In a conversation recently with an older friend I mentioned that I had been to a Secular Student Alliance Club at a local high school to talk about my faith, and the name of the club begged the question for her, “What is a Secular Student Alliance Club?” I gave a brief explanation of the club and the kinds of topics that they discuss. I made the generalization that most of the students in the club don’t hold a theistic position, most are atheist or skeptical. The friend of mine, responded with a question “They actually have a club like that in the high school?” A man listening to our conversation added that they have the right to do that, if a Christian club has the same right to meet. I agreed with the man and that led to a discussion about the actual statements in the constitution and other ideas like “the separation of church and state” and what it actually meant. The point I want to focus the rest of the post on what my friend said in wrapping up the conversation. Being a senior adult, with a “few” years of experience behind her, she asked the rhetorical question, “How did we get here?”
There are 3 terms that are central keys to the change that American has gone through over the last 50 years. Secularization, Pluralism, and Privatization. Each of these ideas have had a large impact of the beliefs, practices, and actions that play out in America.
Secularization is the process of removing all aspects of God and religion from the public life through avenues like schools, businesses, courthouses, and monuments. Groups like the ACLU and others make it their number one goal to wipe God out of all aspects from American culture and history. In a nation that is predominantly Christian, the few and small groups that are offended by the idea of God can slowly chip away at the Christian foundations that were set early in our countries history. With God moving out of the picture in American culture this creates a bold new exercise of morality by people who have no ultimate God to answer to. If God is out of the picture, they can do whatever they want, after all, no one is watching over us. Secularization pushes the ceiling on how far is too far, by creating an atmosphere of no shame in our world. With the absence of shame nothing is too far, nothing is taboo.
Pluralism is where you have a wide variety of choices. “Only in America” as Ravi Zacharias continues “can you find an Indian man selling kosher tacos in a store in Los Angeles” Ravi goes on to explain that Pluralism in foods, or styles of clothes, and other areas in not bad, bud pluralism with respect to truth and worldviews is dangerous. When you begin to look at truth as relative, you are taking truth from the objective reality and it becomes watered-down. In a recent discussion with some high school students they could not grasp the idea that truth is objective and that there can only be one correct worldview. I also experienced this past summer with some Christians in an apologetics class during camp. The idea of relative truth has crept into our culture despite the fact that it doesn’t make sense or it falls apart internally.
Privatization is the idea that you can believe what you want to believe so long as you keep it to yourself and don’t bring your beliefs out into the public or life and share them with others. In America you are free to believe and practice what you wish, but the new atheists and the secularists will go crazy if you dare insist that you actually live by what you believe and speak about your beliefs in a public way, not to mention if you hold a public office and make decisions based on your beliefs. I have noticed within privatization there is a bias by which many secular thinkers abide. They tell you that you cannot express your religious views and opinions, but at the same time they can advance their views and opinions without the same scrutiny. Think about how it affects a person with a worldview who has to constantly separate their personal and public worldviews and how it creates a schizophrenic life. Imagine that I tell my wife, I love her with all my heart, but why we are out in public I’m not going to acknowledge her, show any affection towards her, or in any way make any decisions based around her. I hope you see the problems that would cause in my relationship with her. The same is true of Christians and their relationship with God. It is insane to think that Christians should keep their faith private.
Desensitization is the key here with these three aspects. It happens slowly over time, so slow you don’t notice it until you wake up and see how far things have changed and it’s too late. I like to use the example of a frog in a pot of water when I talk to teens about slowly falling away from their relationship with God. Imagine you have a frog and a hot-pot of water. You drop the frog in the water and he will hop right back out as soon as he lands in the water. If you take the same from and place it in a pot of water and slowly turn the heat up over time the frog will sit in the pot and not jump out. The frog will eventually die. The reason being that the frog’s body will match the temperature of the water and not realize that it is too late. In the same way we need to be aware of the constant changing temperature of the world around us. Don’t let the little things go by without noticing how they change the environment around us slowly over time.
So what can you do as a Christian? How can you fight back against the Secularization, Privatization, and Pluralistic world? Here are a few ideas. First, do your best to represent God and your Christian values in both private and public. Your consistency will help yourself and encourage others. Secondly, get a good grasp on truth and why it matters. Don’t let the wave of relativism knock you down. Be ready to defend object moral truths with examples and logical reasons. Lastly, get involved in a social issue of the day. It should be something you feel strong about and support from your worldview. Items like defending traditional marriage, educating people on abortion and supporting groups that hold the Christian worldview. The worst thing you could do is nothing, being silent when others speak up allows them to get their way without a fight.
As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.