No, this is not your grandmother’s America. Christians battle stereotypes caused by protestors at the funerals of dead soldiers, burners of the Quran, and creators of video trailers designed to stir up anger. Others see Christians as anti-intellectuals determined to return us to the days when women were burned as witches.
Christians include deep thinkers and scholars as is true since the days of the apostle Paul. The culture wars, however, have put Christians on the defensive. Changes in lifestyles mean the majority of Americans are not as associated with religion as in the past. Careers and consumerism have positioned thoughts elsewhere. Some Christians fear the changes and huddle in cocoons or lash out vindictively, leading the average American to an unfavorable image of the religion these Christians profess.
Best to remember that Christianity was born and thrived in a multi-cultural, pleasure-seeking world similar to the one today. Christianity grew because Christians provided an answer to the purposelessness of the day. They lived their religion.
When the apostle Paul saw fit to return the slave Onesimus to his master Philemon, he pointed out that Onesimus was Philemon’s brother in Christ. Not surprising that slavery in Europe disappeared as Christianity spread, in contrast to regions without the influence of Christianity.
The option of the early Christians to live out faith remains open today, no matter how hot the culture wars.
Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home, Quiet Deception, Distant Thunder and A Sense of Mission (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research)