Propaganda versus Grace
Bravery comes in two forms. One is physical bravery, the kind that we have seen throughout our history, the sort that enables the men and women of our military and police forces to lay down their lives for our country.
The other is moral courage, the inner stamina to resist something you find wrong or unwise, regardless of the pressure to accept it. I fear that this quality is diminishing among our fellow Americans.
A case in point: “Gay Pride Month.” I’ve just spent a week in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a historically conservative community that is now festooned with everything from rainbow bunting on restaurant railings to exclamations of “queer joy” on electrical housings. I suspect this is not because many of the citizens of this city rejoice in the decorations and slogans scattered around their city but because to decline their presentation would be to be accused of loathsome prejudice and religious-based intolerance.
Private individuals and businesses have every right to feature whatever decorations they wish, as long as they comport with the law. Yet as followers of Jesus, we cannot celebrate something He teaches does violence to His will. I wonder how many of those displaying “Gay Pride” items feel bullied into doing so.
Additionally, though, my reaction to all I have seen — in all manner of places, in all kinds of ways — is not only a sense of my faith being challenged. I feel propagandized.
Propaganda is “the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions.” It is a deliberate attempt to change established convictions and behaviors through whatever means are available.
In 1920s and 30s Germany, propaganda was the means by which the Nazis rose to power. Their program was intentional and consistent, and a close analysis of it reveals these tenets:
- Avoid abstract ideas — appeal to the emotions.
- Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases.
- Give only one side of the argument.
- Continuously criticize your opponents.
- Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification.
Sound familiar? Let’s consider:
Avoid abstract ideas, appeal to emotions, and constantly repeat just a few ideas. Ever heard things like, “love is love,” “I’m out and proud,” or “I’m queer and here to stay?” These are expressions of defiance; to disagree is to invite hostility. They are intended to cow opposition, not foster warm acceptance. And they and those like them are repeated constantly in the media, in public schools, and so forth.
Additionally, LGBTQ activists do not want reasoned discussion. Consider the recent debate Matt Walsh had with a “transgendered” man. He dismantled the young man’s arguments, exposing the foolishness of the latter’s contentions. But he did not persuade the troubled youth. The priorities championed by the LGBTQ activist community are not matters of fact or science but of preference and insistence. They are grounded in relentless demand and a frantic desire for affirmation.
Give only one side of the argument and continuously criticize your opponents. In discussions of human sexuality, opponents of such things as same-sex marriage and transgender surgery are aspersed, not refuted. Name-calling, accusations of hatred, homophobia, bigotry, and ignorance, and efforts to restrain information that debunks the LGBTQ narrative are essential to the agenda of those who want far more than
This is why “special enemies” are targeted so carefully. The issue is not letting people live in ways that do not directly affect others. It is about compelling society’s approval, even celebration. This is why faithful evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox are viewed by many LGBTQ activists as adversaries who must be discredited and silenced and, if need be, legally coerced to those ends.
It is for this reason that Christians need to consider how they will respond. Yes, we need to use all the legal and legislative means available to us to stem the tide of the LGBTQ Left. But Christian individuals, families, and churches also need to determine that they will not bend. Let the vitriol pour forth — throughout the centuries, believers have known things worse than name-calling. As FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty continues to document, persecution of Christians is far too frequent in many parts of the world.
For us, taking a stand might mean refusing to put Pride signs on your lawn or business, wearing Pride lapel pins or not attending your neighborhood Pride event. It might mean not donating to an LGBTQ charity in your workplace, earning the hostility (or worse) of your employer and colleagues.
It might also mean inviting people identifying as LGBTQ to your home or cul-de-sac barbeque. It might mean simply asking someone a question: “I notice you’re wearing a rainbow. Do you mind if I ask what that means to you?” And then, listening well and responding with kindness, deftness, and truth. And it might mean serving LGBTQ-identifying persons in a host of ways and demonstrating that your concern with their pattern of life is not grounded in hate but love for God — and for them.
Manipulation is a violation of human dignity. Instead, as we share the good news about Jesus, we’re to use reason and persuasion (I Peter 3:15, II Corinthians 5:11), the mind, will, and emotions joining together in making a decision to trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and eternal life.
This is not propagandization. It is grace shown in the moral courage to invite fellow sinners to receive the ultimate pardon.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.