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What every believer needs to know about America’s current war over faith, family and freedom

Almost everyone we talk to is deeply concerned about our country. Spiraling government debt, an attack on the fertile fields of free enterprise and persistent unemployment give us plenty to worry about. But our problems are not limited to economics. It now seems that everything we hold dear is under attack: faith, family and freedom.

The recent Department of Health and Human Services rule is a clear attempt to undermine faith and freedom. If allowed to stand, it will force religious organizations to provide health insurance that covers sterilization, contraception and drugs that induce abortion. The White House even had the gall to tell American Catholic bishops to get with the program and follow those “enlightened” voices allied with the president. If the federal government can dictate doctrine to churches and force citizens to violate their deepest convictions, what can’t the government do?

Alongside the attack on faith and freedom is the attack on the family. In February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s controversial decision to strike down Proposition 8 in California. The referendum, approved by a majority of California voters, had defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. The case is undoubtedly headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the future of marriage in our country could be decided by nine justices.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said believers are both salt and light. Salt helps preserve what is precious while enhancing its flavor. Likewise, the Christian witness should have a positive effect on every aspect of life and culture. Jesus said that if salt loses its effect, it is good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot. Sure enough, everything sacred—faith, family and freedom—is being trampled by secularists who have rejected these pillars of civilization.

The multitudes stumble in darkness because many believers, who have been commanded to put the light in a prominent place—on a lamp stand—have hidden, and in doing so diminished their influence on the public by accepting false comfort, compromise and complacency. Light reveals danger and pitfalls while illuminating the path to security and success. Is it any wonder our culture is in such trouble when salt and light have failed to fulfill their divine assignment?

What Not to Do
Unfortunately, many believers see all this as mere “politics”—a useless and corrupt enterprise that distracts us from putting in a good day’s work, paying the bills, loving our families and serving our local church or synagogue. For such people, Washington, D.C., is best ignored. 

Even many who are concerned give up without a fight. “Why polish the brass on a sinking ship?” they ask. “We know that in the end times, there will be wars and rumors of wars. Rather than worrying with ‘politics’ in these last days, we should just focus on evangelism and wait for the Lord to return in all His glory.”

We must reject this “last days” apathy. We need to follow the example of the apostle Paul, who spoke of his own time as the last days yet still fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith, even to the point of death (2 Tim. 4:7). We don’t know when the Lord will return, but we shouldn’t use Christ’s future return as an excuse to do nothing in the present.

Perhaps the most common mistakes we make is to get riled up for a few months, focus on one election, and either return to business as usual if the election goes their way or give up if it doesn’t. How Christians vote in 2012 is crucial, but we must be as concerned with our culture’s long-term direction as with one election. We can pray for a quick and miraculous restoration, but we need to plan for a long, hard battle.

Politics isn’t everything, nor should the church be the arm of one political party. But in today’s world, having no political effect isn’t an option. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “Not to stand is to stand. Not to speak is to speak.” Now is the time to stand and speak. The future of our country, our children and grandchildren is at stake.

Of course, we need to know what to speak and how to say it. This is a war against principalities and powers, of course, but it is also a war over ideas—and ideas, it’s often said, have consequences. Unfortunately, believers aren’t always the most articulate or persuasive witnesses in the public square.

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