Is it un-Christian to defend your faith in the marketplace of ideas, argue about moral values, or (gasp!) even protest evil practices? The question of how much Christians can do to influence culture – and whether or not they should even try – seems increasingly to light the fires of intramural debate.
In 2014, Chelsen Vicari wrote a fine piece for the Christian Post addressing just that topic.
Titled, “Contemporary Christian Music’s Sinking Witness,” Vicari wades right into the ring and lands a few body blows against the milquetoast variety of Christian witness all too often found in America. Vicari cites Scripture and examples of lives changed because Christians unapologetically proclaimed the truth of God – anywhere and everywhere.
One very potent example referenced “protests” outside an abortion clinic:
A beautiful example of lives transformed at a protest is told by Wendy Wright, former president of Concerned Women for America and vice president for Government Relations and Communications. Wendy spent many days peacefully protesting outside abortion clinics. She and her fellow protestors not only offered hurt women prayer and sidewalk counseling, but also worked to save the lives of their unborn babies.
Wendy was blessed to come face to face with a young woman whose mother protected her from abortion because of Wendy’s abortion protest. “After speaking to Generation Joshua home school students, telling stories of rescuing babies from abortion,” explained Wendy. “A young woman asked, “Have you ever met one of those babies that you rescued?”
Shaking her head no, Wendy explained that while she hadn’t she would love the opportunity. “I was rescued from abortion and adopted because of you,” the young woman told Wendy.
Few people would insist that Christians ought to be as cranky, self-righteous and judgmental as possible while proclaiming God’s word in public places. But it is equally damaging to our collective witness to fall into the ditch on the other side of the road.
Sure, some well-meaning Christians honestly believe “it’s all going to burn,” and therefore we should simply spend our days here on earth preaching the gospel.
We’ll have to agree to disagree on that kind of theology. If William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr. had believed that, the British Empire might still have a slave trade, and Jim Crow laws might still be alive and well in the American Deep South.
Moreover, I don’t think theology is the biggest problem in American evangelicalism when it comes to this issue. For many, I’m afraid the real issue is cowardice.
That’s right: far too many Christians are afraid. They do not want to face the storm of ugliness that will surely be unleashed when they speak the truth: “Abortion is murder;” “The romantic relationship between two men is not marriage;” “There is only one way to God, and that’s through faith in Jesus Christ;” “All belief systems are not the same.”
Of course, many Christians are passionate about things like ending sex trafficking, feeding the poor, and helping the homeless. That’s wonderful.
It’s also applauded by the wider culture. Feeding the poor won’t usually earn you much blow back from secularists who might prefer we let the poor starve.
It’s much, much harder to stand for what Scripture says when you know you’ll get blasted by family, friends and co-workers.
For that you might just need the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:1-17). And a little bit more courage.