The Satanic Temple is launching an online abortion clinic that prescribes medication for patients who want to take part in its “religious abortion ritual.” The group named the initiative “The Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic” in reference to the Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
In related news, the Grammy Awards recently recognized “Unholy” as the best pop duo of the year; the performance of the song during the show included demonic costumes and depraved sexual themes. Prior to the show, singer Sam Smith tweeted a photo of himself in rehearsal wearing devil horns with the words “This is going to be SPECIAL” and a devil emoji. CBS responded: “You can say that again. We are ready to worship!” They later deleted the tweet.
While these stories are obviously tragic and disturbing, they are no longer surprising, a cultural fact which is itself tragic and disturbing.
Now consider a thought experiment: imagine that a group of pro-life supporters launched an initiative opposing abortion named for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s mother. Or that the Grammy Awards included a performance they knew would offend Muslims (or any other religious group except Christians).
What would be the response in secular culture?
“The biggest threat to American democracy”
George F. Will has been a conservative columnist for the Washington Post for the last half-century. In a fascinating recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, he laments the fact that “consciousness itself has become a political project.”
Here is his explanation: “You can blame Marx, or his precursor Hegel. Once you decide that human nature is a fiction, that human beings are merely the sum of impressions made on them by their surrounding culture, then politics acquires an enormous jurisdiction. Consciousness becomes a political project, and the point of politics becomes the control of culture in order to control the imposition of proper consciousnesses.”
In Will’s view, progressives think that “consciousness is to be transmitted by the government. And they’re working on it, starting with kindergarten. The academic culture, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to kindergarten in Flagstaff, Arizona, is the same now, coast to coast, as far as I can tell.”
This works because our secular society has jettisoned belief in objective truth and morality, viewing people as made not in God’s image but in the image of pragmatic consensus. As a result, politics are so crucial these days because political power can be used to inculcate a particular worldview across society. When political parties advance that consensus through cultural institutions, they ensure that they remain in power.
All that is necessary is for the worldview being advanced to appeal to our intrinsic desires and needs. An agenda that empowers us to define ourselves and our “truth” as we wish appeals to the “will to power” at the heart of fallen humanity (Genesis 3:5). A corollary agenda that defines morality as anything that doesn’t harm someone else appeals to the “works of the flesh” such as “sexual immorality, impurity, [and] sensuality” (Galatians 5:19).
At the end of his Wall Street Journal interview, George Will states, “People always ask, ‘What’s the biggest threat to American democracy?’ The biggest threat to American democracy is American democracy. It is the fact that we have incontinent appetites and no restraint on them” (his emphasis).
The great impediment to revival
We have been focusing this week on the revival still ongoing at Asbury University in Kentucky. I am praying for God to protect and bless those experiencing this remarkable movement of his Spirit and to make them a catalyst for the spiritual awakening our nation needs so desperately.
Here’s the great impediment to God answering such prayers: we must admit that we need what only his Spirit can do. If God’s people do not recognize how much we need the transforming power of God in our lives and our culture, we will not truly seek such a movement or pay a personal price to join it.
The 2 Chronicles 7:14 text so often connected to revival begins, “If my people who are called by my name . . . .” However, its call to humility and dependence on God is preceded by verse 13’s description of a day when drought, devastation, and disease have ravaged the land. In that condition, the people would clearly know that they needed to turn to God in desperation.
Here’s my point: American society is now in the same condition spiritually that the Israel described by 2 Chronicles 7:13 was in physically. The unbiblical immorality that began gaining cultural traction with the sexual revolution of the 1960s has become normalized and legalized. Those who stand for biblical morality are now stigmatized and such opposition is increasingly criminalized.
This movement is using the levers of cultural and political influence to advance its aims and ensure its continued power.
“Led forward by grace”
Let’s end on a positive note: God knows everything I have discussed today and is still on his throne. He is working to redeem the brokenness of our secularized society by using it to draw people to his amazing grace and love. And, as the Asbury revival shows, he is using all who will be used in his agenda of restoration and renewal.
An unknown writer in the fourth century noted that “those who carry Christ within them, shining within them and renewing them—these people are guided by the Spirit in various ways and led forward by grace working invisibly in the inner peace of their hearts.”
As we know Christ and make him known, the Christ within us will renew us and lead us “forward by grace.” However others respond to such grace, we will know we have been faithful to the God who is faithful to us.
And, as Mother Teresa observed, “When facing God, results are not important. Faithfulness is what is important.”
Will you do what is “important” today?