1 Peter 3:13-17 And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? (14) But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, (15) but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (16) and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (17) For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
On a mission trip to Bulgaria to work with the gypsies [Roma] in a small city, the teens accompanying us got to know a 15 year old Roma girl. She was the leading light in the church’s youth group. Not only did she have a sweet demeanor, she was quite attractive on the outside too.
In the Roma culture, marriages are arranged through negotiations between the families. Money or goods are included in the deal. The prospective bride-to-be has little or no say as to whom or when she will marry. The bride then learns to become a good wife to her husband by effectively becoming a servant to her mother-in-law, since it is normal for them to live in the same house (though when possible on a different floor of that house).
Why do I bring up this cultural practice? Some of you may already see the direction I am going. On our trip back to minister the following year, to our dismay, we found out that the girl had been married off to an unbeliever, who no longer let her go to church. Even worse, the pastor of the church at which we did our work, and probably the best pastor of the Roma community in eastern Bulgaria, had helped broker the deal because the groom was his nephew. Our missionary contact to this church had given a stern rebuke to the pastor, but by the time he had found out, the deal had been consummated.
Peter’s words above encourage Christians to continue their obedience to God, especially as it concerns opposition. How do we respond when we do receive opposition, even attacks against our person or character? We should be expecting such attacks, as evil always will attack in some form, and we should respond with an attitude befitting followers of Christ. We are not to back down, but we should treat the other person with “gentleness and reverence”, or as some might picture it, calm and respect. We know that our ultimate vindication comes from God. That fact should give us strength and confidence to do what is right. Evil has no such vindication or strength. Thus the opposition has to rely on intimidation, character assassination, and even physical force (“might makes right”) for their justification.
The forces which drive a culture are strong. To stand against a deeply ingrained evil invites persecution. Because it is so deeply ingrained, many people do not recognize it as evil. The girl in the story above really was at a severe disadvantage. She may not have known the Bible taught against marrying an unbeliever, since most Roma education ends at the eighth grade. Roma unemployment was around 70%, so for her to secure a job would have been extremely remote. A young woman, a girl really, without the protection of parents or husband would most likely have to turn to prostitution in order to survive. So I am not critical of her. I am critical of the otherwise good pastor. Yes, it would have been extraordinarily difficult to stand against family and cultural tradition, but that was his role in that situation. Unfortunately, he failed.
What are the evils in our culture? What are the evils that are currently accepted as normal? What are the evils which would undoubtedly bring persecution in some form, if we stood up and said, “God’s Word teaches. . . .” [Note: Never start your point with “I feel”. Your feelings carry no authority. God’s Word is authoritative in itself. It is the only real authority you have or need.]
As I considered our cultural evils, it was not difficult to think of a dozen or more, far too many to take up in a short piece as this. There are the obvious ones of course: abortion, pluralism, multi-culturalism, LGBTQ in all of it’s manifestations, cultural marxism, etc. But then there are the not so obvious ones. Ones that are so deeply embedded in our culture now that most people, even many Christians, do not see them as evil.
For instance, allow me to discuss public schools. Education through the vehicle of public schools has a long tradition in the U.S. It is part of the “American dream.” Get a good education, which will lead to a good job, which then will lead to prosperity. While some Christians have criticized schools for various reasons, since an education is required by law, most of us still send our children to a public school. But should we?
Soon after colonists arrived in America (1647), the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the Deluder Satan Act. This law required towns to hire a schoolmaster to teach the children in that town. The reason behind the law was to ensure that everyone would learn how to read the Bible so that they would not be misled by Satan. This well-intentioned act founded public schools. Along the way, events occurred, especially in the Twentieth Century, that aided evil forces in the almost complete takeover of the public school system in our country: Scopes Trial, the establishment of the Department of Education, the Marxist takeover of university education departments and governmental bureaucracies, Marxist and atheistic lawsuits, etc. Now teachers may not even have a Bible on their desks, much less teach it. Evolution is taught as fact. God the Creator is banished. The most popular American history book used in high schools has been A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Zinn is a devout Marxist. And I have not mentioned the sex education perversions taught, even in elementary schools. Public schools are no longer places of education. They are now lairs of indoctrination into all things anti-Christ, which feed children an intoxicating blend of rationalism, nihilism, neopaganism, narcissism, atheism, marxism, and hedonism. Thus, instead of institutions to help students learn about God, the system explicitly promotes the evil it was originally intended to hinder.
Yes, there are some good Christian teachers in public schools trying to be faithful. It is not their fault. The weight of the system is against them. Anthony Esolen has written, “The public schools with their vast political and bureaucratic machinery, are beyond reform. That does not mean that persons of good will should not offer themselves up as missionaries of truth and goodness and beauty, to teach there. . . . But we would be quite mad to send our children there. We send missionaries to cannibals. We do not serve the cannibals our boys and girls” (Out of the Ashes, p.54).
Universities are not any better, and in some ways far worse – no parental oversight preventing them from putting into practice those things they were taught through high school. Is it any wonder that an overwhelming majority of evangelically raised children stop going to church during their college years? Now, 35% of all Americans claim no religion at all, and a large percentage of those are Millennials. God gives the parents the responsibility of raising their children in the Lord (Dt 11.19-20; Prov 22.6; and Joel 1.3). When you handoff that responsibility to an ungodly institution, the likely result will be ungodliness (Prov 13.20; 1Co 15.33-34; and 2Co 6.14-18).
[Note: One might argue that one needs a college degree to get a good job. Nope. A child could go to a local community college for two years for far less money, learn to become a plumber or electrician, and not be saddled with a load of debt that they cannot pay back. Did you know welders can make a six digit salary each year? Some private Christian colleges or universities would also be a good choice for those who must have a college education. If you wish to read more on the state of U.S. education, see The End of Sanity by Martin Gross. The book was written over 20 years ago (!), and even then the system was broken. Now it is far worse.]
Of course, some Christians must send their children to a public school. Because of sin, there are many single parent families. The single parent must work in order to feed and house the family. Unfortunately, that means that they must work more diligently with their children at home in an attempt to counteract the influence and teaching their children are receiving at school. However, if at all possible, the Christian families’ children should be homeschooled or sent to a private or church school, even if that means the family must make sacrifices financially. Inconvenience is not an excuse. It is that important. Children are that important.
I end this Anchor with another quote from Anthony Esolen (Out of the Ashes, p.68-69).
. . . the role of religion in human life is not little. It is essential: without it there is no culture at all, because culture is a cultivation of the things that a people considers most sacred. Those who talk glibly about the “multicultural” are, in my experience, mainly monolingual Westerners who have lost any strong sense of what any kind of culture must be about. . . . the “multicultural” act as a universal cultural solvent. So too the “progressive” drive to bleach religious devotion out of whatever remains of the culture to be handed on to children in school. The result is not white and pure, but blank and void.
. . . . To take the highest things out of a curriculum is to attempt to win a temporary consensus by sacrificing what the education of a human being ultimately is for. We avoid religious questions at the cost of avoiding the most human questions [eg meaning and purpose in life]. And thus education, which should be human, is reduced to the mechanical and the low.