It's Time to Nail Our Colors to the Mast
Tony BeamDr. Tony Beam's Weblog
- 2008 May 27
They say confession is good for the soul so at the risk of sounding whiny I want to confess that I am physically and mentally exhausted. In fact, last week the thought crossed my mind to toss in the towel with my writing and my radio show and simply concentrate on my responsibilities at North Greenville University.
My weariness is not from my schedule, although doing the radio show requires my getting up at the crack of dawn and my responsibilities at North Greenville often see me working well into the evening. No, the source of my weariness is the pressure I feel from all sides to compromise or at least moderate my stand in both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Man. It seems everywhere I turn I read the opinions and hear the voices of well-respected, well-educated evangelicals who say we must change our message because the world doesn’t like us much. I hear we need to back off our defense of marriage and our insistence on protecting the sanctity of life because the world has moved on to a different agenda. Unbelievers think Christians are narrow-minded, mean, and too political. What we need, the voices say, is a complete image makeover so we can convince the world that in the battle of good and evil we are the good guys. We need to raise the white flag in the culture war since we lost long ago and focus on how we can connect with people who are concerned about global warming and the politics of change.
Clemson University Professor Dr. Dave Woodard, writing in the new book Why We Whisper he co-authored with U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, (R-SC) said,
“In the late twentieth century, the authority of political power became wedded
to the secular-progressive worldview, a philosophy that replaced absolute
truths with grand abstract narratives and unfounded pronouncements. This
new worldview asserts that since there is no public truth, the only thing that
matters is private truth. As Americans lost their right to disagree with secular-
progressive beliefs, they were forced to bear the costs, often extreme, of the new
standards of behavior. These resulting costs of our deteriorating culture are
now borne by Americans who cannot complain without being berated and being
labeled racist, sexist, homophobic, intolerant, and ignorant.”
Woodard speaks of the privatization of truth that demands people who have a well developed Christian worldview and a strong set of traditional values never raise their voice above a whisper in the public arena. It is ok for us to speak openly, within the safe confines of our houses of worship but we must moderate our message in the public sphere so we can avoid the growing list of negative labels that are attached to us by the media when we dare to raise our voices in the marketplace of ideas.
Apparently, it isn’t just evangelicals who are buying into this need to change. Right now, because of three consecutive key losses in three state congressional races that should have been automatic wins for the party, the national Republican leadership is calling for a “re-branding” of the Republican image. It is unpopular to talk about abortion, the defense of traditional marriage, the myth of global warming, and the importance of a strong national defense in the face of the threat of international terrorism. So we are told what is needed is for conservatives to moderate their message and enlarge their tent so more people will like us. Rather than sticking to what we believe is true and passionately arguing for the traditional values that have made America great, we need to move to the middle and join those who would take us down a completely different path. A path to a new, more progressive America where the real issues are the crisis of climate change, the lack of universal health care, and the need to help our enemies understand us better.
I was almost ready to join the march to the middle for no other reason except I was growing weary of seeming to be out of step with the masses. But then I received a timely reminder from an unlikely source of what is really needed in our world today. Every morning as I prepare for the airing of Christian Worldview Today I read something called the radio “prep sheet.” It is a list of celebrity birthdays, cultural trivia, historical events for the day, and so on that can be used as filler in the course of the show. One of the filler items was a trivia question asking where the term “nail your colors to the mast” originated. It is a naval term used in battle. Every navel vessel flies the flag (the colors) of their county in battle. When the captain of the ship realizes the battle is lost he gives the order to “strike the colors” to indicate surrender. Nailing the colors to the mast means no surrender. It means the captain and crew are ready to fight until the ship goes down.
Reading this, I immediately thought of the words of Jesus in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” I decided to nail my colors to the mast, stay in the battle, and keep my trust in the Master of the sea.