In ordinary times we can get by with ordinary men – and women. But we no longer live in ordinary times. We live in extraordinarily dark and evil times. And during such times the ordinary will just not cut it. We need heroes in days like this.
Up until recently all we could ask of most Christians was that they be a good worker, a good family member, and a good church goer. A believer who put hard work, family, and faith first was basically doing his duty and that was about all we expected of them. But times have changed, and this is no longer good enough.
We are now in a time of war, and business as usual cannot be the order of the day. Something more is required of us all when everything we hold near and dear is under direct and sustained attack. And unless you have lived in a cave for the past half century, you would know that faith, family and freedom have all been ferociously targeted by militant activists.
Worse yet, by and large they have won. Our side has taken enormous hits and sustained serious losses. The Christian faith is being savaged and Western civilisation is teetering on a knife-edge. We are now on war footing – or we should be. But most Christians act as if nothing is amiss and everything is just rosy.
They are basically on vacation while wars rage all around them. But one simply cannot live an ordinary life in such dark and diabolical days. I have written on this before, including this piece from 2014: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/11/no-more-business-as-usual/
And this more recent one: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/03/22/wartime-not-business-usual/
But it seems I must keep on writing such articles. We were in a war bigtime a decade ago, but even more so now. Things were bad five years ago, but are even worse today. The days were dark in recent years, but they are now nearly pitch black.
Of course the watchmen on the wall were there all along. They were tirelessly sounding the alarm. They were warning the people, pleading with the people and praying for the people. But most of their warnings simply fell on deaf ears. Yes, we will keep on sounding the alarm, but one often wonders if most of the church is simply deaf and really could not care less.
While I have spoken about the descending darkness for many decades now, so have others. They too will tell you that most folks still don’t know and still don’t care. But they knew they had a biblical obligation to speak out nonetheless. They blew the trumpet even though they knew most believers would not stir from their slumber.
Let me alert you to two such watchmen who also made the case for extraordinary living in really dark times. These folks knew that the need of the hour was for heroes. They too could see the darkening horizons and they pleaded for a move beyond the ordinary.
I have quoted from both of these watchmen in the past. But their words are again well worth hearing – and heeding. My first example of this is Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America. In August of 2014 she penned a much-needed piece entitled “A Time for Heroism”. She begins her piece this way:
Perhaps there are times and places in the history of the world in which it is possible to go through life as just an ordinary, good person—a faithful spouse, a loving parent, a concerned citizen, a regular church-goer, an honest and industrious professional—leading a normal, quiet life, not making waves or standing out in any way. Perhaps. But the United States of America in the year 2014 is not one of those times and places. Rather, in our contemporary society, the only way to be good is to be heroic. Failing to act with heroism inevitably makes us complicit in grave evils.
She looks at some of the obvious areas of conflict: marriage, family, the life issues, and so on. She notes how we should – and should not – respond:
In the face of such carnage, too often it is tempting to think that the solution is to retreat from the broader culture, which is sick and dying from a highly contagious moral confusion. For some, the instinct is to try to isolate and save oneself and one’s family from the contagion in a kind of self-imposed quarantine. But, aside from the fact that we have an obligation to help those suffering from this epidemic, retreat simply will not work. The new orthodoxy regarding same-sex marriage will brook no opposition and has already infiltrated public schools and child protection services agencies.
Unless we stay engaged in the broader culture and keep up the fight for the truth about marriage, our future generations may not be allowed to teach their children the truth about marriage—they may find their children taken away from them if they refuse to teach them that there is nothing wrong with a homosexual or otherwise sexually permissive lifestyle. It may sound far-fetched, but it has already happened in states like Massachusetts. Even ten years ago, the prospect of legal recognition of same-sex marriage throughout the country sounded far-fetched as well.
In these circumstances, just being “good” is impossible. We inevitably will be faced with situations in which we must either give in or stand up for our convictions even at great personal cost. There is no “middle way.” Our times call for heroism, and we must be prepared to respond to that call. Many people have done so already.
She offers some examples of modern-day heroes – seemingly ordinary people such as students and parents, and then writes:
We must be prepared to live not just good, but heroic lives. We must be prepared to risk popularity, reputation, professional success, economic well-being, and—it may yet come to this—perhaps even our lives, in order to defend the dignity of human life in all its stages, the value of sexual integrity, the truth about marriage and family, and the right to live in accordance with one’s beliefs in all spheres of life. If, and only if, we are willing to make these sacrifices, we will resist the forces of the culture of death in our own lives, and, with God’s help, transform that culture into a culture of life. May we all heroically rise to this great challenge of our time.
My second example also comes from a piece written four years ago. Jonathon Van Maren wrote the important article: “Dear Christians: It’s no longer enough to work hard, raise a family, and hope to be left alone”. He asks what I and others have asked so often: When will Christians wake up? Why won’t most Christians engage in these crucial battles? His reply is much like what I have been saying over the years:
Apathy is part of it. Lack of awareness is part of it. But by and large, the real reason is an attitude that runs much deeper. The answer is simple: Church-going people are often traditional, conservative people. And here I don’t mean those terms in the way that political analysts might use them, to describe specific policy positions. I mean simply that they are people who want to work hard, raise their children, and be left alone.
And all that has been fair enough – up until recently. But as we must now know, that is just not enough in these hyper-evil days. More is now required of us, or we will lose it all. He continues:
Which brings us to our present unpleasant realization that from a cultural perspective, the traditionalists and conservatives have been thoroughly beaten in the war for the culture. For the most part, we never even showed up. We raised families, built farms and businesses, and attended church functions while secular revolutionaries took over the entertainment industry, the media, academia—and finally, the public education system that now dutifully serves as a conduit for secular “values.” Prayer is out, queer theory is in, and many a middle-aged conservative has found occasion recently to splutter his coffee and gape at his newspaper: “How did things change so fast?”
They didn’t, of course. The Sexual Revolution has been unfolding now for over sixty years. But now, for the first time, people are beginning to wake up and realize that what is happening is not something we can ignore, because very rapidly, it is beginning to happen to us. Already, the influences of the entertainment industry and pornography are showing in the youth. It’s why Christian publications mourn the rise of “sexual atheists”—people who still believe in God, but just don’t think His rules apply to their sex life. Churches across North America are hemorrhaging young people as the public education system dutifully does what it was put in place to do: Plant skepticism, undermine the beliefs of any children from Christian homes, and then send them off to university so that the faculty there can finish the job. It’s why enormous numbers of Christians lose their faith during university.
The government, too, will no longer leave us alone….
He concludes with these words:
Conservatives want to be left alone to raise their children. The unfortunate fact is that we won’t be. The secularists never had any intention of letting us carve out enclaves where we could live in peace—and a stream of legislation like Alberta’s Bill 10, which would force home-schoolers and private schools to change their teaching on sexuality, is simply the most recent evidence….
How can one be a conservative in a society with nothing left to conserve and everything to fight for? It’s a pressing, imminent question that demands our attention. The twofold task of passing our Christian beliefs on to our children and preventing the government from interfering in that process was once easy—we could just live and let live. That was always a questionable strategy, especially as it ignored the massive loss of life through abortion happening in our own towns and cities. Standing up for our pre-born neighbors is not just a “cause,” but a biblical command. But now, it is in our self-interest to engage. It is not just the children of others we should be worried about, but our own. We will not have the luxury of raising children the way our parents and grandparents did. The time to speak Truth to power is now.
Yes the time is now. It has been for a while now. It can NOT be business as usual any longer. We will simply lose it all if we think we can just live like we did 70 years ago. Those days are now long gone, and everything that we value and cherish is now almost gone.
In such a time of aggressive militancy and all out warfare, the ordinary will be of no use to us. Only the heroic will do. And in Jesus Christ we have all the means, ability and power needed to become heroes. The only question is: will you step up to the plate and make a stand, or will you just sit back and hope that someone else does so instead?
Long ago the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) put it this way:
Nowadays the devil has made such a mess of everything in the system of life on earth that the world will presently become uninhabitable for anybody but Saints. The rest will drag their lives out in despair or fall below the level of man. The antinomies of human life are too exasperated, the burden of matter too oppressive; merely to exist, one has to expose oneself to many snares. Christian heroism will one day become the sole solution for the problems of life.
Yep, we need heroes. But where are they? As David asked long ago: “Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?” (Psalm 94:16) Or as Jesus asked: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Or as I keep asking: Where have all the heroes gone?