It was a gruesome scene. A lovely bride, her gown and veil covered in blood, stood in the midst of an attack by a menagerie of evil-looking creatures and characters, while her impending doom was left to the imagination of the observer.
I was standing in my local Goodwill store.
Okay. So, it’s October. I get that. But still.
I maneuvered my way throughout the store, dodging some of the most grotesque Halloween costumes that I have seen this season and finally arrived at the check-out.
The checker lady and I chatted about my purchase (which involved neither blood nor vampires), and I grabbed my bag to leave. But then I hesitated.
“Just as a point of feedback,” I checked to see if she was listening. Yep. “Um...I find your entry display to be rather…offensive.”
She stared at me blankly. I tried again. “The display…you know, the bride, the blood…”
Her eyebrows furrowed indicating that she could not see my point. “I wouldn’t want to bring my kids in here to see that,” I finished, looking her in the eye.
The eyebrows were really furrowed now and she was squinting at me. “Oh. Well, sorry about that,” came the reply. “Have a nice day.”
As a Christian, I know that I am not viewed as “normal” to the world. I’m supposed to live “inside-out and upside-down.” Maybe. While contemplating this experience, I began to think of other things this culture sees as “normal.” Let me review a few of them for you.
Babies are tissue at 23 weeks…unless they are born in a hospital. Kneeling is a way to show honor…unless it involves the American flag. Underwear is meant to be hidden…unless it’s beside a swimming pool. Land owners can use their land as they please…unless the County disagrees. Tolerance is encouraged…unless you stand for conservative ideas. Children are the parents’ responsibility…unless they are in the public school system. Freedom of speech is embraced…unless you bring Truth into it. Death and dying are feared and dreaded…except in the month of October.
Does that all make sense to you? I didn’t think so. It doesn’t make sense to me, either, and I’m willing to propose that we are the ones who are now actually “normal” and our culture is “inside-out and upside-down.”
When I was young, Halloween decorations mostly involved ghosts, jack-o-lanterns and a witch or two. I’d venture to say that my grandfather’s childhood involved no Halloween decorations at all. But now it is nothing to see vampires dripping with blood, decapitated victims, rotting corpses and evil creatures—all on display at your local retail store or in someone’s yard. Folks are loving the wicked costumes more than the “innocent” dress-ups of old. Children revel in the disgusting even more than the scary. And yet, hospital ERs are filled with terrified individuals wringing their hands in worry, accident scenes are approached in dread, death is quickly shrouded, morgues overflow with the despairing, and terrorism strikes fear in the nation. But for one month of the year, people celebrate these horrors with delight.
Excuse me, but how did we become so indifferently backward? When did craziness become accepted as truth? Why is absurdity considered normal?
The answer can be found in a term that my Ugandan friends use: slowly by slowly. A little compromise here, a little subtle change there. Year upon year, generation upon generation, affecting every category of life.
“Let’s just say 'Happy Holidays' at school, okay children? It will make everyone feel included!”
“I’d prefer that our daycare would keep to gender-neutral toys. Some children are sensitive.”
“Of course our public school building can be used for public events! Oh, but nothing 'religious' mind you. Separation of church and state, you know.”
“I’m sorry, but the county just passed a law that says you cannot dig on your own property. At least, not without a permit. It’s an environmental thing, you see.”
“I wouldn’t want to offend anyone in my congregation by speaking about specific sins in my sermons.”
“Yes, we would be happy to keep a copy of Suzie Has Two Daddies on our library shelf. We pride ourselves in having a diverse selection of books!”
“The Biblical Days of Creation were not 24-hour days. They were millions of years. Now the Bible and science can agree!”
The enemy has dangled the lies, sprinkled them with sugar, and our culture has eagerly bitten, no, gorged itself on them. Little appetizers, tasty finger foods, pretty dainties that have made us sick from the inside out and blinded us from the outside in. I’d wager that if Satan had served those lies as large doses of foul medicine, it would have been harder to swallow them. Or at the very least, made it easier to vomit them up.
“In [Christ] was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). America has removed Christ and by so doing, we have removed both life and light. It has been replaced with death and darkness, which produces irrational thinking. So I understand, dear Goodwill clerk. I understand that blank stare, because it’s pretty hard to see when you’ve been blinded.
But is that the end of the story? Doomed to be immersed in a nation that wanders aimlessly (and happily!) in a dark world while crying out in fear at the strike of a match?
By God’s grace, there is hope, although it is not without challenge. As Christians, we are Light-Bearers for a specific reason. “To open [the world’s] eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). We have two advantages in this fight: Light is more powerful than darkness and God always wins!
Our key to victory is as simple a plan as the devil’s: slowly by slowly. Stone upon stone, line upon line, precept upon precept, faithful every day to speak, live and shine the light of Jesus Christ. Let us learn to recognize the little compromises and reject them! Let us be alert to the subtle undertow of wrong thinking! Let us reject the attitude of complacency that has turned Christians into bystanders! Let us be faithful to disciple our children in the infallible doctrines of God’s Word! Then they too will be able to identify and dispel the gray shades of darkness.
The kids and I are started our school year this month. Day-in, day-out discipleship within one small home, within one small community, within one dying culture.
Such a little thing.
Such a big thing.
Slowly by slowly.
Will you join me?
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Rebecca Thomas is a homeschooling mother of nine. She is a lover of husband Joshua, her children, the ocean, a hot drink in her hands, beautiful music, the sound of laughter, friends and family, moments of quiet, and most significantly, Jesus Christ. She lives with her happy clan in the green lands of the Pacific Northwest, which is also the headquarters of Miss Molly and Friends.