Three items of news came together for me this week: So-called Islamic State (Isis) has invaded Afghanistan; there are now ‘non-binary pronouns’ (beyond he and she) and The Commission for Religion and Belief in Public Life recommends that we embrace all cultures, religions and beliefs.
The result was a disturbing image of dark clouds, a pincer movement…and a frog.
Dark clouds are gathering. We face challenges on every side, threats to our very way of life. Isis commits new atrocities every day, spreading across the globe like a virulent plague. Refugees clamour at our borders, pitting our own heartstrings resonating with the desperate plight of fellow human beings against the cautionary voice of our head: there are too many of them, this is opening the gate to an endless flow of human woe.
And within our own borders, a constant attack on that which we have long known to be the central tenets of civilisation: each of us is either male or female – we are born that way and, obviously, remain that way all our lives; marriage is between a man and a woman and its lifelong commitment is the foundation of family stability; freedom to say what we really think and believe; right and wrong as identifiable and different things.
And I saw that we are caught in a devastating pincer movement. On one side, the forces of Islam at its most violent extreme; on the other, an aggressive secular ideology. And caught between the two, the very thing which would form the most effective defence against this force, the very thing which underpins the way of life which we have long taken for granted and which is now under threat. Christianity.
It is Christianity alone that provides a counter-narrative strong enough to act as a bulwark against islamic extremism. It is Christianity alone which holds at its heart the freedom of choice necessary for an authentic relationship with our Creator, and which therefore guarantees freedom of religion for all.
It is Christianity alone that tells of a God whose core identity is love, who creates us purely for the joy of relating to us, who sacrifices Himself to make that possible, and who gives to each and every person infinite worth.
And it is Christianity that is the ultimate target both of violent islamic extremism and of the secular humanist ideology which responds with repression and suppression, rather than the freedom of speech and belief which would enable us all to seek the truth that alone can set us free.
Like the proverbial frog, boiled in water heated so gradually that the frog does not realise what is happening until it is too late, we have failed to recognise that the foundation of our way of life, our society, our very civilisation, is being simultaneously assailed from without and eroded from within.
Clearly not all cultures, religions and belief are to be equally embraced. It is Christianity that is the root of that which we hold most dear. We need to recognise that, now.
It is time to let in the light, which alone can dispel the dark clouds, extricate ourselves from the jaws of the pincer …and welcome with open arms the King whose kiss can turn the frog into a princess!