Sometimes tyranny comes in over night. The tanks just come rolling in. Out with the old. In with the new. Just deal with it or go someplace to get reeducated.
That doesn’t seem to be the way that it’s working in this country. Here, tyranny has moved slower and more methodically. Conditioning takes time. No tank or middle of the night invasion can make large groups of people suddenly believe that what’s wrong is right and what’s right is terror.
So for now at least, those wishing for more power in this country have abandoned the tank. In its place they have used the television for propaganda, the classroom for indoctrination and the courtroom for bullying.
What’s happening in Houston where the mayor is demanding that pastors who oppose her Equal Rights Ordinance hand over their sermons is more than just another step along that road to ultimate tyrannical rule. It is more than just another grab by a power-hungry government.
It is the final straw.
At some point, way back when, the government managed to convince us that they do not work for us but that we in fact belong to them. As a result, more and more of our lives have been falling under government control.
Next, they came after our kids. After all, what do parents know about educating their younglings? Wouldn’t the government do a much better job? And so now we have PE teachers showing our kids how to put on condoms. Oh, and no worries if the little ones don’t listen during that particular lesson. The government will be there to dispose of the unwanted fruits of teenage passion should the need arise.
The message from the government is clear. We can take care of your kids better than you can. We can even take care of you better than you can. Just keep moving. There’s nothing to see here.
And, in large part, we have obeyed. We’ve kept moving along with one blind eye facing the real problem and an open eye on the bread and circus that surrounds us.
This has laid the ground work for the final straw – the one area that, if the government can just reach it, would allow everything else to fall into perfect tyrannical order. No tanks needed.
That one area is the church.
To be fair, it’s not all the government’s fault. We have done a pretty good job ourselves of messing things up by abandoning the good news of redemption from sin for the just kind of okay news of living a really swell life right now. But not all churches and their leaders have been going along with that. Some, in the tradition of the prophets, apostles and pastors before them, have not wavered from the truth of the gospel message. Even if it has been deemed intolerant. Even if it has gotten them called into the mayor’s office. Even if it means a visit to court.
That’s what’s happening in Houston. It’s not that the mayor is against religion. She may even be a very religious person. That’s not the issue. The issue is that the religion that the Bible speaks of, the pure and undefiled kind that refuses to just listen to truth but insists on living it out (James 1:27; 2:14-26), is not to the mayor’s liking.
Worship whatever god you want. Just do it my way. That’s the message that pastors are getting from downtown Houston. And it’s one that’s likely to spread around the rest of the country. But it begs the question. Which god then are we really worshiping if we do it the State’s way? The answer is clear. When we cave to the demands of an overreaching government, we can call our god whatever we wish but it is not the god of the Bible that we are worshiping. It is the god of the State.
We must not cave.
We must not allow government bullying to pull us from the truth of the gospel.
We also must not allow such bullying to keep us from loving our neighbor. Even if that neighbor wants to see us tied up in court for the rest of our lives.
This is the final straw.
It’s time for the church to stop playing games. We must stop trying to win the approval of tyrants (James 2:6-7). Instead, we must seek to be light in a dark world (Matthew 5:16). To a world content on living in the darkness, light can be quite painful. As we seek to lovingly live out the light of Christ, we must expect opposition. It’s part of the gig.
It’s time for us to stop trying to just entertain our kids. Games are fun. Games have their place. But, in many churches, good news has been pushed aside for good times. As a result, kids and students are passing through our doors who are ill-equipped to remain standing while those around them bow to the State (Daniel 3).
And it’s time for parents to realize that it is our responsibility, not the State’s, to raise our kids. The biggest enemy of any tyrannical institution is a family institution that does not need it for anything more than protection from enemies foreign and domestic. It’s time for us to start living like that. We don’t need government to play the role of parent. We don’t need the government to be our teacher. And we certainly don’t need the government’s gospel.
We’ve caved in before. But we can’t afford to cave in on this. It really is the final straw. While everyone else bows to the State, we must remain standing. It may cost us our livelihood.
So be it.