender dysphoria diagnosis due to social and cultural factors. Instead of science being used to understand God’s world, it is used to serve confused teenagers and young adults in the worst possible way. We also see professionals who speak against diagnosing gender dysphoria being suppressed and ridiculed. Even against stories of folks who regret the clinics who forced sex-change surgeries on them, there is no widespread dialogue on whether these are appropriate medical measures or not, they are simply seen as “healing” people with dysfunctions.
Think also of the conundrum that medical professionals must be in regarding abortion. When God focused our understanding of science, a fetus was clearly a life (even now, only 27% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in the 2nd trimester, and only 14% in the last three months). But the new secular standard has no basis on what is life, and the convenience of individuals (pregnant women) gives their view on life priority. Read this article where a deputy editor of the Washington Post touts that she would have aborted her children in a horrific 2nd trimester abortion if they were found to be with Down Syndrome. This is Secular Individualism in its most powerful form.
Law is another area which has moved on from the Christian faith as its foundation. Paul Roberts painted the below piece in 1905, where Lady Justice is not only not blindfolded, but is actively pointing to the Word of God as her source of justice.
As legal precedence is set regarding abortion and homosexual marriage, it is clear that the will of the people, judicial philosophy, and the constitution no longer ground American Law in a Christian worldview. As a way of expressing this change, Former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Fredrick Moore Vinson noted,
“All is relative; all is experience. In passing, we should note this curious mark of our age: The only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute.”
What drives American Law is ultimate individual autonomy; under the guise of liberty. During Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed his view of constitutional liberty that has since become the heart and soul of American’s view on legal matters:
“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, of the mystery of human life.”
It is no surprise that in the pursuit of liberty (a.k.a. “absolute autonomy”), we see judges remove custody of a child from her parents who want to treat her gender dysphoria with Christian therapy rather than hormone therapy or reassignment surgery. Perhaps this is now an isolated case that judges side with an individual’s right to be what they want, but at least in Canada, taking children away from parents who wish to raise their children with Christian values on sexuality will be established law.
In this we see the highest ranks of judicial power give way to modern secularism and individualism; the most estranged ideologies from the Christian faith.
While American Law represents the liberty to do whatever one pleases, the public sector represents the push to force the American public to accept anti-Christian beliefs.
For example, read this article regarding a parent of a child entering junior high, and his surprise to learn the schools emphatic push for homosexual and transgender agendas. Or this school district who turned their focus from academics to racial and sexual equity. One high school even features a porn literacy class to help teens understand the nuances of pornography.
It is not as though individual schools and districts are alone on these crusades against traditional Christian views of sexuality, states are enacting legislation to keep parents from interfering with the state-led anti-Christian indoctrination. Indiana’s new bill removed the right that parents have to consent to their children being educated in “gender identity”. The author of the article concludes:
“What does that mean? Schools may teach children as young as age five that a boy can become a girl or a girl can become a boy”
University campuses are also a huge indication that our culture has moved on from the Christian worldview. There is some research to support what most already know about the higher-ed world: faculty are less willing to hire Christian’s than those with other or no faith. We’ve seen years ago, universities aiming to shut down on-campus Christian groups for their apparent lack of inclusiveness. We know that universities are committed to anti-Christian ideologies on gender, race, and lifestyle; or what they call “diversity” (SDSU even requires prospective faculty to demonstrate a commitment to “diversity” while applying). And for faculty who do not conform, or who give off the slightest hint of non-conformity to liberal ideologies, there is the real fear of professional persecution. Even a world-renowned researcher lost his job for attempting to help children experiencing gender dysphoria “feel comfortable in their own bodies” before prescribing any gender transitioning steps.
It leaves little doubt that the world of universities and research institutions are dominated by anti-Christian ideologies and by people who will ensure that their progress is not hindered by any other worldview.
There is no better view of the American culture than through the lens of popular media. Popular media sources, like social media, major news outlets, and Hollywood, are both a reflection of American ideology and the vehicle for its rapid growth. If there is one thing that separates our generation from Jesus’s “adulterous and sinful generation”1, it is this: His didn’t have the Internet. Because of this, there just about no hiding from the overwhelming influence of popular media. You can’t watch a commercial, or a sporting event, or view a website, or read a news article, without anti-Christian views being imposed on you.
It should surprise no one that news media is completely illiterate to the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. But Disney’s race to promote homosexuality to tweens and teens and teach contempt for fathers might catch some off guard.
More revealing is that popular media also seems bent on exposing the most radical facets of American culture without a hint of shame. Countless stories glamorized New York Fashion Weeks’ 10-year old drag queen as its highlight. New York Magazine legitimized bestiality by its interview with a person who is in an intimate relationship with a horse. And Teen Vogue seems desperate to create teen sex objects with its Teen Guide to Anal Sex.
Although it may catch you off guard, these samples are simply the promotion and exaltation of what our culture upholds and reveres: life without imposition from God and the ability to think, feel, be, and do whatever one desires.
Where is the Church?
Many of us will see these details of our culture and sleep easy. We will wrongfully believe that by going to church on Sunday we and our children will be inoculated from our culture’s ideas and practices. Unfortunately, as we will see in our next article, the Church in the West is relatively unequipped to keep its parishioners grounded in the classic Christian faith.
For now, I pray that you will consider the reality of the situation we live in. If you can feel the weight that the post-Christian era puts on the spiritual lives of you, your children, and your community of brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope you will join us in our quest to become radically committed Christian in the 21st century.