This is an excerpt from “The Boniface Option”, by Andrew Isker. Italics and underlining are mine.
“Today, the West (and the American Empire in particular) like Rome in Benedict’s day, is in a state of slow, seemingly inexorable decline. Soft times have created soft men. So God has given us hard times. These hard times, this great decline is what the big, important book of the moment, The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, was written to address.
“To start with, if you don’t know, what is The Benedict Option? My summation of it is this: a movement to emphasize the formation of intentionally Christian communities centered around spiritual and intellectual development as opposed to massive religious right coalitions fighting the culture war on a national scale. I don’t find this to be objectionable. Anyone can see that the church has less influence in American culture than at any point in this nation’s history. The heyday of evangelicalism, where evangelicals were a voting bloc that the creatures in Washington had to appease, is no more.
“There is no way that this kind of Christianity that preaches a gospel of cheap and easy vending machine grace (not to mention apathy toward and neglect of the world which Christ reigns over) could build and sustain a culture that could last centuries. So, instead of fighting quixotic national political campaigns to oppose sodomy and abortion, shifting our emphasis to building local communities of Christians where we can grow strong in theology and liturgy (and be strengthened by good theology and faithful worship) is what we ought to be doing.
“Therefore, if we are going to embark on forming local Christian communities in the face of the chaos of imperial decline, which I think we should, it is of the utmost importance that we have an idea of the kind of men we should be forming. We need men who would trade the cloister for confrontation. Men who would trade the relative comfort of the monastery for missions and martyrdom. We need hard men for hard times.
“We have to learn not to care what unbelievers think. We ought not to care what their opinion of us is. These are people who desperately need to hear the truth. The truth about a God-man who was murdered for speaking the truth. We have to understand, every unbeliever would have killed Jesus if they had the chance. Yet the Lord loved them and gave His life for them. As He was going through the agony of the cross at any instant with a single word He could have eviscerated those responsible for His murder. Instead, He forgave them.
We need to be forming men like Christ. We need to be forming men like Boniface. Men who boldly spoke the truth, no matter the cost. And men who sacrificially laid down their lives for their enemies when the cost came due. Love for our enemies means: 1. recognizing we have enemies. 2. telling these enemies the truth. 3. laying down our lives for them. Most evangelical cultural engagement replaces steps 1 and 2 with: 1. make no distinctions about anything 2. be winsome and try to get everyone to like you. There is only one direction an approach like this can go. Those who adopt it do so out of a mix of apathy, pragmatism, and cowardice.
“Not so with the Boniface Option. This isn’t to say we have to go out of our way to be hated. Picketing the funerals of soldiers telling people ‘God hates fags’ is despicable and obviously not the Boniface Option. But if the culture is increasingly becoming anti-Christian (it is), you won’t have to go out of your way to find enemies. Faithfully worshipping Jesus and leading a godly life will draw them to you like flies to honey. And the Thor’s Oaks they worship won’t be chopped down with pathological niceness. They will be chopped down by men who are ready to lose their careers, reputations, 401ks, etc. for faithfulness to Jesus. Men who chose what is hard because they believe their God. Men who, like their Lord, won’t break a bruised reed, but who follow a God who executes kings in the day of His wrath. The soft times of Pax Americana created soft men. It appears our Lord has given us hard times. It is time to forge hard men.”
So how do we forge “hard men” in the sense that Isker means? I refer to how Jesus himself dealt with persecution. Jesus continued to preach, lead, heal and declare the truth all the while being admonished by the “authorities” to cease and desist–to shut up. Finally, these unjust and hypocritical authorities came for him with torches and swords. At first, after being arrested, when he was being badgered with questions, He “answered them not a word”, even when Pilate wanted to release him. He waited to speak truth directly to the main persecutors themselves, the Sanhedrin, knowing it would churn them up and seal his fate. How do we apply the principle of picking our own battlefield before we reveal our weapons?
1. I believe that every thinking Christian should begin a blog, or at the very least make their Facebook posts meaningful to the cultural conflict we face, and should refrain from wasting their words and intellects with frivolity. Forget Twitter, and all the other abbreviated social media. Your words and thoughts should have enough power that they require a more appropriate venue for expression. Imagine if millions of Christians were articulating what they believe, hopefully eloquently and coherently. If you’re not sure you can, LEARN!
2. If you own a business, it’s only a matter of time before the some unjust law or regulation persecutes you for what you believe–we’ve seen plenty of examples already. I am referring specifically to sexual preference “non-discrimination” laws, NOT racial or ethnic non-discrimination laws. You should have written out precisely and thoroughly, in your bylaws or a business statement of faith, what your stand is on what you will NOT do, before trouble comes, so it is not arbitrary or expedient. Then when a customer asks you to do something against your beliefs, you have something already written to stand on, that can hopefully lead to a fruitful discussion.
Now comes the hard part. If you are sued, continue in your business, refuse to spend one cent or one minute defending yourself, not wasting your words on the flunkies or subordinates who have no power to change anything. Like Jesus, and let the authorities do what they will. There will be subpoenas issued to appear in court, ignore them. There will be fines, don’t pay them. The police will haul you away, go with them, speaking not a word. When you are physically hauled before the magistrate, let your statement of faith speak for you, and demand to read it aloud–that is your main defense. Legal defense of an unjust lawsuit gives a veneer of validity to the lawsuit. If they put you in jail, go, and speak your statement of faith to the jailers, love them as Jesus would.
Before you do all this, make sure your witness has been righteous. Before persecution comes, make sure you have followed all legal and just regulations and codes, paid fees and taxes, and established a good reputation. My prescription above is for unjust persecution, not malfeasance. Now imagine that the majority of Christian business owners did what I am suggesting: It wouldn’t be long before the police were balking at enforcing any more court orders when the aggrieved customer could have just as easily gotten their product or service from a different vendor. Same for judges issuing subpoenas, courts having trials and jailing of innocent defendants. If the LGBTQ (or whatever acronym the tribe wants to be known as) prefer to destroy someone’s business rather than go to another vendor, my prescription would become quite a headache for the system rather than helping their cause.
3. Should each individual business owner fight injustice on their own, or would it be more effective to follow a format that could create a more unified front? Christian business owners and leaders should form groups to support each other, refining their bylaws and statements of faith, perhaps pooling funds to support families of owners willing to go to jail. They could also entreat loyal customers to do the same, after sharing their statements with them.