THE DEATH OF THE MORAL MAJORITY
On the closing night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Donald Trump accepted the nomination of the Republican party for President of the United States. This is what most people are focusing on. But something else happened that night that is not getting as much attention, but should be noted: Peter Thiel gave a speech before Trump, and what he said signaled the failed moral footing of the Republican party. I'll come back to that in a moment.
First, it is important to note some context. For many years, Christians have conflated being a Christian with being a republican. We see it in terms like "the religious right". On one hand, I can see how that might be easy to do. Republicans have typically shared a moral conviction with Christians that has melded nicely. Republicans have upheld marriage as God designed it, stood against abortion (at least in rhetoric), and represented "traditional family values". Couple that with nationalistic teaching from the pulpit where narcigesis makes texts that are specifically focused on Israel while applying it to America, and you have what's called the "evangelical vote". We are America! God's new Israel. The last best hope of man on earth (according to Ronald Reagan's inaugural address in 1985). Therein lies the problem. What we have done is we have so confused the power of the gospel with the power of government that we have, in many cases subconsciously, placed our hope in Republicans. We've come to rely on conservatives that will uphold the values we have so that, on the surface, we will look like a moral, God-honoring country. That looks good on the exterior, but all the while the heart is as black as it has ever been.
The result of this has been that Christianity is culturally acceptable. In many minds, to be a Republican is to be a Christian and to be a Christian is to be a Republican. We have taken for granted God's blessing on America where we don't have to worry about persecution for our faith. The cultural morality has lined up rather nicely with Biblical morality. Add to that slow reduction of the gospel to a mere mental ascent and praying a prayer by the church and we desensitize ourselves to the sickness of sin. The gospel has been reduced to "do you want to go to heaven" or worse "you don't want to go to hell do you?" and people are manipulated into thinking they are saved. We hear things like "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" and the response of the unregenerate heart is "Wow! I love me too! Sure, I'll take a God who joins in loving me and makes me the center of the universe". We have lost the holiness of God. The glory of God. The gravity of sin, and the beauty of forgiveness in Christ. So, we have plodded along happy that the cultural morality lines up with Christian morality, waving a symbol of systematic mass infanticide and patting each other on the back -- at least that is how it has been. But not anymore. Things have changed.
We have now turned to mourning the moral decline of our culture. As Christians, we lament the loss of family values and wonder "How could this happen here? This is America... A Christian nation". The problem with this is we are not a Christian nation. Christianity and Christian values are quickly becoming a minority and it's time to come to grips with that rather than longing for the good old days when it didn't cost anything to follow Christ. The days when it was culturally easy to be a Christian and when society, in large, embraced Christian morality. It's time to realize that no political ideology will save souls. In short, it's time to return to the great commission. It's time for Christians to say "I am a citizen of heaven and my home is there". To be about Kingdom work rather than political activism. The question then becomes “Don't we as Christians share the same moral ideals with Republicans?” This brings me to the quote from Thiel.
Thiel, an open homosexual Republican said, “Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?” One would expect a certain response from the party that supposedly aligns so closely with us on issues of morality. We would expect boos, or at the least, silence. That was not what happened; the response was quite the opposite. Applause. Celebration. Approval. Let that settle in for a second. Applause at the statement "who cares?" regarding who gets to use which bathroom coming from the floor of the Republican National Convention. I would disagree with the insinuation that we shouldn't care about the bathroom issue.
The issue of bathroom use has become an issue of religious freedom. Churches are being pressed to open bathrooms to all genders. The issue of bathroom use is an issue of public safety and privacy. The number of assaults and invasions of privacy with this have been staggering. Moreover, this is being pushed into our schools, and Christians are being forced to choose between their job and their convictions.
The issue is that of gender being determined by genetics and not feelings. God designed males and females differently, and His good design is being attacked by the culture. The controversy over bathroom use shows the rapid moral decay of our culture. Yet Republicans cheer.
What we saw when Thiel made that statement was the death of any idea that we are a Christian nation. Gender identity is a distraction. The safety of my daughter is a distraction. God's design for sexuality is a distraction. When he proclaimed his pride in his rebellion against God by saying "Every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay, I am proud to be a Republican, but most of all, I am proud to be an American", he was met with even more thunderous applause from the same party that has claimed to represent the "religious right". Acceptance of the gay agenda and of the moral revolution we are seeing throughout this country, has become a part of the conservative party platform. Even though many may deny that, the response of the delegates confirmed it. Morality no longer matters to the Republican party. We are so disenchanted with where our country has gone that we will surrender that aspect of who we are to the culture in order to win an election and garner gay voters. This is to be expected from a party whose nominee is a narcissistic serial adulterer who will admittedly consider limiting religious liberty in America. Granted, it is limiting religious liberty for Muslims, but Christianity is next. The irony is that Cruz stated that people should vote their conscience, and he was booed (why would one boo if voting for the nominee wasn't seen as a violation of conscience?), and a statement of "who cares?" about gender issues and a public pride in sin resulted in cheers.
The religious right is dead... and good riddance. For too long it has interfered with the gospel going forth. For too long Christians have identified as patriots first and Christians second. The idol of freedom is being torn down (include religious freedom in that), and the time is coming when we will understand better what it means to suffer for Christ. Let's be honest... Christians share a significant amount of blame in this because of our complacency. We are to blame for our love of the opinions of man. For our lack of evangelistic zeal. We have been putting our heads in the sand thinking, "If people act morally, if we have conservative policies, that's good enough for me cause what's happening in other countries can never happen here". We have bought the lie that we are entitled to freedom and will not be persecuted. The lines are being drawn in the sand. It is nearing the point where a choice must be made... Am I a Republican or a Christian? Am I an American or a Christian?
We must begin to recover a theology like that of the 1st century church who suffered persecution under Nero. Rather than bemoaning the moral decline of our country, the time has come to accept it as reality, even within the Republican party, and revive our efforts to proclaim Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). The time has come for Christians to stop being identified first with a political party, and begin being identified first with Christ and a heavenly Kingdom (Philippians 3:20). It's time for us to get serious about the gospel, because the gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). The gospel, not conservative politics, not a nationalistic rhetoric, should be our battle cry. It's time to go to suit up with the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) because we are engaged in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). We need to fight as good soldiers of the gospel, not getting entangled in civilian affairs (2 Timothy 2:4). If we want to see real change, it has to come from the heart. The church is called to storm the gates of hell with the gospel (Matthew 16:18), not politics. It's time to be the church to a broken world. America is not the end all be all of humanity. It is not “the last best hope of man on earth”. The gospel is.