Though many debate whether the United States was ever a “Christian nation,” there can be no denying that a Christian worldview and biblical principles were fundamental in the formation of this country. Indeed, the founding fathers understood this even as they crafted the charter documents of our government. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which mark the ideals of every American, are endowed to us by our Creator. John Adams wrote, “We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
And for many years, America seemed to be comprised of a largely “moral and religious people.” That’s not to say that everyone was a Christian, or that outward morality or religiosity was equivalent to having truly been born again by the Holy Spirit. But for so many years, this nation that was built upon the freedom of speech, expression, and religion has provided a conducive environment for the Church of Jesus Christ to fulfill her mission: to freely proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of those whom the Lord saves. This symbiotic relationship has resulted in a general moral consciousness in society that has made it suitable to be governed by our Constitution, according to the vision expressed by Adams above.
But as I said, the last few months have been particularly tiresome for Christians in America, as our society continues to give indication after indication of increasing hostility against the very values that our country was built upon.
As recently as a few days ago, our society has continued to celebrate the “transitioning” of Olympian Bruce Jenner, even going so far as to honor him with the ESPY Arthur Ashe award for courage. The whole episode with Jenner sparked a nationwide conversation about transgenderism. Gender, our culture tells us, is a fluid construct, not at all linked to biology, and is to be decided upon by each individual, no matter how young or how old. And if a 12 year-old boy at your child’s middle school decides he’s a girl, he will be sharing a bathroom with your 12 year-old daughter, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
On June 26, the Supreme Court mandated that all 50 states fundamentally redefine one of the most foundational building blocks of civilized society. Squares can be round, a tail can be a leg, and, according to the infinite wisdom of the five lawyers on high, “marriage” can describe a union between two men or two women. And because of that decision, Bible-believing chaplains should be kicked out of the military, churches should lose their tax exemptions, and clergy should be forced to perform same sex “marriages” against their conscience.
And just this week, a video was released that reminded us once again of the preeminent social injustice of our day: the constitutionally-protected right to mercilessly murder one’s own children. In an undercover video of the Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood, the nation was confronted with the sight of Deborah Nucatola discussing Planned Parenthood’s business of selling the organs and limbs of dismembered children, all while sipping wine and enjoying her salad. It was like sitting down to lunch with Heinrich Himmler.
Now in one sense, Christians should not be surprised to see the world acting like the world. No matter what our country’s roots are, we are under no delusions. Apart from the sovereign, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, mankind is totally depraved, corrupted by evil to the very core of our being. And yet these displays of the godlessness and immorality of our nation over the past view months have been particularly high-handed, particularly rebellious, particularly gruesome. And while we know we are not defeated by these things—God laughs and scoffs, and King Jesus still reigns from the throne of heaven (Psalm 2:4–6)—we lament and mourn the moral demise of a country that we once loved. Like Jeremiah on the ash heap of Jerusalem, we know something of the sentiments he expressed as he wrote, “My eyes fail because of tears, My spirit is greatly troubled; My heart is poured out on the earth Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Lam 2:11). Like the psalmist confronted with the godlessness of his own nation, we feel what it meant for him to say, “My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law” (Ps 119:136).
The Self-Deification of Society
How are we to process all of this?
Well, as I see it, all three of these checkpoints of moral degradation—transgenderism, homosexualism and the destruction of marriage, and abortion—all stem from the same polluted fountain out of which even the first sin flowed: self-deification. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God in the Garden by holding out to them the deceitful promise that they would become like God in their rebellion. And it seems plain to me that our society is absolutely intoxicated with the very same prospect. They want to be God.
The Lord Jesus affirms in Matthew 19:4 the creation-reality of Genesis 1:27, that in the beginning God created mankind in His own image as male and female. Our Creator has determined that gender is binary and immutable, and that such order—even amidst unity in diversity—is reflective of His own character and nature. And yet transgenderism preaches, “No! God is not the determiner of your gender and identity. You are! You create male and female, in your image! You have to do what feels right for you, and don’t let anybody—least of all your Creator—tell you different!”
In the same text in Matthew 19, by that very reference to mankind being created male and female, the Lord Jesus underscores that God, the Creator of marriage and of mankind, has defined marriage to be between one man and one woman. God’s condemnation of homosexuality could not be clearer (Rom 1:26-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; 1 Tim 1:9-10). And yet the vehement homosexualism of our society rebelliously declares, “No! God will not dictate to us what marriage is or is not! We will define marriage any way we see fit! And if you disagree with us, we will campaign to get you fired from your job, to destroy your business, and to marginalize you from society in any way we possibly can!”
In the same vein, the God who has created mankind male and female with the design that one man and one woman be joined in marriage, has created us in His image (Gen 1:27). And because all human life is uniquely created in the image of God, for this reason human life is sacred. It is for this very reason, as God reaffirms His creation mandate to Noah after the flood (cf. Gen 9:1), that He says, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man” (Gen 9:6). Anyone who unjustly takes the life of an image-bearer of the God of the universe is a murderer. And that is such an offense—such a distortion of the image of God in his own person—that such a man is required to pay for that offense with his own life. God Himself is the Creator of all life. And yet the culture of death, prostituting the cause of women’s rights to satisfy their own bloodlust, pronounces with the dogmatism of modernity, “No! That child in your womb is simply a fetus—simply a clump of cells. It does not become a living human person until you feel like it is a living human person! And if you want to, you can hire a skilled hitman to crush its skull, tear it into pieces, and suck it out of you through a vacuum! But if you declare that it is a living person, the law will prosecute anyone who harms it.”
You are the determiner of your identity, not God your Creator. You define marriage, not God the Creator of marriage. You determine life and personhood, not God the Creator of all life. Transgenderism, homosexualism, and abortion are our society’s fledgling attempts at self-deification—the creature’s rebellious hallucination that it is Creator and Lord. And even if they’re not transgender, even if they’re not homosexual, and even if they have no interest in killing their children, the rest of our society must support these expressions of self-deification, lest they be confronted with the futility and fantasy of their own designs to flee the Lordship of Christ.
The Church’s Mission
That means that our mission, my fellow followers of Jesus, is not to retreat from this depraved culture, but to go into this depraved culture and herald the message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To tell a world drunk on its own arrogance that God is God, and they are not. That He makes authoritative declarations and pronouncements and judgments, and they do not. It is to tell this lost world that their sovereign Creator has made a declaration, and it is this: that all people everywhere must repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. And that on that day, at the name of His Son, the Lord of all the earth, Jesus Christ, every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ—not themselves—is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We must declare to them: “Dear friend, if you have conformed to the rebellion of our culture, declaring yourself to be lord of your life and pursuing your own self-deification, this confession of the Lordship of Jesus that you will make on that last day will not be the adoring praise of a worshiper converted at the eleventh hour. No, it will be the despairing admission of a conquered enemy, bowing in resentful submission to the Sovereign King whose power you can no longer deny. And nothing will remain but for you to enter into His everlasting destruction. Friend, be reasonable. You did not create yourself. And whether it’s today, or on that terrible day, you will have to bow your knee in submission to the One who did create you: the Lord Jesus Christ. I plead with you to bow it now. Despite all of your sin and stubborn refusal, the door of salvation yet remains open. Abandon your sin, and abandon yourself, and run to Christ.”
My fellow Christians, it is the preaching of that Gospel—and that Gospel alone—that will bow the arrogant heart of self-deification that revels in transgenderism, homosexualism, and abortion. Let us be pray-ers and let us be preachers, for the sake of our nation and for the sake of God’s glory.