Saturday, July 04, 2015

A Hill to Die On

Lately I have begun to suspect that the notorious “mark of the beast” is not a literal number 666 tattooed on one’s forehead or hand, but rather an ideology.

Kidding, of course. I know full well that the social justice grievance mongers currently monopolizing the media with their view of the ideal society are not the fulfillment of New Testament prophecy.

You know the prophecy I mean. It’s made its way into popular culture.

John says this of the “second beast” he describes in Revelation 13:
“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”
The day is coming, John says, when what you believe will severely impact your ability to make a living.

Regrettably, that day has already arrived.

Exhibit A: Brendan Eich

Not a Christian, so far as I know. Just the co-founder of The Mozilla Project and the company’s CEO for a few weeks in early 2014, until it became public knowledge that six years earlier he had contributed $1,000 to an anti-gay marriage campaign in California. The ensuing Twitterstorm and boycott caused him to step down “voluntarily”.

Exhibit B: Crystal O’Connor

The co-owner of Memories Pizza in Indiana, who had the misfortune to answer a hypothetical question. O’Connor told a reporter, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no”. After briefly closing because of social media hostility, the pizzeria reopened in April. But you can bet plenty of Christian business owners have taken note.

Exhibit C: Trish McGath

After 111 Cakery declined to bake a cake for a commitment ceremony for two men, Facebook and Twitter “hummed with outrage”. While co-owner Randy McGath said the company was still profitable, his wife elected to call it a day rather than deal with a business that was “wearing her out”. 111 Cakery is now closed.

At least this time the cause was an actual wedding, and not merely a hypothetical.

Exhibit D: Barronelle Stutzman

In February, the Southern Baptist owner of Arlene’s flowers in Washington was told by a state judge that that her “relationship with Jesus” was not enough justification to refuse to provide flower arrangements for the wedding of a same-sex couple. It did not help her cause that her refusal to participate in the festivities was offered gently and kindly. She was fined $1,000 and charged $1 for court costs.

Fighting Back

It’s important to note that in every instance so far, conservatives and Christians have rallied in support of the business or individual under attack. Mozilla’s share of the browser market has plunged to a little over 11% from a second place tie with Google Chrome on the day Brendan Eich was ousted. That doesn’t help Eich, but it demonstrates that his cause attracted considerable support. In the Memories Pizza case, crowd-funding raised over $800,000 from supporters while in the same week, detractors raised a little over $700. The 111 Cakery received many online expressions of support and at least a temporary increase in business from the attention. Even Barronelle Stutzman raised $139,000 worth of crowd-funded support to pay her $1,000 fine.

You might think all that bodes well for Christians subjected to future attempts to control what we think and say through threats to our livelihood. You would be wrong, I suspect.

The Writing on the Wall

Far from discouraging social media grievance-mongers, such opposition only seems to make them double down. Jason Nguyen, who pushed for LGBT crowd-funding to counter that of conservatives, acknowledged where his side is ultimately headed (italics mine):
“(The) mentality is so deeply rooted that they don’t understand they are spreading hate, so we need to start with the law.”
You get the idea: if the progressive agenda turns out to be insufficiently popular to allow for its democratic implementation, the solution is not to submit to the will of the majority but rather to seek to bludgeon conservatives and Christians with new legislation until we submit.

The Coming Generation

I believe we are seeing in North America the last energetic struggles of moral people to resist totalitarian progressivism.

My son had a disagreement last week over “white privilege” with a gay man on Facebook. After I reminded him that big corporations like the one he works for are now policing their employees’ social media activity (as this Wall Street Journal article informs us), he wisely (I think) deleted his side of the debate. There are hills worth dying on. For the Christian, I don’t think whether or not “white privilege” actually exists is one of them.

But our subsequent conversation was useful. I’m paraphrasing, but basically what he told me was this: “Dad, there are people in your generation that understand progressivism is nonsense. In my generation, there’s nobody. University students in Canada (he just trained with over 20 of them) have been entirely brainwashed.”

That’s a scary thought. I have every reason to believe he’s right.

The Progressivist “Beast”

It isn’t “666”, but social justice orthodoxy is here and demanding its pound of flesh. Political correctness is impossible for the Christian for a couple of reasons:

1.    Progressivism is always moving the goalposts. If you accede to gay marriage, you’ll just get a big plateful of transgender rights to swallow for dessert. And who knows what comes next. There is no consistency to the political Left. They want what they want, and any argument will do to advance the cause. Christians cannot keep up with the shifting requirements of the progressivist “beast”, even if we are disposed to placate it.

2.    The Left is not merely interested in controlling actions, it wants to change attitudes. The constant accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, privilege and microaggressions are all aimed at managing what’s between your ears and in your heart. For the Christian, this territory belongs to God alone, and we cannot cede it.

Making It Practical

So how about you: what things are worth losing your job, your income, your ability to support your family and your standing in the community for? Because progressives will almost surely continue to target Christians in the future, and one day it will be you or me in their sights.

The Lord told his disciples to “count the cost” of following him. In some generations that cost has been pretty high. In other times and places — as in most of the 20th century in North America — life as a Christian has been a comparative cakewalk for most.

That is changing. What hill are you willing to die on?

I love the idea of Christians challenging the culture we live in with faith-based facts. But I truly hate seeing Christians with the clued-out expression of a deer in the headlights when the consequences of their public stand come home to them and they realize there is a real-life price to be paid for nonchalant faithfulness. The video of that poor, sad Christian pizzeria woman looking nonplussed at the reporter in front of her ought to be a cautionary tale to us all.

Pick your hills wisely.

We are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Lots of Christians can do the innocent part. For my money, I’ll take the serpents.

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