As you may know, Christians around the world are being persecuted at a high level right now. I saw an interesting article about what one political group in India wants to do. They want to sterilize Christians as well as Muslims. You read that right. Confess your faith, be sterilized.
According to the article:
“Deva Thakur, vice president of the radical Hindu Mahasabha Party, has called for the forced sterilization of Indian Christians and Muslims. The radical leader also called on Hindus to have more children in order to counter the rise in India’s Christian and Muslim populations.”
Needless to say, this is an inhumane and terrible idea. But it sort of raised some thoughts for me about things we’ve talked about here in regards to the church and the family of The Kingdom, vs. the church of the nuclear family idol.
The real question is this, can you breed out Christianity? It’s actually a really, really interesting question. The answer is of course no. But it’s not as simple as even I might like it to be.
First, some historical and cultural context. For most of history religion, culture and political power all went together as one. Most cultures had their “god” or “gods” as the case often was. Sometimes they even saw their leader as a god. Regardless, whatever you were born as, that’s what you were taught and what you believed. Conversion really wasn’t much of a reality.
This was true even for Israel. They had of course, the One True God. But their whole governmental system, even while occupied or dispersed, was set up around this. By the time we get to Jesus’ arrival they were waiting for the Messiah. But the Messiah they were waiting for in their minds was one who was going to put them in charge of the world. He was going to give them the whole thing.
This is why as an Israelite you really had two duties. Love God and advance the kingdom by procreation. If you were a single Israelite you could only do the first. Now they were indeed God’s chosen people but not in the way that they thought. Jesus shows up and throws a wrench in this entire thing.
We get a glimpse of this when Jesus talks about those who choose Celibacy for the Kingdom. The idea that someone would choose that, and that could be a part of the advancement of the Kingdom was scandalizing to the disciples. They had absolutely no context for that.
Jesus separates evangelization (Kingdom advancement) from procreation. Actually Jesus separates it from caste, political power, race, birth place, and really any other context. To say that this was radical doesn’t begin to describe it. It turns out that Jesus wasn’t just to be King of the Jews, but was to be King of everyone. Not only that, but this meant that anyone of any color, creed, ability, life situation, gender, etc, was to be included in the Kingdom, without having to change any of that.
This is part of why the leaders of the day wanted Him dead. It’s also exactly what happened following His resurrection. In fact we are sitting here today having this conversation because it happened.
Jews became followers of Jesus. Greeks became followers of Jesus. Women, poor people, Africans, rich people, rulers, soldiers, slaves, unmarried people and more became Christians. Infants that were left to die in fields became Christians. People with disease became Christians. To this day, people around the world, even in India and China are becoming Christians.
The truth is that you can’t breed it out, because it is not based on how or where you were bred.
The flip side of this is also true however. Just because you are born into a “Christian” home doesn’t mean that you are in the Kingdom. Now to be sure it helps. What I mean is that from the beginning people who were Christians taught their kids about Jesus. Let’s understand that if God has rescued you, you sure as heck are going to tell the people you love most. And a person doesn’t love anyone more than their kids. Not only that, but a lot of laws in a whole lot of civilization were impacted and written based on the truths of the Kingdom. But the truth remains that even within a Christian family or nation, you still have to evangelize your own. One of the great misses of the church over the years is when we sacramentalize people without evangelizing them.
This leads me to an important question for the church today, especially in western culture. Could your church be bred out? There are two sides to this. The first is one of the reasons for the focus in churches, especially protestant, on the nuclear family. There is the sense that we have to take care of our own. The idea that we have to keep what we’ve got to build for tomorrow. That’s not all bad and in fact it’s actually really important. However if in the process of that we make the nuclear family THE path to the Kingdom, we make it an idol and we do run the risk of being bred out so to speak.
I’m all for Christians having kids, telling them about Jesus and growing them up in the church. But we also have another calling. We can’t just be the church for the nuclear family. We have to actually go do evangelization. To do that in our current western culture means to go reach out to unmarried people as two thirds of the people not coming to church fit that category? 80% of the so called “young people today” fit it.
Every church should be asking if their plan includes that? As I asked in the last post, are we unmarried friendly? The early church sure was. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. The church in India must be. Otherwise they wouldn’t have any Christians to threaten with sterilization. It’s not as if a bunch of Christian nuclear families moved to India. What about your church?