A few years ago I read a statistic in WORLD Magazine that the average family with traditional values has three children and the average family with progressive values has one child. Therefore, statistically speaking our nation should be becoming more conservative in outlook, but our nation (seemingly) is swinging in a more progressive direction.
Before I continue I need to define terms so that we all have an understanding of what I mean as I write:
- By conservativism I mean conserving the values of Judeo-Christian morality.
- By progressivism I mean redefining morality.
The article (in WORLD) went on to say that the reason we are becoming a more progressive society is because those who have a progressive philosophy are in charge of the schools, the Universities, the media, and the world of entertainment. Hence, it is through the schools (from kindergarten through college) that values are taught that conflict with Judeo-Christian values; it is through the media that these values are presented as enlightened thinking; and it is through the world of entertainment that all values are trivialized and that tolerance and sin is ultimately trumpeted and made to look enticing. So children may grow up in a Christian home, but what they are taught by our secular culture ends up influencing them as much or more than Christian values, which results in a sort of pragmatism (i.e., a whatever works mentality) and syncretism (i.e., a combining of conflicting beliefs). This ultimately leads to a life of compromise and apathy concerning living out truth with conviction.
What is the solution? Not only for raising children, but in our own lives?
Well, the obvious answer is more of Jesus.
The more complicated answer is we need to train ourselves and our children how to think and how to discern good from evil. If we do this, we will set our children up for success by teaching them to think through what they are being taught and make decisions based on conviction that Judeo-Christian values are true and right.
Let me give an illustration of pragmatism / syncretism. I heard someone say the other day that they are Christian and hold very near to their heart the values of their Christian faith concerning life and protecting the most vulnerable. The same person then said, “But I believe my beliefs are private, and I do not believe my beliefs should be enforced on Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus and that a woman should have a right to do with her body whatever she chooses.”
The above is an example of allowing syncretism (i.e., the combining of conflicting beliefs) to further the progressivism of our culture (i.e., morality is being redefined because tolerance is being held as a higher value over and against private moral beliefs).
The Sacred / Secular Split – There are ultimately two ways of thinking that have dominated Western culture in the last 2,500 years: platonic dualism and Judeo-Christian theology (for the sake of time I will simply explain the sacred secular split, but if you would like to know how we got to this point see Nancy Pearcey’s TOTAL TRUTH, pp. 74-95). The combining of dualism and Christian values has resulted in people believing your values and religious beliefs belong in your private life and should not influence what you do in the secular / public sphere (e.g., the workplace, politics, schools, etc.). Hence, many progressive secularists will cry foul when a Christian says abortion is murder.
The progressive person’s perspective (backed up by the schools, the Universities, the media, and entertainment) is that views on abortion are very personal (Sacred – they belong in the realm of the one’s private life) and that no one should have the right to tell another person what to do with their body since it is their body and therefore they can do whatever they want. But the underlying assumption in this argument is that only one person’s body / interests are at stake.
For a person to say, “But I believe my beliefs are private, and I do not believe my beliefs should be enforced on Muslims, or Jews, or Hindus and that a woman should have a right to do with her body whatever she chooses.” That person is ultimately saying they do not believe (on a conviction level) that the embryo, the fetus, the baby inside a woman is a vulnerable person worth saving. What they are saying is, “I don’t want so and so to get mad at me so I will compromise what I say I believe for the sake of peace.”
Friends, if we continue to live this way and do not challenge people in their thinking, and if we do not train our children, but rather go with the flow, we will continue to lose our children to secularism.
I know it is difficult to stand for Christ and His values; it was difficult for Jesus to stand for His values and He was ultimately put to death for them. As Glenn Barker put it in his commentary on 1 John –
“The hatred of the world for the community of faith must not surprise the believers. The author does not say that the world always hates believers. It did not always hate Jesus. But whenever the community of faith acts so as to expose the greed, the avarice, the hatred, and the wickedness of the world, it must expect rejection; and if it should go so far as to interfere with its evil practices, as Jesus did in the temple, it may expect suffering and brutal death (cf. John 15:18-19, 25; 17:14).”
Friends, may we live for Christ; may we train ourselves to think biblically, and may we develop the fortitude to stand for values once held with conviction by many in this nation.