Or, The Bible Said It Would Be This Way
“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:10-13
Three news items caught my attention yesterday:
1) Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s dismissal by A&E network due to comments he made against homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/19/showbiz/duck-dynasty-suspension/
2) A federal judge in Utah’s dismissal of a key provision of the state’s anti-polygamy law, citing as a key precedent the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/14/justice/utah-polygamy-law/
3) The US Army War College’s consideration of removing portraits of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson because they “fought against America”: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/12/18/us-army-war-college-considers-removing-its-portraits-confederate-generals/
Each of these stories indicates a major and recent shift in thinking in our culture. The Phil Robertson case exposes an attempt on the part of a major media company to suppress any and all speech against gays in any form. The fact that a major cable network felt the need and the freedom to drop Robertson immediately shows how much traction pro-homosexuality forces have gained in the last few years. We’re seeing more and more cases in which as soon as a public figure (usually a Christian) espouses opposition to the homosexual agenda they are excluded and ostracized.
Consider the example a few months ago in which Tim Tebow felt pressure to cancel a speaking engagement at a Baptist Church in Texas all because the church leadership had spoken out openly against homosexuality. As a result it had been labelled an “anti- gay church”–never mind whatever good the church might be doing. All they cared about was that the church had taken a stand against homosexuality. Tebow started getting heat from the media about speaking at an “anti-gay church” and eventually succumbed to the social pressure and cancelled the engagement.
Many Christians feel Tebow shouldn’t have bowed to the pressure, and they may be right. But the situation, which is one of several we’ve heard about in the news lately, shows how it’s getting to the point in our culture at which anyone who speaks out against homosexuality is black-listed. Phil Robertson’s situation reveals this even more clearly.
The tide of public opinion is turning quickly on this issue, so much so that it may not be long before companies will refuse to knowingly hire anyone who opposes gay marriage or speaks out in any way against homosexuals. So much of it is fueled by peer pressure and the fear of being ridiculed or ostracized. Very few people these days have the stomach or backbone to weather the intimidation tactics used by liberals and homosexual activists and the social backlash that results from them. And if people start losing their jobs, or having trouble getting jobs, over this sort of thing, then the pressure will take a very tangible financial form as well.
The Utah marriage case also shows how quickly public opinion is changing, and how willing the sheep are to be led astray. As recently as just a few years ago public perceptions of Mormon polygamists were universally negative. Now, though, suddenly “plural marriage” and “polyamory” (the love of more than one person at a time) are becoming acceptable possibilities. The judge in the case cited this year’s Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act as a primary precedent in the case. The reasoning is that if the law no longer limits marriage to being between a man and a woman, then why should marriage be limited to only two people either?
The irony of this is that one of the key arguments conservatives have been using against gay marriage is that it will open the door to other, worse behaviors like polygamy or pedophilia. Gay marriage supporters have laughed at this reasoning, claiming it’s preposterous. Apparently it’s not so preposterous after all. DOMA was only struck down a few months ago. Gay marriage hasn’t even been legalized in that many more states. And yet here already the protections against polygamy are being lifted, and the demise of DOMA was openly cited as the rationale. I’ll wager that it won’t be long before we’ll start seeing legal challenges to the age of consent as well.
It appears a time is coming in the near future when we’ll be facing an anything-goes morality. Matthew 24 in the Bible describes what the world will be like in the last days, and in verse 11 it tells us that in those days “lawlessness will be increased.” Webster’s dictionary defines lawlessness as “not regulated by or based on law; not restrained or controlled by law; unruly; illegal” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lawlessness). I would add that when the Bible speaks of lawlessness it refers to the breakdown of man-made laws, but even more to the disruption of God’s laws.
This is literally what we’re seeing before our eyes. In the early ’60s the Supreme Court removed laws that allowed public prayers in our schools. In 1973 the law protecting unborn children was struck down by the Supreme Court. Nowadays the trend seems to be on steroids. In June of this year a law protecting the traditional (and biblical) definition of marriage between a man and a woman was struck down. Now based on that, a key provision of a law protecting marriage as between only one man and one woman was removed as well.
Before our very eyes we’ve seen the dismantling of all these laws that upheld God’s ways. In each case the law in question had been the law of the land since the founding of our Republic. So these changes have signaled a “sea change,” as they say,” in the ways Americans view morality. In each case the Supreme Court has embraced a new way of looking at things that had never been known before. What will be next??
It has become fashionable these days to denigrate the Bible as just an old-fashioned, out of date book. But I will tell you this: Many things the Bible predicted are coming true.
About the last days Matthew 24:10-13 says: “10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (emphasis added).
Verse 10 speaks of a time when “many will fall away.” This is speaking of falling away from the Christian faith. Over the last generation we’ve seen countless young people who were raised in the church leave, never to return. And in the last decade or so many previously professing Christians have lost all interest in church, and others have renounced Christian faith altogether, some turning to New Age and other religions, and others becoming atheists. Many of today’s militant atheists attended church when they were younger. With a few exceptions, Christian churches and denominations are reporting membership losses across the board.
There’s a lot of hand-wringing today over these losses. And we should be saddened and concerned to see so many people abandoning “the faith once delivered to the saints.” But it should not surprise us. The Bible said this would happen. Some churches are bending over backwards and flipping cartwheels trying to get those who have fallen away back in church. But when the gospel is changed or compromised in order to do so, such efforts are misguided. According to the Bible, this is to be expected in the years before the Lord returns.
Matthew 24:11 says that in the last days “many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” To fully understand this trend, you have to take the long view, going back 150 years. We’ve seen it with the rise in cults and alternative religions during that time, with the advent and growth of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, various cult leaders, and most recently, the New Age movement.
That may seem like a long time to look back to, but if you study history you can see the world has been on this trajectory leading up to the end for a long time. You had the rise of all these cults in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Then in the early 20th century there was the growth of Zionism, leading to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948. During the same period, you had the growth of Darwinian evolutionary theory which caused many people to lose faith in the teachings of the Bible.
In the early 1900s many of the historic Christian denominations were renouncing the Bible and traditional Christian beliefs in favor of a new modern interpretation that left no room for anything supernatural. Now in the late 20th and early 21st centuries the evangelical church has succumbed to a very similar spirit in which many evangelicals and conservative churches are also rejecting or redefining basic Christian beliefs just as the traditional churches did almost century ago.
The heresy, the unbelief, the rise of false prophets, and the embrace of false religions has been increasing exponentially over the last 150 years. And it’s reaching a fever pitch at this point in history. It is all leading somewhere. I will probably blog about that in the weeks to come.
Matthew 24:12 speaks of the increase in lawlessness which we’ve already explored. All these verses, and indeed all of Matthew chapter 24, have been coming true before our very eyes (I will talk more about that in future blog posts), showing that the Bible is a reliable guide to life in our world and what the future holds. What we are seeing is no surprise to the careful student of the Scriptures.
So you can ignore the Bible if you want to, but it is eerily accurate at describing where we’ve come from and where we’re headed. Those who reject the Bible and its treasures do so at their own peril.
The news story about the US Army War College considering the removal of portraits of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson illustrates another major shift in thinking in our society. After the Civil War President Andrew Johnson eventually pardoned anyone and everyone who had “committed treason” against the United States by fighting for the Confederacy. Stonewall Jackson died during the war, but in the years after the war General Lee was widely regarded by southerners and northerners alike. Both Jackson and Lee are generally acknowledged as brilliant military tacticians and their battles are often studied in advanced military training. (The info here about Lee and Jackson and in the paragraphs below is based on Wikipedia articles on these two military leaders.)
In the years following the Civil War northern leaders made a conscious effort to re-integrate the nation and mainstream southerners back into national life. Lee had been a loyal soldier in the U.S. Army and now that the Confederacy was once more part of the United States, his brilliant leadership of the Confederate army was later recognized for what it was. It was realized that the former Confederacy was now “us” again and had been re-integrated into the union, and so its history was now part of “our” history.
Now some professors at the U.S. Army War College want to undo all that. They want to ignore the accomplishments of two great American generals and create a revisionist history that once again only sees them as the enemy. No doubt this is a function of an extreme liberal perspective that can only see the Confederacy through the lens of the bad things it stood for, like slavery, and wants to completely discount everything having to do with it for that one association.
The reason I mention this here is because, just as liberals want to demonize Phil Robertson for expressing views on homosexuality that go against today’s views on Political Correctness, so also these folks at the War College want to re-demonize Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, presumably because of their association with slavery. In fact, though, neither Jackson or Lee was an advocate of slavery and Lee expressed relief when the slaves were finally emancipated at the end of the war.
What the Phil Robertson and the War College situations have in common is that each represents a rather extreme effort to control thought and perception. Those who oppose Phil Robertson want to suppress all negative speech against homosexuals. Those at the War College who seek to have the portraits of the Confederate generals removed desire to control our thinking by scrubbing our history of anything unpleasant or not in keeping with present-day Political Correctness.
As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a-changin.” Rapidly. And not for the better. May God help us.