From in to out

Modesty or Decorum

The Dick Van Dyke Show was a TV comedy back in the 1960s, and it was very popular; it still is with my wife. The show’s producers had the TV set’s bedroom configured with two single size beds with a nightstand between them. Why? Because they did not want to show the TV couple in bed together. That was called modesty or decorum.

Stores were closed on Sundays, at least in the morning, to show respect to Christianity and to enable their employees to attend their local church if they so desired. Here in the Midwest, many supermarkets, grocery stores, and such didn’t sell beer or liquor. If they did, they put those products in a corner at the store’s back. Gas stations didn’t sell beer or liquor; that idea seemed stupid since they would be selling alcohol to people driving cars! Church services, even on Sunday nights, were usually well attended.

The best institutions were Christian

Society was impacted for the better by respecting Christianity. During the 18th and 19th centuries, people like William Wilberforce, a Christian in England, successfully led the movement to eradicate the slave trade. At about the same time, here in the States, Christians such as Charles Finney, Theodore Weld, Theodore S. Wright, and Harriet Beecher Stowe worked diligently to end slavery. They believed what the Bible says in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

There was no concern in America that universities (HarvardYalePrinceton), hospitals (St. Jude’s Medical Center and many, many others), youth programs (YMCA/YWCA), and countless Christian societies were Christian. People appreciated these institutions because they significantly contributed to improving education, health, and wellbeing at all levels of society. Why were these institutions effective? They positively impacted our country because Christians obeyed Jesus. 

Being a Christian was respected

Even I can remember when being a Christian garnered respect within their community, by their government, and even tepidly, by the media. Most people had a church affiliation. Even if a person wasn’t a believer, they still attended church because they wished to be perceived as Christian; people are sinners, so there has always been sin in the Church. But, when I was young, Christians were generally honest, hard-working, and trustworthy. And I remember when local churches worked to ensure that the membership didn’t just talk the talk, but they walked the walk.

Christianity has gone from being in to out

My point is that I’ve seen Western Civilization transition from valuing the Church and Christians to hating both within my lifetime. Christianity went from being in to being out within society. A precursor to this shift was when many Christians began abandoning Christ’s teachings and became indistinguishable from everyone else. Now, many people have lost respect for Christians and are increasingly creating laws to diminish, contain, and eliminate Christianity. Is this unexpected, and should we fear it? Of course not! Jesus said:

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 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 24:9-13

So, we need to be as the apostle Paul was:

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.Philippians 4:12

Photo by Gabriel Alenius on Unsplash

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