For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17
A slender woman in a bright blue skirt clips her way down the aisle, last note of a praise-chorus still humming from the piano. High cheeks and deep red lipstick as she pushes back her fringe. The soft sound of a clearing throat is amplified to a growl from the speakers.
“And how do you think we got here”, she asks.
We had heard a reading from Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome where he outlines how the world has become disordered due to it’s lostness, and humanity’s insistence upon worshipping themselves or indeed the creation. As far as Paul could tell, this had resulted in a murderous, deceitful and foolish society (Romans 1:18-32) and it is in such a world that the Roman church was called to be a living witness to a different way of life.
Blue Pencil-skirt and high cheek-bones had insisted that the Roman world of the early first century was not far from the situation of Britain in the 21st century. People, she insisted, had within the last century ceased to worship God and consequently begun to reshape the laws of the land around their perverted desires.
Firstly, since women were given more choice over whether they would become pregnant or not, there has been a systematic assault on the worth of a human being. Especially the unborn.
Secondly, the allowance of divorce due to irreparable breakdown has dissolved the notion of family into more or less anything at all. Indeed, anyone who disagrees is ostracised and risks losing their job.
And thirdly, Christians are being marginalised from sharing their faith in the public space. Shocking that anyone should be asked to not wear a cross around their neck!
Now, a disclaimer: I am not going to discuss these three issues in this post. If you ask nicely in the comments, I might tackle them one by one. What I will say is that I agree that these are important issues which demand a response.
But the lady with the pencil skirt stood before the group, indignant. Such a moral decline, she insisted, must be stopped. And as she outlined some of the legal cases her charity got involved with, the group was drawn into her frustration. What must we do in order that this tide of death be stopped? What response to the destruction of interpersonal relationships is warranted? And how can Christians once again tell others about their hope, as so many other people are permitted to share theirs?
A pregnant pause settled over the room.
And like a still pool, the conscience of the room is unsettled by a dropping penny.
If the laws of this nation have been surreptitiously altered by a creeping tide of secular idealists, then what would be the appropriate response?
Lady in blue pencil skirt encouraged us to sign up to a series of petitions, to march on Westminster and to support the lobbying efforts of the organisation as they campaigned on behalf of Christians who wanted to be the exception to the rules.
It was here that I began to feel most uncomfortable.
Perhaps the reader would beg to differ.
But I want to imagine a different response. One which does not presume upon a moral right Christians might assume themselves to hold, nor believe that merely undoing a selection of the legislative changes of the last 60 years will bring salvation, nor even believe that Christians are obliged to be treated the same as any other religious or cultural group in this country.
Let us instead remember the great cost of Christ’s cross and hear perhaps afresh that we his followers are called to shoulder it in this day and in this place.
But what does that mean? How then do we respond? Let’s talk about it.