Rethink

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Rethink

The church, like a losing general, has the nasty habit of fighting the last battle. By the time it has adapted its tactics, the challenge has moved on. Perpetually behind the times, forever on the back foot, stuck in the role of reluctant reactionary, losing ground.

And that is how we find ourselves today, late to the party and still talking about the challenge of post modernism. The idea that all truth is personal and therefore there are multiple truths all of which are equally valid, was indeed once a great challenge to Christianity—a faith that proclaims Christ as the sole soul Savior. Today, however, post-modernism is dead.

It died on 9/11.

People who said there is “no right, nor wrong, just shades of grey”, who sounded rather deep on 9/10, sounded unhinged by dawn on 9/12. What precise shade of grey is flying planes full of men, women and innocent children into skyscrapers full of mums and dads? And the idea that all spiritual paths are equal? Well, 9/11 put paid to that intellectually sloppy idea as well; an idea that from its outset was so simplistic only someone lacking the most basic understanding of the scope of global religious practices could fall for it.

So if you’re working hard on reaching the post-modern mindset, stop. It has been replaced by secular orthodoxy.

The new secular orthodoxy doesn’t say, “I’m OK, you’re OK, let’s all follow our own individual truths.” Rather, it says, “I’m an informed, ethical person, and you are a fool holding onto fables long since proven nonsense by science, and moral positions that are simply bigotry wrapped in religion.”

As the new secular orthodoxy advances, churches either address convincingly and unflinchingly the assumptions of the orthodoxy, or they will find no ground left to stand on. And unlike losing the post-modern battle, a loss won’t result in everyone living happily ever after in their own little bubbles of self-proclaimed truth. This time, the loser will find itself at the pointy end of a series of laws and social restrictions designed to systematically marginalize them. Indeed, we’ve already seen this begin.

Can a Christian university that offers a law degree be accredited? Not according to the secular orthodox in Canada. Because law is a servant to public policy and Canadian public policy includes promoting the equality of sexual orientations. Christians believe in privileging heterosexual marriage over homosexual marriage. They therefore discriminate. We don’t accredit law programs that discriminate on the basis of race or gender. So why would we accredit a law school built upon a foundation of sexual orientation discrimination? Can a Christian school’s science curriculum be accredited? No. Accreditation agencies have a responsibility to ensure student receive a well-rounded education. Part of that education includes a thorough science curriculum—the core of which is evolutionary theory. Can Christian couples be foster parents? Not according to a UK ruling. Why? Because the child they foster may be gay. And in that case, how could they raise that child and respect his sexual orientation?

This is only the beginning. Expect accreditation of institutions, funding for church-related institutions and programs of all descriptions, any employment or contracting with the state, and eventually the practice within prominent professions, all to be targeted by the secular orthodox.

In truth, the church as a whole is not well prepared for this onslaught. Some are still wondering what we must have done wrong to make the secular orthodox target us with such vengeance. In good Christian mode, we’re tripping over ourselves to apologize. Some, even in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, are trying to buy peace by compromising our views on origins and sexuality.

What we need, however, are champions to stand up and intelligently and compassionately articulate the Christian view on human sexuality. Where it comes from. Why we hold to it. And the support in reason, evidence and Scripture for it. And we need a far more convincing articulation of our position on origins. Staying silent doesn’t buy us peace; it only hides our light on the issues of our day, creates space for confusion within our ranks and brings forward the time when we either compromise under pressure or are systemically marginalized.

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About the author

James Standish

James D. Standish earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Georgetown University, his MBA from the University of Virginia, and his BBA from Newbold College, England, where he was the student association president. He runs a Washington based consultancy firm. He is married to Dr. Lesia Morton-Standish, and together they have two daughters and a son. James previously served as director of legislative affairs in the General Conference Public Affairs & Religious Liberty department. as communications director and editor of the Adventist Record for the South Pacific Division, and as Executive Director of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom – a commission of the US Government. James served on a White House taskforce during the Obama Administration and also served as secretary of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.