There is a dangerous movement at work in America today; the tide has changed. In reality the tide has been going out since the sixties. You may hear the word progressive bounced around this election season. The progressive movement is nothing new but the newest iteration has the potential to be the most destructive if not stopped. On the surface being progressive sounds great. One description of a progressive is: people who are progressive favor reform and civil liberties. Well, who does not want those? To take it a little further: progressive people are interested in change and progress. You are a progressive thinker if you like to think up new ways of doing things and you are open to change. Still no problem here. I mean we should all be this way especially in the church. Wait there is one more: You have a progressive attitude towards gender if you dress girls in blue and boys in pink to challenge stereotypes. Well now you have gone off the deep end!
On the surface many of these ideologies sound safe and good but a deeper look tells us something more. This becomes especially true in light of biblical truth. The progressives want the rich to “pay their fair share”, “free education from preschool through as high as you want to go”, “limit wealth and share it equally” and “a global/open world”. Now not all progressives hold to the extremes and I believe something deeper is behind the progressive movement. What I hope to do is trace the outgoing tide and look at where we may end up. I also want us to see how the church needs to stand against the tide now more than ever.
It was 1962 and the landscape of religion in the United States was about to change. The Supreme Court heard the case of Engel v. Vitale. A New York state law required students to say the pledge and a non-denominational prayer at the start of school. Students could “opt” out of saying the prayer if they found it offensive. In an 8-1 decision the Court ruled the prayer to be unconstitutional thus removing prayer from school. One year later in June of 1963 the Court heard the case of Abington School District v. Schempp. Adding to this case, well-known atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair joined in the fight with a case of her own. The problem was in Pennsylvania the schools began the day by reading at least ten passages from the Bible. Again an 8-1 decision ruled Bible reading as unconstitutional. So in one year prayer and the Bible have been removed from the public schools.
In the cases mentioned, prayer and Bible reading were removed because school officials lead. Today the Court says students can lead prayer but the reality is something drastically different. The first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I will let you interpret this and see if you agree with the Court (I do not agree, in case you were wondering). Now that God has been removed from the school something will replace Him. The free love movement and the sexual revolution began to take off. Still this is just the first steps in a much grander movement.
Jump ahead to 1973. The Supreme Court is hearing the case of Roe v. Wade. Roe was a young Texas woman who was single and wished to abort the child. In Texas it was illegal to abort except in cases of medical need for the mother. Misinformation piece number one – ALL abortions were not illegal. If the pregnancy resulted in a health risk for the mother it was permissible to abort the child even back in the 70’s. The Court ruled the Texas law prohibiting abortion was unconstitutional by looping through the 9th amendment and the 14th. Now a woman has the right to an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus (usually by the end of the first trimester).
I know this is longer than my normal posts but please stay with me here. During the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s various challenges have occurred to each of the court cases. Each time the Court has upheld their previous ruling and often they have clarified or expanded the decision. During these same decades several other social changes occur. The divorce rates begin to skyrocket, sex outside of marriage becomes the norm (if you do not believe me just watch any movie from the 80’s, everyone was trying to have sex), and the women’s liberation movement gains in popularity. What was once taboo is rapidly becoming acceptable or even normal.
With the start of a new millennium a few more changes take place. Actually they began in the mid 90’s but reached normal status beginning in the 2000’s. It is funny but this change really did not seem all that bad at the time. I never liked it but I had no idea the ramifications it would have. It was so popular even churches adopted the philosophy. The idea that everyone is equal or everyone is a winner. I call it the era of the participation trophy. Children played sports and no one kept score, everyone must have a chance to play, schools instituted dress codes to eliminate bad feelings for those who did not have the name brand clothes, and teachers began giving credit for incorrect answers because, “little Johnny tried.”
Here we are in the second decade of the new millennium and the fruits of the progressive movement are starting to show. In June of 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage could not be banned by the states thus making it legal across the country. To make this ruling the Court had to redefine traditional marriage which means a redefining of biblical marriage. I will talk about this more in my next post but understand the importance of this. To the best of our knowledge, in all of history, man and woman have been the cornerstone of marriage. Of course we know same-sex relationships existed but not as a recognized union.
Gender identity is another area seeing change. A transgender person is someone whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth (according to the APA). I will discuss this more in the next post as well but I am guessing you can see a few problems with this statement. I do not think anyone should face persecution or discrimination (this needs to be clarified more) for any reason. Currently no laws are on the books regarding transgender people but President Obama did issue an executive order stating transgender people could not be discriminated against as federal government employees or contractors.
In 2016 the Department of Education issues a letter to all schools advising them to use a student’s preferred name and pronouns and to allow use of bathroom and locker rooms of the student’s gender identity. If they did not the schools might endanger their federal funds based Title IX. This quickly prompted several states to make laws both for and against certain aspects of transgender acceptance. Even large retail chains got in the mix. Target has issued a statement on more than one occasion saying transgender persons are welcome to use the restroom of their choice.
The final point became law in June of 2016. California passed a law called the End of Life Option Act. We, as Americans, watched the story of a young lady fighting cancer. Her cancer was terminal and she wanted to end her life. People from all over the country applauded her courage. They rallied to help her fulfill her wish by supporting her financially and sharing her story. There is another young man who is dealing with the same scenario which brought this law to light. Most states have a death with dignity provision saying a person has the right to refuse medical treatment as they desire (there are some caveats to this however). Now, at least in California, it is legal for a terminally ill adult to request an aid-in-dying drug to end their life when they chose. Again, there are many caveats to this law but I am guessing this will not be the last state to allow this.
Have you seen the pattern? Once God was removed from the educational system things took off. First, unborn life was redefined from a living being to a choice of the mother with no thought of the right to life of the child. Second, women left the home and went to work leaving a gap in the family structure. I do not have a problem with working women but what has happened as a result has been a redefining of the roles of husband and wife. As this grew so did the rate of divorce. We also see more women having children without a husband because, “who needs a man.” The gate was opened and morals became diminished. Equality for all is the mantra. This ideology is instilled in our youth through school and sports where everyone wins.
Each of these steps have opened the door to redefine marriage. Third, marriage is no longer between a man and a woman. We have moved even further with the fourth step, gender has been redefined. We also see a parallel attack here with the humanization of animals further diminishing the uniqueness of humanity. Fifth, adult life is now expendable. From the unborn to the elderly the choice to live or die is no longer God’s but in the hands of man. The progressive movement is continuing to push for “equality” through globalization and redistribution of wealth.
There are so many other steps in this process we could discuss. Mercifully I will not discuss them because I have been long in the writing of the post. Still, I think we need to see what is happening. Baby steps were taken along the way and much like the frog in the pot of water, we did not notice it getting hotter and now the water is boiling. I hope you will read the next post to see how the church can respond.