Troubled Times

We are living in troubled times. The scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners seems to grow worse every day. A friend of mine at the Pentagon who has seen all of the photos said they were "demonic." He felt a cold chill of evil, which is not surprising -- Satan would like nothing better than to poison our policies in the Middle East. And then this past Monday here at home, gay "marriage" became legal. Now, it may seem odd to link these two stories, but it's not if you realize that, ultimately, both of them remind us of our need for God and the peril of rejecting Him. In Massachusetts four judges saw fit to overturn the entirety of recorded human history and tradition. That history and tradition, most perfectly revealed in the pages of Scripture, tell us what happens when we know the truth and willfully disregard it. God turns us over to our own shameful lusts. What we are seeing is Romans 1 being played out in 2004. And note which comes first. It begins with the rejection of the truth, and then comes the moral deterioration that threatens our culture's well being. This rejection came to mind while reading a column by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Writing from Iran, he described the oppressive environment created by the theocratic rule of the ayatollahs. In describing how imposing Islam had backfired on the ayatollahs, his column was a "must-read" for its insights. But he didn't stop there and, thus, the column became a "must-read" for an entirely different reason. He wrote that "there's a useful lesson here for George Bush's America as well as for the ayatollahs' Iran: When a religion is imposed on people, when a government tries too ostentatiously to put itself 'under God,' the effect is often not to prop up religious faith but to undermine it. Nothing is more lethal to religious faith than having self-righteous, intolerant politicians . . . drag God into politics." What an outrageous slander of President Bush and conservative Christians -- comparing us to the ayatollahs. But let me tell you what bothers me most about this comment: It probably honestly reflects the attitude of the elite in America. They're neither neutral nor even opposed to religion -- they're aggressively hostile. In their worldview, the more secular a polity, the better the culture. Religion, especially the biblical kind, can only oppress and divide people. This is why they see ayatollahs where others see ministers and lay people. If the effects of this worldview were limited to a few zip codes on both coasts, it would be an irritant. But the effects are felt everywhere. And, just as God warned us, moral chaos follows in its wake. Fortunately, there are still things we can do, starting with praying for God's mercy, for peace in the Middle East, and for morality at home. Like Nehemiah's men, we can also stand guard over the walls that have safeguarded our society, the moral traditions inherited from Christianity. That means becoming more adept at making the case for Christian faith and the worldview it produces -- because it's only these that can see us through these troubled times, times we have brought on ourselves by rejecting what we know is true. For further reading and information: Nicholas D. Kristof, "Overdosing on Islam," New York Times, 12 May 2004. Free registration required. David Brooks, "In Iraq, America's Shakeout Moment," New York Times, 18 May 2004. Free registration required. John O'Sullivan, "Left Eye's View," National Review Online, 18 May 2004. Michael Novak, "A Pope and a President," National Review Online, 18 May 2004. Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, The Problem of Evil (Tyndale, 1999). Robert George, The Clash of Orthodoxies (ISI Books, 2001). Register today for the Wilberforce Forum's worldview certificate program. BreakPoint Commentary No. 030707, "How Quickly They Forget: Christians in (and out of) the News."
  1. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know(Spence, 2003).
Leon Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom (Free Press, 2003). Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett, Christianity on Trial (Encounter, 2001).


Chuck Colson


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