Former Vice President Joe Biden got in trouble for calling current Vice President Mike Pence "a decent guy."
On the surface, the situation is rather trivial and ridiculous. A likely presidential candidate having to essentially apologize for calling another politician "decent" illustrates how uncivil politics have become.
But why did Biden's "decent" compliment make people so mad? Because Pence's Christian beliefs, and the political decisions he has made as a result of those beliefs, are increasingly unacceptable in contemporary society.
What's wrong with Mike Pence?
Pence is often accused of being "anti-LGBTQ." He has affirmed the Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. He fought for religious freedom as governor of Indiana. He opposed the Obama administration directive that required schools to allow students to use bathrooms according to gender identity rather than biological sex.
He and his wife, Karen, recently faced criticism because the Second Lady teaches at a private Christian school that requires applicants to affirm the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, and which bans any sexual activity outside of marriage, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
Pence has a personal policy, one shared by some church pastors, of not dining alone with a woman who is not his wife, which made him the source of numerous mocking or critical articles that called the policy sexist or indicated that Pence may lack self-control.
Democrats believe President Donald Trump is a racist, lying, treasonous criminal who is unqualified for the job and who deserves to be removed from office and possibly thrown into prison. But some of those same Democrats also question whether removing Trump is the right decision—because they believe Pence is worse.
Mike Pence's sin in the eyes of his political and ideological opponents is that he's too Christian. Many things are excused in today's politics—corruption, immorality, dishonesty, ignorance—but a Christianity that is too bold and unwavering in the face of ever-changing societal norms is becoming a disqualifying characteristic.
Public Christians have to choose
When Christians see how someone like Pence is received, we have to look at ourselves. We have to look at our jobs, our social circles, our public platforms and our ambitions, and make sure we're ready for the rejection and the opposition we will face if we don't compromise our beliefs.
The other side will not compromise on our behalf. And if we compromise the principles of our faith on their behalf, it will not satisfy them for long. In the months and years to come, the standards will change, and they will demand that we abandon another belief in order to avoid their charge of bigotry.
Today the issues may be marriage or gender or abortion. Who knows what the issues of tomorrow will be.
That Joe Biden can't get away with calling Mike Pence a decent guy shows that Christianity is not decent to many liberals unless it is a Christianity that shifts with the culture. That is not what Christianity is meant to do.
Christians are to stand firm in the faith and not be conformed to the world. In this world, we will have troubles. Things are not going to get easier. We have to live according to what we know is true, and never fall into the trap of seeking praise from a world that will never fully accept us.