A lot of people have seemed pretty shocked by the leftist media’s assault on Chip and Joanna Gaines.
BuzzFeed, along with other liberal sites, went after the Gaines family this week for committing the crime of being Christian. Sure, they didn’t put it like that exactly. Instead they accused Chip and Joanna of attending a church led by a pastor who doesn’t believe in gay marriage. But, as anyone with even a trivial understanding of the world’s largest religion already knows, every authentic Christian church in the world teaches the same thing. There has never existed a real Christian church that disagrees with the Gaines’ pastor on this matter. There have existed many apostate churches that deny Christ’s teachings on marriage and sexuality, but they are not Christian in any way other than their name (and often their names aren’t all that Christian, either).
Anti-Christian forces in our culture have attempted to divide Christianity into two groups: bad Christians and tolerable, if not good, Christians. The bad Christians are the ones who take the moral teachings of Scripture seriously, and the tolerable Christians are the ones who think the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, all Scriptural references to marriage and sexual morality, all of the Pauline letters, and the entire Old Testament, expired sometime within the last few decades. According to the tolerable Christians, we can now do, say, and believe whatever we want and still be Christian, so long as we throw, “Oh yeah, and Jesus is the Messiah or whatever, sure,” at the end of it. Anti-Christian leftists are fine with these sorts of Christians, mainly because these sorts of Christians are not Christian. That’s the most striking characteristic of the tolerable Christian: namely, that he isn’t one.
But any Christian who remains genuinely Christian will be seen as “the bad type” in our culture. And our culture is not the only one to give us that designation, we should note. Travel overseas to Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Nigeria, China, North Korea, etc., and you’ll find an even more pronounced, or at least more physical, hostility to the Christian faith. This has been the case for 2,000 years. We were persecuted by the Romans, the Persians, the Japanese. They were putting priests in front of the firing squads in Mexico as recently as the twentieth century (the persecution in that country continues to this day). And if we think we have it bad from progressives in this country, just consider what’s happening in places like Argentina, where hordes of crazed, half-naked feminists can be seen violently assaulting Christian men as they peacefully pray.
My point here is that the world really hates Christians. It always has and always will. And that’s not my point, really, but Christ’s point. He told us quite plainly on many occasions that we will be made to suffer for our faith. “You will be hated by everyone because of me,” Christ warned. He wasn’t exaggerating.
What Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy was in some ways even more chilling: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” If we’re not being attacked for our faith, St. Paul tells us, it’s because we aren’t living a godly life. That’s why he didn’t say, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, unless they’re super friendly and charming.” I imagine Christ was more charming than any human who’s ever lived, and they nailed Him to cross and spit on him while He died in agony. So much for charming your way out of this. The backlash against the faithful has nothing to do with our lack of kindness or our difficult personalities, although some of us (raises hand) may have what some would consider difficult personalities. But none of that really matters. If we are serious about our faith, we will be attacked. Period. Why should we escape it if God did not?
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” – John 15:18-25
I don’t think our churches, even the real ones, spend enough time reflecting on these types of verses. That’s why we’re always so shocked when the pitchfork mob shows up at our doorstep. One can only imagine how blindsided we’d feel if we lived in a country where they arrest and execute our kind. Around these parts all we have to worry about is social alienation and loss of income. And I don’t mean to downplay the suffering that can cause, but only to put it in proper perspective. Considering the fact that persecution is an absolute guarantee for Christians, we should be thankful that it doesn’t involve torture and beheading in this country like it has and still does in so many others.
Chip and Joanna Gaines became a target because they are, by all accounts, devout Christians. That’s the only reason. If they were not Christian, or if they had a reputation for being the unserious, heretical, “progressive” sort of Christians, they wouldn’t be under fire. That’s why, as many people have already observed, Muslims and members of other faiths that also reject gay marriage don’t receive the same scrutiny. Progressives don’t hate Muslims. They hate Christians. They hate Christians for being Christian, and for no other reason.
It’s not just about gay marriage or abortion or any other specific issue. They hate Christianity because it is Christianity. They hate it simply for being true, just as Christ was crucified simply for being God. Those who hate truth and hate God will lash out at the closest things to Him. When they had the chance to get their hands on Him in the flesh, they beat Him, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross. But now that they are deprived of the opportunity to crucify Christ directly, they must settle for the second best target: you. This is the price that Truth must pay when it enters into a fallen world. And those of us who profess and believe the Truth will pay our own price, even if it is not nearly so brutal.
We should only be worried if we aren’t being made to pay the price. If we get along just fine every day, at our jobs, with our friends, out in the world, and nobody ever insults us, or tries to hurt us, or plots to undermine us and destroy our reputations, then we ought to take that as a hint that we aren’t living our faith openly enough. I don’t mean that we should go out seeking to be criticized and attacked, but if we are true Christians we won’t need to seek it. It will come. It always will and always has. And so be it.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” – 1 Peter 4:12-14