This is a guest column that I wrote for our local newspaper as a means of encouraging the saints in Holland, Michigan, and throughout West Michigan. The paper declined to print it, so I’m putting it here instead.
I’d like to speak for a moment to the conservative Christians in West Michigan, and what I want to say is this: Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for supporting public policies that are in line with your Christian beliefs. Don’t feel bad for wanting West Michigan to be a decent, Christian place and then working through the political process to make that happen. Don’t feel bad for wanting a Christian culture and a Christian public square.
I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments against this view, and they’ve been effective at cowing Christians into quietly accepting an increasingly pagan culture. If you support Christian policies, you’ll be accused of violating the separation of church and state. You’ll be accused of wrongly imposing your morality on others. You’ll be told that because Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, Christianity has no place in the political process. None of these things is true.
First, the naysayers don’t really believe any of it. They’re happy to leverage Christianity so long as it helps them get the public policies they want. Immigration reform, refugees, climate change, masks and vaccines, affordable housing, minimum wage — all of these and more are defended and promoted in explicitly Christian terms. And, in many cases, they’re right. But Christian policies related to marriage, family, sexuality, gender, or abortion? Ha! You’ll have them calling you a Christian Nationalist and waving their picket signs quicker than you can finish saying, “What is a woman?”
So no, they don’t really want to keep Christianity out of the public square; they want to keep traditional Christianity out of the public square. They want to keep your Christianity out of the public square. Their progressive version is just fine, thank you very much. You simply need to understand that theirs isn’t a sincere objection — it’s a political tool designed to keep you quiet.
And, second, secular neutrality is a myth. It’s not possible to have a values-free public square. The question is not whether our culture and laws are informed by morality, but which morality informs them. The question is not whether our laws impose morality on others, but which morality our laws impose. The question is not whether we enforce blasphemy laws, but which blasphemy laws we enforce (curse Jesus, and the world will yawn; use the wrong pronouns, and your job may be on the line).
Our culture is becoming less Christian because Christians have been duped. We bought the big lie that if we jettisoned Christianity from the public square, we’d have a neutral, utopian space where every view would be welcome. But that’s not what happened. Christians vacated the public square, and secular progressives quickly claimed the ground we abandoned. As just one example, Pride Month has become a public celebration that puts the religious pageantry of the medieval church to shame — but you’d better keep your Christianity at home where it belongs, you bigot, and lock it up so the kids can’t find it.
In the book of Acts, an angry mob accused the early Christians of “acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (17:7). Today, do not be surprised when the angry mob accuses you of acting against the decrees of the people, or of the neutral public square, or of secular liberalism. Perhaps they’re right — but we’re Christians, for Christ’s sake, and there is another king, Jesus. “And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him” (Daniel 7:14).
One of the central Christian creeds is this: Jesus is Lord. All authority in heaven and earth — all of it — has been given to him (Matthew 28:18), which means that Jesus is Lord of America, and he is Lord of West Michigan. Jesus is Lord of Holland. Live and, yes, vote as if that’s true, because it is true. All you need to do is stop feeling bad about it.