I'm getting very close to a Howard Beale eruption...you know...the moment when, as a reasonably rational man, you've been pushed to the limit, and can take it no longer.
No, don't call the fire department...I'm on the first floor, and leaping from my window will produce little more than a bruised ego. But I'm seriously considering some sort of loud, desperate action to grab the attention of our dumbstruck leaders...political, religious, and cultural. What more must the Lord permit, in order to get our attention?
Same-sex "marriage" is nearly a done deal. Atheists are pushing hard to eliminate religion from the public square. Abortionists, euthanasia practitioners, and embryonic stem cell researchers are gaining ground for the "culture of death" every day. Our language gets coarser, pornographers get bolder, and our children are being abused in every sector of this sick and dying society. So where is the church? Where are the conservatives who, in the words of George Bush, had a "mandate" from voters to spend their "political capital?"
At the risk of painting with a broad brush, allow me to venture a guess or two. The politicos are too far out from the 2006 midterm elections to worry about leadership; this is the fundraising cycle, not a time for action. Far too concerned with how it will play on the 24-hour news channels, our leaders are avoiding the cameras, and waiting for the latest storm to pass.
As for the church, well...that's a tougher call. Certainly, we show up first, and do most of the heavy lifting, whenever disaster strikes. But our numbers, and our influence in this culture, are shrinking, and there's a very good reason why. Mired in our secret sin, and just as exhausted as the rest of the world by the constant assault of daily life in the 21st century, we are pulling back and turning inward. Deceived into some sort of "zero-based" approach to morality, we compare ourselves to others, and grade our righteousness on the Bell curve. Marginalized to the point of being nearly inconsequential, our beliefs are having less and less influence in the marketplace of ideas. And it's not just the church that suffers from our inward focus.
We are allowing all we hold dear to be forcibly removed from the public square, and it's happening without a fight. Why? It's not just our timidity. It's because, along with its unmistakable and irreplaceable contribution to American life, the church also dares to remind people that we are all sinners, facing judgment someday by a righteous God. Religion limits one's choices, keeps you from experiencing the full level of guilt-free pleasure we all now seem to feel we deserve. And in our "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" culture...such intolerance cannot be permitted.
I got a clear image of where we are on the way back from lunch today. Even with my windows wound up tightly, I was subjected to the sound of screaming guitars, and that infernal "boom, boom, boom" of a hip-hop beat...as the driver in the car next to me cranked up his car stereo to the limit. The words of the angry young rapper referred to black people by that word I can't--and wouldn't--ever mention here...and warned other "players" to "stay away from his hos," and "keep their pimp hand strong"...lest he choose to "f" someone up. That's when it came to me: Such filth is what we now regard as free and protected speech...while it's the Pledge of Allegiance that's, apparently, what is too offensive and dangerous for children.
Christians, conservatives: What will it take for us to get our heads out of the sand? When do we stop being pleasant--or absent--and begin to shout out about what we know to be right--AND wrong? It's time to exhibit a bit of righteous indignation. If not this issue--than what issue? If not now--then when? And if not us...then whom?
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About Mark Daniels
Mark Daniels is a broadcasting veteran of more than 30 years, and currently serves as the Programming and Marketing Manager of WFIL/WNTP in Philadelphia. His daily talk show and On the Mark commentaries have consistently won top honors from the PA Association of Broadcasters, as well as past awards from the Philadelphia Press Association, Excellence in Media, and others. Daniels serves as host of the nationally-syndicated Christian ministry program, The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Montgomery Boice. He is a church elder and Bible conference president. Mark Daniels can be heard weekdays at 4pm ET on www.wfil.com, and The Mark Daniels Show can be seen weekly on WBPH-TV 60 (WBPH.org).
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