On Not Fitting In at Their Missile Parade
A few years back I wrote about the lawfulness of lying in certain circumstances. But it also goes without saying that the prohibition of false witness is in the Ten Commandments, and that unlawful lying is a big deal.
Yesterday I wrote about Airbnb’s mandatory confession of faith before they will allow you to do business through them. Is it lawful to click that you agree, when in fact you do not agree? Is that “going underground” or is that simply being a lame Christian? Is that lawful deception or is it something less noble? This is far from an academic issue, particularly for Christians who work for large fairy-friendly corporations. There are multiple opportunities for the diversity officer to show up at your cubicle, in order to help the company stamp out diversity. But the diversity officer does not just want you to not rock the boat—he wants you to agree. You must sign off. You have to applaud. “We here in the Acme Widget community want to do our part to make this whole movement a little bit more like a North Korean missile parade.”
So is clicking Airbnb’s inane and contradictory affirmation the equivalent of clicking that you have read all of Apple’s most recent terms and conditions? Or is something much bigger at stake?
If the Gestapo ask you if you have Jews hidden in a secret room in your basement, and you do, you do not have to thank them for the opportunity to come clean. But if that same officer tells you to blaspheme the name of Christ in front of him, you must absolutely refuse.
You cannot get off the hook by telling everyone that you sure fooled the enemy officer by pretending to be a coward. That wasn’t pretending, and the words came far too easily.
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
In other words, there are times when the Hebrew midwives tell Pharaoh a story, and God blesses them for it. There was that other time when Peter denied that he knew Jesus, and the evening ended with him weeping bitterly. In short, there are times when God expects martyrdom from us, and there are times when He wants us to play it shrewd.
What category is this kind of politically correct pressure? They are hard after universal approval. That is why it takes the form of a confession of faith. Before doing business with us, they are insisting that we reject the plain teaching of Scripture, and that we accept their words instead, words drafted by recondite and shambolic minds.
The Christians who would not take the mark of the beast are praised in Scripture for their refusal to do so.
And Margaret Wilson was an 18-year-old Covenanter martyr, who died for refusing to take an oath that would acknowledge James VII as head of the church. She was willing to pray that God would in fact save the king, but she flatly refused to say, “God save the king.” As a result she was tied to a stake at low tide, and was cruelly drowned. Was that pointless? Can’t the words “God save the king” be taken in an innocent way? Sure—just as in the same way Airbnb’s feel-good tolerance bromide could be taken in quite a different way, fingers crossed behind your back.
“I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.”
By this you might mean that you believe that heterosexual adulterers and homosexual practitioners of vice should both receive a fair trial in open court, and that their respective prosecutions should be conducted with an entire and wholehearted even-handedness. Oh, that’s not what they meant? However funny it might be as a thought experiment, it seems to me to be too clever by half.
Chesterton argues in Orthodoxy that the Christian martyr is not one who despises life. Rather, he despises death. He argues further that there is a way of being cautious and wary about what you are protecting that does not in fact protect it. Some things can only be protected through the right kind of carelessness—combing a fierce love of life with a willingness to die.
And that—I fear—is our problem. We have a country that contains millions of professing Christians. Examples of courage do show up here and there, and we are indignant on their behalf, but a lot of that indignation is expressed with our heads down. But what would happen if all of us refused at the same time, in the same way? Suppose millions decided to not care anymore at the same moment?