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When Life Ain't Fair: Christians, the Culture, and Grace


As far as paying a price for your beliefs goes, the cost to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was pretty small. Her hairstylist, Antonio Darden, will no longer cut her hair because of her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Commentators quickly noted that little more than six months ago, the highest court in New Mexico ruled that a Christian photographer violated the law when she declined to photograph a “commitment ceremony” for a lesbian couple. We were told that “[channeling our ]conduct, not [our] beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different,” was the price of citizenship.

Ergo, Darden should be compelled to cut Governor Martinez’s hair or face sanction for refusing to do so. Right?

Don't hold your breath.

At this point you may be expecting me to lament the obvious double standard and the unfairness of it all.

But not this time, I won’t. On the contrary, I want to explore why we should not complain about double standards or unfairness at all.

For starters, we were promised that double standards, misrepresentation of our views, and discriminatory treatment would be our lot. If you need to be reminded, read the Gospel of John and the Book of Acts.

What’s more, complaining about double standards reflects a failure to understand the witness of the Church to the larger, disbelieving culture.

My friend, theologian T.M. Moore, who served for many years as Chuck Colson’s advisor, uses a scene from the 1970 film, “Little Big Man,” to explain this witness.

In the film, which is one of my favorites, Jack Crabb, played by Dustin Hoffman, serves as mule-skinner to General Custer’s ill-fated Seventh Cavalry. Crabb, who was raised by the Cheyenne, tries to persuade Custer to get beyond his ego and see what common sense makes plain, that there are thousands of Indians out there hoping he'll come out against them.

But Custer won’t have it. So Crabb says, "You go. You go on out there, general. And then you will know, then you will see." Custer mocks him, and then of course rides out to his death.

According to Moore, our response toward a world which insists on dashing itself to pieces on the rocks of rebellion, unbelief, and sin perhaps should also be told “you go on and then you will see.”

But it’s a response neither born of anger nor of abandonment of the world to the consequences of its folly. Crabb followed Custer to the Little Bighorn to try and avert the disaster and was wounded in the process.

As Moore puts it, “we both can and cannot separate ourselves from the madness we see all around us. Like Daniel, we have to make our way amid an idolatrous generation with excellence and service, and by finding ways to keep our convictions without ruinous compromises.”

Still, we have to realize that the rot that threatens to destroy this generation “will not be stopped by editorials, apologetics, or politics, although we must make use of all these.” After all, the human heart set on sin is impervious to reason, never mind appeals to fairness.

In the end, Moore tells us, “Only grace can keep this generation from its own Little Bighorn.” And that grace comes to and through us, the “people of grace.”

Part of that grace is recalling that we are blessed when we are unjustly treated on account of the truth, and responding as if we believe it.

Further Thoughts...
How does God want to use your life as a conduit of grace? Gather some Christian friends and discuss the meaning of John 7:37-39 for your life. How can you help one another in this "grace adventure?"

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: March 10, 2014

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