-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
By J. Hogan
In the 1980s, the political landscape of America was very much influenced by a self-proclaimed religious group, led by famed televangelist Jerry Falwell, called the Moral Majority.
As I was but a pre-teen when the 1980s started and this group helped put Ronald Reagan in the White House, I didn’t pay all that much attention to what was going on. It was only years later when I was at university and studying for a Political Science class that I dug into what had gone on there.
Falwell and friends were probably right that more folks across the landscape cared for traditionally conservative points of view back then than were championing progressivism, which had begun to define the slant of much of the media, yet there were some things troubling about the Moral Majority’s mathematics.
Reagan had a successful presidency, marked primarily by economic growth and the military buildup that eventually led to the fall of the Soviet Union, yet there were quite arguably things about his life and approach that probably didn’t exactly fly the banner of the Jesus of scripture. (I don’t question his faith in Christ, just recognize him as another flawed human who falls short of God’s glory like all of us.)
Having the Moral Majority as the electoral force behind the first divorced and remarried U.S. president was sort of quirky choice for the group’s debut candidate on the “we hold the moral high ground” ticket.
The Bible says God hates divorce. He forgives it, and some folks suffer it simply because their spouse opted out despite their own devotion to their vows - but it seemed a funny first flag bearer for the crew.
That was one of several matters with Reagan that could be picked apart by a reasonable opponent, and the media made sure they all were brought into question.
In my studies the bigger issue wasn’t with Reagan, it was with the Moral Majority’s approach to society on the whole.
As a Christian pastor of a congregation of believers, I have no problem at all laying out biblical norms and expectations for the self-professed believers that make up our church, even when those mores go against the currents of current social headwinds.
If you’re a believer in a Bible-believing church, having a biblical Christian standard presented for your life to uphold is par for the course.
The Moral Majority, however, didn’t just hold their behavioral expectations up for their members and Bible-believing compatriots. They also loudly called out non-believers for not adhering to the political group’s understanding of proper social mores and blasted them for falling short of a standard those folks never signed onto in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that God’s ways work best, and adherence to God’s ways would greatly benefit the whole of society - but, even as a young man reading about this stuff from a historical perspective, I thought the Moral Majority had their hat on backward.
If you want more of society to adhere to biblical principles, browbeating the non-believer for not meeting a Christian standard is as silly as expecting a Christian to pray toward Mecca five times a day.
If you want more of society to get there, you have to engage them and find ways to share the good news of salvation - the gospel of Christ - with them and pray for God to use you, your life, and your story to bring hope to them where they are in life.
I can’t imagine that many folks hear a lecture from a Christian about how they don’t live up to some standard they’re unaware of and uninterested in and are convinced to radically change their approach to life.
I have, however, seen many lives radically changed by introducing folks to Jesus. It’s a trend that isn’t contained in one decade of political impact, but one that has resonated through millennium.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.