The Desecration of Easter: Guest Column

On Good Friday, President Biden declared Easter Sunday as “Transgender Day of Visibility.” Though he must have known the outrage that would follow, his defenders were quick to note that March 31 has been recognized in this way for over a decade and just happened this year to coincide with Easter. Thus, they argued, Christians should not take offense that our “devoutly Catholic” president would desecrate this day recognized as sacred by millions for over two thousand years. This, in spite of the fact that two dozen other made-up days (not to mention three different months!) are marked on our calendars in recognition of the growing list of sexual identifications. 

The president’s actions can be best understood by an analysis of the spectacle that occurred in February inside New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. While the salacious details should, in the spirit of Paul’s warning to the Ephesians, be left unspoken, Professor Carl Trueman described in First Things a funeral held for a man who was a militant atheist, who dressed as a woman, was often outlandishly perverted, and engaged in prostitution. Funeral-goers made speeches meant to shock and offend and proclaimed the man a saint. 

Trueman noted how the event marked a shift from what he called “disenchantment” to “desecration”: 

The struggle for the heart of a culture always takes place in two areas: time and space. As the Christian transformation of the Roman Empire was marked by the emergence of the liturgical calendar and the turning of pagan temples into churches, so we can expect the reverse to take place when a culture paganizes. … Our age is not marked so much by disenchantment as by desecration. The culture’s officer class is committed not merely to marginalizing that which previous generations considered sacred. It is committed to its destruction. 

German sociologist Max Weber first used the term “disenchantment” in 1918 to describe the Western world’s shift from the belief in the divine and transcendent to materialistic scientism. In fact, the German word used by Weber translates more closely to “breaking a magic spell.” More recently, Charles Taylor popularized this notion of secularism as “disenchantment” in his magisterial A Secular Age. 

However, as Friedrich Nietzsche predicted in his parable of “The Madman,” a divine and transcendent view of the universe has been harder to abandon than many expected. The French revolutionaries were more than happy to abandon the belief that the king was divinely appointed but still proceeded as if there were moral absolutes, such as libertarian freedom, and other transcendent truths, such as that some have the right to exercise authority over others. Even so, Nietzsche’s “madman” predicted that, eventually, the “death of God” would leave many taken-for-granted beliefs about dignity and morality untethered and, therefore, vulnerable. 

He was right. The disenchantment of the West has, in fact, left us gnostic, doubting even the givenness of material reality. Some even appeal to scientific authority to say that our physical bodies are unrelated to sex and gender.  

This is the latest form of the Gnostic heresy that has taken various forms throughout Church history but always prioritizes an inner, “spiritual” knowledge about God and His world over and above anything He revealed about His world. In all its forms, gnosticism absolutizes the mistaken distinction between the “sacred” and the “mundane.” This distinction conflicts with a biblical vision, which teaches that God created all things spiritual and material, including human beings.  

Scripture also proclaims that Jesus was present at Creation and is Lord over heaven and earth—something that will be acknowledged at the end of history when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Here, Paul is not describing a personal, non-material, “inner” experience of Christians saying privately inside their hearts, “I think Jesus is Lord,” or “I’ve made Jesus Lord of my life.” What he’s describing is what Christianity teaches: that Jesus Christ is lord over time, space, and history. 

For example, almost as soon as Christ’s followers had the freedom to do so, they built grand, intricate cathedrals as sacred spaces within time and space as a way to proclaim His authority over time and space. These spaces were, in a sense, physical representations of the incarnation, the divine inhabiting the mundane. Not only are places like St. Patrick’s in New York City beautiful, but they were meant to say something about the kind of world in which we live, and the kind of authority God holds over all of it. Easter is not just a day off for fun and family, it is a remembrance of the obedience and victory that Christ had within time and space as the defining moment of human history. 

It only makes sense then, that those who wish to challenge God’s authority would attempt to reclaim these spaces for themselves. This is what Professor Trueman meant by this shift from “disenchantment” to “desecration”—a shift we’re in right now. “Disenchantment” describes the cultural detachment from transcendent reality. “Desecration” describes what inevitably follows, the attempt to usurp God’s claim to authority and instead claim times and spaces for another authority. Or, as Louise Perry tweeted in reaction to President Biden’s attempt to claim Easter Sunday for a different religion, “We are repaganizing.”  

The ideas of the sexual revolution, including the normalization of homosexuality and the denial of biological sex, begin by denying God’s role in creation and end by rejecting His authority over all of life. For revolutionaries, it’s not enough for others to merely “tolerate” their revolution. All must “affirm” it. 

Almost certainly, the kind of “desecration” we saw on Sunday will continue and even become more shocking. But, the truth remains: Christ is Creator and Lord. The truth is that every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that “all authority in heaven and on earth” belongs to Jesus. 

Copyright 2024 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from BreakPoint.org with permission.

TikTok and Teens: Guest Column

Congress is considering banning the Chinese government-controlled social media platform TikTok. For some, this ban is about national security. For others, it’s about the safety and sanity of our children.  

Today, nearly half of all teens use social media “almost constantly.” Sixty-three percent of them use TikTok, making it the second most used social media platform behind YouTube. 

Some claim that banning TikTok could lead to catastrophic consequences for teens’ mental health. For many teens, according to one Twitter user, “TikTok is their identity.” In other words, they’re addicted, so losing it could lead to mental distress. 

Such an abrupt shift may certainly cause distress, but social media has long fueled anxiety and depression. As Jean Twenge has noted, teens who spend more time behind screens are at a higher risk for depression.  

Thankfully, teens are more than their online personas, likes, follows, or friends. They are embodied persons whose happiness and wholeness depend on living in the real world. Any effort to help them do that is a step in the right direction. 

Copyright 2024 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from BreakPoint.org with permission.

A Wedding Isn’t Just a Party: Guest Column

Recent debates about whether Christians should go to so-called same-sex “weddings” have revealed a lot, and not just about how normalized homosexuality has become. Some of those who argued Christians should attend asked, “Why turn down an invitation to a wedding when we’re fine eating with, working with, or being friends with people who call themselves gay?”  

But this assumes that weddings are just another social event, a time for people to express their feelings and celebrate their happiness. In a Christian view, they’re much more than that. They’re a public act inseparably joining two lives and creating a family—a God-ordained covenant with a purpose that goes back to creation and symbolism that reaches into New Creation, whether those getting married realize it or not. Those who go don’t merely attend, they participate as witnesses. 

We have a serious failure of catechesis if Christians don’t understand how marriage ceremonies are fundamentally different than a party. For today’s confusion, Christians need to know what marriage is, not just what it isn’t

Copyright 2024 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from BreakPoint.org with permission.