"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." Ephesians 4. 14
Under our noses public morality has undergone a sea-change. Where Christianity once governed society's ethical framework, aggressive liberalism has seized the reins so that anything goes - except what used to! By which I mean that, in everything from the laws we make to the debates we hold, you can say whatever you like as long as it panders to formerly oppressed minorities. But you must not uphold values which may be deemed exclusive. The irony, as is frequently pointed out, is that this position is, itself, intolerant. It is also inconsistent and cowardly because it seizes upon easy targets and avoids those it fears upsetting.
Whether it's because of a guilty conscience, weak leadership, or Christ-like humility, Christians are easy targets. Many of our social enterprises and charities have been legislated out of existence, many of our politicians have been muted or intimidated out of public life altogether and our preachers accused of hate speech.
At one level we should not be surprised. The Lord himself warned that those who follow him would be misunderstood and oppressed - as he was. But one cannot help feeling concerned for the impact which the rejection of so much we hold dear and believe in will have on social well-being. Far from creating a more tolerant, gracious and benevolent environment, aggressive liberalism threatens to tear us all apart by tribal-ising society. The "respect for all" agenda has been replaced by a summons into ghettoes of grievance: on the basis of sexual identity, race, ethnicity, lifestyle choice, diet... the list goes on.
Few would deny that great wrongs were committed in the past, both towards individuals and groups of people who were discriminated against for a host of misguided reasons. These outrages must be addressed appropriately and not swept under the carpet. But surely that should not mean re-inventing the divisions and multiplying the discrimination? Whatever faults they may have had as individuals (as we all have), the likes of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela struggled to move society beyond discrimination on the basis of our superficial differences towards a mutual respect for the deeper qualities which we share.
In so doing they were following in the footsteps of the one in whom there were no faults and therefore whose wisdom and instruction and example we can all trust - absolutely. And from this same Jesus, the Church received her mandate: to go into all the world, to make disciples of all nations... So let's push back, graciously of course, on those who would destroy so much genuine social progress and let's encourage those who would keep the faith. What have we got to lose? We are already on the winning side!